July 9, 2014

Twins Notes: Nolasco, Buxton, Sano, Gordon, Parmelee, and Dozier

ricky nolasco and ron gardenhire

• In signing Ricky Nolasco to a four-year, $49 million contract the Twins touted his durability as a major selling point, as the 31-year-old right-hander had started at least 30 games and logged at least 185 innings in five of the previous six seasons. Now, just four months into his Twins career and with an ugly 5.90 ERA in 18 starts, Nolasco has been shut down with elbow soreness that he's apparently been pitching through since spring training.

If everyone involved is to be believed that news came as a surprise to the Twins, which means either Nolasco went out of his way to hide the injury from trainers and coaches or those same trainers and coaches went out of their way not to investigate his season-long struggles. Or maybe a mixture of both. Certainly if he was hiding the elbow injury that has to be very frustrating for the Twins and Nolasco is absolutely at fault.

However, it's also worth noting that the Twins--from the front office to manager Ron Gardenhire and his coaching staff--have created and repeatedly fed into a culture in which acting like a tough guy and playing through pain is considered noble rather than stupid or irresponsible. Even in discussing how Nolasco hid the injury from the team Gardenhire almost couldn't help acting as if there was something positive about the so-called "old school" approach taken by the pitcher.

Meanwhile, seemingly every season one or two key players try to tough their way through injuries with disastrous results and no one ever seems to learn a lesson from it. Who knows whether that played a role in Nolasco pitching through pain, but it certainly didn't play a role in convincing him to do otherwise. When can we end this outdated, shortsighted approach of letting hugely valuable athletes risk their short- and long-term health and productivity in the name of being tough guys?

If you're a player and you're hurt, tell someone in charge. And if you're someone in charge and a player tells you he's hurt, don't let him continue playing. As simple as those two directives sound, they've been sadly lacking for the Twins in recent years. This time around it led to their trotting out an injured pitcher for 18 horrible starts and putting at risk a $48 million investment. If that's "old school" then everyone flunked out.

• Worst single-season adjusted ERA+ in Twins history among pitchers with 100 or more innings:

68 - Jim Deshaies, 1994
66 - Ricky Nolasco, 2014
71 - Boof Bonser, 2008
72 - Ray Corbin, 1974
72 - Joe Mays, 2003
72 - Jim Hughes, 1976

Helluva list.

• MLB starting pitchers have a combined 3.90 ERA. Twins starters have the following ERAs:

3.70 - Phil Hughes
4.17 - Kyle Gibson
4.79 - Kevin Correia
4.98 - Yohan Pino
5.90 - Ricky Nolasco
6.52 - Sam Deduno
7.99 - Mike Pelfrey

As a group Twins starting pitchers rank 29th among MLB teams in ERA, ahead of only the Coors Field-inflated Rockies. Last season they ranked 30th in ERA and in 2012 they ranked 29th in ERA, also ahead of only Colorado.

Byron Buxton finally returned from a wrist injury after sitting out the first three-plus months of the season and despite all the missed time Baseball America's midseason update still ranked him as the No. 1 prospect in all of baseball. Miguel Sano also ranked No. 9 even though the Twins just announced that he'll miss the entire season following elbow surgery and pitchers Jose Berrios, Kohl Stewart, and Alex Meyer also cracked Baseball America's updated top 40.

• Meyer looks to be back on track at Triple-A after some struggles last month. He struck out 10 last night and has a 2.00 ERA with 20 strikeouts in 18 innings over his last three starts.

• No. 5 overall draft pick Nick Gordon has hit .359/.408/.500 with five extra-base hits and four stolen bases through his first 15 pro games for rookie-level Elizabethon.

Chris Parmelee is 26 years old and has batted .235 with a .299 on-base percentage and .370 slugging percentage in 677 plate appearances since his big September debut, so it's probably time to stop getting excited whenever he has a decent week.

• His batting average isn't pretty, but Brian Dozier's current 112 adjusted OPS+ is the best by a Twins middle infielder since Todd Walker in 1998 and Chuck Knoblauch in 1994-1996.

• He's a deserving All-Star, but it's odd to hear Kurt Suzuki endlessly praised for "handling" a pitching staff that ranks 28th in ERA, especially when pitch-framing stats show him as poor.

• This offseason the Twins were believed to be deciding between Suzuki and John Buck as their veteran catcher addition. Buck hit .226/.293/.286 for the Mariners and just got released.

• I looked this up after watching him leg out a single Monday evening: Kendrys Morales has 48 career infield hits, including at least 10 in three different years. Imagine that.

Eduardo Escobar was hitting .314/.357/.473 on June 15. Since then he's 9-for-66 (.136) with 17 strikeouts and 2 walks. Track records: Trust 'em.

Hisashi Iwakuma owns the Twins, with a 5-0 record and 0.00 ERA in five starts against them.

Vance Worley has a 2.28 ERA and 18/5 K/BB ratio in four starts for the Pirates, who think they've fixed whatever ailed him with the Twins last season.

Pat Neshek, who has a 2.39 ERA since being waived by the Twins in 2011, made his first All-Star team at age 33.

Lew Ford, now 37 years old, is hitting .372 with a .445 on-base percentage and .568 slugging percentage in the independent Atlantic League. And he's the team's hitting coach too.

• One-time Twins minor leaguer Yangervis Solarte turned back into a pumpkin after a big April and May for the Yankees.


This week's blog content is sponsored by Uber, which is offering a free ride to first-time users who sign up with the promo code "UberGleeman."

March 29, 2013

Link-O-Rama

Sad news about Johan Santana, who's probably my favorite Twin of all time and was such a huge part of this blog, beginning with the "Free Johan!" days and extending to his time as the best pitcher in baseball. AG.com began in 2002, from 2002-2010 a total of 121 pitchers started at least 125 games, and Santana was the only one with an ERA below 3.00. And I'll never stop being upset that he was robbed of three straight Cy Young awards by win-obsessed voters.

• Congrats to everyone involved for what is probably the best moment in journalism history. And the follow-up might be even better if you pay close attention to the photo credit.

• Crazy, sad story about catfishing, blackmail, suicide, and a Minnesota native.

• Turning an old ballpark into an apartment complex is absolutely brilliant. I want to live there.

Headline of the week/weak: "Police called over man singing 'Free Falling.'"

• If you were house-sitting a mansion and found $100,000 worth of 100-year-old whiskey, what else could you possibly do?

• As a big "Parenthood" fan I already liked Dax Shepard, but his excellent, emotional story about saying goodbye to his father makes me a fan for life.

• On this week's "Gleeman and The Geek" episode we talked Aaron Hicks and Drew Butera, recapped Saturday's big Twins Daily meet-up, and discussed why getting to second base without passing out can be difficult.

Alison Agosti is one of my favorite Twitter follows and podcast guests, and this video of her, Kyle Kinane, and Nick Rutherford telling jokes to avoid drinking "toilet wine" is funny:

After watching that I'm more convinced than ever that we need to do a "drinking game" episode of "Gleeman and The Geek." You know, as opposed to the usual "just drinking" episodes.

• Baltimore reassigned 36-year-old Lew Ford to the minors, where he could be Triple-A teammates with Danny Valencia.

• First-year manager Mike Redmond picked Kevin Slowey for a spot in the Marlins' starting rotation. Redmond caught Slowey for 11 games as Twins teammates.

• What does the Twins' season-opening roster look like? I'm glad you asked.

• I made my triumphant return to Paul Allen's show on KFAN and after 20 minutes of Twins talk he called me out for not following him on Twitter as I warned: "I don't like where this is going."

Rob Dibble was fired as a high school baseball coach after 10 games.

• Addiction-wise I'm exactly like Buzz Bissinger, except for eating Chinese food and queuing movies I'll never watch on Netflix.

• Shouldn't the goal be to spend as little time as possible in public bathrooms?

• As someone who writes about baseball for a living I'm not qualified for much else, but "full-time barbeque editor" seems like a job I could thrive at.

• If what Tilda Swinton did qualifies as performance art then I'm ... actually, I don't know of any famous performance artists.

• Important question from my childhood: Why did Uncle Jesse and Aunt Becky never hook up?

• RIP Gus Triandos, who was a very good catcher and a very memorable part of "The Wire":

Most underrated part of that whole thing? Officer Dozerman is a stat-head.

Norm MacDonald launched a new video podcast and his first guest was Bob Einstein, who you may also know as Super Dave Osborne and/or Marty Funkhouser. It was great.

• "Aaron Gleeman loves him more than Mila Kunis and Julie Klausner combined" is big talk.

Close enough, I guess.

• My super-cheery Twins season preview on NBCSports.com.

• I defy you to find a better picture of DMX.

George Clooney, late bloomer.

• As someone who legitimately likes Pizza Hut's chicken wings I don't have much room to talk, but Mike Trout has terrible taste in chicken wings.

• If you love listening to Al Green's music as much as I do you'll also enjoy listening to Oliver Wang talk about his music and the greatness of "I'm Still In Love With You."

• Congrats to friend of AG.com Ray Henson for winning a World Series of Poker circuit event.

Ron Swanson fans should listen to this, if only to hear how great/goofy Nick Offerman's real-life laugh is.

• Netflix instant recommendation: "Bachelorette" is pretty mediocre overall, but there was plenty of fuel for my longtime Lizzy Caplan crush.

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

- "Aaron Hicks girlfriend"
- "My nose cartilage grow is it normal?"
- "Delmon crab stick"
- "How much does Boof Bonser make?"
- "Pronounce Trevor Plouffe"
- "Nick Blackburn awful"
- "Does Kate Mara wear braces?"
- "Is Darren Wolfson married?"
- "Wild boar watching"

• Finally, this week's AG.com-approved music video is the aforementioned "I'm Still In Love With You" by Al Green:


This week's blog content is sponsored by Territory Train, which takes the heavy lifting out of planning and executing Twins road trips. Please support them for supporting AG.com.

December 5, 2012

Twins Notes: Guerra, Field, Oliveros, Butera, Allen, Appel, and Hendriks

• Last week the Twins filled the 40-man roster by adding eight new players, but they've already created four openings. One came by trading Denard Span to the Nationals for a 22-year-old pitching prospect, Alex Meyer, who doesn't have to be added to the 40-man roster for several years, and the other three spots came by designating Deolis Guerra and Tommy Field for assignment and non-tendering Lester Oliveros.

Guerra passed through waivers unclaimed and was sent outright to Rochester, meaning the Twins keep him at Triple-A without taking up a 40-man spot. Once upon a time Guerra was a top prospect and arguably the centerpiece of the haul for Johan Santana, but at this point they'd be happy if he developed into a middle reliever. Field was claimed off waivers from the Rockies last month and when the Twins put him back on waivers the Angels claimed him.

Oliveros was acquired from the Tigers in the Delmon Young trade and the hard-throwing right-hander showed some promise between Double-A and Triple-A this year, logging 48 innings with a 2.42 ERA and 51-to-15 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Unfortunately he underwent Tommy John elbow surgery in August and won't be at full strength until 2014, but after being non-tendered Oliveros opted to re-sign with the Twins on a minor-league deal.

• As expected the Twins tendered contracts to all three arbitration-eligible players: Jared Burton, Brian Duensing, and Drew Butera. Non-tendering Butera and his .183 career batting average would have made sense, but the Twins have stuck with him for three seasons already. In other words, if they thought he was worth $450,000 then a raise to, say, $600,000 isn't going to sway their opinion. Obviously with Butera money isn't really the main issue.

Chad Allen, who played for the Twins from 1999-2001 after being their fourth-round pick in 1996, is the new hitting coach for Double-A New Britain at age 37. I'll always remember Allen hopping after a hit to the gap in Cleveland after tearing his ACL and somehow keeping speedster Kenny Lofton from an inside-the-park homer by getting the ball back into the infield before collapsing. He never played for the Twins again.

• With the Twins set to pick No. 4 overall in June's draft Baseball America's early player rankings have Stanford right-hander Mark Appel in the top spot, followed by Indiana State left-hander Sean Manaea, Arkansas right-hander Ryan Stanek, North Carolina third baseman Colin Moran, and Florida right-hander Jonathan Crawford. They passed on Appel with the No. 2 pick this year and he went back to school rather than signing with the Pirates as the No. 8 pick.

Liam Hendriks underwent minor elbow surgery and won't pitch for Australia in the World Baseball Classic, but should be ready for spring training.

• Old friend Pat Neshek, who spent most of this year at Triple-A before thriving for the A's down the stretch, has signed a one-year, $975,000 deal with Oakland to avoid arbitration.

• Old friends Danny Valencia and Lew Ford might be teammates at Triple-A after the Orioles purchased Valencia from the Red Sox. Neither player is on the 40-man roster.

• As expected, Terry Ryan indicated that Chris Parmelee will be given every opportunity to be the starting right fielder following the Span trade, with Ben Revere shifting to center field.

• It turns out Span was born to play in Washington, D.C.

Parker Hageman of Twins Daily analyzed Meyer's pitching mechanics, which are especially important for someone 6-foot-9.

• I'd bet on the Twins signing at least one of the five starting pitchers on this list.

• Target Field was supposed to solve a lot of the Twins' payroll issues, but things haven't gone as planned and the growing local television revenue chasm doesn't bode well for the future.

• For a lengthy discussion of the Span-for-Meyer trade, plus talk about prospects in general and the Twins' next offseason steps, check out this week's "Gleeman and The Geek" episode.

August 29, 2012

Twins Notes: Morneau, Hendriks, Pavano, Sano, Liriano, Mauer, and Battey

• Within the Los Angeles Times' story about the Dodgers-Red Sox blockbuster trade was this tidbit from beat reporter Dylan Hernandez:

A four-time All-Star first baseman, [Adrian] Gonzalez was the prize in the deal. The Dodgers inquired about him leading up to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline and approached the Red Sox again after a failed attempt to land Minnesota Twins first baseman Justin Morneau last week.

Not shocking, as the Dodgers were also linked to Justin Morneau in July, but the notion of the Twins turning them down multiple times is certainly interesting. Morneau has been excellent since the All-Star break, hitting .320/.365/.523 in 39 games, but his overall production this season still qualifies as good but not great and his health remains an issue. Toss in the fact that he has one year and $14 million left on his contract and Morneau's trade value isn't great.

Or at least it shouldn't be, which makes me wonder if they should've jumped at the Dodgers' offer assuming it included any kind of decent prospect. Simply clearing Morneau's salary off the books for 2013 has value to the Twins, especially with Chris Parmelee waiting in the wings as a minimum-salaried replacement, and the Dodgers ended up sending a surprisingly strong package of players to the Red Sox for the right to take on $275 million in mostly bad contracts.

Given how the Dodgers are throwing around money it's not safe to assume their interest in Morneau and his contract guarantees similar interest from other teams, and now Los Angeles is no longer an option for a future deal. Obviously every Twins fan would love to see Morneau resume being an elite hitter, but $14 million would come in handy and letting him walk for nothing as a free agent in 15 months would be a missed opportunity.

Liam Hendriks came into Monday with an 0-8 record and 6.75 ERA in 13 career starts, threw a one-run complete game while allowing just three hits ... and lost 1-0 to Felix Hernandez. Setting aside the silliness of "wins" and "losses" for pitchers it was a very encouraging outing and it's nice to see the Twins giving Hendriks an opportunity to start every fifth day down the stretch following another good stint at Triple-A. At age 23 he maintains mid-rotation potential.

Carl Pavano has been ruled out for the season and--you may want to sit down for this--the Twins' medical staff apparently failed to properly diagnose his injury for three months before a second opinion found the source of the problem:

It's too bad it took three months diagnose that. I could have been resting. The good news is, it doesn't require surgery. I've had this in the past and gotten through it, and obviously I've pitched a lot since then. But as far as I'm concerned, this whole season has been a failure on many levels, for myself, for the team. It's just kind of lousy that it took this long.

Pavano went on to blame himself, rather than the Twins, but it's tough not to connect those dots after reading John Shipley's article in the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

Keith Law of ESPN.com recently stopped by Beloit to watch the Twins' low Single-A team and had some interesting observations about Miguel Sano. First, the good:

Sano has incredibly easy power, with a clean, rotational swing that generates most of its power from his hips and legs, a textbook example of how to make hard contact and drive the ball to all fields. His home run on Friday night went over the batter's eye in Beloit, which is 380 feet from home plate, and he drove two more balls to left without even squaring either up fully.

And now, the bad:

Sano's biggest drawback is his obvious disdain for the defensive side of the game. ... So while he has the arm and hands for [third base] now, the question of whether he'll outgrow the position is secondary to the question of whether he'll work enough to make third base a possibility.

Law also wrote up reports on Eddie Rosario, Kennys Vargas, and Taylor Rogers.

• Monday night Lew Ford started at designated hitter and batted fifth for the Orioles, going deep off White Sox starter Francisco Liriano for his first homer since 2007. What a world.

• Speaking of Liriano, since being traded to the White Sox he's started six games with a 4.26 ERA and 33-to-16 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 32 innings. Liriano has allowed two or fewer runs in five of those six starts and dating back to rejoining the Twins' rotation in May he's started 17 games with a 3.87 ERA, .211 opponents' batting average, and 112 strikeouts in 98 innings.

Joe Mauer passed Earl Battey for the most games caught in Twins history, which provides a good reason to remind everyone that Battey was a helluva player.

• While researching a future article about prospect development, I stumbled across this:

Mauer in the minors: .330 batting average, .406 on-base percentage, 1.2 walks per strikeout
Mauer in the majors: .322 batting average, .404 on-base percentage, 1.2 walks per strikeout

It's probably also worth noting that Mauer was done playing in the minors at age 20, played only 73 games above Single-A, and skipped Triple-A altogether.

Joe Benson's nightmare season now includes left knee surgery, along with a demotion from Triple-A to Double-A and a broken wrist. Coming into the year he looked just about ready to claim a starting job in the majors at age 24, but instead he hit .202/.288/.336 while missing half the season with injuries and never even got to Minnesota.

• Twins' record in their last 300 games: 117-183.

Chris Jaffe of The Hardball Times depressingly notes that all the recent losing has dropped the Twins' all-time record since moving to Minnesota below .500.

• Hundreds of players are placed on revocable waivers every August. Mauer is reportedly one of them. Probably isn't the first time. Probably won't be the last time. The end.

• I'm not sure what exactly is going on here with Mauer, but I watched it about 50 times.

• I went to last night's Twins-Mariners game (the weather was nice, at least), which means I was part of the smallest crowd in Target Field history.

• For a lot more about Morneau and Hendriks, check out this week's Gleeman and The Geek.

August 3, 2012

Link-O-Rama

• If you thought Tom Hardy was hard to understand as Bane, wait until you hear the original.

• Official Fantasy Girl of AG.com candidate Aubrey Plaza seems nice.

Delmon Young is back in court and looking for a plea deal in his hate crime case. Mazel tov!

Lew Ford is 35 years old and back in the majors for the first time since 2007.

• My mom sent me this link and wrote "could be trouble."

• And then about three minutes later she sent me this link and wrote "sorry."

• Let this be a lesson to local mainstream media: Being nice to bloggers is good for business.

• Nine rejections, one chip on your shoulder, and zero other ideas can make you do something for 10 years. Thankfully.

• Speaking of which, can I use all you guys as references? Fingers crossed!

• My blogging debut on August 1, 2002 was about the Marlins overworking A.J. Burnett. One day short of exactly 10 years later Burnett threw a one-hit shutout.

• This is the perfect tweet, obviously.

Vin Scully + Twitter = adorable:

I still tune into Dodgers games almost every night just to hear him, at age 84.

• Maybe things get polished a little bit in translation, but Andrei Kirilenko comes across as incredibly smart in this interview about signing with the Timberwolves.

• Guess who leads the AL in homers, RBIs, slugging percentage, and OPS since May 15?

Amanda Dobbins examined if The Cutting Edge holds up 20 years later, which reminded me that I watched it at least 10 times on television as a kid and had a crush on Moira Kelly.

• Speaking of movies I've seen on TV double-digit times, Super Troopers is getting a sequel.

• I never know what topics Paul Allen has in mind when I show up to KFAN's studio and this week we ended up talking about our respective food issues and my weight loss quite a bit.

• For anyone who heard the aforementioned weight loss discussion on KFAN yesterday and wants to know more about my story, click here.

• My bourbon-drinking buddy Cee Angi has a very interesting article about the role of gender in baseball writing.

• I'm ashamed and disgusted to admit how charmed I was by this conversation between Carson Cistulli and Dayn Perry.

Parker Posey had a great guest role on Louie and did an interview with Grantland about the experience which she ended by asking: "Why isn't there more ping-pong on television?"

Glen Perkins shared some unique insight into the trade deadline experience.

• If you missed my analysis of the Francisco Liriano trade, I wrote a bunch of words about it and also talked a bunch about it on the radio.

• I'm convinced Paul F. Tompkins deserves a talk show, but these videos will have to suffice:

Zach Galifianakis is pretty good too, of course.

• My all-time favorite podcast guest, Chelsea Peretti, was predictably great on Alison Rosen Is Your New Best Friend.

• I was way too excited for Sunday's season premiere of Bar Rescue, which is my favorite cheesy reality show. You can watch the episodes online and fall in love with Jon Taffer.

• As someone who attended the annual National Sports Collectors Convention a handful of times as a kid, I can only imagine the crazy scene there as this happened.

• I got a nice e-mail from Steve Braun after he read my profile ranking him as the 35th-best player in Twins history. Now if only I had enough free time to finish the series. (Sorry.)

• UFC fans will enjoy watching Tito Ortiz's informal, two-hour conversation with Joe Rogan. It really changed the way I think of him.

• Netflix instant recommendation: Goon, which charmed me despite a shaky start.

• In terms of great Jon Hamm guest roles, this might be even better than his 30 Rock stint.

Artie Lange, Todd Barry, and Greg Fitzsimmons was podcasting magic (and also filthy).

• Having dealt with them in the past, Metro Magazine closing up shop is sad but not surprising.

• Back by popular demand, this week's most amusing, weird, and random search engine queries that brought people here:

- "Aaron Gleeman fat"
- "Dick Bremer salary"
- "Binge once a week weight loss"
- "Aaron Gleeman chicken"
- "Jerome Felton girlfriend"
- "Hormel chicken packaging"
- "Rob McElhenney exact weight"
- "Yuengling in Minneapolis"
- "Mustache dresser games"
- "Back hair baseball jersey"
- "Jason Kubel's sister"
- "Jon Rauch tattoos"
- "Paul Charchian versus Karl Pilkington"

• Finally, this week's AG.com-approved music video is a live version of "I Can't Hear You" by The Dead Weather:

This week's blog content is sponsored by the local B&B Blog, a top 20 accounting blog and "the most fascinating accounting blog in the world." Please support them for supporting AG.com.

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