Topics for this week's episode of Gleeman and The Geek included the Twins' terrible starting pitching, why Delmon Young won't be invited to any Hanukkah parties, booing Joe Mauer, putting previous division titles in perspective, Ben Revere's brief return, skipping Francisco Liriano and dipping him in chocolate, what happened to the farm system, our PickPointz selections, Ron Gardenhire's odd bullpen usage, and jinxing anything and everything.
• Reminder: Gleeman and The Geek will be live on KFAN again Sunday at 4:00, shortly after the Twins-Royals game. Taking calls from listeners went well last week, so we'll probably do that again if you feel like listening live on 100.3-FM or KFAN.com instead of waiting for the podcast.
• Speaking of which, it's been a while since the last Fat-O-Meter update: My new goal is to have lost more pounds than my current weight. I started at 355 pounds on March 7, 2011 and now I'm 188 pounds, so the goal is to weigh 177 pounds compared to 178 pounds lost.
• Brad Miller closed out his 13-year career in style with a three-pointer and some tears:
• Court Vision is a great website for "examining the NBA through spatial and visual analytics."
• On last week's Gleeman and The Geek episode I talked about playing basketball for the first time in five years and how depressing it was. One of my former teammates chimed in with a glowing scouting report on my old skills: "Undersized 4, no left hand, ugly jump shot."
• Kerry Ligtenberg, the former Gophers pitcher who went from the independent league Minneapolis Loons to closing for the Atlanta Braves, is the St. Paul Saints' new pitching coach.
• My cousin Josh Gallop had a 0.90 ERA and 13-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio for the Hopkins sophomore team, so they moved him up to the junior varsity squad. I've already put in a request with Baseball America editor John Manuel for a cover story.
• Netflix recommendation: The Messenger, starring Woody Harrelson and Ben Foster.
• Last year after 18 games the Twins were 6-12 and had been outscored 88-54. This year they're 5-13 and have been outscored 102-65 for MLB's worst run differential. And dating back to the final 10 games of the 2010 regular season the Twins are now 70-123 (.363).
• On this week's Gleeman and The Geek episode we wondered what the Twins would do with Francisco Liriano following his latest ugly outing and their answer, for now at least, is to use an off day on the schedule to skip his turn in the rotation. Liriano will basically take a week off from game action, with bullpen sessions scheduled for Thursday and Saturday, and then will start May 1 versus the Angels. And if that goes poorly, things could get interesting in a hurry.
• Since the beginning of last year the Twins are 12-16 (.429) when Liriano starts and 56-96 (.368) when anyone else starts. He's clearly a problem, but he's not exactly the problem. In fact, Twins starters not named Liriano have a 5.83 ERA and just 4.9 strikeouts per nine innings while allowing 17 homers and a .307 opponents' batting average in 78.2 innings. Is it against the rules for a team to skip every member of the rotation for the entire season?
• Josh Willinghamis taking a paternity leave for a few days and to fill his roster spot the Twins have recalled Ben Revere from Triple-A, where he went 6-for-27 (.222) with zero extra-base hits and zero walks in six games. His initial replacement, Clete Thomas, is 4-for-21 (.182) with 13 strikeouts while oddly seeing far more playing time than Revere was getting before the demotion.
• David Ortiz launching a massive homer off a Twins pitcher last night while Tom Kelly looked on from the broadcast booth brought back memories of this 2006 article by Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star Tribune:
David Ortiz has his own theories about the Twins' struggle for home run power. Mostly, he blames Tom Kelly. And when Ortiz speaks, he packs the punch of a one-time Twins discard who blossomed into a home run-hitting star with the Boston Red Sox. So, why haven't the Twins had a player hit 30 home runs since 1987?
"Because they're stupid," Ortiz said. "You take a hard swing, and the manager [Kelly] was screaming at you from the dugout, 'Hey! Hey!' Then you finish the season with 10 homers. They ask you what happened, why you don't hit for power?"
There's a lot more to it than that, of course, but six years later Ortiz is hitting .444/.486/.714 and "the Twins' struggle for home run power" is still a thing.
• Friend of AG.com and former Gleeman and The Geek guestLindsay Guentzel won a spot in the MLB Fan Cave and recently wrote an MLB.com article about her experience there, including a visit from Joe Mauer, Matt Capps, Brian Duensing, and Liam Hendriks when the Twins were in New York last week.
• Ben Goessling of the St. Paul Pioneer Press used to cover the Nationals when Capps was their closer and wrote a good article about how things have changed for the worse. Capps has now served up 12 homers in his last 66 innings dating back to last season.
• Liriano, Hughes, Nick Blackburn, Matt Maloney, Chris Parmelee, and Danny Valencia had the Twins' most impressive spring training performances. Something to remember next March.
• Justin Morneau is 0-for-16 against lefties and 13-for-42 (.310) with four homers and a 1.100 OPS against righties.
• Mauer started the season 1-for-10. Since then he's hitting .351 with a .440 on-base percentage and has yet to sit out a game.
• Jared Burton has been one of the few bright spots for the Twins' pitching staff and Mike Axisa of Fan Graphs took an interesting look at his changeup-splitter hybrid pitch.
• No. 9 prospectAlex Wimmers battled back from extreme control problems to finish last season on a high note, but now he's on the disabled list at Double-A with a strained elbow.
• No. 1 prospectMiguel Sano, two weeks shy of his 19th birthday, has hit .292/.432/.662 with six homers, four doubles, and 15 walks through 19 games at low Single-A, where he's the sixth-youngest player in the entire Midwest League.
This week's episode of Gleeman and The Geek was recorded at KFAN's studio and for the first time featured phone calls from listeners. Topics included what to do with Francisco Liriano, Luke Hughes leaving via the waiver wire, why the only thing worse than my basketball skills is getting old, the clock ticking on Alexi Casilla and Danny Valencia, evaluating the surprisingly decent bullpen, our PickPointz selections, and the Single-A monster known as Miguel Sano.
• Yangtze in St. Louis Park is my favorite restaurant even though I've never had their dim sum, which was just named the Twin Cities' best by City Pages. I'm partial to the hunan chicken, but everything there is good.
• If you like funny people talking about not-so-funny topics and/or have struggled with depression, Morgan Murphy's appearance onThe Mental Illness Happy Hour with Paul Gilmartin is a must-listen. And she's also great to follow on Twitter.
Get the 22nd edition of the New York Times bestselling Baseball Prospectus Annual. Edited by Aaron Gleeman, it features a foreword from Twins pitcher Glen Perkins, a Twins team chapter written by Gleeman and Parker Hageman, and 600 pages of analysis, projections, essays, rankings, and in-depth coverage of all 30 teams.