Results tagged ‘ Royals ’

Gags

Before this past weekend becomes too “old news”, I wanted to take a moment to comment on the induction of Greg Gagne into the Minnesota Twins Hall of Fame.

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Here’s the thing: Gagne was solid defensively, did all the “little things” that the Twins organization values, and is the nicest guy you’ll ever chat with.  He also played for both Twins world championship, 1987 and 1991.

The trouble is, Gagne was the epitome of an “average” ballplayer.  His career batting average was .254 (over 15 seasons), and the highest he ever hit in a single season was .280 (and that was post-Twins with the KC Royals).  He hit 111 career homers, stole 109 bases, yet (in one of the most bizarre stats that you’ll never see in today’s game) was actually caught stealing 96 times.  His OPS in any given season never touched .750.

Thus, I can’t say that I agree whatsoever with the Twins’ inception of Gags into their HOF.  I love to see him (and appreciate his contributions) at team reunions and get-togethers, but putting him in cohorts with names like Killebrew, Oliva, Carew, and Puckett really only cheapens that selection group.

However, I have only congratulations for Mr. Gagne now that the deed has been done.  I’m sure it is a great thrill for him.

One other quick note: The Twins once again put on a great show last weekend with their 50th Anniversary Celebration.  The 50 Greatest Twins ceremony was great, while the old-timers game provided a lot of laughs (Kent Hrbek’s divot, primarily) and good memories.  Like Gene Washington taking his hacks with his new team (the Rangers) standing on the top step laughing their butts off…

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Looking Back, Looking Forward

Didn’t get to see the game today, but heard the happy news that the Twins won, AND Jim Thome hit another laser beam into the right field bleachers.

Just a few days ago, Thome hit #584 to pass this guy…

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…on the all-time list.

Now, he’s gunning for this guy (who finished at 586):

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Once Thome passes Frankie and sits at eighth all-time, that is “all” he’ll move up slot-wise on that list this season.  Alex Rodriguez currently has 604, while Sammy Sosa would be catchable at 609 if Thome were to play another season at his current production level.

For now, though, it’s just nice to have a power bat in the middle of the lineup with Morneau still getting too many headaches to risk a comeback.  Let’s just hope now that he can save his energy a bit for the playoffs and the Twins keep fending off the pesky White Sox.

Preview (81-57, 1st, 3.5 GA CWS): Brian Bannister (7-11, 5.95) vs. Francisco Liriano (12-7, 3.27)

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).

It’s A Long Road…

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 Since I started watching baseball back in 1996, there has been one constant to my Minnesota Twins universe: getting healthy on the Kansas City Royals.  Back in the late 90s, we would get many of our 60-70 wins per season by beating the boys in blue.  Since 2001, we have looked forward to their presence (whether here or at Kauffman Stadium doesn’t seem to make a difference) to fuel winning streaks and douse losing skids.

Tonight, the Twins once again outclassed the boys from KC, as Carl Pavano shut them down (8 IP, 2 ER) for most of the game, while Delmon Young continued to swing a healthy bat (HR #7) and the Twins banged out 10 hits en route to a 6-2 victory.

Seriously, and I would love to get some comments on this, why are the Royals still so bad?  Besides a extraordinary early-season streak in 2003 (followed by an equally tremendous fade, of course) that gave them an over-.500 record, the last time they were eclipsing that mark was in 1994 when the strike hit.  I just don’t understand how a team can be “rebuilding” for that long and still have plays like what happened tonight: a guy fails to touch second base while trying to turn a double play, and their left fielder let a ball sail over his head after seeming to have it measured.  This has been going on for far too long in KC, and I want to know why.  I kind of feel bad for the organization and fans (be careful what you wish for, I know), as I know the frustration of enduring “lean years”.  Thoughts from KC fans or others are welcome.

Preview (35-24, 1st, 4.5 GA DET): Bruce Chen (2-0, 2.95) vs. Scott Baker (5-4, 4.52). Bruce Chen?  Bruce Chen??!!  Never again will I complain about the Twins having any pitching “woes”.

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)

Based Loaded (Etc.)

Long ago, there was a game for the Nintendo Entertainment System that looked like this:

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Then came this…

bl2.jpg And then, finally…

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If you were to add a few more sequels to that list, it would pretty much describe the Twins’ loss today against the Royals. I believe that we had six at-bats with the bases loaded in the game, and ended up with five runs (not bad, but not good enough, either). The positive take, of course, is that we had all those guys on base in the first base

Not helping matters was the fact that Carl Pavano didn’t have anything (Yankees fans are saying “tell us something we don’t know” right now). He got rocked in the third inning, then didn’t do much better in the fourth and was quickly removed.  The bullpen (until Crain, but more on that later) did a great job of keeping the Twins in the game after Pavano’s pounding, but those bases-loaded chances fell by the wayside one too many times to ever even the slate.

Notes:

-Well, the first Jesse Crain sighting (blowing a close game) has occurred.  Many more to come.

-Speaking of retro baseball video games, this is pretty cool:

 

Preview (9-4, 1st, 1.5 GA DET): Off Monday; Tuesday: Justin Masterson (0-1, 2.45) vs. Kevin Slowey (1-1, 3.48)

O(ld)-Dawg

Hudson18_593541gm-a.jpgUntil the seventh inning of Saturday’s Twins-Royals matchup, both teams had seen their starters struggle but gotten enough big hits to overcome it.  Blackburn gave up a few bombs to Rick Ankiel, while the Twins did all their damage in the second inning, including a monster straight-away-center jack from Jim Thome.

Just after Stretch time, though, Orlando Hudson (batting righty) launched a mammoth home run that hit the facing of the second deck out in left field.  I didn’t realize that the 32-year old Hudson had that in him!  From that point, it was Matty Guerrier for a perfect eighth and Jon Rauch for the Guardado-type (aka tenuous) save.

Another series win already in the books, with a sweep now firmly in the sights.

Notes:

-I know that it’s still just April, but I’m already ready for the Yankees to come to town in late May.  Mark my words: If a sweep happens in that series, it won’t be by the visiting team.

Preview (9-3, 1st, 2.5 GA DET): Luke Hochevar (1-0, 2.84) vs. Carl Pavano (2-0, 1.38). 

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?!

A Word Of Warning For Joe Mauer…

Just saw this story on Yahoo! News today…

http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/news?slug=ap-knoblauch-assaultplea&prov=ap&type=lgns

First off, I hope that Chuckles gets his life put back together.  It’s always sad to me to see a former Minnesota athlete struggle like that, and my prayers go out to him.

That being said, his life story (at least as it relates to baseball) could be a sort of warning for Joe Mauer (who is perhaps considering a shot in the Big Apple himself, seeing as how he hasn’t signed a contract yet):

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In 1991, Knoblauch was the spark-plug that helped drive the team to their World Series title.  He proceeded to become an elite lead-off hitter in the American League for the next 5-6 years, even on abysmal Twins teams.  He was a doubles machine, and could steal bases with the best of them.  However, he decided to opt for the big market of New York after “serving his time” here in Minny.

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In the City that Never Sleeps, unfortunately Knobby didn’t get much shut-eye either. Under that big-time pressure, he never re-captured those glory years with the Twins, and suddenly developed an inability to throw the baseball from his second base position over to first.  The mental block got so bad that he eventually changed positions to left field, which led to this career path:

AADC038~Chuck-Knoblauch-Studio-Portrait-Posters.jpgI don’t think I have to tell you how that turned out.

So Joe, before you even think about how playing in NYC is all playoff games and confetti showers, consider the sad story of one Chuck Knoblauch, a living example of what pressure (even leading to his being named in the Mitchell Report a few years ago) can do to a person.  The grass always seems greener (literally, in this case) on the other side, but only if you can enjoy the grazing.  Think about it.

Why We Lost, Theory #2: We Were Overmatched From The Start

yankeesboard06.jpgIn the previous post, I made the point that the Twins have nobody to blame but themselves for the ALDS sweep at the hands of the Yankees. But is this really true?

This is kind of a touchy issue, at least for me, as it implies that the Twins (or any small-market “David” vs. a big-market “Goliath”) really never have much of a chance to compete against the “big boys” of the league.

Any competant baseball fan knows that the economic system of the game is messed up due to the fact that no salary cap is in place.  Teams like the Yankees, Red Sox, and Angels (in the American League) have such a huge advantage over the Twins and Royals of the world that its a wonder any other team ever represents the league in the World Series (I guess that is the crapshoot of a playoff structure that features a 3-of-5 first round).  Sure, Bud Selig’s supposedly brilliant luxury tax system (where, much like Robin Hood, the league robs from the rich to give to the poor) helps a little bit, but in reality all it ends up doing is narrowing the free agent pool each year (as the middle-market teams are able to lock up a few key players to long-term deals).  It most definetly, however, does not prevent teams like the Yankees from nabbing the best free agents year after year (case in point: C.C. Sabathia and A.J. Burnett brought in before the start of this season).  The Twins could never have dreamed of signing guys like that.

Of course, baseball will likely never changed (at least not with Selig at the helm), as the success of the Yanks, Sawx, and Halos fuels the revenue machine, especially in the World Series.  Though it might provide some sanctity back into the game, nobody wants to see the Twins and Athletics, to use two examples, duking it out in the ALCS.  If the MLB execs had it their way, it would be New York and Boston every single year.

The whole situation kind of reminds me of the infamous “You can’t handle the truth” speech from the movie A Few Good Men:

“My existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives…You don’t want the truth. Because deep down, in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me on that wall. You need me on that wall.”

While more parity would be great for baseball, it will never happen because admittedly it would weaken the short-term (until new rivalries are formed, at least) revenue stream of the league.

Thus, can the Twins even be expected to compete with the Yankees in any series?  They have Sabathia and Burnett, we have Baker and Blackburn.  They have the best middle of an order (Teixera, A-Rod, Matsui) since Ruth, Gehrig, and Lazzeri batted consecutively, while we have one stud (Mauer) and two others (Kubel, Cuddyer) that are by and large overmatched by quality pitching.  They have guys like Melky Cabrera and Robinson Cano at the BOTTOM of the order, while we have Carlos Gomez, Nick Punto, and Jose Morales because they are all we can afford.  They can throw arms like Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes at us, while he have Matt Guerrier and Jose Mijares.  No comparison.

So, those are the two theories as to why our beloved Twins were brutalized by the hated Yanks.  Which one is more valid?  I think it is a mixture of both.  The Twins would need to play a perfect series to even give themselves a chance to beat the Yankees, and instead we choked in every big opportunity.

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