Results tagged ‘ Travis Hafner ’

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.

DH: (Finally) A Steady Presence

KubelReview.jpgSince the days of “Hot” Chili Davis in 1991, the Minnesota Twins have not had a steady designated hitter presence.  Guys like Brian “Buck” Buchanan and Matthew “Crazy Legs” LeCroy were tried for their powerful bats, but quickly discarded due to their inefficiencies pretty much everywhere else.  More often than not, a Nick Punto-caliber player was installed in the DH spot, matching up against such DH sluggers as Travis Hafner, Jim Thome, and Gary Sheffield.

In 2008, however, the Twins finally received some steady production from the DH spot in the person of Jason Kubel.  Playing roughly half (77) of his 141 games this season in the DH hole, Kubel batted .272 with 20 home runs and 78 RBI in 463 at-bats.  Although sharing time at DH with Craig Monroe early in the season (until Monroe played his way off the team with his .202 average), Kubel pretty much inherited the bulk of the DH duty the rest of the way.  Sure, Kubel is prone to stretches of ineffectiveness (usually stemming from a loss of confidence that a few days riding the pine will fix), but he also provided support for Mauer and Morneau when they weren’t on top of their game.

Of course, under manager Ron Gardenhire, the DH will likely never be taken over by a guy like David Ortiz, as Gardy likes to shuffle the lineup depending on the starting pitchers.  Hopefully in 2009, though, Kubel (while still getting spot starts in the outfield to keep his fielding up to snuff) will handle the DH privilege and handle it well.  Kubel was once the bluest-chip prospect in the entire Twins organization before injuring his knee in 2004, so I would love for him to finally realize that full potential that scouts once saw in him.

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