September 30, 2013

Gleeman and The Geek #113: Live From Target Field

This week's "Gleeman and The Geek" episode was recorded live from the Target Field seats during a Twins-Indians game and topics included Ron Gardenhire's job status, Terry Ryan's aversion to spending money, Joe Mauer being shut down, Josmil Pinto's big September, Kiss Cam and Jumbotron proposals, going back to journalism school, Jack Moore's triumphant return, Cludy Family Insurance, mailbag questions, and me singing Al Green songs for way too long.

Gleeman and The Geek: Episode 113

In addition to the direct download link above you can also subscribe to the podcast via iTunes.


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September 27, 2013

Link-O-Rama

• This exact same thing happened to me on the Stearns County Party Bus back in June.

• Speaking of things that have happened to me, former Vikings receiver Nate Burleson crashed his car and broke his arm because he was distracted by pizza.

• I think I've finally found a religion that I can get behind.

Sarah Silverman had pretty good mechanics throwing out the first pitch in Toronto and I hope MLB adopts those boots as part of the uniform.

Al Michaels reminds everyone why he's the best and I'm definitely one of "his people."

• On this week's "Gleeman and The Geek" episode we got free beer delivered to us as we talked, discussed all-time great butts, and complained about being hassled by the cops.

• My favorite movie of all-time hit theaters this week in 1995:

Someone worked very hard on that preview to make it look like a cookie-cutter movie.

• Luckily for me (and the Gophers) dropping out means I've still got some eligibility remaining.

• Having experienced No. 164 in person many times I honestly think it could out-draw the Twins.

• Last weekend's Jon Jones-Alex Gustafsson fight was one of the best in UFC history and the photo Gustafsson posted afterward was equally good.

• My birthday is three months away, so it's never too early to start shopping.

• "Blue Valentine" director Derek Cianfrance is in talks to direct a movie about ESPN, so there's a decent chance Ryan Gosling plays Chris Berman.

• I'm studying this to prep for Parker Hageman's wedding even though I haven't been invited.

• I didn't realize Dana Wessel is writing for How About We, but the John Mayer part is accurate.

• Speaking of which, I read this every week even though I don't understand any of it.

• Last month I linked to fake movie posters from "Seinfeld" and now there's a second batch.

• Who wore it better?

who wore it better

And be honest.

Justin Morneau, his mustache, and his wife are headed to the playoffs with the Pirates.

Carlos Gomez hit his 23rd homer of the season Wednesday and then all hell broke loose.

• This is how I felt while witnessing a Target Field wedding proposal at Wednesday night's game.

• And then Thursday night I was there to see Dick Bremer smooch Bert Blyleven on Kiss Cam.

• If the goal was to get a bunch of people to never buy your pasta again ... mission accomplished.

• I'd really love to see Mariano Rivera play center field this weekend.

• I stumbled across this 2007 photo of me at Busch Stadium and it really captures my essence.

• I'm more offended by her dating Ashton Kutcher, but Mila Kunis photobombing 81-year-old Steelers owner Dan Rooney isn't so great either.

• As always, I'm committed to posting any and all Lizzy Caplan videos:

Caplan also had a good chat with my favorite television writer, Alan Sepinwall.

• It's a flawed movie, but "Don't Stop Believin': Everyman's Journey" tells the fascinating story of how Filipino cover band singer Arnel Pineda became the new front man for Journey.

• I really enjoyed Jesse Thorn's lengthy chat with "The Office" co-creator Stephen Merchant.

• Probably the only thing better than Amy Poehler is Amy Poehler's laugh, both of which are on full display in a surprisingly dirty "Comedy Bang Bang" episode.

• Two great tastes that taste great together: Alison Agosti was a guest on Jonah Keri's podcast.

• Some of this week's weird and random search engine queries that brought people here:

- "What does concussion mean?"
- "How did Joe Meyer get a concussion?"
- "David Gray baseball"
- "David Simon baseball"
- "Andre Braugher weight gain"
- "Chelsea Peretti nude"
- "Proven closer t-shirt"
- "Gerald Laird hair"
- "Cory Cove food weird"
- "Lean Cuisine success stories"

• Finally, because I hadn't heard it in 15 years and still sang a flawless duet of it over the weekend this week's AG.com-approved music video is "Too Close" by Next:


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September 25, 2013

Twins Notes: Mauer shut down, rotation spending, and no platooning

joe mauer catching mask

Joe Mauer continues to have post-concussion symptoms more than a month after suffering a brain injury, so Monday the Twins shut him down for the final week of the season. Mauer hasn't played since taking a foul ball off the mask on August 19 and experienced setbacks when he tried to ramp up workouts during the past few weeks, with Phil Miller of the Minneapolis Star Tribune writing that he "still feels sensitivity to light and noises, and has trouble outside confined spaces."

Shutting him down is absolutely the correct decision and by the time spring training rolls around Mauer will be six months removed from the concussion, but sadly as the Twins and so many other teams have learned in recent years there are no guarantees with brain injuries. And now, much like with Justin Morneau and Denard Span, the only thing the Twins can really do is wait and hold their breath hoping that time and rest do the trick.

In making Monday's announcement both Mauer and general manager Terry Ryan stressed that they expect him to remain at catcher next season, but whereas that seemed like a questionable stance at the time of the concussion last month it now seems borderline crazy to me. I've spent a decade writing about how much of Mauer's value comes from catching and have always argued against a position switch, but the question has changed and the old answers cease to apply.

There's no way to stop a catcher from taking foul balls off the mask on a regular basis, along with all the other physical dangers that come with the position, and if he were to suffer another brain injury it might be too late to avoid major long-term consequences on and off the field. As a first baseman Mauer's odds of remaining an elite player into his mid-30s are much lower, but he'd still provide plenty of value there and Josmil Pinto is a potential replacement with upside.

(Note: I went into a lot more depth analyzing the Mauer position switch decision last month.)

• There seems to be considerable disagreement within the organization about how much focus to put on acquiring pitching via free agency. Nick Nelson of Twins Daily wrote a breakdown of the situation, with the short version being that Ron Gardenhire is basically begging for rotation help and owner Jim Pohlad says he's willing to spend big for reinforcements, all while Ryan downplays free agency much like he did last winter before settling for Kevin Correia and Mike Pelfrey.

Every team would love to build a rotation full of young, cheap pitchers and for many years the Twins did that well enough to avoid having to swim into the deep end of the free agency pool. And generally speaking free agent pitching is typically overpriced and requires making risky long-term commitments to players on the wrong side of 30. However, their current lack of MLB-ready arms with more than back-of-the-rotation upside makes Ryan's usual approach a tough one to pull off.

Despite his rookie struggles Kyle Gibson still has a chance to develop into more than a fourth or fifth starter and Alex Meyer remains a potential top-of-the-rotation starter if he can stay healthy, but neither can be counted on to make a huge 2014 impact and even if they do surrounding them with the likes of Correia, Scott Diamond, Vance Worley, and Samuel Deduno is going to leave the rotation well short of decent.

Last season Twins starters had the second-worst ERA in baseball at 5.40 and this season Twins starters have the worst ERA in baseball at 5.26. Based on those numbers and the in-house options who can realistically be rotation members in 2014 there's little chance of building even an average rotation without bringing in outside help. Ryan would surely prefer trades to free agency, but my fear is that his real plan involves a third straight season with a terrible rotation on the cheap.

• One of my frequent complaints about Gardenhire is his unwillingness to platoon hitters, which he's basically never done. Most prominently Jacque Jones and Jason Kubel played no matter the pitcher, but versus lefties Jones hit .231/.286/.355 and Kubel hit .239/.313/.365. For a more recent example on the other side of the plate, Trevor Plouffe plays no matter the pitcher despite hitting .223/.280/.381 off righties. And there are no shortage of maddening day-to-day examples.

Many of the best managers in baseball history regularly employed platoons and current examples in Gardenhire's own league include former Manager of the Year winners Joe Maddon of the Rays, Bob Melvin of the A's, and Buck Showalter of the Orioles. It's hardly a new-school approach and it's hardly a complicated thing to make sense of, yet Gardenhire has never budged and said the following when asked about it by Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press:

I don't recall ever having a platoon. I'm not against it. I'll tell you that. I wouldn't have a problem having a platoon if it fits. If it makes sense numbers-wise and it works, then you go with it.

"I don't recall ever having a platoon" and "I'm not against it" are statements that don't fit together coming from a manager in his 12th season on the job. Gardenhire may not be against it in theory, but his actions over nearly 2,000 games have certainly shown that he's very much against it in practice despite having plenty of opportunities to improve the lineup via platooning. And for his part, Ryan told Berardino that he's fine with the manager's lack of platooning:

I don't think he likes to platoon players at all. I don't either. Put guys out there that are everyday players, then you don't have to platoon. You're always looking for players that can play 162 games, right? That's what I'm looking for. I don't go out looking for platoon players.

Obviously every team would love to find nine everyday players and trot them out there 162 times, but that's an impossible goal and instead leads to so-called "everyday players" like Jones, Kubel, and Plouffe flailing away against same-sided pitchers they have no business facing. Over the past three seasons the Twins have scored the fewest runs in the league, making "I don't go out looking for platoon players" sound awfully tone deaf coming from the GM. It's nothing new, though.

• Mauer hasn't played since August 19, but according to Win Above Replacement and Fan Graphs' valuation system he's still been worth more than his salary this season.

• This year the Twins have been out-scored by 158 runs, which is the second-worst run differential in baseball. The worst run differential in Twins history belongs to the 1995 team at -186.

• Since taking over for Matt Capps as Twins closer Glen Perkins has converted 90 percent of his save chances (52-for-58) with a 2.31 ERA.

LaTroy Hawkins left the Twins for a two-year, $8 million deal with the Cubs as a 31-year-old free agent and a decade later he's still rolling along.

Francisco Liriano is lined up to start the Wild Card playoff game for the Pirates.

• For a lot more about Mauer's future and the Twins' roster options for next season check out this week's "Gleeman and The Geek" episode.


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September 23, 2013

Gleeman and The Geek #112: New Bohemia, 40 Men, and Police Stories

This week's "Gleeman and The Geek" episode was recorded at New Bohemia's beer fest and topics included recapping last week's Grand Drunk Railroad experience, Glen Perkins buying beers from the bullpen, who the Twins should purge from the 40-man roster, Joe Mauer's ongoing absence, Aaron Hicks' lack of a September call-up, why everyone should use Ticket King, when baseball started, mailbag questions from listeners, all-time great butts, and being hassled by the cops.

Gleeman and The Geek: Episode 112

In addition to the direct download link above you can also subscribe to the podcast via iTunes.

Here's the live music you can probably hear in the background of the podcast:

bohemia1

Here's what I was looking at during the podcast:

bohemian3

Here's what we watched after the podcast was over:

bohemia2

And finally here's what we looked like after one podcast and many beers:

bohemia4


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September 20, 2013

Link-O-Rama

Nick Punto had his most Nick Punto moment ever, sliding head-first into first base on a single to the outfield. Randball's Stu may have to update his oral history of Punto's head-first slides.

Baseball America's article naming Byron Buxton as their minor league player of the year is essentially porn for Twins fans.

• "Breaking Bad" fans will enjoy this Yelp page.

• As an embarrassed, longtime BlackBerry user I can safely say most of these reasons are bullshit.

• My blog-mate Craig Calcaterra showed why I almost never call into radio shows when invited.

• There's a ton of dead weight on the Twins' roster, so who will they get rid of this offseason?

• Thanks to everyone who attended the "Grand Drunk Railroad" event Saturday. It was a major success, as more than 100 people joined the light rail pub crawl in the afternoon and the group continued to have fun at night despite the Twins-Rays game being delayed by rain, thanks in no small part to Glen Perkins buying us a round of beers from the bullpen. It went so well that we'll definitely do something similar again and we're already brainstorming other get-together ideas.

• We recorded this week's "Gleeman and The Geek" episode at various stops along the pub crawl, so it features multiple special guests and everyone getting progressively drunker/weirder as the show goes on. I already posted a bunch of videos and photos from the event on the episode page, but here are a couple more pictures of the podcasting in progress:

pub crawl podcast

We're recording a new "Gleeman and The Geek" show this weekend at New Bohemia's inaugural beer fest, where a taster pass gets all-you-can-drink beer from 10 different breweries.

• More people will probably click on this link than watched the Astros on CSN Houston.

Chiara Atik of How About We explains why I'll never stop tweeting at Jon Taffer.

• One of my rules is that whenever Lizzy Caplan appears on a talk show I'll link to it.

• During my weekly half-hour chat with Paul Allen he grilled me about a first date, I complained about getting a ticket driving to the studio, and we brainstormed questions for Terry Ryan.

Todd Helton is one of the most productive home hitters in baseball history, but Coors Field is all over the list.

• After six years as Minneapolis Star Tribune editor Nancy Barnes left for the Houston Chronicle.

Conan O'Brien playing "Grand Theft Auto" made me also want to play the game without a clue.

• I have no idea how to handle this emotionally.

• One second on the internet is plenty of time for anything.

• In real life Jonathan Banks is very different than the Mike Ehrmantraut character he played on "Breaking Bad." But he's no less fun to watch.

• After watching last week's "Breaking Bad" episode I wondered on Twitter what happens if no one ever tells Huell he can leave that room now and it turns out someone did the research:

I watched that for ... well, longer than I'm comfortable admitting.

• This conversation started at 1:30 a.m.

• Uh oh. It turns out NBC has had a hidden camera in my office this entire time.

• One of my favorite stand-up comedians, Gary Gulman, is performing all this weekend at the comedy club in the Mall of America.

• Netflix recommendation: "Starlet" is a well-done, small-scale story that avoids the usual movie cliches and features two really strong lead performances by unknown actresses.

Alison Agosti is always one of my favorite podcast guests and she was great on "Hey, Teens!" with Eric Gosselin and Jon Wiener.

• "Parks and Recreation" writer (and former AG.com commenter) Harris Wittels had a funny, interesting chat with Marc Maron.

• Two of my favorite podcasts joined forces when Graham Clark from "Stop Podcasting Yourself" was on a live show with Jesse Thorn and Jordan Morris from "Jordan, Jesse, Go!"

• Some of this week's weird and random search engine queries that brought people here:

- "Byron Buxton's mom"
- "Grand Drunk Railroad"
- "How did Meatsauce from KFAN lose weight?"
- "Nick Punto head-first slide"
- "Ben Grieve net worth"
- "Jim Souhan is the worst"
- "Gillian Jacobs introvert"
- "Connie and Aaron play me"
- "Tevin Campbell radio interviews in 1999"

• Finally, this week's AG.com-approved music video is "Humpty Dance" by Digital Underground:


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