Thursday, September 24, 2009


There is no tomorrow, that’s what they say. Benches are emptied. Stadiums are filled. Swings are shortened. Pitchers are stretched. The pennant race is here, and fans, players and coaches are reacting like there is no tomorrow.

But can the same be said for the Twins front office?

Let’s consider third base. The Twins have been mixing and matching Nick Punto, Brendan Harris, Matt Tolbert and Brian Buscher at the hot corner for the last month. Baseball geeks like to debate (or criticize manager Ron Gardenhire) about which one should be there, but that really misses the point. They’re ALL backup infielders being asked to play one of the premium offensive and defensive positions on the field. There isn't a right choice.

Meanwhile the Twins have their third baseman of the future, Danny Valencia, sitting at – well, where is he sitting exactly? It’s not AAA-Rochester, where he finished the season batting .286, because Rochester’s season has been over for several weeks.

Wherever he's spending the offseason, it’s not perfectly clear he’s ready for the majors, though he certainly is supposed to be by the middle of next year. But it is perfectly clear that he’s more likely to be a starting third baseman than the four-headed monster the Twins are trotting out there will ever be. So why isn’t he called up? If for no other reason than to give him a taste of the big leagues? Of a pennant race?

The cynical answer is financial. Calling him up now starts his service clock ticking. That means he hits free agency a year earlier, and it likely means he starts becoming expensive a year earlier than a midseason callup. Some might call that long-term thinking. I’ll go with penny-wise and pound-foolish. It also pays too much attention to a distant tomorrow, while demanding the team plays like there isn’t one.


The above was broadcast as the GameDay Chatter segment during the Twins Extra Innings radio broadcast following last Sunday's Twins game. Tune in this Sunday to hear Will Young talk about the 1969 Twins.


The above post was pretty short, and you're likely not filled up. Then head on over to The Hardball Times and read The 10 Greatest Games in Metrodome History. It is an incredibly well-researched story from a guy who isn't "one of us", but sure did his homework. Enjoy, and we'll see you on Monday.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Hope Lives

Sorry gang. I've been watching, but not writing. Let's try and remedy that with a short entry today.

Today (Thursday) the Tigers will play, the Twins won't, and we'll be down to ten games for both teams. Ten is a nice satisfying number in general, but it has some additional importance in this case, because they happen in ten games. No off days. That means we'll be cycling through each rotation exactly twice.

On the whole, that's probably better news for the Twins than the Tigers. The Twins have one gaping hole in their rotation which they'll probably try to plug next Francisco Liriano this weekend. But the Tigers have two gaps, and have recently been trotting out Nate Robertson and Eddie Bonine to fill them.

Robertson we saw on Sunday, which is why is was so very, very frustrating to lose that game. Of all the games in that series, that was the one the Twins should have been most favored to win. He's been terrible for a year-and-a-half. He's lost his spot in the rotation multiple times. He pitched that game while recovering from a groin injury. To be technical, it was while recovering from an inflammation in his left pelvis. Which sounds significantly worse. He also underwent elbow surgery earlier this year.

Supporters will point out that his ERA since he returned from the surgery is just 2.33. But he's still giving up hits (19 in 19.1 innings) and he's still giving up walks (11). He's not as good as his numbers and tomorrow night the White Sox will get a chance to prove it.

Bonine is a 28-year-old soft-throwing right-hander who spent most of the year in AAA-Toledo. His ERA is 5.96. He's given up 31 hits in 22.7 innings. I don't feel like I need to say much more than that. He's starting after Robertson, Saturday, also versus the White Sox.

So the Twins best hope for making up ground happens on Friday and Saturday. And the next time these two start? That would be the last two games of the series versus the Twins.

And if, by some strange chance, the AL Central needs to be decided by a one-game playoff? The only two Detroit pitchers who will have had a full four days rest will be Robertson and Bonine.

Hope lives, my friends. Hope lives.

Mauer Math
Correct me if I'm wrong here, but I thought I heard Dick Bremer say during last night's broadcast that Joe Mauer only needed to go 21 for 44 over the last eleven games to hit .400. I think he was off by ten hits.

In case you're wondering, Mauer is currently 179 for 481. If you assume he gets four more AB per game, that's 521 AB. To hit .400 or more, he would need 209 hits. That's 30 hits in 40 AB.

I think we can safely say the dream is dead this year. Nobody is sorrier that me to hear it.