April 26, 2013

Link-O-Rama

• Sunday afternoon "Gleeman and The Geek" is back on the radio for our second season on KFAN. Beginning at 4:00 you can tune into 100.3-FM or steam the show on KFAN.com to hear us live, or you can wait for the podcast like always.

• Photographs of what death row inmates choose as their final meals are predictably fascinating.

• I've often wondered how much pot could fit inside a Pac-Man arcade game.

Yu Darvish is a helluva drug.

• What does it say about me that I grew up dreaming about getting, tried to get, and failed to get what is now deemed the worst job in America?

• One second before Oswaldo Arcia launched his first career home run approximately 1,000 feet Bert Blyleven wondered if he would be asked to bunt. So perfect.

• I would gladly have participated in Nathan Fielder's little freak-out-your-parents experiment, except my mom a) wouldn't care and b) doesn't text.

• I'm pretty obsessed with Twitter and like gaining followers, both for my ego and because it helps me get people to read my writing, but this whole thing seems pathetically shady.

• On this week's "Gleeman and The Geek" episode we had two special guests on and at one point I tried to convince everyone that Doug Mientkiewicz is one of the best-looking Twins of this era.

• One of my favorite musicians, Richie Havens, passed away at age 72. My annual Opening Day tradition here involves ending my Twins season preview with a video of his great live version of "Here Comes The Sun" from 1971:

RIP, one of the best.

• It turns out that Tom Cruise does most of his acting standing on an apple crate.

• Try to find another MLB closer who engages idiots on Twitter between doubleheader games.

• Last week I ranked my top 10 baseball movies of all time at HardballTalk and tried to convince everyone that "The Sandlot" is underrated, so naturally Wendy Peffercorn showed up on "Mad Men" a few days later.

• Even better, the Twins and FOX Sports North announced that they'll be showing "The Sandlot" on the Target Field jumbotron after the Twins-Red Sox game on May 19.

• Stand-up comedian Rob Delaney is singing the National Anthem at the Dodgers-Brewers game tonight, and the recap of how that came to be is pretty funny.

• Netflix now has more American subscribers than HBO.

• It has nothing to do with anything, but this is my favorite GIF from "Mad Men" this week.

Nate Sandell of 1500ESPN.com wrote a very good article about new Gophers basketball coach Richard Pitino getting into statistical analysis.

• In which Paul Allen suggests we go on a double-date at a Twins game.

• Of course A.J. Pierzynski was involved in this somehow.

• After years of playing through injuries and taking painkillers former Vikings quarterback Brad Johnson is struggling just to live life at age 44.

• Earlier this week I named Hannibal Buress as one of my five favorite stand-up comedians and he also does a nice job acting in this short film.

Fortunately that did not happen when I saw him at Acme Comedy Company a few months ago.

• Anyone who likes Elisabeth Moss on "Mad Men" (or liked her on "The West Wing") should check out the mini-series "Top Of The Lake" on Netflix for a really well done, slow burn mystery/drama co-starring Peter Mullan and Holly Hunter.

• IFC put the pilot episode of Marc Maron's new television show on YouTube.

• Wanna buy all of Bret Saberhagen's old baseball stuff?

• My favorite part of this week's Carson Cistulli-Dayn Perry podcast was 36 minutes in, when Perry tells Cistulli that he thinks podcasts are terrible and Cistulli tries to convince Perry otherwise by saying: "Aaron Gleeman listens to podcasts all day." (Spoiler alert: It did not work.)

• I enjoyed this video from the Sloan Conference panel about basketball analytics featuring Stan Van Gundy, R.C. Buford, and Zach Lowe. SVG in particular was really impressive/funny.

Kelly Dwyer of Yahoo! Sports examined whether Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson are the best-shooting backcourt in NBA history.

• I answered a bunch of mailbag questions from Twitter. I'd like to figure out a way to make the mailbag posts a regular thing here without having to specifically ask for questions each time, so let me know any suggestions.

• We made some changes to the comments section and might have a few wrinkles to iron out, so check it out, be patient, and let me know any issues.

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

- "Is Aaron Gleeman a mensch?"
- "What to do if you're a 30-year-old kid"
- "T-ball lineup card"
- "Gordon Ramsay and George Michael"
- "Denzel Washington baseball"
- "How long should you fry wing sections?"
- "Sabermetics approach to dating"
- "Does Aaron Gleeman blog with his pants off?"
- "What synagogue does Jeselnik go to?"
- "Luis Rivas baseball"

• Finally, this week's AG.com-approved music video is Havens singing "Freedom" at Woodstock:


This week's blog content is sponsored by "Hank Greenberg: The Hero of Heroes" author John Rosengren's upcoming appearance at the Minneapolis Sabes JCC on May 5. Please support him for supporting AG.com.

March 22, 2013

Link-O-Rama

• Reminder: Twins Daily is having a get-together Saturday afternoon to watch the Twins-Rays spring training game on television. I'll be there and you should too. Details here.

• They did pretty well casting the show, but seeing the other names on the original call sheet for "The Office" is very interesting. Adam Scott and Mary Lynn Rajskub as Jim and Pam would have been fun.

Zach Lowe's article on Grantland about the next big thing in basketball analysis is fascinating.

• My pick for the best team in the American League probably won't surprise anyone.

• I saw John Mulaney at the Varsity Theater in Dinkytown last weekend and he was incredible. An hour of non-stop laughs, mostly from stories rather than one-liners, and the 500-person crowd couldn't possibly have been more charmed by him. He seamlessly mixed in some funny stuff about Minnesota, coaxed a ton of laughs out of talking to a random audience member halfway through the set, and was basically just perfect. And his opener, Carmen Lynch, was really good too.

• Lynch is coming to Acme Comedy Company this summer to headline her own show, where she'll do closer to an hour instead of the 15 minutes she did Saturday. I'm already looking forward to it. Oh, and here's a picture she took of the audience from backstage (I'm the good-looking one).

• On this week's "Gleeman and The Geek" episode we talked about Kyle Gibson's assignment to Triple-A and whether our bar-buying idea might be helped by Kickstarter.

• Speaking of using Kickstarter to fund a new bar opening, apparently it's already worked locally.

• Life is tough for Jon Hamm. Poor guy must be so whatever the opposite of embarrassed is.

• On a related note (sort of), "March Mad Men" is just a good use of the internet:

Every time I watch a video like that I can't stop thinking about how long it took someone to make.

• Old friend Pat Neshek talked about what life is like six months after losing his newborn son.

Cory Cove, who goes mostly by "Sludge" on KFAN, won a poker tournament worth $50,000.

• Thanks to everyone who submitted mailbag questions via Twitter. Here are all the answers.

• Speaking of comedy shows I'm looking forward to attending, Erin Gibson and Bryan Safi are coming to Minnesota to do a live "Throwing Shade" podcast at Lee's Liquor Lounge on June 27. I wrote about "Throwing Shade" as part of my guide to podcasts last year. It's great, they're great, and I'll bet the live show here will be great.

• Hey guys, did you know "bloggers are where it's at"?

Nick Offerman brought out the big guns to promote his new movie.

• Time-lapse NBA boxscores are pretty damn cool.

• What happens when a Diamondbacks minor leaguer interacts with comedian Rob Delaney on Twitter? Outing yourself as anti-gay marriage and the type of person who has to tell someone that you're unfollowing them on Twitter is quite a combo.

• I hope his one-scene cameo on "Girls" reminds everyone how great Colin Quinn is. I'd love to see a "Girls" spinoff starring Quinn and Alex Karpovsky. And maybe Amy Schumer too.

• I wrote a Royals season preview on HardballTalk and then got wonderful replies on Twitter.

• Oh man, the 80s were crazy.

• Thunderous dunks and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony are two of my favorite things, so I loved this:

Jason Terry misses his uncle Charles, basically.

Miguel Sano was in the Twins' lineup against the Yankees last night and had two hits.

• I haven't listened yet, but I'm really hoping this new Beyonce song "Bow Down" is a Westside Connection cover.

Alex Speier of WEEI.com wrote an interesting article about how Alex Meyer almost ended up with the Red Sox. Instead he's the Twins fifth-best prospect.

• Another look at catcher defense that doesn't show Ryan Doumit in a very good light.

• I really enjoyed Jeff Garlin's chat with Will Ferrell (and the Zach Galifianakis cameo).

Lachlan Patterson was a great guest on this week's "Stop Podcasting Yourself" with Graham Clark and Dave Shumka, which has emerged as my favorite podcast.

• I finally saw "Zero Dark Thirty" and thought the first two hours were mostly mediocre and the last 30 minutes were excellent. My favorite part of the whole movie was Andy Dwyer playing horseshoes and my second favorite part was this face. Also, props to the casting director for going with Dwyer, Coach Taylor, Michael Dawson, Pete Eckhart, and Tony Soprano. That's some good taste in television if nothing else.

• Netflix recommendation: "The Trip" starring Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon.

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

- "Craig Calcaterra Minnesota"
- "Elliptical workouts for beer drinkers"
- "Jared Burton girlfriend"
- "J.J. Hardy dyes his hair"
- "Guys wearing black socks"
- "Emmy Rossum Mets game"
- "Coach Taylor got fat in Fargo"
- "Had sex with Jack White"
- "John Bonus"
- "How much does Louis C.K. weigh?"

• Finally, this week's AG.com-approved music video is "Pistol" by Dustin Kensrue:

January 18, 2013

Link-O-Rama

• When we started "Gleeman and The Geek" the basic idea was simply two guys having a long, unedited conversation over some beers. Conan O'Brien and Jack White had the same concept while adding in smoking and being far more interesting, and the result is absolutely fantastic.

• Big deal, I've been making up fake girlfriends for years.

• On a related note, Amy Webb developed a sort of sabermetric approach to online dating.

• I thought of a new pickup line on Twitter and Jon Shields was kind enough to give it life.

• My favorite lead sentence of the week, from Marino Eccher of the St. Paul Pioneer Press: "An Eagan lawyer is suspended indefinitely after having an affair with a client whom he represented in a divorce, then billing her for time they spent having sex."

Pete Rose's new reality television show is exactly what you'd expect.

• Who mocks stat-heads and who hires stat-heads?

• Longtime readers and/or Twitter followers probably know that I'm obsessed with the "Hardball Dynasty" game on WhatIfSports, running two leagues and frequently recruiting new owners. One of those new owners is Carson Cistulli of Fan Graphs, who had WhatIfSports president Tom Zentmeyer on his podcast to discuss the game and the website and the role of sabermetrics in everything. And they even talked about me and my "dominance" for a little bit.

• Old friend Denny Hocking has been named the Angels' new rookie-ball manager.

• I'm way more upset about this week's "Top Chef" elimination than I was about Miguel Cabrera beating Mike Trout for MVP, and Keith Law's recap explains why.

• After a month-long break John Bonnes reunited with me for this week's "Gleeman and The Geek" episode and naturally we talked mostly about drugs and Bar Mitzvahs.

• Not only is Rob Delaney a good stand-up comedian and must-follow on Twitter, he brilliantly analyzes baseball's sexy scouting lingo:

His mustache really puts it over the top.

Worst e-mail ever?

More reason to wish the Twins had signed Brandon McCarthy.

• I'm going to TwinsFest this year for the first time since 1995 or so. We have some interesting podcast-related plans that may or may not actually happen, but I'll definitely be at the Twins Daily get-together Saturday night at Hubert's and I'll also definitely try to re-enact this picture.

Milton Bradley is no longer a baseball player, but he's still a scumbag.

Anna Kendrick's tweet about Ryan Gosling was especially funny/bold considering she might actually run into and/or star in a move with him at some point.

• Friend of AG.com and fellow Twins blogger Seth Stohs' fifth annual "Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook" is now available as a paperback and ebook. with 191 pages of unique, in-depth content covering every key prospect, draft pick, and minor leaguer in the organization.

Pop quiz, hotshot: Delmon Young or Delwyn Young?

Ariel Helwani of MMAFighting.com covers mixed martial arts as well as any journalist covers any sport and I've become a huge fan of his over the past few years, so I really enjoyed Vice's video profile of him. His story is very interesting and a lot of it hit home with me.

Old Time Family Baseball is doing its annual charity blogathon this weekend to raise money for Doctors Without Borders, with non-stop blogging by Michael Clair and lots of good guest posts.

• Some recent Netflix instant recommendations: "God Grew Tired Of Us," "The Company Men," "You Can Count On Me," "Jeff, Who Lives At Home," "The English Patient," "Gosford Park," "The Wave," "Biutiful," "Sleepwalk With Me," "Take This Waltz."

• This week in Chelsea Peretti being the best.

Jessi Klein was a great guest on Dave Hill's always laid back podcast.

• Three months ago Adam Meier sponsored a week of AG.com for his mother, Emily Meier, promoting her self-published fiction writing as she battled cancer. I'm sad to report that she passed away last week, but I would encourage everyone to please check out her website and continue to give her the audience that she struggled to find.

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

- "Patrick Reusse weight loss"
- "Van Morrison divorce"
- "Chris Pratt Norwegian"
- "Jessica Alba porno"
- "Mitch Hedberg talks about baseball"
- "Plan to lose 150 pounds"
- "Why my body craves a cheeseburger"
- "Geek with turtleneck"
- "How much does Amy Grant weigh in pounds"

• Finally, in honor of that great O'Brien/White chat this week's AG.com-approved music video is The Raconteurs' live version of "Old Enough" with Ricky Skaggs and Ashley Monroe:

May 31, 2011

Twins Notes: Nathan, James, Plouffe, Liriano, Swarzak, and Slama

Joe Nathan's comeback from Tommy John surgery went from bad to worse, as the Twins put him on the disabled list with more elbow pain. The good news is that an MRI exam revealed only inflammation. The bad news is that there's no return timetable and Nathan is "prepared" to be out as long as a month. Tommy John surgery recovery is often said to be 12 months, but as we've seen with Francisco Liriano and now Nathan unfortunately that often isn't the case.

Nathan gradually added velocity after arriving at spring training throwing in the mid-80s, but never approached his pre-surgery stuff and the missing miles per hour also came attached to far worse command. Along with his ERA rising from 2.10 in 2009 to 7.63 this season, Nathan's strikeouts are down 38 percent, his walks are up 50 percent, and his average fastball fell from 93.6 to 91.4 mph. He hasn't been as bad as the 7.63 ERA, but he hasn't been Joe Nathan.

• To replace Nathan in the bullpen the Twins called up Chuck James, for whom the bloggers I read and tweeters I follow have been pining. I'm far from convinced that James can make a big impact, but unlike Dusty Hughes or Phil Dumatrait or Eric Hacker there's at least a chance of James proving to be more than just the latest replacement-level bullpen stopgap. James, like Nathan, is an example of how long the road back from arm surgery can be.

Once upon a time James was a top prospect in the Braves' system, posting great numbers in the minors before debuting in September of 2005. He joined Atlanta's rotation the next season at age 24 and posted a 4.05 ERA with a 207-to-105 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 280 innings over two years before blowing out his shoulder. He missed most of 2008 and all of 2009 following rotator cuff and labrum surgery, returning as a Triple-A reliever for the Nationals last season.

He pitched well with a 2.32 ERA and 69/11 K/BB ratio in 66 innings, signed with the Twins this winter, and forced them to call him up by throwing 29 innings with a 1.57 ERA and 37/9 K/BB ratio out of Rochester's bullpen. James' raw stuff doesn't match those numbers, but even while succeeding as a mid-rotation starter in Atlanta his average fastball was just 88 mph and with 106 strikeouts in 95 innings since returning he's missed bats without overpowering hitters.

Sad as it may be, at this point the Twins' main goals should be to get healthy, play respectable baseball, make some smart trades, and sort out who can help them in 2012. Cycling through more guys like Hughes or Dumatrait accomplishes none of that, but James may still have some upside at age 29. Before surgery he was a young mid-rotation starter with a 4.00 ERA and in coming back he's been a very effective Double-A and Triple-A reliever with great K/BB ratios.

Trevor Plouffe got off to a fantastic start after being called up from Triple-A to replace Alexi Casilla at shortstop, but the flaws that made him just the 32nd-best Twins prospect heading into the season have since been exposed. Plouffe has 15-homer power and a very strong arm, but that's about it. Or as I wrote in ranking him No. 32 back in February: "A career as a utility man looks like his most realistic upside." Unfortunately the other options aren't any better.

• Liriano's no-hitter got everyone's hopes up and he's sprinkled in a couple of strong outings, but his overall struggles along with decreased velocity suggested something wasn't quite right physically and yesterday the Twins placed him on the DL with shoulder inflammation. For now the official word is that the Twins are hopeful he can return when eligible next week, but then again they initially hoped he'd miss just one start and avoid the DL in the first place.

Compared to last year Liriano's strikeouts are down 36 percent, his walks are up 107 percent, and he's missing 1.7 mph on his average fastball, which is how his ERA has gone from 3.62 to 5.73 and his xFIP has gone from 2.95 to 5.01. Even while posting an impressive-looking 2.52 ERA in four starts this month Liriano also had a sub par 16-to-14 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 25 innings, succeeding because of a ridiculously fortunate .154 batting average on balls in play.

Anthony Swarzak took a no-hitter into the eighth inning Saturday while starting in Liriano's place against the Angels, so naturally he'll stay in the rotation during the DL stint. However, much like Plouffe the longer Swarzak remains in a prominent role the more obvious his faults will become. He also started very strong as a rookie in 2009, tossing seven shutout innings in his debut and sporting a 3.90 ERA after five starts, only to finish with a 6.25 ERA in 59 innings.

And since then Swarzak has a 5.67 ERA and 94-to-45 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 144 innings at Triple-A, although he was pitching reasonably well prior to the latest call-up. Swarzak may do a nice job filling in for Liriano and may even prove to be a capable back-of-the-rotation starter or middle reliever, but don't let the great first impressions fool you into thinking he's more than a marginal prospect at age 25.

• To replace Liriano on the roster the Twins called up reliever Anthony Slama, who's similar to James this year in that his outstanding minor-league numbers have always screamed out for an extended opportunity. Slama has a 2.11 ERA and 369 strikeouts in 273 total innings in the minors, including a 2.73 ERA and 117 strikeouts in 105 innings at Triple-A, yet he's 27 years old and has just five appearances in the big leagues.

Slama isn't destined to become an elite reliever, but like James there's at least some reason to think he could be useful to the Twins this year and beyond. Obviously having the worst record in baseball at the end of May is a nightmare scenario for the Twins, but hopefully they can find small positives within the huge negative by giving legitimate opportunities to guys like Slama, who deserves 50 innings to sink or swim even if they've never trusted his minor-league stats.

Danny Valencia batting around .350 for much of his half-season debut last year had many people willing to dismiss his underwhelming minor-league numbers, but he's now played 136 games in the big leagues while hitting .280/.329/.412. He played 120 games at Triple-A and hit .289/.322/.421. Funny how that tends to work. Valencia's defense, however, has been much better than advertised and makes him a solid regular despite a mediocre bat.

• For a while the Twins kept saying Tsuyoshi Nishioka was ahead of schedule in his recovery from a fractured fibula, but he was initially given a 4-6 week timetable on April 7. Monday will be two months since the injury and Nishioka hasn't even started a minor-league rehab stint. When it comes to the Twins and injuries, there's no such thing as "ahead of schedule."

• Orioles manager Buck Showalter was full of praise for Wilson Ramos after an interleague series versus the Nationals, saying: "I love that Ramos kid. He's about as good a young player as I've seen this year. The kid they got from Minnesota. He's really impressive." Ramos has slumped recently, but the 23-year-old's .731 OPS still ranks 14th among the 32 catchers with at least 100 plate appearances and he's the youngest starting catcher in baseball.

• Old friend Brian Fuentes hasn't made many new friends in Oakland, although in fairness it sounds like he's not the first late-inning reliever to have a problem with manager Bob Geren's communication methods.

• Speaking of old friends in Oakland, the A's dealt former Twins minor leaguer Steven Tolleson to the Padres for a player to be named later. Tolleson was never a particularly good prospect, but he looked like a potentially useful role player and ranked 37th on my list last year only to be claimed off waivers by the A's literally the day the rankings were posted in January.

• Dusty Hughes has been a horrendous pickup, but at least Rob Delaney hasn't thrived for the Rays after being waived to make room for Hughes on the Twins' roster. Tampa Bay designated Delaney for assignment, meaning the Twins could potentially use their No. 1 waiver priority to claim him back. Don't count on it, though. He's still my second-favorite Rob Delaney.

Martire Garcia ranked 31st on my list of the Twins' top prospects after throwing 73 innings with a 3.31 ERA and 93-to-38 strikeout-to-walk ratio between rookie-ball and low Single-A as a 20-year-old. Sent back to Beloit to begin this season, Garcia posted a 5.57 ERA and 22/25 K/BB ratio in 21 innings ... and the Twins released him. Those are ugly numbers, for sure, but there must be a little more to the story too.

• As a team the Twins have an adjusted ERA+ of 84 through 52 games. Among all the pitchers in team history with at least 300 innings Pat Mahomes is the only one with a worse adjusted ERA+ at 81. In other words, after about one-third of the season the Twins have pitched like an entire staff full of Pat Mahomes. And their hitting has been even worse.

Jim Hoey has a 10.45 ERA in 10 innings. The last Twins pitcher with a higher ERA than Hoey in at least 10 innings was Mike Lincoln, who had a 10.89 ERA in 21 innings in 2000. He went on to post a 2.96 ERA in 113 innings for the Pirates in 2001 and 2002, so perhaps there's still some hope for Hoey yet.

• Last season the Twins allowed 67 runs in the eighth inning. This season they've allowed 51 runs in the eighth inning. And there are still 112 games to go.

May 9, 2011

Promotions, demotions, and disabled list stints

Catching up on the Twins' recent roster moves ...

Alexi Casilla's ill-conceived reign as the Twins' starting shortstop lasted all of a month, as he played his way out of the job by hitting just .190/.257/.286 with predictably spotty defense at a position where he lacked both the skills and experience to succeed. Trevor Plouffe has now taken over at shortstop, earning a call-up by shaking off a dreadful spring training to start well at Triple-A. That leaves Casilla as the primary second baseman, with Ron Gardenhire saying:

I talked with Alexi about it. I asked him about second base and he said it's easier. We'll see if it's easier. I know he's always more comfortable over there too. I think he's trying to do a whole heck of a lot. At second base maybe he'll be able to relax a little bit more and not rush things.

Casilla needing to relax and get comfortable has been repeated like a manta since his debut in 2006, along with talk of supposed upside. At this point, however, it might be time to conclude that Casilla just isn't very good. He'll be 27 years old in July and has 1,200 plate appearances in the majors, so Casilla is neither young nor inexperienced. Defensively he's overmatched at shortstop and merely decent at second base, and he's a career .244/.301/.321 hitter.

Even his best raw tools more often than not go to waste. Casilla has a strong arm, but the big windup and shaky accuracy mean he can't be counted on to make routine plays. He has great speed and is a remarkably efficient base-stealer, yet has a grand total of just 37 steals in 338 games. Casilla is out of minor-league options and can't be sent to Triple-A without first passing through waivers, but the risk of losing him should no longer be part of the decision-making.

• There's no immediate reason to cut bait on Casilla, but if Plouffe is performing well enough to keep a starting job by the time Tsuyoshi Nishioka is ready to return from his fractured fibula in a couple weeks keeping Casilla around would likely mean demoting Matt Tolbert to Triple-A or reducing the pitching staff from 12 to 11. It's difficult to imagine Ron Gardenhire being in favor of either option, so Casilla may truly be playing for his Twins future right now.

Of course, Plouffe having a strong grip on the job in 2-3 weeks is hardly assured. According to Gardenhire the coaching staff at Rochester praised Plouffe's defense and he hit .282/.344/.590 in 21 games there, but that brings his career mark at Triple-A up to just .255/.306/.430 in 307 games and his shortstop defense received mixed reviews long before the error-filled showing this spring. He ranked 32nd on my list of the Twins' top prospects coming into the season.

Plouffe's flaws may be different and less familiar than Casilla's flaws, but aren't necessarily any less abundant and a 25-year-old with a non-elite glove and .306 on-base percentage in 1,300 plate appearances at Triple-A isn't significantly more likely to impress as an everyday shortstop than Casilla or Tolbert. Plouffe is worth a look at shortstop and so is Nishioka once he returns, but this may not be a problem that can be solved by shuffling a deck full of the same cards.

• On the other hand, injuries to Delmon Young and Jim Thome forced the Twins to call up Ben Revere and Rene Tosoni, both of whom project as more likely long-term starters than Plouffe. Tosoni got the nod with Young out by virtue of his better start at Triple-A, but then Revere was called up anyway once Thome and Jason Repko went on the shelf last week and now they're splitting time in left field despite the two left-handed hitters not forming a natural platoon.

Thome, Jason Kubel, and Michael Cuddyer are impending free agents, so it's possible Revere and Tosoni will be two-thirds of the starting outfield next season along with Denard Span. For now they're just keeping the roster spots warm with Young seemingly close to returning and both Thome and Repko also due back before the end of the month. Revere seems more likely to stick once Young returns because he fills Repko's role as the backup center fielder.

• When the Twins claimed Dusty Hughes off waivers from the Royals in January they talked up his nice-looking ERA and the fact that left-handed hitters like Mauer and Span raved about his stuff after facing him. Ignored in all that were mediocre secondary numbers last season and an underwhelming track record in the minors, and sure enough Hughes was demoted to Triple-A after posting a 10.13 ERA in 12 appearances while opponents batted .356/.434/.622 off him.

Meanwhile, the player dropped from the 40-man roster to make room for Hughes three months ago, Rob Delaney, was called up by the Rays yesterday after posting a 1.50 ERA and 19-to-5 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 18 innings at Triple-A. Delaney won't necessarily stick in Tampa Bay and Hughes might thrive if given another shot in Minnesota, but so far the reliever swap based on ERA and hitter reviews rather than secondary stats and track records looks like a mistake.

• Last month when Joe Mauer was placed on the disabled list the Twins called up Steve Holm from Triple-A to serve as Drew Butera's backup and Gardenhire said things like "he can swing it" and "we liked him in spring training." Holm's track record said otherwise, as the 31-year-old career minor leaguer had hit just .250/.334/.379 at Triple-A. Holm predictably struggled, going 2-for-17 at the plate and 0-for-5 throwing out runners before being demoted back to Triple-A.

Holm is the definition of a replacement-level catcher, so there's no reason to fault the Twins for dropping him, but the process by which he so quickly fell out of favor is curious given that the Rochester call-up taking his job, Rene Rivera, is every bit as much a replacement-level catcher with a decade in the minors and an even less impressive track record. Why make that switch just weeks after calling up Holm over Rivera in the first place? Here's what Gardenhire said:

Just trying to mix it up. Don't want to sit here and get complacent. I hope these guys understand we're not afraid to move people around. It's just a change. Holm hadn't been swinging great. They told me Rivera was hitting balls right on the button. Terry Ryan had been watching him the last few days. He can run into a ball, and we need somebody who can run into the ball.

Presumably the Twins scouted both players before signing them as free agents this winter and then formed further opinions about them during spring training. Last month that meant calling up Holm over Rivera, yet three weeks and just 18 plate appearances later they reversed that decision because Holm "hadn't been swinging great" and Gardenhire got a report that Rivera "was hitting balls right on the button." Sounds a lot like his quotes about Holm last month.

Terry Ryan must have watched Rivera on a rare good day, because he hit just .200/.250/.333 at Rochester before the call-up. Beyond that, the notion that Rivera "can run into a ball and we need somebody who can run into the ball" is being awfully kind to a career .245 hitter with a .405 slugging percentage in parts of seven years at Triple-A. Decisions don't get less important than "Holm or Rivera?" but the decision-making process in this case fascinates me.

• As if that wasn't already too much talk about replacement-level backup catchers ... When the Holm-for-Rivera swap was announced quite a few people e-mailed and tweeted me wondering why 2007 eighth-round pick Danny Lehmann didn't get the nod instead. My assumption is that those people looked at his .325 batting average in a dozen games this season rather than his ugly .239/.318/.312 career line in five seasons. Lehmann is homegrown, but that's about it.

Francisco Liriano's no-hitter obviously quieted Gardenhire's talk of Kevin Slowey coming off the disabled list to replace him in the rotation, so instead Slowey rejoined the bullpen with a start-length relief outing after Saturday's rain delay. Slowey began the season in a secondary setup role, but with the bullpen hierarchy changing dramatically in the month he missed it'll be interesting to see if he reclaims the high-leverage role that he's capable of thriving in.

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