Results tagged ‘ Nationals ’

Right Move…But Right Guy?

Just heard today that the Twins got closer Matt Capps from the Washington Nationals…

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From a purely personnel standpoint, GM Bill Smith got it right. I’m glad he realized that Jon Rauch is not a playoff-caliber closer, and that adding a reliever to allow Duensing a spot in the starting rotation might be just as good as a high-caliber, high-risk, rental-player trade.

The only thing I’m concerned about is that, from what I’ve heard, Capps isn’t all that steadier than Mr. Rauch.  I don’t know too much about him, though, so I would appreciate some comments from more informed minds on the matter.

For now, though, I’ll say I like this trade going forward.  Pavano, Liriano, Duensing isn’t too shabby at the front end of the rotation, Blackburn will likely be pitching in big games (and probably suceeding, knowing him) in September again, and anything from Baker/Slowey is a plus at this point.

Just In Case…

Royals_Twins_Baseball_sff_175619_game.jpgTonight, the Twins figured out Zack Grienke and got a superb outing from Kevin Slowey en route to a 7-3 victory over the still-hapless (especially on the road) KC Royals.

However, the entire baseball universe was ecplised today by the debut of young pitching phenom Stephen Strasburg of the Washington Nationals:

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Just in case he turns out to be the next Nolan Ryan, Roger Clemens, or Randy Johnson, I would be remiss not to mention this spectacular debut, so future generations (when they dig out my computer from all the rubble and power up MLBlogs!) could be privvy to his initial greatness.

Against the Pittsburgh Pirates tonight, Strasburg struck out 14 batters in seven innings, whiffing the last seven men he faced in the contest.  He gave up a two-run that only left the park because the velocity on the pitch was so nasty, but teammates Ryan Zimmerman, Adam Dunn, and Josh Willingham also homered to get the young kid a victory.

I’ve been watching baseball for quite awhile now, but I’ve never seen anything like this: a youngster so thoroughly dominant at this (the infant) stage of his career.  Sure, it was only Pittsburgh, arguably the worst team in the majors this season, but he had them completely flummoxed.  It should be even more fun to watch him terrorize good hitters as his innaugural season progresses.

Notes:

-It was nice to hear from Joe Nathan (in the broadcast booth) tonight, as I really miss him and wish him all the best in his recovery from Tommy John Surgery.  He seems like a class act and all-around nice guy.

-The only bad news of the night: Orlando Hudson was put on the 15-day DL from lingering wrist soreness after last week’s collision with Denard Span.  Doesn’t sound like anything too serious, so hopefully some rest will allow it to clear itself up and not linger all season long.

Preview (34-24, 1st, 3.5 GA DET): Kyle Davies (4-4, 5.49) vs. Carl Pavano (5-6, 4.11)

2010 MLB Picks

crystal-ball.jpgMy “official” predictions for the 2010 MLB season (before the season gets too far along and starts to affect my judgement!):

AL East

New York

Boston (Wild Card)

Tampa Bay

Baltimore

Toronto

AL Central

Minnesota

Chicago

Kansas City

Detroit

Cleveland

AL West

Los Angeles

Oakland

Texas

Seattle

NL East

Philadelphia

Atlanta (Wild Card)

New York

Florida

Washington

NL Central

St. Louis

Chicago

Milwaukee

Cincinnati

Houston

Pittsburgh

NL West

San Francisco

Los Angeles

Arizona

Colorado

San Diego

AL Champ: New York

NL Champ: Atlanta

World Series Champ: Atlanta Braves

Questions, comments, rants, profanity-laced tirades?!

All According To Plan

The last time reliever Jon Rauch was on the mound to start a ninth-inning save situation, he was closing out games for the worst team in the National League…

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Now, he’ll (hopefully) be doing much of the same, only this time for a competitive squad in the junior circuit:

Jon_Rauch_2009.jpg Today, Minnesota Twins manager Ron Gardenhire announced that Rauch will be closing games for the Twins in 2010 (at least to start the year).  This didn’t surprise me one bit, considering the big man’s experience in the final frame.  If he suceeds, then great.  If he fails, then perhaps Neshek will be ready.

No word yet on an entrance theme.  Perhaps something from “Papa Roach”?!

In other late Spring Training news:

Brendan Harris hit .357 during the Florida exhibitions, Nick Punto finished in the low .200s.  Guess who will be starting on Opening Day?  If you know Gardy, the answer will be obvious.

Pondering The Closer(s)

Well Twins fans, has it really come to this…the dreaded CBC (Closer By Committee).  My thoughts on the candidates:

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The safe choice. Matt Guerrier is a solid setup man, and would likely do a tidy job in the ninth as well.  The problem: He’s oh so valuable as that solid setup guy.  I’d only go to Matty if another candidate fails.

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Well, it’s clear from the picture that Jon Rauch would have the role if intimidation was the only factor.  He’s got a live fastball, but can’t always control it.  He’s the guy I would throw out there to begin with if Neshek isn’t ready.  Has previous closing experience in Washington, for what it’s worth.

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When we last saw Jose Mijares, the Yankees were walking off.  I would be really scared trusting this guy to the ninth inning in pretty much any situation.  He’s too much of a head-case and easily melts down (the worst character trait of a potential closer).

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The picture says it all for Jesse Crain.

Neshekcloser.jpg Of course, if Pat Neshek successfully shows he has come back from Tommy John surgery, this whole debate will be moot.  I mean, would you want that coming at you?  Every time he’s been healthy he’s dominated batters, so barring arm issues he should be the guy.

A Decade Of Twins Memories

I know I’m a little late on this, as the New Years parties are all but forgotten already, but I wanted to take a few moments to recount some of my favorite Minnesota Twins memories of the decade past:

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2000: When a team features such players as Jay Canizaro, Butch Huskey, Jason Maxwell, Sean Bergman, and Mike Lincoln, it was a bit difficult to really get excited about the teams’ chances.  However, having just been introduced to the sport and completely enthralled by it, I can remember going to the basically-empty Metrodome (been to a T-Wolves game lately?) with my Dad, buying an outfield seat, and then moving right up close to home plate because not even the ushers cared what you did back then!

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2001: The team finally comes together and starts winning thanks to players like Doug Mientkiewicz, Corey Koskie, Jacque Jones, Torii Hunter, Brad Radke, and Eric Milton.  The Twins didn’t win the division, but after nearly a decade of losing baseball, they finally brought some excitement back to the Dome.

contractbud.jpg2002: The year I learned to hate Bud Selig.  In an effort to make MLB more profitable, Selig hatches a scheme to contract two franchise to bolster the others.  The obvious choice were the Montreal Expos (later to become the Washington Nationals), but the Twins?  Obviously some back-room buyout deals between Buddy-Boy and Twins owner Carl Pohlad were occuring.  Luckily, MLB realized that contraction was ill-advised and allowed the Twins to easily capture their first division title since 1991.

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2003: After a dominating 2002 campaign, the Twins were nearly out of the division race at midseason of ’03. However, after acquiring outfielder Shannon Stewart from the Blue Jays to bat lead-off, the Twins took off and won the division nearly going-away.

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2004: Of the back-to-back-to-back division title winning teams, this squad was the best.  In the ALDS, the Twins took the first game at Yankee Stadium and were on the brink of going up 2-0 heading home.  However, Joe Nathan (who had taken over for the departed Eddie Guardado and been completely dominant the entire season) led an extra-inning lead slip away and give the Yankees momentum to win that game and then sweep both at the Dome.  Of course, maybe it was just fate, as those Yanks proceeded to go up 3-0 on the Red Sox and well, Dave Roberts can tell you the rest…

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2005: Not a fun year for Twins Territory.  We didn’t outright suck, but we never really competed for the crown, either.  Even the usually stoic Brad Radke was overheard griping about the lack of run support from a horrendous offensive unit.  Also, this was the year that tensions erupted between Torii Hunter and Justin Morneau and a few blows were thrown, one that somehow connected with little Lew Ford!

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2006: The Twins spent one day in first place, but since it was the final day they made it count!  They played well pretty much the entire season, but so did the Tigers.  A late-season hot streak pushed the Twins over the top on the season’s final day.

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2007: How quickly a team can go from “contending” to “rebuilding”. In the first losing season under Ron Gardenhire, a lack of fundamentals and downright sloppy baseball made the final month of the season almost unwatchable.

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 2008: After underachieving all season, the Twins basically needed to win out the final week of the season, starting with a sweep of the White Sox, whom they were chasing for the division title. I was at all three of those games at the Dome, and they are (easily) the most exciting games I have ever been to. The Twins would later lose to the Tighty Whities in a one-game playoff, but not before some of the most exciting baseball I have ever witnessed.

http://minnesota.twins.mlb.com/media/video.jsp?mid=200910067016143&c_id=min

http://minnesota.twins.mlb.com/media/video.jsp?mid=200910067016879&c_id=min

 2009: (Read: 2008).  This time the Twins make the one-game playoff count in the most exciting single baseball game I have ever watched!

It was a great decade of Twins baseball memories…why not try for another one?!

Everyday Eddie Still Hanging Around

340x.jpgBy and large, I’ve never been one to criticize a player for sticking around a sport for too long (I was fascinated by Michael Jordan on the Wizards and, let’s face it, Brett Favre this season), as I feel that is a choice that is dictated both by the player and the league he plays in, but I sincerely hope that “Everyday” Eddie Guardado doesn’t embarass himself in the attempt.  It was just announced that he has signed a minor league contract with the Washington Nationals.

Over the past few seasons, it has become clear to me that Eddie just doesn’t have it anymore.  He was great with the Twins as a middle reliever, had a run of luck (and great defense behind him) as a closer, but since then has been average bordering on washed up.

I hope that Eddie G. proves me wrong, but I just don’t see it happening.

MLB Predictions: 2009

1908Cubs.jpgEach year, usually after receiving the Sports Illustrated Baseball Preview issue, I make a complete set of MLB picks.  It’s always fun to look back at them and see how right/wrong (wrong far outnumbering the right!) I was at the end of the season.  Here they are for ’09:

AL East:

Boston

Tampa Bay (Wild Card)

New York

Toronto

Baltimore

AL Central:

Minnesota

Chicago

Kansas City

Cleveland

Detroit

AL West:

Los Angeles

Texas

Seattle

Oakland

NL East:

Philadelphia

New York (Wild Card)

Florida

Atlanta

Washington

NL Central:

Chicago

Milwaukee

St. Louis

Cincinnati

Houston

Pittsburgh

NL West:

Los Angeles

Arizona

San Francisco

Colorado

San Diego

AL Champion: Boston

NL Champion: Chicago

World Series Champion: Chicago

So, after 100 long seasons of waiting, I think this is the year that the Cubbies will finally win the big one.  I just think that their pitching is too good not to make a deep playoff run.

A Typical Twins Signing

Ayala.jpgBesides signing Matt Guerrier to a one-year contract, the Twins also added reliever Luis Ayala, who spent portions of last season with the Washington Nationals and the New York Mets.  Ayala will get $1.3 million for one season.

I don’t know a whole lot about this Ayala (although that should be pretty self-explanatory considering he played for the Expos/Nats franchise most of his career), but I don’t like his 2008 stats: 2-10, 75 IP, 5.71 ERA.  However, I also noticed that Luis has had some very solid past seasons (’02-’05) with the Expos/Nats, posting sub-3.00 ERAs.

This is a typical Twins move in that Ayala is a guy who nobody is beating down the door for, so his price is pretty low.  If he pitches well, that would be great, but he’s also just as important to create some competition for the setup man role in Spring Training.  Ayala, Matt Guerrier, and Jose Mijares will now all be battling for the “exclusive rights” to work the eighth inning when the Twins have the lead, and competition for jobs is something the Twins have always liked to put a priority on (especially with their young players).

It’s not quite Brandon Lyon or Eric Gagne, but we’ll see how Ayala pans out.

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