November 15, 2013

Link-O-Rama

Headline of the week: "Woman having sex at Waffle House uses burger for sandal."

• I lost a lot more weight in a lot less time, so where's my $10,000?

• Everyone's favorite retired Twins blogger, Batgirl, was featured in the New York Times for the writing she does under her "Anne Ursu" alter ego.

• Monday night I saw Dave Chappelle at First Avenue and it was amazing. He took the stage at around 11:00 p.m. and begrudgingly left at 2:10 a.m. after three hours of stand-up and chatting with the audience. Chappelle is such a gifted, relaxed performer that it was often hard to figure out what was a planned routine and what was improvised riffing, but he had the sold-out crowd wrapped around his finger all night.

Chappelle famously removed himself from the spotlight for a long time and in going back on tour he recently made headlines for a messy show in Connecticut, but his genius was on full display Monday and he seemed to feel such a genuine bond with the adoring Minneapolis crowd that he couldn't bring himself to leave the stage. As an insomniac comedy junkie, watching him light up cigarette after cigarette and shoot the shit until 2:00 a.m. was an experience I'll never forget.

It's tough to fully describe the late-night craziness Monday night, but Chris Riemenschneider of the Minneapolis Star Tribune gave it a good try.

UPDATE: Chappelle got his own star on the side of First Avenue.

Kevin Love apparently took in one of the Chappelle shows too.

• I had my first TCF Bank Stadium tailgating experience before (and during/after) last weekend's Gophers-Penn State game and took a bunch of pictures.

• Did the Twins and Joe Mauer make the right decision moving him from catcher to first base?

This week's "Gleeman and The Geek" episode features an update on my $4,700 exploding tire, tales of tailgating, dumb pranks, and our growing feud with "The Sportive" podcast. Oh, and it was literally recorded in a basement.

Five words: Puppies. Learning. How. To. Walk.

On a related note: Boston Terriers in shower caps.

• Here's how KFAN's website described my Thursday morning return to the airwaves with Paul Allen: "Aaron Gleeman joins PA in-studio to catch up on baseball, Mauer's move to first base, his love life, and his mom." Not quite accurate, though: We talked about Twitter too.

Scott Melker mashed up Hall and Oates with a bunch of different rappers, including a combo of "Maneater" and "C.R.E.A.M." by Wu-Tang Clan that's brilliant.

Carson Cistulli of Fan Graphs explains why Big Pun was the real MVP this season.

Amanda Brooke Perrin's awkward guide to first dates is fantastic.

• I'm printing this out and taking it on all future dates.

• See, now this is my type of (almost) love story.

Ricky Rubio got an assist through Jarrett Jack's legs.

• There is where I'm getting noted jumpsuit enthusiast Michael Rand's birthday present. And possibly my entire wardrobe from now on.

• My breakdown of some free agent starting pitchers the Twins might actually sign.

Brian Wilson can't sign with the Yankees because he won't shave his beard.

Ten years ago this week the Twins traded A.J. Pierzynski to the Giants for a decent haul.

• Hey look, it's David Ortiz's first career walk-off home run and he's wearing a Twins uniform:

That video has so much amazing in it. There's even a Bobby Kielty sighting.

• Sure, there could in theory be multiple people named D.J. Short, but I choose to believe that my Rotoworld and HardballTalk colleague has been living a secret life this entire time.

• For anyone interested in supporting the free content at AG.com, I've cut the sponsor of the week price in half from now until the end of the year.

• The latest from my future wife, sans video but still pretty damn good.

Nick Punto is the new Moneyball.

• I'm into not-safe-for-work burrito talk, so Liz Welle and Maggie LaMaack are my favorite same-sex Twitter couple.

• To honor Tom Scharpling announcing that he's ending "The Best Show on WFMU" next month after 13 years the Fenway Park organist played the theme song during a World Series game.

Saoirse Ronan has the greatest accent of all time.

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

- "Aaron Gleeman bullshit theories"
- "Gleeman vs. vegetables"
- "Boy who lost 23 pounds with water"
- "Blowing a .789"
- "Chubby kid making pizza"
- "How the hell do I get the elliptical to fold?"
- "Breaking cartilage in the ear"
- "Yangtze restaurant best dish"

• Finally, this week's AG.com-approved music video is "Bad" by Wale and Rihanna:


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September 13, 2010

Twins Notes: Fox, Young, Revere, Blackburn, Santana, and Batgirl

• Yesterday the Royals scored six runs in the top of the first inning against the White Sox and then lost 12-6. Despite that lack of help the Twins hold a six-game lead with 19 games left and this week's series is their final matchup with the White Sox, so most simulations put the Twins at 95-98 percent to win the AL Central. Basically, as long as they avoid being swept in Chicago the biggest question will be whether the Twins play the Yankees or the Rays in the first round.

Matt Fox fared well in his last-minute spot start on September 3, holding one of the AL's top lineups to two runs in 5.2 innings, but the Twins designated him for assignment a couple days later to clear 40-man roster space for Ben Revere. Calling someone up, having them pitch well on short rest and little notice in their MLB debut, and then cutting them loose 72 hours later is obviously not an ideal scenario for anyone involved, but it's important to note Fox's situation.

He wasn't on the 40-man roster to begin with and was only added when a dreadful 13-inning game the previous night left the Twins' pitching staff extremely short-handed. Had that mess of a game never happened (or had the Twins better prepared for it by expanding the roster on September 1) he never would have been in the majors and could have left the organization as a 28-year-old minor-league free agent this offseason anyway.

So instead of remaining at Triple-A to finish the season and then having the right to leave as a free agent Fox got to make a completely unexpected major-league debut and collected an MLB paycheck for a few days. And, as it turned out, Fox impressed the Red Sox enough that they claimed him off waivers, used a 40-man roster spot on him, and now seem likely to keep him in the majors for at least the rest of the month. And all because of that stupid 13-inning game.

• Speaking of unexpected debuts, Revere was certainly surprised that the Twins called him up for the stretch run. Not only wasn't he on the 40-man roster, Revere was initially thought to be out for the year after being hit in the face by a pitch and suffering a fractured orbital bone on August 3. Instead he returned to the Double-A lineup three weeks later, went 13-for-34 (.382) in eight games, and is now in the majors wearing a protective face guard on his helmet.

Albert Lyu of Think Blue Crew used swing zone charts to take an interesting look at Delmon Young, Vladimir Guerrero, and Jeff Francoeur, who are the only hitters in baseball to hack at 60 percent of the pitches thrown to them. Young's swing-at-everything approach was easy to overlook when he was crushing the ball early on this season, but that production has dried up and unfortunately now just the horrible plate discipline remains.

Young has hit .211/.242/.314 in 38 games since August 1, striking out 29 times while drawing just five walks in 158 plate appearances. His batting average is still around .300 and he'll drive in more than 100 runs, so I'm sure some people will call it a great season. However, his .805 OPS isn't very far above the .775 average for corner outfielders and once his terrible defense is factored in Young ranks just 33rd among AL outfielders at 13 runs above replacement level.

The clutch hitting has been very valuable and Young has obviously been much better than he was in 2008 and 2009, but a .328 on-base percentage and .477 slugging percentage from an awful defensive left fielder just isn't all that great. For some context, in his four seasons as a regular Jason Kubel has a .344 on-base percentage and a .477 slugging percentage, topping Young's current OPS by 15 points. And rarely does anyone make a big deal of his production.

• His overall numbers are still ugly and that's not going to change, but Nick Blackburn has a 1.71 ERA while allowing zero homers in four starts since returning from a month-long demotion to Triple-A. Prior to the demotion Blackburn induced 49 percent ground balls while striking out 7.4 percent of the batters he faced. Since the demotion he's at 58 percent grounders and 16.8 percent strikeouts. Also encouraging, he's more than doubled his rate of swinging strikes.

• As expected, Randy Flores has proven to be a horrendous "lefty specialist." He's faced eight left-handed batters since joining the Twins and has recorded one out, giving up six hits and a walk. Overall this season lefties are hitting .298/.385/.509 off Flores and he's apparently been shaking off Joe Mauer while refusing to throw off-speed pitches. Hopefully with Brian Fuentes available and Jose Mijares back after surgery Flores has seen his last high-leverage spot.

Joe Posnanski wrote a fun piece for SI.com ranking the majors' 30 managers by their playing careers and Ron Gardenhire fares a lot better than you'd probably expect from someone who hit .232/.277/.296 in 285 games for the Mets in the early 1980s. I won't spoil the whole article, because as usual with Posnanski it's really good and really lengthy, but fewer than one-third of current managers could reasonably be described as good major-league players.

• Gardenhire wasn't much of a player, but as a manager he's on an historic pace for ejections. During the aforementioned 13-inning nightmare Gardenhire was tossed for the 51st time in his nine seasons as Twins skipper, which works out to 3.6 percent of his career games managed. Bobby Cox is the all-time ejections leader and has been booted from 3.5 percent of his games.

Johan Santana will miss the rest of this year and possibly much of 2011 following shoulder surgery. That doesn't make the Twins' haul from the Mets any better, but it does reinforce that handing out the long-term deal likely needed to keep Santana in Minnesota would have been a mistake. His performance hasn't been the problem, with a 2.85 ERA for the Mets after a 3.11 ERA in 175 starts for the Twins, but now his future is murky and he's still owed $77.5 million.

• Last year the Twins sent a fairly underwhelming set of prospects to the Arizona Fall League, but this year's group of seven players is pretty strong: Revere, David Bromberg, Joe Benson, Kyle Waldrop, Chris Parmelee, Carlos Gutierrez, and Tyler Robertson. In my annual ranking of the Twins' top 40 prospects six of those guys made the list (and cracked the top 20) coming into this season and all seven will definitely be among the top 40 for 2011.

• According to Jim Callis at Baseball America the Twins are one of nine teams to hand out less than the MLB-recommend "slot" signing bonus amounts to draft picks this year, spending the fifth-least money relative to the suggested numbers. While not uncommon for the Twins, that's a definite change from last year when they went over "slot" to sign Kyle Gibson after he fell to them with the No. 22 pick despite once being a consensus top-10 prospect.

• Something to think about next time an announcer claims "doing the little things" is the key to the Twins' success: Matt Klaassen of Fan Graphs points out that of the nearly 3,000 bunts and bunt attempts across MLB this year just 27 percent have actually increased the bunting team's Win Probability Added. Most of the time, giving up an out is just a bad idea.

• Random stat: Matt Capps has thrown 78.3 percent fastballs this season, which is the fourth-highest rate among all pitchers with at least 60 innings.

• Last week Wilson Ramos hit his first career homer off R.A. Dickey while behind the plate for a Livan Hernandez start. The game was played in some sort of Twins bizarro world.

• If you remain on the fence about joining Twitter despite my obsessive involvement, perhaps this will push you over the edge: Batgirl is now tweeting.