Results tagged ‘ Cliff Lee ’

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.

Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

Thumbs Up:

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Joe Mauer winning the AL Gold Glove award for catchers. Doesn’t get much better behind the plate.  Was surprised to NOT see Torii Hunter’s name included in the group.  It’s been awhile since that happened.

Thumbs Down:

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Yep, it’s probably going to happen.  Ho hum…just another lefthanded ace to shut us down when we see them again in the 2011 ALDS.

Congrats, Giants!

imagesCAFJXHFZ.jpgTonight, I want to congratulate the San Francisco Giants on their 2010 World Series championship!

Your team may have had to struggle just to make it to October, but once you got there you rode Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, and your veteran leadership (how many World Series has Edgar Renteria starred in?!) all the way to the promised land, even knocking off the mighty Cliff Lee to finish things off.

Savor this night, as you never know when it may come again.  However, this squad (even the bit players) will be immortalized along the facility hallways and organization reunions for all-time.

Are You Watching Closely?

Man, it’s been awhile since I’ve written on this blog. I guess this year, I’m taking the annual loss to the Yankees in the playoffs a bit harder than usual.

To be honest, I’m not even going to comment on that ALDS.  If you are curious as to some analysis about why we were beaten by the Yankees again, just look at two older posts from this blog:

http://zkonedog.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/ramoswilson1.jpgarchives/2009/10/why_we_lost_theory_1_we_beat_o.html

http://zkonedog.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/ramoswilson1.jpgarchives/2009/10/why_we_lost_theory_2_we_were_o.html

Just change around a few of the names and faces, and that (once again) perfectly explains why the Twins can’t quite topple the mighty Yanks (even though a team like Texas doesn’t seem to have much trouble with them).

What I want to look at right now, instead, is a huge missed opportunity.  After seeing Cliff Lee (Game 1 WS start aside) pretty much buzz-saw his way through the playoffs once again, I can’t help but wondering if Twins execs shouldn’t be “watching closely” as to the difference one ace pitcher can make.

Consider this:

Throughout the regular season, the Twins were the far superior team than Texas.  In those final months of the year, we practically ran away with the #2 seed in the American League.  The ultimate turning point, though, came at the All-Star break, when we had a chance at acquiring Mr. Lee…

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However, it seemed as if Wilson Ramos…

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…was the stumbling block (at least as reported in the papers) as to why the deal fell through.

Basically, the way I understand it, the Twins didn’t want to give up such a touted prospect for a guy who they knew they would only be renting, especially at a time when a playoff spot was not a given at that point.

Here’s what boggles my mind, though.  Ramos eventually did get shipped out of town, but for the services of one Matt Capps, who did relatively nothing to lock down a solid closing role and was a non-factor in the playoffs.

Now, on one hand, I get what the mid-market (with the new stadium) Twins were trying to do, and that is not tie up too much money in a short-term player when our own talent will need to be paid again soon.  I just wish that Twins execs would have taken a page out of the 2009 Vikings handbook.  The Vikes gambled on Brett Favre, and it took them to the NFC Championship game with a magical season.  Why couldn’t the Twins have done the same?!

I truly believe that we were a much better team than the one that lost to the Yankees in a short three games.  We could hit, field, and pitch (despite a lack of a star bullpen) quite well, but we were just missing that one ace who could give us that confidence-building lead in the series.  Cisco and Pavano did their best, but once it got to Duensing it was all but over.

As much as I hate to say it, the window may have just closed a bit.  Thome’s status is uncertain, Hardy/Hudson might both be gone (leading the old faithful Punto/Casilla middle infield that inspires little confidence both on the field and in the box), and who knows if Pavano can put together another inspired season again (if he even does return).  As evidenced by Texas bouncing the Yanks rather easily, they were ripe for the picking this year.  It just would have taken one ace…the one ace we didn’t gamble on.

Twins execs…are you watching closely?

Quick ALDS Preview: Rays vs. Rangers

carl-crawford-ap2.jpgI’ll take the Rays in this one. Not only did they match the Yankees step for step this season, but guys like Carl Crawford (above) can beat you almost single handedly with gap power, speed, and just plain getting on base and wreaking havoc.

Unless Cliff Lee can work his magic again, I don’t think the Rangers can pull this one off (especially at the Trop).

Delmon (And Co.) Demolish The Royals

Twins_Royals_Baseball_sff_184639_game.jpgWow…my first post since the All-Star break.  I guess the trips up north (with no Internet access) are severely affecting this blog (yet also severely improving my summer, so it all evens out!).

Remember all those unanswered questions at the break?  Unfortunately, many are still lingering.  However, the Twins have been able to take care of business against the downtrodden of the AL East (Baltimore) and Central (Kansas City) to jump right back into the AL Central race.

Today, powered by home runs from Delmon Young…excuse me, the Unstoppable Delmon Young (!)…and Jason Repko in the first two innings, the Twins finished off a sweep of the KC Royals.  Duensing pitched another decent game out of the starting rotation, and (besides Jose Mijares) the pen did a nice job of closing the door on a 6-4 victory.

During the series, the Twins outscored the Royals 36-7.  Of course, guys like Butera, Repko, and Valencia won’t have three/four-hit games against the good teams in the league, but series like this serve as a good confidence-builder going forward.

Notes:

-No imminent trade rumors coming out of TwinCo.  Haren (Anaheim) and Lee (Texas) have already been dealt, and Oswalt is likely much too expensive.  Thus, any improvement will likely come from middle-of-the-road talent this weekend, or some waiver-wire guys in September (like Pavano last year).

Preview (56-46, 2nd, 0.5 GB CWS): TBA vs. Scott Baker (8-9, 5.00). After an off-day Thursday, the Twins have a “quickie” three-game home series against Seattle before embarking on another road trip (this time much more potentially menacing).

No Lee…No Problem?

world-series-new-york-yankees-philadelphia-phillies-cc-sabathia-cliff-lee.jpgWell, if the current trade buzz is accurate (and it probably is, as when the Yankees want a guy they usually get him), those two guys could be teammates in pinstripes in a few short weeks or days.

Most hard-core Twins fans should be about drowned in their soup over that news, as a Lee-Sabathia-Pettite rotation would be nearly unstoppable, but perhaps all is not yet lost.

A few weeks ago, Houston Astro Roy Oswalt announced his desire to be traded from the pathetic ‘Stros:

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Just a few years ago, this guy was considered one of the top three pitchers in the National League, until injuries and pathetic team play dropped him down a notch.  He’s healthy now, though, and putting together a solid season on the mound.

I actually like his case better than Cliff Lee’s, because likely we wouldn’t have to give up BOTH Ramos and Hicks to obtain him, and we might even have a chance to sign him next year (he might not just be a rent-a-player).

So, if the Yanks do jump off the Cliff, perhaps we can still land a solid starter in his abscence.

It Could Be Worse…At Least We Aren’t Cleveland

Last night, the Twins got pounded by the Blue Jays…plain and simple:

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They homered us right out of their stadium, beating up on Scott Baker in the process.  Besides a solo shot from Michael Cuddyer, we couldn’t do squat against their pitchers and ended up in third place in the standings because of it.

However, as I lamented that fact, I happened to flip over to Lebron James TV (oh, sorry, aka ESPN) to hear “The Big Decision”.  After hearing the outcome (James to the Heat), I’m just glad I’m not a sports fan in Cleveland.  Consider:

lebron-james3.jpg The Cavaliers just lost (arguably) the best player in the NBA and, despite what their owner says, will likely not win a championship before he does.  I don’t follow professional basketball closely enough to say that with impunity, but without King James they will be a worse team…plain and simple.

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The Browns are just as exciting as their pure orange logo, having one decent season (which only proved to be a few lucky passes from Derek Anderson to Braylon Edwards) since their franchise resurrection in the 1990s.

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The saddest case, though, is probably that of the Cleveland Indians.  Three seasons ago, they were on the verge of a World Series berth, what with CC Sabathia and Cliff Lee in the rotation and Travis Hafner looking like the natural version of Mark McGwire.  Now, they are battling the KC Royals for the AL Central cellar.

So, perhaps I should just be thankful for a competitive ballclub…although I still want an SP and a closer!

Preview (45-40, 3rd, 1.5 GB CWS): Francisco Liriano (6-6, 3.32) vs. Justin Verlander (10-5, 3.85). Ace vs. Ace.  Never has a team needed the All-Star break more than the Twins do right now, but they need to keep the fire burning for three more crucial division games.

Making ‘Em Sweat

Twins_Blue_Jays_Baseball__sff_180650_game.jpgLast night, the Minnesota Twins look for all the world to be headed to another disappointing loss on the road.  Down 5-2 after five innings, Carl Pavano was getting beat by the long ball and the bats weren’t doing much of anything (besides grounding to Lyle Overbay, that is).

However, that is when the bats started to heat up:

Twins_Blue_Jays_Baseball__sff_180610_game.jpg Not only did it take back-to-back jacks from Morneau and Kubel to jump back into the game, but big hits were also needed from Mauer (dinger), and doubles by Thome and Delmon Young (who finished the game 3-3) since the pen kept serving up the meatballs.

As much as everyone is worried about the Twins right now, I think that our hitting is what it is and we aren’t going to change anything.  If we continue to trot out a Span-O-Dawg-Mauer-Morneau-Cuddy-Kubes-Big D-Big Jim-JJ lineup, we’ll score runs:

 If it doesn’t, then we probably just don’t deserve to make the playoffs anyway, so why worry?  Thus, are biggest area of improvement will be pitching.  Cliff Lee would be huge, but enough so to mortage away guys like Wilson Ramos and Aaron Hicks?  At this point, I would have to say yes.  With that kind of potent lineup day in and day out, we may actually have a chance to take on the mighty Yanks in the playoffs this year (one always has to assume that the AL road to the World Series runs through the Big Apple), but not without a few pitchers to hold back their firepower.  Sending Lee, Liriano, and Pavano/Slowey/Baker/Blackie to the mound would give as at least a fair shake against their big bats, I think, though of course nothing is guaranteed.

Another key…more pictures like this:

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Notes:

-Too bad Delmon Young won’t win the Final Vote balloting, but Kevin Youkilis probably deserves it.  Just as long as Swish doesn’t make it…man I hate that guy!

Preview (45-38, 2nd, 0.5 GB DET): Kevin Slowey (8-5, 4.57) vs. Marc Rzepczynski (0-0, 0.00).  The Tigers needed some late-inning heroics to preserve their division lead last night, so let’s keep the pressure on.  I don’t want to be two games back heading into Comerica this weekend.

Don’t Be Distracted (or One Pressing Need)

Mariners_Lee_Debut_Baseball_750785194.jpgJust recently here in Minnesota, the guy pictured above (Cliff Lee, for those living under a brick of Target Field limestone) has been on the brains of all Twins fans (and for good reason, as he could be a great addition to our ballclub).

However, games like tonight only go to show that another need is just as pressing…a true closer.

 When Mr. Joe Nathan used to come into games (to the fans urging others to “Stand up and Shout!”), you got the feeling that everything would be okay, and most of the time (if not the ALDS against the Yanks…grrr) it was.

With Jon Rauch, though, the exact opposite is true.  He is basically just your average middle reliever who challenges hitters and lives by the law of averages (that which states that a pitcher should be able to pitch one inning without giving up a run).  However, come October or even a steamy September, and I can see Rauch losing too many key games for us.  Past demons aside, I would (if given the option…booo) send Nathan out to the mound every time against, say, the Yanks again over Rauch any day of the week.

Tonight was just another example.  Two great teams, the Twins and Rays, played a hard-fought game into the eighth inning (featuring more heroics from Delmon Young both at the plate and in the field), when the Twins finally edged out in front.  However, Rauch then blew the save that led to Matty Guerrier’s eventually loss.

So, with all the pandering over Cliff Lee, let’s not forget another pressing need…that “last guy” spot in the ninth.  Rauch isn’t preposterously bad, but also probably not good enough to make it through the playoffs, either.

Notes:

-Carl Crawford may just be the best player in baseball.  Blazing speed, incredible defense, and hits for power/average.  If I’m building a major league baseball team right now, he’s A-1 on my short list.

Preview (43-36, 1st, 1.0 GA DET): David Price (11-3, 2.44) vs. Scott Baker (6-7, 4.97).

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