May 8, 2013

Revisiting the best Twins prospects of the 2000s

mauer and morneau rookie

Coming into the season the Twins were universally regarded as having one of the truly elite farm systems in baseball, boasting plenty of star-level talent and impressive depth. I called it the best crop of Twins prospects in my decade-plus writing about the team and nothing has changed since then, as consensus top-25 prospects Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton are off to amazing starts and most of system's other significant prospects have played well.

I've written plenty about the Twins' prospects as part of my annual rankings, so there's no sense in revisiting everything a month into the season, but I thought it would be interesting to examine the recent history of Twins prospects. This year the Twins had six prospects in Baseball America's top 100 list, including Sano and Buxton in the top 10 and Oswaldo Arcia in the top 50, but what exactly has it meant to be a Twins prospect in the Baseball America top 100?

I wanted to focus on how prospects were perceived nationally at the time, rather than local hype or how I personally viewed them or how they actually turned out--no Johan Santana, in other words--so I relied on BA's list. On a season-to-season basis prospect crops vary wildly, so not all rankings are created equal, but below you'll find my best estimate of the highest-rated and/or most-hyped Twins prospects since 2000 (minus current prospects) and where they stand now.


1. Joe Mauer: #7 in 2002, #4 in 2003, #1 in 2004, #1 in 2005

Joe Mauer was basically as good as prospects get. He was a multi-sport superstar in high school, got drafted No. 1 overall, had immediate success hitting .400 at rookie-ball, thrived at every stop in the minors despite being young for the level of competition, was named Baseball America minor league player of the year, and reached the majors two weeks before his 21st birthday. Mauer was arguably the best MLB prospect of the 2000s and has obviously lived up to the hype.


2. Francisco Liriano: #83 in 2003, #6 in 2006

When the Giants traded Francisco Liriano to the Twins he was a former top 100 prospect who'd fallen off the list due to arm problems in the low minors, but two years later he re-emerged as the best pitching prospect in baseball. He showed why with one of the most dominant rookie seasons ever, but that was cut short by elbow surgery. Liriano has found some post-surgery success, but he was never the same and is a prime example of the volatile nature of pitching prospects.


3. Justin Morneau: #21 in 2002, #14 in 2003, #16 in 2004

Coming up in the same farm system at the same time as Mauer made Justin Morneau somewhat overshadowed, but he was definitely an elite prospect. Not only did Morneau rank among Baseball America's top 25 prospects in three straight seasons, he put up big numbers at every level in the minors and debuted in the majors a month after his 22nd birthday. Injuries have unfortunately kept Morneau from realizing his full potential, but he obviously lived up to the hype.


4. Michael Cuddyer: #36 in 1999, #18 in 2000, #55 in 2001, #27 in 2002, #17 in 2003

Michael Cuddyer was the ninth overall pick out of high school and cracked Baseball America's top 50 a remarkable five times, peaking at No. 17 the same year Mauer was No. 4 and Morneau was No. 14. He doesn't have an MVP, but Cuddyer has played 13 seasons as an above-average corner outfielder and occasional infielder, hitting .272/.342/.457. Everyone should be thrilled if similarly hyped prospects turned out as well as Cuddyer.


5. Jason Kubel: #17 in 2005, #58 in 2006

Oh, what could have been. Jason Kubel hit .352/.414/.590 with 16 steals between Double-A and Triple-A at age 22, hit .300 in a 23-game September debut, and ranked 17th on BA's list. Then a gruesome collision destroyed his knee, knocked him out for an entire year, and turned Kubel from an athletic, high-average hitter with good speed to a plodding slugger. And yet Kubel has still managed a decade-long career as an above-average corner outfielder not far off from Cuddyer.


6. Matt Garza: #21 in 2007

Matt Garza made just one Baseball America top 100, but that's because he went from first-round pick to the big leagues in one year. After some initial struggles Garza made 15 starts with a 3.69 ERA as a 23-year-old, at which point the Twins traded him for Delmon Young. Young is one of the biggest prospect busts of the 2000s whereas Garza had a five-season run as a solid No. 2 starter, but injuries have derailed him at age 29.


7. Michael Restovich: #50 in 1999, #26 in 2000, #63 in 2002, #37 in 2003

Drafted in the second round out of a Minnesota high school, Michael Restovich was a 6-foot-6 slugger who put up big power numbers in the minors and ranked among Baseball America's top 100 prospects four times. He debuted with the Twins at age 23 after hitting .286/.353/.542 at Triple-A, but never got an extended chance despite generally faring pretty well. He was lost on waivers in 2005, bounced around a ton, and ended up with just 297 career plate appearances.


8. Carlos Gomez: #60 in 2007, #52 in 2008

Carlos Gomez twice cracked Baseball America's top 100 in the Mets' system and was arguably the centerpiece of the Twins' haul for Santana. He debuted at age 21 and was the Twins' starting center fielder at 22, but rushing Gomez through the minors left him as mostly a mess offensively. Traded to the Brewers for J.J. Hardy after the 2009 season and now 27, he's finally becoming an impact hitter to go along with what was always excellent defense.


9. Adam Johnson: #41 in 2002, #85 in 2002

Adam Johnson was the No. 2 pick in 2000 draft out of Cal-State Fullerton, but Baseball America projected him as a mid-first rounder and the Twins were criticized for making a "signability pick." Johnson predictably fared well in the low minors against less experienced competition and cracked the top 50 in 2002, but things fell apart once he advanced past Single-A. He posted a 10.25 ERA in 26 innings as a major leaguer, washing out at age 23.


10. Luis Rivas: #70 in 1997, #55 in 1998, #63 in 1999, #86 in 2000, #93 in 2001

Luis Rivas ranked as a top 100 prospect in five straight seasons, but in the early days of this blog I wrote often about how his actual performance never matched the hype. He never hit well in the minors, yet the Twins made him their starting second baseman at age 21 and stuck with him as a regular for five seasons despite a .262/.307/.383 mark and iffy defense. He played 565 games for the Twins through age 25, but totaled just 83 more games after they finally let him go.


11. Wilson Ramos: #71 in 2009, #58 in 2010, #96 in 2011

While never quite an elite prospect Wilson Ramos typically ranked among the top five catchers and was a good enough prospect for long enough to create questions about how the Twins could make room for him and Mauer in their long-term plans. Ramos was a top 100 prospect three times and debuted with the Twins at age 22, but was traded to the Nationals for Matt Capps later that season. He's still just 25, but looks headed for a lengthy career as an above-average catcher.


12. Glen Perkins: #91 in 2006, #66 in 2007

Glen Perkins starred for the Gophers, made the top 100 twice, and debuted for the Twins two years after they made him a first-round pick. He was billed as a mid-rotation starter and looked the part as a 25-year-old rookie, but then struggled for two seasons as injuries derailed him. Perkins was demoted to the minors at age 27 and returned as a reliever, throwing harder than ever and quickly moving into the closer role.


13. J.D Durbin: #66 in 2004, #70 in 2005

J.D. Durbin threw hard and talked a good game, nicknaming himself "The Real Deal." He debuted in 2004 with all kinds of promise at age 22, but didn't make it back to the majors until 2007 and all that prospect shine had worn off by then. His strikeout rates and overall numbers in the minors never quite matched his hype and once he got to Triple-A poor control further did him in. Last year Durbin spent his 13th season in the minors, compared to 73 total innings in the majors.


14. Deolis Guerra: #35 in 2008

Deolis Guerra is technically still a prospect in that he's only 24 years old and hasn't reached the majors, but between his on-field struggles and recent health problems he's looking like a long shot to have a big-league career. Once upon a time many people felt that Guerra, not Gomez, was the best prospect in the Santana package, but like Gomez he wasn't helped by being rushed through the minors in the Mets' system and has had little success above Single-A.


15. Matthew LeCroy: #44 in 2000

Matthew LeCroy was a first-round pick out of college and crushed minor-league pitching while moving quickly through the Twins' system, debuting as their Opening Day catcher in his third pro season. He struggled offensively and proved to be a liability behind the plate, but after a demotion back to the minors he returned as a good platoon bat versus left-handed pitching at designated hitter, first base, and occasionally catcher.


16. Kevin Slowey: #71 in 2007

Kevin Slowey was an oft-debated prospect because his ridiculously great numbers in the minors didn't match his underwhelming raw stuff. Baseball America tends to skew heavily toward stuff over stats, so the fact that Slowey still made the top 100 shows just how silly his numbers were. He debuted at age 23 after posting a 2.28 ERA and 159-to-31 strikeout-to-walk ratio between Double-A and Triple-A, and split the difference by becoming a decent mid-rotation starter.


17. Ben Revere: #59 in 2009

Ben Revere was viewed as a reach in the first round of the 2007 draft, but started to get some prospect hype after he hit .379 at low Single-A in 2008. That was his only year appearing in the top 100, which isn't surprising considering prospect rankings are all about upside and Revere's complete lack of power and arm strength limited that even in optimistic scenarios. He's more or less become the flawed but useful player his minor-league track record suggested.


18. Jesse Crain: #89 in 2004, #63 in 2005

Jesse Crain was a college reliever and second-round pick who moved quickly through the Twins' system, debuting at age 23 after 162 innings in the minors. While the shape of his performance has changed over the years, Crain was a good setup man immediately and has remained so for a decade with a 3.18 ERA that includes just two seasons above 3.60. Relievers are rarely considered elite prospects, but Crain's career has gone almost exactly as hoped.


19. Matt Moses: #81 in 2004, #75 in 2006

Billed as a "pure hitter" coming out of high school as a first-round pick, Matt Moses got by on that reputation for quite a while before everyone finally realized that he couldn't actually hit. He cracked Baseball America's top 100 twice, peaking at No. 75 on a 2006 list that had Jay Bruce, Dustin Pedroia, and Kendry Morales in the next three spots, but never advanced beyond Double-A and hit just .249/.304/.374 in the minors overall before washing out at age 24.


20. Nick Blackburn: #56 in 2008

I disagreed so much with Baseball America ranking Nick Blackburn as the Twins' top prospect in 2008 that I made a bet with the magazine's editor, John Manuel, that Blackburn wouldn't get 70 career wins. I'm feeling pretty safe about the bet now with Blackburn stuck on 43 wins and his career at a crossroads, although in retrospect he did turn out better than I expected even if 819 innings of a 4.85 ERA is nothing special.


This week's blog content is sponsored by Curt's Salsa, a locally owned salsa company that believes in fresh ingredients and rooting for the little guy. Please support them for supporting AG.com.

March 15, 2013

Link-O-Rama

Nick Punto took a 3-2 pitch during the ninth inning of Italy's final World Baseball Classic game. He thought it was ball four. The umpire called it strike three. GIF magic ensued.

• "The Professor, the Bikini Model, and the Suitcase Full of Trouble" is a pretty great article title, but it doesn't even begin to convey how insane and fascinating this story is.

• It turns out not even hate groups can hate Jennifer Lawrence.

• I feel sorry for Mariners fans because Jeff Sullivan is one of the best, most original bloggers around, but a lot of what he wrote hit home with me and echoes my thoughts about turning 30.

• I'll bet even the Jerky Boys would be proud of this one.

• On this week's "Gleeman and The Geek" episode we spent a whole bunch of time talking about Aaron Hicks and also tried to figure exactly how stupid it would be to buy a bar together.

• Speaking of which, my grandpa owned a bar in Duluth for a long time before I was born and I stumbled across this Duluth News Tribune article about him from 1972.

• If nothing else, Glen Perkins committed to drinking at my bar if we call it "Mom's Basement."

• Perkins and Joe Mauer look more or less the same a dozen years later.

• What happens when a boxer tries to confront his Twitter troll? About what you'd expect.

• I haven't done a mailbag in months, so I'm fielding questions on Twitter to answer next week.

• In case anyone forgot for a second who's the best, Louis C.K. provides a nice reminder.

This wasn't bad either.

• My annual series ranking the Twins' top prospects concluded this week with an overview of the farm system as a whole.

Vin Scully has a story he hadn't told in 50 years that's better than most people's best story.

• "Duck Dynasty" had 8.2 million viewers last week. To put that in context, consider that no "Mad Men" episode has ever topped 3.5 million and "Parks and Recreation" averages 3.1 million.

• I'm not sure if this makes me feel better or worse about getting old, but I'm the same age as, among other things, McNuggets, the moonwalk, the Disney Channel, and Microsoft Word.

• I know almost nothing else about him, but based on this Cory Booker is my favorite politician.

• Twins Daily is hosting a get-together to watch the Twins-Rays spring training game on Saturday afternoon, March 23. I'll be there, drinking and watching and whatevering. Details here.

• Sometimes you can't help but ask yourself "how did I get so damn lucky?"

• As a Gilbert Gottfried fan I'm a little bummed out to learn that he's, like, a real person.

• Old friend Carlos Gomez got a $24 million contract extension from the Brewers and based on the reaction I saw on Twitter many Twins fans refuse to believe he's not terrible.

• With the new Pope and all, I wonder if this is still true or not.

• As someone whose job requires him to keep constant tabs on hundreds of sites at once, Google Reader shutting down makes me incredibly sad. There are some alternatives, though.

Pete Rose and his fiancee are the worst actors ever:

It almost seems like a "Tim and Eric" sketch.

• My blog-mate Craig Calcaterra got himself on MLB Network during the World Baseball Classic and really did everyone at HardballTalk proud.

Julie Klausner, whose "How Was Your Week" podcast and overall crush-worthiness I've touted in the past, is coming here in August to host a "cat video festival" at the State Fair. Which means my new goal for 2013 is to appear together on one of KFAN's live-from-the-fair shows.

• I watched a great French movie this week called "Amelie" and you can get an English-subtitled version on Amazon for just 99 cents. Highly recommended.

• My nomination for the saddest GIF on the internet.

• I miss the old days when a chubby guy with glasses could be in a boy band and not necessarily even be the ugly one.

• My analysis of the Vikings trading Percy Harvin.

• Baseball-Reference.com has made its "Play Index" free through April 15, if you've ever wanted to try the world's most indispensable tool for baseball research.

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

- "Max Kepler fantasy"
- "Dick Bremer final season"
- "Aaron Gleeman chicken rice recipe"
- "Will Joel Zumaya play baseball again?"
- "Why did Chelsea Peretti quit drinking and pot?"
- "Indian women bathroom SABR"
- "Is Joe Mauer a switch-hitter?"
- "First time Anna Kendrick had sex"
- "Jimmer has weird jaws"
- "SABR analytics child"

• Finally, this week's AG.com-approved music video is John Newman and Rudimental doing a live version of "Feel The Love":


This week's blog content is sponsored by DiamondCentric's newest shirt honoring the "Legends" of Minnesota baseball. Please support them for supporting AG.com.

July 27, 2012

Link-O-Rama

• I'm pretty convinced that it will rank somewhere between incredibly embarrassing and utterly humiliating, but at Paul Allen's urging and in the name of good radio "Girls Gone Gleeman" is a dating game-style show that's going to happen on KFAN live from the state fair next month. I'll pass along full details later, but in the meantime you can listen to us brainstorming on the air yesterday (mixed in with a bunch of Twins talk during an hour-long segment).

• Based on this St. Paul Pioneer Press headline for Ben Goessling's article, the Twins now have the same problem that's plagued bloggers.

Join the club, Demi.

Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David more or less shooting the shit for a day is basically perfect.

Delmon Young has a gorgeous new mustache, which more than makes up for his .700 OPS.

• Zubaz, white limousines, pitching machines, and Minnesota fashion icons of the 1980s.

• I've given up trying to explain Jason Marquis since the Twins released him.

• Behold, the most Carlos Gomez thing in the history of Carlos Gomez things.

And of course the at-bat ends the only way the at-bat could possibly end.

• I give Michael Phelps credit for not being afraid to further his stoner reputation.

Kevin Love apparently stays awake on flights to document his Olympic teammates sleeping.

• I'm thinking about trying to put $100,000 together just to hang out with Hakeem Olajuwon.

Gordon Ramsay making $38 million per year may seem like a lot, but that breaks down to less than 50 dollars per television show.

• On a related note, as a loyal Twitter follower seeing Chelsea Peretti make a brief cameo as an unhappy diner on Hell's Kitchen cracked me up.

Cal Ripken Jr.'s mother was abducted at gunpoint and Orioles manager Buck Showalter shared a similarly scary story about his mother.

• Warning: Don't use the bathroom around Michael Morse.

• Pirates prospect Starling Marte debuted last night and homered on the first pitch he saw.

• I like to watch Ted Berg make sandwiches.

• As a kid I often wrote stuff on my mom's old typewriter for absolutely no reason other than it seemed fun, but as an adult I'm not quite pretentious enough to install this on my laptop.

• Here's a Google Chat transcript of what happened when my mom asked me why Twitter wasn't working yesterday afternoon:

I waited another half-hour to fess up, and only because Twitter finally started working again.

Interesting news in the online sportswriting world, as former Fanhouse founding editor and Yahoo! director of blogs Jamie Mottram has a new job with USA Today Sports Media Group.

• An original baseball blogger, Jon Weisman, celebrated 10 years of Dodger Thoughts.

• Now that Alex Rodriguez is old and injured, what are his chances of breaking Barry Bonds' all-time homer record? I'm glad you asked.

• It turns out the mask makes everyone as scary as Bane.

The Trade Deadline Rises.

• Movie recommendation: The Prestige, which is the film Christopher Nolan directed in between Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. It somehow flew under my radar until now, but has a few of the usual Nolan favorites in an interesting story and is well worth a $1.99 rental on Amazon.

• Speaking of the usual Nolan favorites, this made me laugh.

• Thanks to Barnabas Piper for naming Gleeman and The Geek as one of his favorite podcasts.

• According to this completely scientific poll, AG.com is the second-best "sports blog" and I'm the ninth-best "sports talk radio personality."

• Every day hundreds of people arrive at AG.com via search engine queries and most of them are Googling stuff like "Gleeman" or "Twins blog." I'm also amused by the weird and seemingly random searches that lead people here, so here are some of my favorites from this week:

- "Chuck Knoblauch fat"
- "Dick Bremer hates Kevin Slowey"
- "B.J. Hermsen salary"
- "Rene Tosoni salary"
- "Dana Wessel hair"
- "Kate Bilo age"
- "Evan Longoria dating Kate Upton"
- "Why does Matt Capps suck so badly"
- "Is eating a pound of carrots really zero points"
- "How many children does Brett Myers have"
- "Sasha Gray blog"
- "Patrick Reusse diet"
- "Jay-Z is not left-handed"
- "Kathy Kepler ballet"
- "Is a .199 batting average good"
- "Jenna Fischer covered post-it notes"

And then there were like 500 variations of "how to lose 150 pounds."

• Finally, in honor of Paul Allen describing me to potential dating game applicants as having "a George Michael beard" this week's AG.com-approved music video is "Faith":

This week's blog content is sponsored by Ballplayer: Pelotero, a controversial new documentary about baseball prospects in the Dominican Republic starring Miguel Sano as a 16-year-old.

June 10, 2011

Link-O-Rama

This week's Link-O-Rama is sponsored by the Minnesota law firm Snyder Gislason Frasier LLC, so please help support AG.com by considering them for your legal needs ...

Justin Timberlake shows why kids should take singing lessons instead of blogging lessons if they want to one day grope the Official Fantasy Girl of AG.com on national television.

Uncle Phil made a nice living as a judge, so he probably could have covered the $8,356 cab fare from West Philadelphia to Bel Air. That buys a lot of vanity plates and dice for the mirror.

UPDATE: Nick Nelson, the Twins blogosphere's unquestioned rap aficionado, passes along an extended version of the Fresh Prince intro that a) inserts a terrible verse into the middle of an otherwise enjoyable song, and b) ruins the humor from the above link with previously unseen (to me, at least) details about his trip. To ease the pain of all the childhoods ruined by the new information, here are a bunch of pictures of a grown-up Tatyana Ali.

False alarm, you guys: Alex Rodriguez and Cameron Diaz are still together. Phew. He's still two-timing his water, though.

Christopher Beam and Jeremy Singer-Vine from Slate used a bunch of the data on Rotten Tomatoes for some sabermetric-style movie analysis and their findings are very interesting as long as you're not Jennifer Love Hewitt.

Anthony Weiner has lots of issues, but at least his taste in porn stars seems pretty decent.

• I'm willing to cut Weiner some slack, but only because he introduced people to Benjy Bronk.

• It was a big week for Bill Simmons. Not only did he launch Grantland, a photographer at the Stanley Cup Finals snapped a post-goal picture that features Simmons, his dad, and his dad's extraordinary mustache celebrating in the background.

• Sometimes just a headline is enough to know I'll be seeing a movie as soon as it comes out.

• Not mentioned in this story is that the NBCSports.com offices are in Stamford, Connecticut.

Bryan Harper is no Brian Harper.

• Seeing this drunk guy "walk" home is strong evidence that alcohol gives you super powers:

Without the booze I'm convinced he would have died 10 times during that video.

• Speaking of drunk guys, Seth Stohs e-mailed me this picture he took of me losing a staring contest to Lindsay Guentzel at approximately 1:00 am last Friday night:

Couple things. One, as you can clearly see losing weight hasn't decreased the size of my head any (and has had a minimal impact on chin count as well). Two, if you look very closely you can see two different Twins beat reporters in that photo, at least one of whom likes to quote xFIP.

• Also, check out how tough and mean Seth looked standing in front of the Harmon Killebrew statue at Target Field right before driving two drunk bloggers home:

Seth's look says "these guys aren't nearly as fun as they think they are when I'm sober." OK, enough of that. Thanks to everyone for putting up with me. I'm scheduled to leave the house again in 2014.

• Nothing has changed with old friend Carlos Gomez. Still can't hit, still makes great catches.

• Another old friend, Brian Fuentes, helped get Bob Geren fired in Oakland.

• Breaking news: Men like looking at boobs, even in France.

• My new boss was profiled by Sports Business Journal right after he spent $4.4 billion to retain the Olympics through 2020. I'm just hoping NBC still has enough money left to cover my next expense report.

• I've mostly been ambivalent about Anne Hathaway, but the glasses change everything.

• Dodgers manager Don Mattingly and rookie Jerry Sands are both young and reckless.

Kevin McHale's introductory press conference as the Rockets' new coach was pretty funny, unless you're a Timberwolves fan.

Kathy Ireland is the latest opponent to take a loss against time, which remains undefeated.

• It was tough going months without listening to the "Two Jacks in the Hole" podcast with Joe Stapleton and Scott Huff , but this week they premiered a new (or at least renamed) podcast called "Huff and Stapes" and it was better than ever.

Willy Aybar: Mediocre baseball player, world-class scumbag.

• As a kid I remember listening to Joe Chevalier's national radio show many nights and simply assuming "Papa Joe" was in his sixties, but he passed away this week at age 62.

• Communication trumps run scoring when it comes to firing hitting coaches.

• Annoying reminder: If you'd like to sponsor AG.com for a week, click here for details.

• Finally, in honor of his retirement this week's AG.com-approved music video is "I Know I Got Skillz" by Shaquille O'Neal, which a 10-year-old me non-ironically memorized in 1993:

March 14, 2011

Twins Notes: Whiffs, ladders, Polamalu, and “fire it through the internet”

Lucas Apostoleris of Beyond the Box Score broke down some numbers on which individual pitches produced the most swinging strikes last season. For instance, Cole Hamels' changeup led baseball by generating a whiff on 48.0 percent of swings, compared to the MLB average of 20.8 percent. Hamels' changeup was followed by Carlos Marmol's slider at 46.5 percent, Clay Buchholz's changeup at 46.2 percent, and Francisco Liriano's slider at 44.8 percent.

Liriano's stressful mechanics and reliance on his slider were primarily blamed for his past elbow problems and upon returning from Tommy John surgery in mid-2008 he altered his delivery and cut way back on his slider usage. However, after throwing his slider 26.9 percent of the time in 2009 while struggling with a 5.80 ERA he threw the pitch 33.8 percent of the time last season and thrived again.

Even last season's 33.8 percent sliders represents a 10.1 percent decrease compared to how often Liriano used the pitch prior to surgery, but only Ervin Santana (36.9 percent) and Ryan Dempster (35.1 percent) threw their sliders more often in 2010. Prior to surgery Liriano threw his slider more than anyone in baseball, whereas since surgery he's merely been among the leaders in slider usage.

I have no idea whether throwing 10 percent fewer sliders has a meaningful impact on Liriano's chances of staying healthy, but I do know that the pitch is dominant enough--and his fastball has been hittable enough since returning from surgery--that it's awfully tough to ask him to throw significantly fewer sliders. Not only is it Liriano's best pitch, it's one of the best pitches in baseball. His changeup is improved and his fastball is still pretty good, but the slider is special.

Ben Lindbergh of Baseball Prospectus did some very interesting research about how rapidly teams move their prospects up the minor-league ladder, finding huge differences between the slowest-moving teams and fastest-moving teams. For position player prospects the Twins are by far MLB's slowest-moving organization, allowing hitters to accumulate an average of 2,600 plate appearances in the minors before making their big-league debuts.

Not only is the Twins' average of 2,600 pre-debut plate appearances about 200 more than the next-slowest Angels, it's 1,000 more than the fastest-moving team, the Mets. That means the average Twins hitter debuts with two more full seasons' worth of plate appearances than the average Mets hitter. We saw that exact dichotomy in action with Carlos Gomez, as the Mets rushed him to the majors at age 21 and the Twins then kept him there at age 22.

For pitchers the Twins aren't quite as slow-moving, but still allow prospects to accumulate the third-most innings before their debuts behind only the Rays and Nationals. Again the Mets are the fastest-moving team with pitchers, which came in to play when the Twins acquired Deolis Guerra along with Gomez as part of the Johan Santana trade. Because the Mets had already pushed Guerra to high Single-A at age 18 he reached Triple-A as an overmatched 21-year-old.

All of which hammers home two points that everyone pretty much already understood, which are that Twins prospects generally have extremely conservative promotion timetables and the Mets were an organizational mess under former general manager Omar Minaya. Because of the Santana trade those two approaches collided and it certainly played a part in Gomez and Guerra (so far) failing to pan out as the Twins hoped. Conservative makes a lot more sense.

• If you've ever wondered what Steelers safety and reigning NFL defensive player of the year Troy Polamulu would look like wearing a Twins uniform, this is your lucky day:

Polamulu was apparently shooting a Head and Shoulders commercial with Joe Mauer.

Peter Gammons posted this note on Twitter last week:

Astros' first choice for a catcher to replace Jason Castro was Drew Butera, but Twins won't trade him. Outstanding catch-and-throw guy.

Drew Butera has such marginal value that the Twins should definitely be willing to trade him, but the odds of the Astros or any other team actually offering something of value in return are pretty slim and after trading both Wilson Ramos and Jose Morales the upper-minors catching cupboard is bare. Butera is a replacement-level player and ranks as perhaps the worst hitter in baseball, but the Twins love his defense and don't really have a better option behind Mauer.

• Speaking of Twitter, for some reason Ron Gardenhire is becoming increasingly annoyed with how quickly and efficiently reporters are able to relay his words to the Twins-loving public due to technology. Here's an amusing note from Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

When manager Ron Gardenhire announced Saturday that Nick Blackburn had made the rotation, it caused a mild stir in the Twins clubhouse.

"All you guys ... tweeted and blogged and all those things," Gardenhire told reporters Monday. "Before I could get back on the field, it was already back in here that we have a fourth starter.  So [the other pitchers] went right to [pitching coach Rick Anderson]. It's under control, Andy's talked to them. We knew going in that they were fighting for a job."

Gardenhire seems less than thrilled with how fast news travels these days, but he's keeping his sense of humor. When asked if Matt Tolbert, Trevor Plouffe and Luke Hughes were on equal footing in their battle for a utility spot, the manager said: "Yes, equal footing. You can tweet that. Just tweet it. You don't even have to write it. Just fire it through the Internet."

Gardenhire also got angry when he told a room of people about Justin Morneau's doctor visit and the news was actually reported by reporters. It used to take a day for news to be printed in a newspaper. Then it took an hour for news to be posted on a blog. Now it takes a minute for news to be tweeted. Like many 53-year-olds Gardenhire isn't embracing Twitter, but media reporting what he says about the team they cover hasn't changed. It's just a new method.

With that said, "just fire it through the internet" is comedy gold. Put it on a t-shirt, someone.

Follow me on Twitter. Gardenhire would want it that way and I'm constantly just firing things through the internet on there.

Patrick Reusse of 1500ESPN.com wrote an interesting piece about whether the Twins know "the difference between an annoyance and a bad guy" as it relates to Kevin Slowey now and Matt Garza a few years ago (with plenty of other examples coming to mind as well).

Anthony Slama was already facing an uphill battle to claim an Opening Day bullpen spot, but elbow problems make it all but certain he'll begin the season back at Triple-A.

• Today the Twins are expected to trim the players on their spring training roster from 59 to 45 and No. 1 prospect Kyle Gibson will be included in the first batch of cuts. Gibson will begin the season at Triple-A, where he's made just three starts. Add another data point to the Twins not rushing prospects.

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