Saturday, June 10, 2006

Links of the Weekend

Powered by Intern Sharkey

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, welcome to another edition of the Weekend Links. It’s been a busy stretch in Twins-land, so let’s get right to it.

Have a good weekend, kiddies.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Chairman Mauer

By Twins Geek

You can find the following in this weekend's Dugout Splinters in GameDay, the independent Twins program sold outside the Metrodome.

Oh, please - don’t play coy with me. You know you’re wondering. And if a Twins Geek isn’t here to tell you how close Joe Mauer is to hitting .400, then why, exactly, is he here?

Mauer is just seven consecutive hits away from the promised land. Or, if he gets 24 at-bats this home stand, he would need fourteen hits to scale his way to .400. Or, if he hits .500 for the foreseeable future, it will take him 42 more at-bats. Or, if he finishes the year with 500 at-bats, he’ll need to hit slightly under .414 the rest of the season to make it. So he’s still a torrid hot streak away from the cover of Time magazine.

That doesn’t mean he’s a slouch. He’s still hitting .315 for his career, which (if he had the requisite 2000 plate appearances) would be the third highest career batting average in the Twins record book, behind Rod Carew at .334 and Kirby Puckett at .318. (Fourth and fifth on the list are Shane Mack (.309) and Brian Harper (.306). Whoulda thunk?)

His patience at the plate is fast becoming legendary, too. Mauer’s career on-base percentage is currently .385, which would place him third all-time among Twins in career OBP, behind Carew (.393) and Chuck Knoblauch (.391), followed closely by another surprise – Matt Lawton, who had a career OBP of .379 as a Twin.

(I can guess what you’re thinking – where’s Tony O? Oliva’s best years were played in a decade when pitching ruled. For instance, in 1968 he hit .289 and still had the second best batting average in the American League. His career batting average was .304.)

Mauer’s also almost impossible to neutralize in a big situation. He’s as effective versus left-handed pitching (.379) as he has been against right-handed pitching (.367), so good luck to that late-inning southpaw specialist. There’s no reliable way to pitch to him. It doesn’t pay to get ahead of him, because he’s batting an amazing .393 after an 0-2 count. But that’s a better option than falling behind in the count, because he’s hitting .485 after a 2-0 count.

It’s usually about this time that someone starts to mention Mauer’s “lack of power”. That’s usually quickly followed my ears spurting blood, because this myth is getting tiresome. Mauer IS hitting for power. His .540 slugging percentage is second on the Twins (to Michael Cuddyer) and within the range of stud hitters like Vladamir Guererro (.547), Magglio Ordonez (.546) and the Twin that got away, David Ortiz (.545).

More importantly, he also just turned 23 years old a little over a month ago. Oliva didn’t hit any major league home runs until he was 25 years old, because he didn’t make it to the majors until he was 24 years old. Ditto Puckett, who had only four home runs in his first 1200 at-bats. Even Harmon Killebrew had only eleven home runs before the season in which he turned 23. Don’t let Mauer’s familiarity and youth fool you. He may not be the Killer, but he’s on pace to become every bit the power hitter Tony and Kirby were.

What you are witnessing this year happens about once a decade. This is looking a lot like Oliva in ’64, Carew in ’69 or Puckett in ’86. This is the path a breakout year takes, and a year you’re going to want to remember, so you can tell it to your kids or grandkids. So, welcome to the ballgame. Enjoy the show.

Links of the Day for 6/9/06

Powered by Intern Pseudofool

Jesse over at Twinkie Town has a great entry of a number of missing Twins and where they were last seen.

A new website has appeared completely devoted to the new ball park. Be sure to check out the footprints of other stadiums and how they fit into the park’s new site.

In case your wondering about Gardy’s job security check out ESPN’s fan approval of him.

A new Twin community has developed: The Scrrappiest® Twins Fans on the Intraweb. It has two blogs, one devoted to the minors and the other to the majors written by very capable fellows. There is also an extensive forum, with albeit, some raucous posters.

Mainstream Power Rankings: has us at 19th, has us at 22nd, Foxsports has us at 23rd, and has at 22nd, for 86 points, which wouldn’t even win a basketball game.

Links of the Day for 6/7/06

Powered by Intern Snarky

No love for Mauer posted the tallies to date for the AL all-star line-up. Major league batting leader Joe Mauer is not even in the top five for catchers. Baseball fans are exercising their right to vote, and are apparently not the most informed voters.

Superstar Twins' blogger Aaron Gleeman put together an excellent analysis of the Twins' 2006 draft. He's impressed with the Twin's actually drafting some bats. Hopefully they aren't all re-positioned to relief pitchers.

For more great analysis on the draft, check out Wednesday's article on Sethspeaks.

In other news, Luis Castillo has been moved to the lead-off spot. Maybe Gardy will let him swing away once and awhile.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Links of the Day for 6/7/06

Powered By Intern Jimmy

Draft Day: With the 20th pick, the Twins selected Christopher Parmelee, a sweet-swinging lefty OF from California. The Nationals swooped in and nabbed coveted 3B Chris Marrero with the 15th pick, leaving the Twins to pluck another pure hitter from the lot. 18 other ball players were awarded new Twin status. Granted, the odds of seeing a handful of these lads suit up in the Bigs is a longshot. But the draft springs eternal hope that the next diamond in the rough is unearthed. Of merit: Devin Shepherd won MVP honors of the Aflac All-American game last year. Jared Mitchell, an LSU football recruit, was described by Twins’ scouts as “the best athlete in the draft.” Jeff Manship, an anchor on Notre Dame’s strong staff, wore the right number for the Irish. And what’s a draft without a couple of home grown talents: Mark Dolenc, an MSU, Mankato product and Aaron Senne, a Rochester Mayo H.S. outfielder recently named Gatorade High School Player of the Year for Minnesota.

The Art of Fielding: The NY Times offers a praise-laden piece on Torii Hunter, centerfielder extraordinaire. Author Lee Jenkins gives a fantastic glimpse into how Hunter assumes his Spiderman role, combining pure instinct with a studious approach. My only beef is why would the NY Times be focusing on such a slant if not to plant the incendiary seed of thought into Steinbrenner and those Bronx bastards that Hunter’s services could be had come July. You don’t see the STrib hyping the merits of Melky Cabrera, do you?

Some Chitown Love: As Joe Mauer’s bat stays red hot (4-4 last night), the baseball world is quickly taking notice of Minnesota’s hottest commodity (and it’s not a lefty flame-throwing starter by the name of Johan or Francisco). Phil Rogers lauded Mauer (registration required)over the weekend, contemplating the prospect of the next catcher to take home a batting title. With a consistent bat finally dropping anchor in the middle of the lineup, it’s time for the rest of the Twins bats to follow suit and help the pitchers out.

Don’t Know Much About History: I’ll throw a bone to the stat heads amongst us (myself included). In case you missed the significance of that bizarre and downright dastardly triple play against the ChiSox three weeks back, Jayson Stark did some research to tell us:

“That triple play the White Sox pulled off May 14 was more than just the first TP of the year…it was the first 3-4-6 trifecta turned by any team in nearly a century…Who knew?”

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Links of the Day for 6/6/06

Powered by Intern Thomas

It’s been so long since last we met and a lot has certainly transpired. Scott Baker’s been sent to AAA and Terry Tiffee has replaced him, the Twins’ offense has faltered and Brad Radke has remembered how to be a decent pitcher. The more things change, however, the more they stay the same—Johan is still dominant, Mauer is still raking the ball and the Twins are still mediocre despite those two. So what is a Twins fan to do? The answer, my friends, is simple—focus on the draft. Juan Castro can’t cause you to hurt yourself there.

  • To that end, has a comprehensive look at the amateur draft tomorrow, with a mock draft and, for you cheaper sabermatricians amongst us, a free rundown of which type of prospects are most likely to pan out by Rany Jazayerli of Baseball If you’re curious, the mock draft has the Twins taking Chris Marrero, a third baseman from Monsignor Pace (Fla.) High with the twentieth overall pick. Hopefully, his “rare blend of baseball savvy and premium tools” can get him to the Show quickly so we can forget about the time we lost watching Tony “the Beer League Reject” Batista “man” the hot corner.

  • Even if he does make it as quickly as Ryan Zimmerman, I don’t think it will matter who the Twins draft this year if the coaching staff remains the same. Gardenhire’s inexplicable ability to ruin prospects is just one of many reasons he needs to be canned before the Twins can be successful. If you want the rest, Aaron Gleeman and his commentors have compiled a pretty comprehensive list. And, if for no other reason, Gardenhire’s bi-weekly temper tantrums should be enough to convince the savvy Twins fan it’s time to find someone else.

  • Finally, if the Twins manage to manufacture another loss out of a Liriano or Santana gem with bone headed base running, awful fielding and pathetic hitting, join me in my happy place. And if you haven’t felt the joy of opening a pack of cards in a long time, well, there’s always ebay.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Links of the Day for 6/5/06

Powered by Intern Sam

Welcome back, Geek fans! John’s had a week to soak in the Disneyfied goodness of Orlando with his brood, and the rest of us… well, the rest of us have had yet another seven days to contemplate what it is like to suddenly find ourselves the devoted fans of a mediocre baseball team. Not a bad team, you understand, and certainly not a good one. The 2006 Twins are just kind of… there. They win some, they lose some, they thrill on occasion, and frustrate more often than not.

This is an unfamiliar position for Twins fans, since over the past couple of decades, our club has tended to be either horrific or playoff-worthy, and has spent little time wallowing in the marsh of in-between. It’s easy to know how to react to a horrendous team, and rooting for one over a long period of time can even be cathartic. (Right, Cubs fans?) But following a team loaded down with talent that still always manages to be three or four moves from serious contention is hard work.

And baseball isn’t supposed to be hard work. It’s supposed to be fun. It’s fun to root for winners, and it’s even fun to be a part of a large group of people dedicated to rooting for a hopeless franchise. But rooting for mediocrity? That’s the definition of drudgery, and if you don’t believe me, go ask an Orioles fan. Or a Blue Jays fan. Or a Dodgers fan, or a Rangers fan, or (until quite recently) a White Sox fan.

Still, if there’s a bright side to this already-lost season, it’s that the hot stove never quits jumping. Since the Twins have zero chance of elevating themselves to a division title or wild card this year, we can just start all the offseason speculation right this very minute…

  • Apparently, we’re still talking about moving Joe Mauer to third base. Which makes perfect sense, because after all, his 2006 campaign has been a complete disappointment, and we really all need to pitch in and find a way to lift him out of this horrible rut he’s been in. (For those readers already firing off protest comments – yes, Intern Sam realizes that Reusse’s column is technically about not moving Mauer to third. This is an old writers’ trick. If you can’t justify bringing up a controversial move, bring it up by writing about how everyone’s denying it. One actually wonders whether Reusse has been deluged lately with mail from semi-retarded Twins fans terrified that Super Joe is on the verge of another crippling injury. Because if he hasn’t been, there’s really no reason for this column to have been written.)

  • In what may (or may not) be the first public sign of a fraying of the relationship between Terry Ryan and Ron Gardenhire, the former overruled the latter’s request as to who should replace Scott Baker on the major league roster this week, even though Gardenhire had already told the press that Shawn Wooten would be getting the call. Gardenhire has been griping for weeks about not having a third catcher, because he claims to be terrified of what would happen if he were to DH Mauer, and then have Mike Redmond suffer an injury behind the plate.

    (What would happen, of course, is that Mauer would move to catcher, and the Twins would be forced to allow the pitchers to bat for the remainder of that one game. Somehow, this doesn’t seem an apocalyptic enough scenario as to demand the addition of a sub-replacement-level utility man batting .218 with 4 HR and 17 RBI in the minors.) Ignoring Gardy’s pleas, Ryan instead promoted Terry Tiffee. Again. Because clearly, there wasn’t anyone else at Rochester whose performance was crying out for promotion to the big club…

  • Anyway, the whole Wooten debacle apparently sent Gardy right round the bend, the result of which may well be: Justin Morneau, catcher. Yes, the big Canuck was originally drafted as a catcher, but seriously, we are talking about the most mentally and physically taxing position on the diamond here, and when managers start thinking that just anyone can throw on some extra padding and hit the squats, well… that’s when stuff like this happens.

  • The Twins blogosphere is always quick to blame Gardenhire for the team’s shortcomings, and to be fair, the cuddly old fella does frequently seem to be managing with The Force rather than his head. But the cries to dump Gardy have gotten exponentially louder in recent weeks, and last Thursday, Aaron decided it was time to start laying out the official indictment.

  • In yet another feel-good story involving the Grand Dark Imperial Ruler Of The Pasttime, Bud Selig, contraction is now apparently off the table for 2007! (fourth item in the column) By a shocking coincidence, the announcement comes mere days after the Twins and Royals got new ballparks (or, in the case of Kansas City, major renovations to an existing park) approved. See how everything just works out when you do as you’re told? A copy of the story was immediately sent from Selig’s office to the mayor of Miami, along with a friendly handwritten note and a Polaroid of a large string of gutted fish.

  • In happier news, someone is apparently stalking Bob Uecker. Sadly, it does not appear that Mr. Belvedere is even peripherally involved.