April 25, 2012

Twins Notes: Hughes, Liriano, Revere, Ortiz, Kelly, Capps, and Sano

• 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).

Designated for assignment by the Twins last week, Luke Hughes was claimed off waivers by the A's and is getting an opportunity for regular playing time at third base. Hughes manned third base in just 14 of his 74 total starts for the Twins, but actually played there more than any other position in the minors. That didn't stop him from committing three errors in his first 10 innings at third base for the A's and his bat remains iffy for the position.

• 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 Willingham is 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 guest Lindsay 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 prospect Alex 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 prospect Miguel 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 blog content is sponsored by Snap Fitness in Uptown, which offers convenient and affordable workouts with industry best equipment. Please support them for supporting AG.com.

March 9, 2012

Link-O-Rama

• Before getting to the good stuff, I want to thank everyone who read my post about losing 150 pounds in one year. Not only is it already the most-read post in this blog's decade-long history, the number of e-mails and tweets and links and comments that I received were overwhelming. Losing the weight felt amazing, writing about the experience made it feel even better, and the response might be the most rewarding part of the whole thing. Thank you.

• I'll have a full write-up Monday, but the Twins gave Glen Perkins a three-year, $10.3 million extension that buys out his first two and possibly first three seasons of free agency.

• Behold, the greatest restaurant review in newspaper history. Grand Forks must be amazing.

• Official Fantasy Girl of AG.com Mila Kunis is on the cover of Harper's Bazaar this month, with an interview and accompanying photo shoot.

Kris Humphries' sister, Kaela Humphries, recently signed a contract with Ford Models' plus-size division.

• Speaking of athletes' sisters, Holley Mangold is a 5-foot-8, 374-pound weight-lifter who made the Olympic team.

Bunk Moreland is "just a humble motherf***er with a big-ass d***" and a grocery store.

• My blog-mate Craig Calcaterra is covering spring training and wrote an interesting piece about the downside of writers gaining access to the people they write about.

Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love on the cover of Slam magazine hits a little too close to home for someone who used to have the old version taped to his bedroom wall.

• My lifelong dream of working with Beyonce is finally a reality.

Lenny Dykstra, who's three months younger than the still-pitching Jamie Moyer, was sentenced to three years in prison.

• Imagine paying someone to write this. And then imagine him being your doctor.

• Honestly, this lasted much longer than I expected.

• This week's "Gleeman and The Geek" episode was recorded in front of an audience and includes John Bonnes singing (or at least "singing") and Nick Nelson reciting poetry.

• At this point Louis C.K. is everyone's favorite comedian and Todd Barry is also one of my favorite comedians, and for some reason this video cracked me up:

"You're not good at it."

• Congratulations to friend of AG.com and "Gleeman and The Geek" guest Lindsay Guentzel for beating out 22,000 other applicants for a spot in the MLB Fan Cave.

• Scientific evidence that we should all be afraid of gingers.

• This is interesting, but don't go getting any bright ideas.

Jon Hamm didn't play baseball with Roger Clemens at the University of Texas, but he did used to post comments on Deadspin.

• Speaking of Deadspin, they grabbed the "Best Shape Of His Life" baton from HardballTalk and ran with it.

Next thing you know Ice Cube will try to tell us that Santa Claus doesn't exist.

• The only thing minor-league baseball players love more than eating Chipotle is tweeting about eating Chipotle.

• More importantly: Did he set the record or not?

CC Sabathia must eat a ton of food at home, because otherwise if this is true he'd be shedding weight like crazy.

• Somehow this new sport still seems slightly less dangerous than football.

Elisabeth Moss on ex-husband Fred Armison: "He's so great doing impersonations, but the greatest impersonation he does is that of a normal person." Ouch.

• And to think, I was genuinely excited that my new car had a CD player.

Jose Canseco can't even do a proper Kenny Powers impression.

• SABR's website posted a bunch of information about the annual convention coming to Minnesota this summer, including the logo.

• Someone paid $8,100 for a Chicken McNugget that doesn't look like George Washington.

Don Mincher, who played a big part in Twins history, died at age 73.

Dan Duquette is not buying what Jon Heyman is selling.

UPDATE: Sometime between yesterday and this morning Heyman blocked me on Twitter.

• My favorite part of Grantland is NBA analyst Sebastian Pruiti breaking down plays.

• My latest podcast discovery, "You Had To Be There" with Nikki Glaser and Sara Schaefer, got a nice write-up in New York Times Magazine.

• Netflix streaming recommendation: Elevate, which is a documentary about teenage basketball players in Senegal trying to secure college scholarships in the United States.

• Finally, this week's AG.com-approved music video is Jay-Z sampling Bobby Bland's classic "Ain't No Love in the Heart of the City" for his own "Heart of the City (Ain't No Love)":

February 24, 2012

Link-O-Rama

• There was some big news in the Twins blogosphere this week, as John Bonnes, Seth Stohs, Nick Nelson, and Parker Hageman launched a new site called TwinsDaily.com that combines their four blogs into one mega-blog and offers a platform for other writers to find an audience. I'm not involved with the site, but it's a great project and I'd encourage everyone to go hang out there (after you're done reading everything here, of course). Check out TwinsDaily.com.

• In which Craig Calcaterra reveals our private conversations and says Ronald Belisario bought drugs from my mother.

Raquel Welch has to be the best-looking 71-year-old person ever, right?

• Seems like Elijah Dukes misunderstood the whole concept of edibles.

• Official Fantasy Girl of AG.com Mila Kunis is beautiful and talented.

• Two great tastes that taste great together: Tom Scharpling and Marc Maron teamed up for a fantastic podcast that was about five hours too short.

• Twins beat writers aren't afraid to show plenty of leg at spring training.

• Sometimes perception and reality are a perfect match.

Nobody puts Niese-y in a corner.

• This week's "Gleeman and The Geek" episode was taped at Smalley's 87 Club in downtown Minneapolis, which closed up shop literally a day later. And if you've listened to the episode, that probably seems fitting.

Ricky Rubio, Kevin Love, and the Wolves sing (sort of) "Tearin Up My Heart" by NSYNC:

If you can make it to the end Nikola Pekovic steals the show, as usual.

Sebastian Pruiti of Grantland broke down some video for a very detailed, interesting analysis of Love's low-post game.

"Googly oogly oogly baby!"

David Price taped a commercial with Kate Upton, but his Rays teammate Evan Longoria is dating an actual Playboy playmate, Jaime Edmondson.

• Speaking of the Rays, this is the first ballpark giveaway guaranteed to cause nightmares.

• Once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Novak in the same photo.

Bob Wickman's sexiness did not come naturally.

• Hell hath no fury like a baseball writer scorned.

• Friend of AG.com and Minneapolis Star Tribune writer Phil Miller was named one of the top 10 beat reporters in the country by the Associated Press Sports Editors.

Daniel Von Bargen, the actor who brilliantly played George Costanza's boss on Seinfeld and was also good in the highly underrated movie Super Troopers, attempted to commit suicide by shooting himself in the head.

• As if Louis C.K. writing and producing a sitcom for CBS wasn't confusing enough, apparently Ashley Tisdale has been cast as the star.

• One of my favorite shows, Community, is coming back on the air next month after a long layoff and threat of cancellation.

• Fear not: Official Fantasy Girl of AG.com candidate Kate Beckinsale is still great looking.

• I hope Greg Oden can find some happiness after basketball, because otherwise life isn't fair.

• And speaking of Oden's latest setback, Joel Przybilla is back in the NBA.

• Congrats to former "Gleeman and The Geek" guest Lindsay Guentzel for making the MLB Fan Cave's final 30 candidates. She's now headed to Arizona for spring training.

• Bonnes and I are planning a get-together for March 5 to watch the Twins-Red Sox spring training game on television. We'll have all the details next week on the podcast and our blogs, but in the meantime mark your calendar and start preparing your liver.

• Finally, in honor of Dukes' latest brush with the law this week's AG.com-approved music video is "Young, Wild, and Free" by Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa:

February 10, 2012

Link-O-Rama

• If only I could have paid off my losing Super Bowl bet the same way as Maria Menounos.

• This post-Super Bowl column in the Boston Globe is everything wrong with sportswriting.

• I wrote a guest column for Baseball Prospectus, which has been my dream for 15 years.

• KFAN is the eighth-highest rated sports talk radio station in the country.

• I sometimes feel guilty about Link-O-Rama being sexist, so here's something for the ladies.

• I'm starting to think some of these "parents groups" should be more parenting.

• Finally, conclusive evidence that I've spoken to a woman.

• This week's "Gleeman and The Geek" guest, Lindsay Guentzel, was chosen as a finalist for the MLB Fan Cave contest, so go vote for her a few thousand times.

Jose Reyes' dreadlocks sold for $10,200 on eBay. Seriously.

• I'm actually kind of surprised it took this long.

• Obviously the solution is to start using books as toilet paper.

• Just in case you need a pep talk after a long week, Coach Taylor is always here for you:

Can't lose, obviously.

• I've been watching the Starz series Boss on Netflix. It can get a little too cheesy at times, but Kelsey Grammer is great in the lead role and the show is definitely worth watching.

• And after mentioning Boss on Twitter one of the supporting actors randomly replied to me.

• We're doing very important things at Hardball Talk.

Ozzie Gullen, mocking Baseball Think Factory regulars since 2012.

Old habits die hard, even when your entire writing career has been spent on the internet.

• How many episodes of a new television show should you watch before you give up on it?

• This is the best decision rabbis have made since expelling me from Hebrew school.

• I'd love to have sat in on the meetings where this horrendous idea was approved.

• It took one week for former Harvard point guard and NBA journeyman Jeremy Lin to become every Knicks fan's favorite player.

• I'm not really the target demographic for Smash, but I look forward to running into Katharine McPhee at the NBC holiday party.

Kendrick Perkins needs to learn that the key is being the source of the negativity.

• I moved out of St. Paul at age 17, so obviously this happened.

• And to think, this man dated Official Fantasy Girl of AG.com Mila Kunis for many years.

• Something tells me Terry Ryan won't be joining Twitter any time soon.

• Finally, this week's AG.com-approved music video is Basia Bulat signing "Before I Knew":

February 8, 2012

“Gleeman and The Geek” #27: Baseball Boyfriends

This week's episode of "Gleeman and The Geek" was recorded at Wild Boar in Hopkins and our special guest was FSN on-air talent and "MLB Fan Cave" hopeful Lindsay Guentzel. She drank vodka, I drank beer, and John Bonnes drank ... water. Topics included the good and bad sides of female baseball fandom, Ron Gardenhire's preferred lineup, the lack of veteran relief help, John's payroll chat with Dave St. Peter, my nerdiness, and pursuing a career in sports media.

Not included: Lindsay becoming our first guest to sing karaoke after the podcast was over.

UPDATE: MLB has chosen Lindsay as a finalist, so go vote for her several million times.

Gleeman and The Geek: Episode 27

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

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