Results tagged ‘ Michael Cuddyer ’

Saying Goodbye…And Hello

I hated seeing Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel leave for Colorado & Arizona, respectively.  They have been incredibly fun to watch the last decade or so.  I liked Kubel’s no-nonsense approach to success, as well as his live bat and always-improving defensive skills.  Cuddyer, of course, was the epitome of the “Twins way” with his positive attitude, versatility, and toughness.  There is no way that losing both of them will improve the team in any way, shape, or form for 2012.

The trouble, of course, is that the Twins (because of last season) dug themselves into such a hole that the competitive future is almost surely beyond ’12.  As such, as much as I hate to say it, not overpaying for Cuddyer & Kubel was probably a smart decision.  We gave them both fair offers (at least from what I heard/read) and they chose greener (literally) pastures.  More power to them.

In Cuddy’s case, he’s never really developed into an elite player.  He strikes out (on those @#$% outside pitches in the dirt!) far too much, is prone to long slumps, and could just as easily hit .260 with 15 homers next season.  We can’t tie up any more money in that risk (see: Mauer/Morneau; unluckiness)

With Kubel, he could absolutely mash subpar pitching…but struggled mightily (sometimes even embarrassingly so) against the elites (see: Yankees in playoffs).  Plus, the move to Target Field really dulled his right field gap home run power.

So, as much as I hate to see them go, I have to conclude that it makes sense at this point in the Twins’ future.

We did, however, sign Josh Willingham (formerly of the Marlins, Nats, & most recently A’s)…

I don’t really know much about Willingham, but I like the reviews of him I hear from other players.  He seems to have some pop in his bat as well.  What I like the most, however, is that his career OPS is over .800.  It isn’t tremendous, of course, but far better than most players in our lineups last year.  At the very least, he can hopefully provide some veteran leadership to what promises to be an interesting mish-mash of a team in ’12.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot…

We also got Jason Marquis (of basically every NL team, I believe…!).  Considering the little money we paid him, this could be a steal…provided he comes back from a leg injury sustained last season.  He’s a workhorse who prides himself (much like Pavano) on taking the ball every fifth day.  Lord knows we need more of those types around these parts.

Vacation Reflection: Part Two

Earlier on this blog, I recalled the first part of my recent vacation: a trip to the Field of Dreams movie site.  Well, the second (and primary) destination of the trip was the South Side of Chicago, to see my Twins take on the White Sox at US Cellular Field.

From a stadium perspective, I was impressed.  Though perhaps not in the same “romantic class” as a Target Field or Kauffman Stadium, I thought The Cell was still more impressive than the more modern Miller Park in Milwaukee.  I was expecting worse, to be honest.

Now, I don’t want to denigrate the White Sox fans by saying this, but seeing a game at The Cell is a heckuva lot different than here in Minny.  Perhaps the inflamed tensions of the Twins’ recent ownership of the Sox came into play here, but Chicago fans seem much more intense than those residing in Twins Territory.  Over here, we live by the “Minnesota Nice” creed and sit on our hands and mouths quite a bit.  In Chi-town, those hands and mouths are wide-open.

I don’t think one type of “fandom” is necessarily better than the other, but being used to “passive” it was eye-opening to see a more agressive style of root, root, rooting for the home team.

Notes:


If the Twins completely fall out of the race after being disgraced (20-6) against Texas, the above picture will be the image of the season for the Minnesota Twins.  Mr. Everything.

Preview (47-55, 4th, 3.5 GB CWS): Carl Pavano (6-7, 4.24) vs. CJ Wilson (10-4, 2.94)

Pitching, Pitching, Pitching Puts NL Over AL

http://i.cdn.turner.com/si/.element/swf/4.1/global/cvp/si_embed.swf?context=embed&videoId=mlb/2011/07/13/071211.mlb.highlights.all.star.game

In the new “Era of the Pitcher”, how fitting was it that this contest was dominated by one big bomb (from Prince Fielder) and suffocating hurling from the NL mound studs.  The AL fared okay, but without their big horses to match up, the NL just had too much firepower coming from that mound.

On the Twins front, Michael Cuddyer saw one pitch…and flied out to shallow right field.  He also played two innings at first base.  Not all that spectacular, but I’m sure a thrill for him nonetheless.

I always look forward to the Midsummer Classic each year, and this one (despite a lackluster AL performance) didn’t disappoint.

On to the second half!

My Favorite Twin

As the youngest of youngsters, my Twins hero (predictably) was Kirby Puckett:

Then in the mid-90s, Rick Aguilera (for whatever reason) was my favorite Twin:

Brad Radke then picked up the mantra:

Who passed o the torch to Joe Nathan:

However, with Nathan just now perhaps getting back on the horse after Tommy John, I needed a new “favorite player”…that one guy who either comes in from the pen or strides to the plate and make you inch forward in your seat with anticipation.

Right now, for me, that player is Danny Valencia…

Sure, he’s batting in the low .200s this year after an amazing rookie 2010 stretch run surge.  But I just see so much potential in him; maybe our first bona-fide hot corner man since Corey Koskie.  He hits for power, drives the ball to the gaps, has a flair for the dramatic, and plays a solid (if sometimes spectacular) 3b.  Plus, he has just enough ego to know he’s good, yet has a solid manager and good teammates to keep that Florida ego in check.

So, as of right now, Danny Valencia is my favorite Twin.  Time will tell if V will be around for the long haul (like Cuddyer), but considering his youth and considerable talents already, I’d say he’s well on his way.

Notes:

-A good start to the series with the Rays in beating David Price.  Duesing was dominating today and Valencia (heh heh), Cuddy, and Nishioka provided the offensive firepower.

Preview (37-46, 4th, 4.0 GB CWS): James Shields (8-5, 2.45) vs. Scott Baker (6-5, 3.15)

Michael Cuddyer: Our All-Star

Congrats to Michael Cuddyer on making the AL All-Star squad as a reserve.

Though perhaps not utterly deserving based purely on the stats, I’m glad Cuddy will be making the trip to Arizona next week because of what he means to the Twins organization.

All teams need leaders, and Michael is exactly that right now for this team.  He came up through the Twins’ system as a blue-chip prospect, is the only player to be a part of every Twins division title since 2002, and will play anywhere you ask him (I’ve seen him at first, second, third, left, center, and right).

So, in a down year for individual Twins, I’m excited that Cuddy gets this thrill.  I even have a crazy idea for AL skipper Ron Washington: Remember Caesar Tover?  Well, how about a similar Cuddy experiment July 12?!  Think about it…!

The Same Mistake

Last night at Target Field, I had an upper-deck, bird’s-eye view to one of what had to be the biggest Twins collapses in recent memory.  Aside from the obvious blame on Matt Capps for not really getting anyone important out in the ninth inning, this game was lost by our manager.  What makes it even more painful is the fact that, earlier in the game, the opposing manager of the Milwaukee Brewers made the exact same mistake…

In the early innings, the Twins absolutely blasted Brewers starter Narveson.  Cuddy and Danny V. hit back-to-back jacks to almost an identical spot at one point, and the Twins coasted to a 7-0 lead.  At one point, with the Twins up 4-0, Narveson had thrown almost 100 pitches, given up 11 hits, and yet the Brewer bullpen was JUST STARTING to get loose.  I figured that the inability to get a reliever into the game who could get outs would be the Brewers’ undoing.

Sadly, I was quite mistaken, and the shoe ended up firmly planted on the other foot.  Leading 7-4 going into the bottom of the ninth, “closer” Matt Capps allowed four runs to give the Brewers the lead and eventual victory.  While, to be honest, I am not all that surprised about Capps, as I believe he is the most overrated pitcher on our entire team, what absolutely perplexes me is why Gardy would leave him in the game for so long?

If you know anything about Capps, you know that when me melts down, every single fan in the ballpark knows it.  He’s a control pitcher with no dominant pitch (not exactly a closer repetoire, to be sure), so when the control isn’t present, it gets ugly quick and doesn’t end for a while.  Kind of like if Nick Blackburn doesn’t have his sinker; you KNOW he will struggle.

So, with the game hanging in the balance and potentially Joe Nathan or Phil Dumatrait ready to come in and (at the very least) secure a tie ballgame going into the home half of the ninth, Gardy sticks with Capps who promptly gives up a single and the game with it.  If anyone has one rational reason why Capps was allowed to pitch after allowing the tying run, please let me know.  To add insult to injury, Dumatrait then came in and got Prince Fielder to ground out on one pitch.

I’m sorry to say it, Gardy, but this one is on you.  Everyone makes mistakes, so let’s move on and try to take the series today, but when everyone in the ballpark knows the tide has turned and the pitcher is rattled, it is YOUR job to get him off that mound pronto.  Please do not let the “traditional closer role” dictate your thinking.  Ditto for “matchups”.  Capps needed to be removed, I don’t care if Jim Hoey is coming out of that pen (a profound and terrible statement in and of itself).

Preview (35-46, 4th, 5.5 GB CWS): Zack Greinke (7-3, 5.63) vs. Nick Blackburn (6-6, 3.64)

Spark & Fire

Spark:

Twins_Orioles_Baseball_sff_212198_game.jpg

Gardy said he likes the Tolbert-Casilla combination up the middle. If the Twins keeping winning, Cuddy can put away his small glove.

Fire:

New call-up (but old hand) Jim Hoey came into the game throwing these…

 

Very impressive, to say the least

Two wins in a row?!  Against these hapless O’s, it should be more as the week plays out.

Preview (): Carl Pavano (1-1, 3.60) vs. RHP Jake Arrieta (1-1, 7.04).

What I Want To See On Opening Day…

What I want to see Friday night in Toronto…

-Denard Span having a 9-pitch at-bat and drawing a walk.

-Alexi Casilla getting through a whole game without a bonehead mistake of some kind (not holding my breath on this one)

-Nishioka lining a single to left/center/right and being halfway to first base before the ball leaves the infield.

-The M&M boys together in the lineup.

-Cuddyer gunning a ball in from RF.

-Danny Valencia just being himself…or cool.

-Pavano laboring through 7-8 innings and keeping us in the game.

-Jim Thome just swinging.  Seriously…even a whiff is epic with that guy.

And finally, what I’ve been waiting to here for over a year now…

If that song is playing, I’ll know a win is within reach!!

The Wart Heard ‘Round The World (aka How Far We’ve Come)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FF6fjVpyqGw

 

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I remember a time, back in the late 1990s, when the Minnesota Twins were the scourge of major league baseball. We were mockingly called “Twinkies”, the Metrodome was (on most nights when the Yankees weren’t in town) a sea of blue seats, the playing surface was literally coming up at the seams, and we rooted for players like Jay Canizaro, Brent Gates, Chip Hale, Bob Tewksbury, and Pat Mahomes.  We almost got sold to a guy named “Beaver” in 1998, and the Pohlad-Selig contraction deal nearly swallowed us up in 2002.

Contrast this with the news today, where the removal of a wart on the bottom of Michael Cuddyer’s foot was the top news (top news!) in my “MLB” module of My Yahoo! today.  Yes, a wart, which will keep him out of two weeks of meaningless spring training games.

How far we’ve come (for better or worse), indeed.

Oh, Danny Boy (aka Where Did This Guy Come From?!)


Tigers_Twins_Baseball_sff_191572_game.jpgI think the Twins have a new “Mr. Clutch”.  After years of struggling with experimental third basemen since Corey Koskie decided to move on to his native land, names like Cuddyer, Tiffee, Batista, Buscher, Lamb, and Harris come to mind, from out of nowhere this year comes Danny Valencia to provide the tandem of great defense and superb hitting, especially in the clutch, as he proved tonight with his walk-off hit against the Tigers.

The Twins have needed a guy like him for a long, long time.

Preview (77-56, 1st, 4.0 GA CWS): Justin Verlander (14-8, 3.58) vs. Scott Baker (12-9, 4.55).

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