Saturday, April 29, 2006

GameDay in the Downtown Journal

I'd like to thank Jeremy Stratton for this excellent column that appeared in last week's Downtown Journal. My favorite part is where he says the writing "borders on wonkish". Borders? I think we crossed the border long ago my friends. Hell, I'm pretty sure the application for citizenship is being reviewed.

Friday, April 28, 2006

It’s that time of year again. Mock drafts and mock mock drafts, analysis and mock analysis. But our nation’s pastime has its own draft on the way, in just over a month. In preparation for the world’s greatest conference call, and to give you a break from the football madness (and Mel Kiper’s Hair, it’s time for the links.

  • David Schoenfield counts down the 100 worst draft picks of all time here. A surprising number of baseball picks make the list, mostly because of some other high-profile player that could have been taken instead (see #’s 73-56, “The 18 Guys Drafted Before Clemens”). I find this to be a ridiculous “hindsight is 20-20” situation; the baseball draft is by far the most difficult to predict in any given year, and to look back and rip on teams for not realizing the greatness of Derek Jeter is absurd.

  • In this still-relevant 2004 article, Bryan Smith discusses some key changes that should be made to the MLB draft, using a year that holds special significance for the Twins as an example (think Mauer + Michael Young).

  • This not-so-creatively-titled blog has the complete, finalized 2006 draft order, with all compensation picks. The Home Nine have picks number 20, 64, 96, 119, and 126.

  • So who can we expect to join the opening day roster in time to welcome a shiny new stadium? Baseball America runs down the top 20 prospects here. By all accounts, the draft is very pitching-heavy this year; just what the Twins need!

  • As for young players the Twins already have, BA ranks the Minnesota farm system sixth overall.

  • What would happen if baseball’s current structure was completely blown up, with every player thrown into one ├╝berdraft? Both Baseball Prospectus and Baseball America answer that question. BP’s Nate Silver writes his two part special for ESPN here and here, while BA’s draft can be found here. A couple of Twins show up in the top ten on both lists.

Two more in Detroit this weekend; enjoy the stick-and-ball.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Links of the Day for 4/28/06

by Intern Pseudofool

According to Baseball Prospectus (scroll down past the Astros talk), the Twins need Castillo in order to compete, but the real reason we’re not winning is because of the starting pitching. Having Rondell White and his one extra base hit hitting fourth can’t help either.

You’ve been hearing a lot about the stadium. And you probably know it passed the house. However, looks like the Senate is throwing the Twins a curveball, so it might not be a bad time to contact your state Senator. Mbennett at TwinkieTown has provided us with a sample letter.

Twins took 2 of 3 from the Royals, with Michael Cuddyer leading the way in the last game with a three hits and a homerun. Cuddyer, Luis Rodriguez, and Mike Redmond, who all are, evidently, bench players, lead the team in OPS. Mauer sat out with the sore hamstring on Thursday according to the Recap’s notes, let’s hope he gets better.

Non Sequitur Moment: What ever happened to RossCW? Some people think he’s this guy. I wouldn’t put it past either of them. I always like those logic police posters on message boards, they help control the sabermetric/fanboi versus reasonable human being ratio.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Links of the Day 4/27/06

by Intern Snarky

Twin's fans have been getting some love from former players. Jacque Jones has had a rough transition from the Minnesota nice fans to the people of Chicago- they're booing poor Jacque. He's so sad he can barely swing at terrible pitches. Dougie Mientkiewicz misses it here too.

Forbes released their yearly evaluations of baseball team values (thanks Maury Brown). The Twins' value has increased by 21% since last year, thanks to the Yankees and their mountains of money. Maybe Carl's not so poor after all? If we keep this growth up we will be worth as much as Carl Pohlad in 14 years. It'll only take 69 years for the Twins value to surpasse the national debt. This requires the rock-solid assumption that neither the national debt nor Pohlads' wealth will grow. In 69 years, all we have to do is sell the Twins to China and we'll have this whole debt thing taken care of. No worries mate.

Former Twin and Gopher Dave Winfield was counted among the first for theNCAA baseball hall of fame.

Did you know that the Royals have bloggers?! Hard to believe. I didn't even know they had fans.
After visiting their websites, I don't think I'll ever complain about the Twins again.

Also, if you haven't seen this, you should- Tony Batista is showing his technique for converting the Japanese.

Links of the Day for 4/26/06

by Intern Jimmy

Apologies for today’s minimal contribution. Late hours in the office coupled with a wild weekend home for Notre Dame’s spring football game left less than optimal time for TG. Minnesota was on the mind as I talked some Cretin-Derham Hall and Apple Valley football with two Irish senior stars and hyped the merits of Twin Cities living with Ohio State LB A.J. Hawk if he happens to fall to the Vikings this weekend.

Good Trend, Bad Trend: With last night’s saving grace victory, the Twins now stand 8-11 with every win of the come-from-behind variety. Granted, these aren’t all late inning comebacks, but it’s true they have not scored first in any triumph thus far. This Dr. Jekyll-Mr. Hyde persona will wear on a team over the course of a year. The ability to beat somebody from start to finish is essential. But it’s not necessarily a bad thing that the boys turn in timely hitting and act like a pesky gnat when they fall behind. Your thoughts Twins fans?

Catching Up With…Doug Mientkiewicz: Everyone’s favorite 12 letter multi-pronounceable Gold Glove first baseman, Doug (for brevity’s sake) has embarked on an odyssey of sorts since leaving the team where he made his mark. A mid-season trade in 2004, Doug famously caught the final out that sent Red Sox Nation into ecstacy, then alienated himself by refusing to relinquish the curse breaking ball back to the team. Exhausting tabloid stories ensued and Doug’s impudence found him playing for the underachieving Mets last season before being exiled to MLB’s Isle of Elba, Kansas City. For a K.C. fan’s perspective, I talked to my buddy Zeller (no relation to Brad) about Doug’s reception in Kansas City. “Indifference. Nobody has a problem with him, yet.” I suppose there are plenty of other glaring problems for Royals fans to worry about.

Worth Noting: The Chicago Cubs recently called up Michael Restovich. With Derrek Lee on the sidelines for the next couple months, Restovich may get the ample playing time he never received in Minnesota. We’ll see if he can finally validate those gaudy minor league numbers. Good luck on the North Side Michael.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Links of the Day 4/25/06

by Intern Thomas

Kind of a rough weekend, that’s for sure, but it’s time for happy thoughts. Going 7-11 against the top teams in the American League is not the end of the world. So, in honor of the good times that is playing the Royals (please don’t be a jinx…please don’t be a jinx) here are some links to make you feel a little better before the Twins take on the worst team in baseball.

  • First off, it’s pretty clear that Torii is over his ankle injury. True, his catch on Sunday that robbed Konerko of a home run wasn’t anything spectacular (for him), but it was vintage Torii. If you want to see more, someone has put together a highlight film of Torii’s amazing defensive plays and home runs. (The film is put to a Tupac Song, so you’ll want to turn your sound off if you’re at work)

  • Feeling a little better? Well, here’s some more good news: Zack Grienke has rejoined the Royals organization after leaving the team due to personal matters. And while it may not be good news for the Twins that the player that Baseball Prospectus called the future of pitching in 2005 is back in the Royals organization, it is heartening to know that he’s overcoming his demons and starting back on the road to realizing his enormous potential.

  • One of my favorite parts of attending a baseball game is the scoreboard races. I have to say I wasn’t very happy when I didn’t get to see Tuffy, Speedy and Barney race around Minneapolis during my visits to the ‘Dome. But take heart, good readers, the Twins weren’t the only franchise to have animated characters race each other for the enjoyment of the crowd. If you’re planning on taking in a game somewhere besides the friendly confines of the Metrodome, check out Deadspin’s rundown of the races in the AL, the NL and the Minors and other leagues. I hope you enjoy the Nationals’ race as much as I do.

  • Finally, a follow up to the Hardball Times’ look at left handed catchers has some more reasons why there should be more lefty catchers, and some pretty solid reasons why there aren’t (hint: baseball people aren’t open to new ideas). And it turns out that an old (and I mean old) favorite of Twins’ fans started out as a southpaw backstop. Who knew?

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Links of the Day for 4/24/06

Powered by Intern Sam

Well, that was fun. Nothing like wasting an entire weekend screaming at the television as the champions of the baseball world make your team look like the Pittsburgh Pirates. However, Intern Sam caught a bit of flak last weekend for sounding all negative (to which he can only respond that, having been raised a Phillies fan, he really doesn’t know how to sound any other way,) so rather than dwell on what’s past, let’s talk about other things for tonight, shall we? Very good, then.

  • The PiPress’s Aron Kahn, who has consistently turned in top-quality stories on the business of sports in general and the Twins’ stadium battles in particular, has a good wrap-up of the very big week that was. House Speaker Steve Sviggum now says that he expects the ballpark measure to pass the full House by the middle of this week. The next big hurdle will be Sen. Larry Pogemiller’s Senate Tax Committee. (Pogemiller happens to be Intern Sam’s very own state senator, and having met the man in person several times, he can attest to the fact that Larry is a good and decent guy who is just never going to support any subsidy for pro sports. However, at this point, it doesn’t appear that Pogemiller will have the votes to derail the ballpark.)

  • The cover of the Star Tribune sports section this Sunday was largely given over to a collection of articles asking whether Minnesota has become a bad sports town because all four of our major teams failed to make the playoffs in their most recent season. It was a bizarre question to ask for a number of reasons, but the award for most convoluted reasoning goes to Jim Souhan, who used his column to castigate Twin Cities fans for continuing to buy tickets to underachieving teams. Jim, where we grew up, supporting one’s teams only when they win was called bandwagon-jumping. But of course, you wouldn’t know anything about that particular phenomenon, wouldja? Besides, we seem to recall you saying not too terribly long ago that all this losing was your fault…

  • One of the more underplayed baseball stories of the last ten years has been the steady decline in the number of African-Americans playing the game at all levels. This year, African-Americans make up only 8.5% of major league players, which is the lowest figure since MLB began keeping track in the 1980s. (If that number seems low, keep in mind that black players born in countries like Cuba and the Dominican are listed as Latin American.) One theory (espoused here by White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen) says that young black athletes are going where the money is, and for a quick payday (read: no time spent languishing in the minor leagues) you can’t beat the NBA and the NFL. Sox GM Ken Williams (one of a tiny number of African-American executives in the majors) believes that college programs discriminate against black baseball players. And some inner-city coaches believe that MLB has abandoned homegrown black players in favor of seeking out Latin American talent, while others blame the hip-hop thug culture that permeates the NBA for making black athletes unattractive to the conservative executives of MLB. Whatever the reason for the decline, it seems very clear that it’s getting worse, not better.

  • This has absolutely nothing to do with the Twins, or with baseball for that matter, but did anyone else see R.J. Umberger get absolutely destroyed during last night’s Flyers-Sabres playoff game? We haven’t seen a takeout shot like that since the Scott Stevens hit that more or less derailed Eric Lindros’s career. Or maybe since the Scott Stevens hit that more or less derailed Eric Lindros’s career that other time.

  • Jacque Jones was a lot of things for the Minnesota Twins over the years, but reliable and consistent were not among them. After reading how personally Jones takes all the criticism sent his way in Sam Walker’s excellent Fantasyland, it’s a bit awkward to have to point out that the offseason change of scenery doesn’t appear to have altered Jacque’s approach at the plate, or the results.

  • One of the strangest stories of the spring was Royals’ pitcher Zack Greinke’s vanishing act, and in a season which looks to be nothing but painful for Kansas City, the team’s kind treatment of its young star as he works to conquer his yet-unnamed demons has caught the attention of the baseball media. (Of course, that kind of loyalty is nothing new for Royals owner David Glass, who has allowed General Manager Allard Baird to remain on the job for nearly six full seasons as he works through his tragic inability to recognize good baseball players when he sees them.)