December 2010

Praying For A Legend

HarmonKillebrew34.jpgI think that every state has their own, special sporting legends that seem to transcend the field of play and mean something just a bit more. In Minnesota, that figure was/is Harmon Killebrew.

Now, by the time I became interested in baseball, “The Killer” was already enshrined in Cooperstown, so I don’t have any first-hand insight into the matter, but sometimes you can just tell by the way a guy is talked about.  I haven’t found a person yet who watched Twins baseball in the 1960s-early 70s and DIDN’T idolize Harm.  As a child, my dad rooted for him at the old Met, got his autograph coming out of the stadium (which promptly got stuck in the bicycle spokes, of course…no pristine collector’s cases back then!), and emulated his batting stance and swing on the Little League diamonds.

Thus, I was very saddened to hear that Killebrew has contracted esophogeal cancer.  This may be a tough nut to crack, but (in typical Harmon fashion) he is resolute on beating the diesease.  Pretty mundane stuff for the guy who stared down the likes of Bob Gibson and Don Drysdale, right?

My thoughts and prayers are with the Killebrew family during this rough time.  Having him around as a Twins ambassador reminds me that my elder generation (like my dad) once had heroes too, idolizing the same sort of “mythic” sports heroes I once (and still do) today.

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Good luck Harm!

From The Land Of The Rising Sun…

4TWIN121910.jpgWith JJ Hardy gone to Baltimore and O-Dawg recently signing with San Diego, the Twins needed to make a splash to shore up their middle infield. It doesn’t get a whole lot splashier than this.

For the first time in team history, the Twins organization reached into the Nippon Professional baseball league of Japan to nab Tsuyoshi Nishioka.

Last year, Nishioka hit .346 to lead the Pacific League of Japan, and is expected to either play shortstop or second base on the 2011 Twins.

Of course, as we all well know, transitioning from “east to west” is never a sure prospect.  For every Ichiro Suzuki or Hideki Matsui, there are two Kaz Sasaki’s or Kaz Matsui’s.

I like this move, though, as (if this guy can hit even close to as good as he did in Japan), then he could be a great #2 hole hitter, or even light a little fire under Span for the leadoff spot battle.

Crain-wreck

mlb-twins-orioles.jpgWow…Jesse Crain a White Sock!  My thoughts about one of the most polarizing figures in the Twins bullpen since 2004:

If you have read this blog the last few years (or even just scanning through would probably do the trick), you’ll know the emnity I have towards Crain runs quite deep.  I always thought he vultured his way (via an extraordinary ’04 campaign where he picked up a remarkable amount of late-inning W’s) into good standings with Ron Gardenhire to begin with.  Plus, I’ve never seen a reliever with quite the knack for giving up the same-winning hit.  I won’t do this right now (all Crain’s wrongs litter other posts of mine), but I could name multiple, multiple times where he came in a blew a game.  Had we released him halfway through last season, I would have been shouting on high:

 

However, in the last few months of 2010, a strange thing happened: Crain became absolutely unhittable.  As much as I hated to admit it, I actually WANTED to see him come into games in the later innings, as Guerrier was faltering and the rest of the pen couldn’t find their backside with thier collective arms.  Crain himself credited the change to a new type of snappy curveball he began throwing, but whatever the case he was “the man” for awhile.

That being said, I’m still glad to see that he’s moving on, as I have a troubling feeling (well, not so troubling anymore not that he’s a Pale Hose, I guess) that the old “Crain-wreck” is bound to crop up again in the near future (hopefully against us!).  Now that Bobby Jenks is out of Chicago, maybe the Twins can start a new tradition of owning a certain White Sox reliever…Crain!

Hudson Goes To Cali

twins-hudson-throws-against-white-sox-chicago.jpgOrlando Hudson is a Padre.

When healthy, O-Dawg was a force at the top of our lineup.  However, that healthy state eluded him time and time again.  Just when it seemed as if he had recovered from the previous injury and was getting his stroke back, a new malady would crop up.

Basically, O-Dawg was a one-year rental for a playoff push that never transpired.  Enjoy him, Cali…when he is in the lineup, that is.

Oh yeah, and his DP mate will be Jason Bartlett…

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Small world, huh?!

The G-Man Goeth

asdfasdf.jpg“Our” Matty Guerrier is now a Los Angeles Dodger.

On the practical side of things, the Twins’ bullpen will miss Matty’s arm tremendously.  On the numerous occasions that our entire bullpen seemed to be collapsing all at once, Guerrier was one guy who could usually stem the tide and at least get the defense off the field when no one else could.

However, there’s another part of me that thinks the Dodgers are getting Guerrier’s “last years” as a major leaguer.  For most of his Twins tenure, he would get overused terribly during the first half of the season, and thus lose his effectiveness come September.  Last year, he wasn’t  even overused all that much and he STILL tired down the stretch.

I soemtimes just wonder if middle relievers have a short shelf life…period.  I mean, what is a middle reliever but a guy without closer’s stuff, and without the stamina of a starter.  So, they often have to rely on trickery, arm angles, or pitching to contact to succeed, all things that batters tend to figure out easier than pure heat or pinpoint location.

Thus, while I wish all the best for Matty in LA, I wonder if this isn’t a smart move (financially speaking, of course) for the Twins…dumping a guy BEFORE he loses it, not AFTER.

Have Gun, Will Travel…

http://www.youtube.com/e/tgvxu8QY01s
large_cliff-lee.jpgWell, well, the Yankees didn’t get their man after all…

Talk about a guy (Cliff Lee) who doesn’t mind being a hired gun and throwing home life stability (I don’t know what kind of family he has) to the wind.

First, he develops his talents in Cleveland.  When they can’t afford him, he jumps to Philadelphia to help them make the World Series in 2009.  In 2010, he starts out with the “promising” Mariners, but when they completely collapse he is dealt to Texas and helps THEM get the big show.

Now, after being courted by the Yankees and Rangers, he decides to go back to Philly to join a starting rotation that would also include Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, Cole Hamels, and Joe Blanton.

What a crazy guy (although, the kind of checks he’s cashing must be incredible)!  I guess if you don’t mind not setting down roots anywhere, more power to him.

Happy Trails…

http://www.youtube.com/e/XcYsO890YJY

Two down (gone to the Orioles) for now…

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JJ Hardy: You know, I’m willing to bet that we can find a guy who can hit .268 with no power, no RBI’s, no speed, and who won’t even go through an error-prone stretch in the field.  Didn’t see him as having an impact on our team whatsoever last season (maybe the injured wrist hampered him all season long).

1013-alds-yankees-twins-bas.jpg Brendan Harris: Came from TB (with Delmon) with all this hype, but failed in almost all respects.  Was an abomination at 2B, couldn’t beat out Punto for 3B, and wasn’t athletic enough to hold down SS.  Had one good month or two hitting stretch in three years, otherwise was inconsistent at the very best.

We got a couple fireballers (Jim Hoey and Brett Jacobson) from Baltimore, which sounds like a decent wager for these two mediocre players.

Maybe I’m just in a harsh mood tonight, but I don’t see the Twins missing either of these guys whatsoever.

How I Know I’m A Blogger…

The other day, I realized that I’ve started to think like a blogger.  As soon as I heard the news that Carl Crawford…

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…was nabbed by the Boston Red Sox, my first thought wasn’t even about the unfairness of the baseball economic system or even the rising of a new “Evil Empire” (the fact that it’s the Yankees, Red Sox, and everyone else right now).

No, my first thought went to Rays Renegade (a fellow MLBlog) and how disappointed he must have been to lose his star talent.  Hang in there, man, it happened to me with Torii Hunter and Johan Santana, too.  The Twins still thrived without those talents, and I’m sure the Rays can too (granted, making the playoffs is a thousand times more difficult in that division).

“Dunn” For

As if I needed another reason to be thankful I’m not a White Sox fan…

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The Pale Hose just signed big Adam Dunn to a 4-year deal.

Okay, so last year the Sox don’t bring back Jim Thome because they wanted to get more versatile both on the field and in the batting lineup.  So, he goes to the Twins and helps knock them out of the division race.

Now, they bring in a guy who can’t field a lick and strikes out even more than Big Jimmy.

Boggling.

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