October 27, 2010

On this day in 1991 …

And yesterday in 1991 wasn't bad either.

UPDATE: Turns out today is also the 50-year anniversary of the Senators becoming the Twins. So yeah, October 27 is kind of a big date in Twins history.

October 22, 2010


• You know what's even more "baller" than a Division II football player? A taser.

• Remember the "boom goes the dynamite!" kid from a few years ago? Well, his name is Brian Collins and now he's a news reporter for the local ABC affiliate in Alexandria, Minnesota.

Esquire magazine named former Friday Night Lights star, current Parenthood guest star, and longtime Derek Jeter girlfriend Minka Kelly the "sexiest woman alive" for 2010.

• Based on this study, I should be a billionaire.

Zooey Deschanel and Katy Perry are like a before-and-after comparison, but I'm not exactly sure for what.

• My favorite headline of the week: "Why did Kanye West replace his bottom row of teeth with diamonds?" Even better, his answer: "I just thought that diamonds were cooler." Obviously.

• One of the greatest and most underrated soul singers of all time, Solomon Burke, died last week at age 70.

• This story is why the Target Field crowd is better off if I watch most Twins games from home.

• Is this guy doesn't become a superstar, something is wrong with the world:

He looks eerily like a miniature Patton Oswalt.

Ozzie Guillen's impression of David Ortiz trying to bunt for a hit is pretty great.

• When it comes to White Sox fans, sometimes the jokes write themselves.

• There's no shortage of great Randy Moss pictures, but none can top this beauty.

• Two weekends ago a phone call woke me Saturday morning and I was confused to hear a woman claiming to be "a reporter from the New York Post." Intrigued but still groggy, I checked my e-mail and found several messages from the same person offering $200 for "a freelancer to go out to a house in Eden Prairie and interview someone today." I'm not a reporter and barely leave my own house, so I replied with a simple "no thanks."

It turns out, as David Brauer of MinnPost found by doing a bit more digging, the New York Post was looking for someone to basically go ring the doorbell at Brett Favre's house while he was in New York to play the Jets. Apparently their goal was to get his wife involved and turn that into a story, which is just about the grossest possible thing someone could pay you $200 to do on a Saturday morning. Perhaps that was covered in journalism school after I dropped out.

• I'd be thrilled if marijuana saved the newspaper industry.

• On a related note, that's a whole lot of pot.

• Despite using exclusively laptops for a decade I've somehow managed to avoid "toasted leg syndrome." Clearly, like Robert Neville in a great book turned disappointing film, I am immune.

• I just hope they had an open bar at the reception.

Jessica Alba is back on the Official Fantasy Girl of AG.com radar.

• Speaking of Alba, this is a slippery slope that ends with a lot of disappointed perverts.

• This video of Hakeem Olajuwon tutoring Dwight Howard is a must-watch for NBA fans:

After watching it I'm convinced Olajuwon a) would be an amazing coach, and b) could probably still give some team 10 solid minutes off the bench at age 47.

Roy Oswalt might be even better at photo-bombing than he is at pitching.

Mariano Rivera's unique greatness, as shown by heat maps.

Jon Heyman of SI.com blocked my Hardball Talk colleague Craig Calcaterra from following him on Twitter a while back, so I'm endlessly amused that a TBD.com post on social networking "tearing friends apart" included this excerpt:

The snub came months after Heyman called Calcaterra at home to discuss criticism Calcaterra had made of Heyman. Calcaterra says the call "ended civilly enough" but then came the Twitter block, a move that "far more offended" him than the phone call. "It's just so passive aggressive," he says.

Heyman confirms the block, saying that Calcaterra wrote numerous negative posts about him and he didn't want his tweets to provide further fodder. "I guess it's flattering, but I wasn't flattered," he says. Calcaterra says he's "moved on," but the incident made him question "odd interpersonal relationships" social networking sites encourage.


• This is what many non-New Yorkers picture when they think of Yankees fans.

• Now that I've got a floor plan, it's probably time to remodel the AG.com home office.

• Professional poker player Nick Schulman was recently the subject on MTV's day-in-the-life style documentary show World of Jenks and my fellow degenerates will enjoy the episode.

Baseball America's scouting report on a 21-year-old Roy Halladay was right on the money.

• Here's an interesting interview with one of my favorite podcasters, Marc Maron.

• Here are some highlights from my NBCSports.com blogging this week:

- Zack Greinke can block a trade to 15 teams in 2011
- And a rookie shall lead them: Buster Posey carries Giants to brink of World Series
- Giants embracing the power of Aubrey Huff's "rally thong"
- Tigers sign Brandon Inge to two-year, $11.5 million deal with option for 2013
- Mariners’ new manager has an ugly history with Milton Bradley
- Rangers acquired Neftali Feliz and Elvis Andrus by trading Mark Teixeira in 2007
- Red Sox owner John Henry buys Liverpool soccer team for $476 million
- Ted Lilly’s three-year deal with Dodgers worth $33 million
- Tony La Russa will return as Cardinals manager in 2011

• Finally, in honor of his passing away this week's AG.com-approved music video is Burke and The Blind Boys of Alabama singing "None Of Us Are Free":

October 20, 2010

Twins Notes: Baker, Blackburn, Punto, Sano, Kepler, and Laudner

• Last week Michael Cuddyer underwent knee surgery and now both Scott Baker and Nick Blackburn need elbow "clean ups." Blackburn missed just one start due to the injury, but told Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star Tribune that he's been pitching with discomfort "over the last couple years" and "just decided to get it taken care of now." Baker missed more time during the season and needed two cortisone shots, but both surgeries are considered minor.

Kelly Thesier of MLB.com writes that the Twins "will likely decline" their $5 million option on Nick Punto for 2011. Not paying $5 million for a 33-year-old utility man who hit .238/.313/.302 this season and .247/.321/.322 for his career would normally be a no-brainer, but the Twins paid him $4 million in each of the past two years and ... well, I just can't see Ron Gardenhire letting Punto leave without a fight. His deal includes a $500,000 buyout of the option.

• Following the Twins' latest first-round playoff exit there's been lots of talk about needing to add a "true ace" to the rotation without anyone really defining exactly what "true ace" means. For many people it seemingly just means "a starter who pitches very well in the playoffs" even if that evaluation is made after the fact, but Bryan Smith of Fan Graphs crunched the numbers in an effort to determine exactly how each "spot" in the rotation performs across MLB.

Miguel Sano is without question one of the Twins' best prospects, but I'm not sure what to call him at this point. When the Twins signed him out of the Dominican Republic last season for a record $3.15 million bonus he went by Miguel Angel Sano. For most of this season he was generally referred to as simply Miguel Sano. And now John Manuel of Baseball America notes that the 17-year-old infielder "wants to go by his dad's surname and be called Miguel Jean."

Old What's His Name batted .307/.379/.491 with seven homers, 24 total extra-base hits, and a 60/24 K/BB ratio in 61 games between two levels of rookie-ball in his professional debut.

Tyler Robertson's prospect stock has declined during the past few seasons, in part because he's struggled to stay healthy and in part because his strikeout rate deteriorated as he moved up the minor-league ladder. He ranked 16th on my list of the Twins' prospects this winter, but went 4-13 with a 5.41 ERA in 27 starts at Double-A and Baseball America correspondent Phil Miller reports that the 22-year-old left-hander has been moved to the bullpen full time.

• Miller also wrote an interesting article about Max Kepler, the 17-year-old German outfielder who made his pro debut in the rookie-level Gulf Coast League and batted .286/.346/.343 in 37 games. Vice president for player personnel Mike Radcliff had all kinds of positive things to say about Kepler's first taste of pro ball and his numbers, while not jaw-dropping, are impressive for an extremely raw prospect who was one of the youngest players in the GCL.

• After spending the past few seasons as one of the Twins' secondary FSN television analysts Tim Laudner has taken a minor-league coaching job with ... the White Sox. According to Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune, after spending his entire nine-year career as a Twins catcher Laudner will focus on helping to develop the White Sox's catching prospects and could end up spending most of his time at Triple-A Charlotte.

October 18, 2010

Twins Notes: Gardenhire, Hudson, Ryan, Cuddyer, and Gomez

• Twins chief executive officer Jim Pohlad said shortly after the final playoff game that signing Ron Gardenhire to an extension is "a no-brainer." Gardenhire is under contract through 2011, but teams generally try to avoid going year-to-year with managers they intend to keep around and he's signed five different two-year deals with the Twins since taking over the job in 2002. Expect another two-year pact to be announced at some point this offseason.

I've been blogging about the Twins since 2002 and during that time I've often been accused of being overly critical of Gardenhire, in part because many of his lineup decisions and in-game strategies frustrate me and in part because I believe his regular season success has been somewhat overstated by virtue of playing in a traditionally weak division. On the other hand, I've never even come close to calling for him to be fired and certainly wouldn't do so now.

In nine years under Gardenhire the Twins have a miserable 18-57 record against the Yankees, including nine straight postseason losses to New York. However, he also has six division titles in nine years after the team had one winning season in the nine years before he took over for Tom Kelly and there's a strong chance Gardenhire will be named Manager of the Year shortly. I don't think Gardenhire is a great manager, but he's good enough and better than most.

John Perrotto of Baseball Prospectus reported last week that "the Twins have no plans to re-sign Orlando Hudson," which jibes with what I've been told from various people who know about such things. Outwardly he has a reputation for being a chatty jokester who lightens up a clubhouse, but I'm told he rubbed some people the wrong way and is highly unlikely to be back in 2011 despite giving the Twins more or less the production they should have expected.

Signed to a one-year, $5 million contract in early February, he hit .284/.358/.402 through the end of August before putting together a horrible September. Hudson hit .268/.338/.372 in 126 games overall, which along with solid defense at second base made him a very nice pickup for $5 million, but the Twins may feel they can get 90 percent of the production for 10 percent of the cost in Alexi Casilla. I'm skeptical of Casilla as a full-time player, but it makes some sense.

Hudson projects as a Type B free agent, so it'll be interesting to see if the Twins offer him the arbitration necessary to receive a compensatory draft pick and also risk him forcing them into another one-year contract by accepting. If he ends up instead ranking as a Type A free agent, Hudson's deal prohibits the Twins from offering him arbitration. I'd risk him accepting since the draft pick is valuable and the downside of him taking another one-year deal isn't so bad.

Terry Ryan was said to be on the Mets' list of candidates to replace general manager Omar Minaya, but Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that Ryan "has no interest in going to New York." However, according to Nightengale he "will take a look" if a GM job for a "Midwest" team opens up, which is somewhat surprising. Any number of teams would be smart to go after the 57-year-old Ryan as their new GM, but it seems unlikely that he'd be interested.

Ryan stepped down as GM of the Twins just three years ago and indicated at the time that he was tired of the day-to-day grind of the position that involved so many responsibilities beyond his preferred focus on simply evaluating players. In the three years since then he's remained very involved with the Twins as a "special assistant" to Bill Smith, so I'd hate to lose him. And not just because he was friendly to me at the winter meetings and admitted to liking AG.com.

Michael Cuddyer underwent arthroscopic knee surgery Wednesday after apparently playing through the injury for much of the year. Fans and media members love the notion of athletes playing through pain, but in Cuddyer's case he hit just .259/.322/.382 in the final two months and struggled defensively at first base. I'm certainly not suggesting that he should have had the surgery during the season, but perhaps starting 78 of the final 80 games was a mistake.

Charley Walters of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports that "the Twins are leaning toward not offering Jacque Jones a contract for 2011." I'm sure that makes a certain segment of the fan base sad, but Jones is 35 years old and hit just .280/.319/.389 with a ghastly 84/18 K/BB ratio in 96 games at Triple-A. He hasn't been a productive hitter versus MLB pitching since 2007 and wasn't called up in September because the Twins didn't want to clear a 40-man roster spot.

Phil Mackey of 1500ESPN.com crunched the numbers on the Twins losing five straight ALDS matchups dating back to 2003 and found that the lineup produced a cumulative .244/.297/.359 line in 650 plate appearances and 17 games. Mackey also points out that .244/.297/.359 looks awfully similar to .246/.293/.349, which is Carlos Gomez's career mark. In other words, while going 2-15 in their last five playoff series the Twins' lineup has combined hit just like Gomez.

• And last but not least: Gardenhire in pixel form.

October 12, 2010


Before turning the page on a frustrating yet all-too-familiar end to the Twins' season, I want to say thank you to everyone who helped make my ninth season as a blogger such an enjoyable one. I started this blog in 2002 and enjoy doing it as much now as I did then. I'd understand if you were sick of me by now, which is why I'm so grateful that AG.com traffic was at an all-time high this season despite my posting frequency dropping from 4-5 per week to 3-4 per week.

Whether you've been reading since 2002 or this is your first day here, thanks for stopping by. And thanks to all the media members and my fellow bloggers who helped send new readers to AG.com. After a little break to decompress I'll be diving head-first into offseason coverage that includes analysis of free agents and trade possibilities, my annual ranking of Twins prospects, and (hopefully) the continuation of my long-delayed series on the best players in team history.

In other words, if you liked reading this blog for the past seven months you'll probably also like reading it for the next five months. If nothing else, hopefully it can help pass the time and fill the Twins void between Danny Valencia making the final out Saturday night and pitchers and catchers reporting to Fort Myers in the spring. And maybe the links to weird news stories and pictures of Mila Kunis every Friday will help somehow too. Anyway, thanks for a good season.

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