I’m Movin’ On (Goodbye to MLBlogs)

In the spring of 2008, I had just graduated college and was used to writing weekly sports columns for their campus newspaper.  After receiving my diploma and being released out into the “real world”, I felt that I still wanted to comment on my favorite hometown sports team (the Twins).  As such, I started this blog.

So, from 2008 until now (March 2012), or nearly four years, I have written little blurbs about the Twins on this site.  I have really enjoyed the experience and want to say a big thank-you to MLBlogs for giving me the opportunity to do so!  I’ve commented on a lot of crazy things in four “short” years, including two Game 163s, a new ballpark opening, some spectacular baseball in 2010, and even the doldrums of 2011.

Thank you, also, to anyone who has read any of my posts over the years.  I hope I have made you laugh, think, or be informed on one matter or the other.  In case you are interested, here is the site I will now be blogging for:

http://www.twinkietown.com

For those who may peruse these posts on my Facebook page, I will still keep them coming to you via social media!

So, in the words of a certain famous former Twins radio broadcaster: “So long, everybody!”.  Oh, and always remember…

2012 Twins Preview 1/5: Pitch Perfect…Or Pitch Poor?

Though chicks may indeed big the long balls, true baseball fans know the conversation ALWAYS begins and ends with pitching in terms of being competitive.

Thus, for this first Twins preview, here is a look at the starting rotation…

#1: Carl Pavano

 -Carl Pavano is not an ace.  Carl Pavano is not a #2 starter.  What is Carl Pavano?  He’s an innings-eater who can win 15 games if the team behind him can field the ball cleanly and the offense can score him 4-5 runs.  Neither thing happened in 2011, and thus Pavano sagged in the stats department.  His effectiveness will depend most heavily on the defense behind him.

#2: Francisco Liriano

 -Twins fans already (I hope) have come to grips with the fact that Liriano will never again morph into that dominant pitcher he was in 2006.  Now, however, he must prove that he has a future of effectiveness.  He is perhaps the most unpredictable pitcher I’ve ever seen in a Twins uniform.  A complete and utter question mark heading into ’12.  He could be the ace…or his ERA could be above 5.00 all season long.

#3: Scott Baker

 -When Baker is healthy, he is a very solid 2-3 rotation guy.  But, alas, health has been perpetually fleeting for this young man.  His tendinitis is already acting up this Spring, so I just have this “here we go again” feeling with him.

#4: Nick Blackburn

 -Will anyone ever figure this guy out?  There are two things I can say with 100 % certainty about Blackie: 1. At some point, he will look unhittable, like a legitimate staff ace. 2. At another point, he may get demoted to the minors for a complete inability to get a single batter out.  Whichever pattern holds true the longest in ’12 will define Blackburn’s season.

#5: Jason Marquis

 -The new guy to the bunch.  He needs to be another Pavano to have value to this club, as he can’t dominate hitters.  If he throws 200 innings, I would consider his season (no matter the stats) a success.

Final Word:

In 2012, the Twins will start the season (as will all other clubs) with five “monkeys jumping on the bed” in the starting rotation.  Their overall success, however, will likely be determined by how many times “Mama has to call the doctor”.  If good health holds true, the starting staff could really shape up from the mess of ’11 and look a bit more like ’10.  If guys start dropping like flies, though, it will thin out the entire pitching staff and the strain will show through.

RIP Don Mincher

 A former Minnesota Twin by the name of Don Mincher passed away today.  He was before my time, but I know his name from old stories and old highlight reels (especially of the 1965 World Series, a season & series in which he played a key role).

Mincher never accumulated more than 500 at-bats in a single season, but he was a solid platoon player, backup, and fill-in.  For his career (six years of which were spent here in Minny), Mincher hit .249, smacked 200 home runs on the dot, and had a pretty decent .798 OPS.  For a guy who hit the ball with authority, he almost had as many career walks as strikeouts, so he must have had a pretty good eye at the plate to boot.

Though Mincher may always be remembered as “Killebrew’s backup”, at least he is remembered fondly here in Minnesota.

New Playoff Structure: Pros & Cons

 So, Major League Baseball announced today that baseball’s playoff format will be changing.  There will now be two wild cards in each league, with each team playing a one-game playoff to decide who advances to the Division Series round, where it is then business as usual.

There are two things I like about this system:

1. It gives my Twins a better chance to make the playoffs!  Heck, I wonder if the two consecutive one-game playoffs featuring the Twins in 08-09 and the excitement they created played a part in this decision!

2. How many times have we seen this rivalry during the regular season…

 …but have it mean very little because both teams knew they would be making the playoffs.  In the new format, there is much more incentive to win the division.

There is one major reason that I do not like this new format, however, and that is because I feel it is little more than a giant…

 …for baseball’s lack of a salary cap.  I realize that Selig wants more teams to have a shot at making the playoffs, and this format does just that.  However, how much does it truly affect the competitive balance of the league?  I would argue very little.  The rich teams will still be rich, while the poor teams will still be poor.

Overall, though, I don’t mind the changes all that much and I guess we’ll just have to see what happens.

Well, That Was Quick…

 Well, after just 13 warm-up pitchers in his first bullpen session of spring training, new Twins acquisition Joel Zumaya torn a ligament in his throwing shoulder and will be out for the rest of the season and probably his career barring extensive rehab.

On one hand, I feel really bad for the guy.  I mean, he’s tried to come back so many times that this must be a crushing blow for him.

On the other hand, I sincerely hope that this is not a harbinger of things to come for the Twins.  Pure logic would indicate that one player’s injury cannot “cause” another, but superstition is a powerful force in baseball clubhouses.  If a team feels as if they have been bit by the injury bug (see: 2011 Twins), then every scratch turns into a DL stint.

But here’s some good news to leave off with for now…

 Justin Morneau has had four good days in a row (knock on wood)!!

Spring Has Sprung

      

Spring has sprung, indeed!

Retiring Numbers & Twins HOF ’12

Two comments on “Twins Legacy” happenings upcoming in 2012…

1. Tom Kelly’s #10 will be retired by the Twins:

Though many of my fellow Twins fans don’t agree with this decision, I have no problem with #10 being “taken off the books” in honor of Kelly.  Why, then, should a manager with a losing record be given such an honor?

Well, first of all, he just happened to preside over the worst talent drought (1993-2000) in franchise history, when the team gave him (financially-speaking) absolutely no chance to win.  Thus, all those losing seasons seriously tarnished his record.

When I think of TK, though, I think of the stability and (more importantly) respectability he brought to the Twins’ organization.  There was no “Twins way” (pitching, defense, fundamentals, etc.) before Mr. Kelly took the reigns.  Both during and since his tenure, however, the Twins have developed into a model baseball organization from the bottom up (with a few hiccups along the way, of course).

Thus, I am happy to see TK given the ultimate honor in the Twins organization.

2. Camilo Pascual was voted into the Twins Hall of Fame (seen here in Senators dress)…

Camilo spent all but the tail end of his career with the Senators/Twins.  His curveball is compared to Bert Blyleven’s by old-timers, he racked up impressive strikeout totals for his day, and (during his prime) routinely completed half of the games he started.

Camilo also had that ” ace” persona about him, where he was the guy you wanted to have the ball in the big games.

I never got to see Camilo pitch, obviously, but I’ve “heard/read” enough to convince me that he belongs in the Twins’ HOF.

Tiger Cub Prince

After hearing the news yesterday that Prince Fielder signed a monumental deal with the Detroit Tigers, I was conflicted as to my response.

On one hand, I have always been a huge fan of Fielder, who I rank as probably my favorite non-Twins baseball player.

I have always enjoyed his violent and powerful (yet just somehow controlled) swing that produces such massive power…

As well as his youthful exuberance for playing the game…

At the same time, though, I dread the thought of him facing Twins pitching more than six games per year (now MUCH more).  He’ll have no trouble jacking them out of Target Field on multiple occasions, I’m afraid.

Rolling The Dice

Yesterday, the Twins announced the one-year signing of former Detroit Tigers reliever Joel Zumaya.  I’ve always like this guy, what with his blazing fastball and overall intimidating presence.  This guy can be a game-changer out of the pen.

Why is this not bigger news, then?  Because the last time Zumaya threw a major league pitch (at Target Field, oddly enough), this was the result…

Yeah, he pretty much completely blew out his arm (fractured elbow) and writhed in agony out on the Target Field mound in 2010.

Supposedly his rehab is going quite well, but it remains to be seen if he can ever regain the health and confidence to be dominant again.  Considering the short duration and monetary involvement of the Twins in this deal, though, it sure seems like a risk worth taking (considering how desperate we are for strong bullpen arms).

Notes:

-The Twins and Glen Perkins reached a one-year deal to avoid arbitration.

HOF ’12: Barry Larkin

Barry Larkin, longtime Cincinnati Reds SS, is now a Hall of Famer.  My two comments on this year’s class:

1. Good for Barry.  He (from what I hear/read) was a class act, hustler, and loyal to the city of Cincinnati.  I got to see the end of his career, and he was always (96-early 2000s) one of the most well-rounded shortstops in the game.

2. Please do not be offended by this, but Larkin doesn’t strike me as a HOFer.  He was the epitome of stability (and his stats reflect as such), but never really excelled in any phase of the game enough for me to have voted for him (had I procured a vote).

Your thoughts?  Anyone out there have a strong case for Mr. Larkin?  I’m open to re-interpretation considering how long he played before I began watching baseball.

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