November 27, 2012

Twins Notes: Pinto, Thielbar, Bromberg, Clement, Valencia, and Nishioka

• After clearing lots of the dead weight from the 40-man roster the Twins filled the empty spots by adding eight players: Aaron Hicks, Kyle Gibson, B.J. Hermsen, Michael Tonkin, Daniel Santana, Josmil Pinto, Tim Wood, Caler Thielbar. All eight players would have been eligible for the Rule 5 draft on December 6 if they hadn't been added and the first five names on the list were expected, as they rank among the Twins' better upper-minors prospects.

Pinto was somewhat surprising in that he's played just 12 games above Single-A through age 23, already spent about half of his time as a designated hitter, and failed to crack a .700 OPS in 2010 or 2011. He did bounce back with a strong season at high Single-A, hitting .295/.361/.473 in 93 games before a late promotion to Double-A, and the Twins apparently believe Pinto has a chance to be an impact bat.

When the Twins signed Wood to a minor-league contract on November 10 he didn't get a 40-man roster spot, but for some reason two weeks later they decided the 30-year-old reliever with just 58 career innings of big-league experience needed to be protected. He has a decent Triple-A track record and looks capable of being a useful middle reliever, but adding Wood to the 40-man roster weeks after signing him to a non-roster deal certainly seems odd.

Thielbar was cut by the Brewers two years after being an 18th-round draft pick and latched on with the independent league St. Paul Saints, where the left-handed reliever impressed the Twins enough to sign him in mid-2011. This year he pitched at Single-A, Double-A, and Triple-A, faring very well overall, but his 3.57 ERA and 32/16 K/BB ratio in 40 innings for Rochester were nothing special for a 25-year-old. Helluva story, questionable 40-man addition.

• Most of the aforementioned dead weight that was previously trimmed from the 40-man roster have either found new homes or re-signed with the Twins on minor-league deals. Samuel Deduno, P.J. Walters, Esmerling Vasquez, and Luis Perdomo re-upped without 40-man roster spots, Jeff Manship signed a minor-league contract with the Rockies, and Matt Carson signed a minor-league deal with the Indians.

At the time Carlos Gutierrez was the only player claimed off waivers after being dropped from the 40-man roster by the Twins, but two weeks later the Cubs dropped him from their 40-man roster and sent him outright to Triple-A when no one claimed the former first-round pick. As of now the Twins have a full 40-man roster, but there's still no shortage of replacement-level talent that can safely be let go if/when they need spots for trades or signings.

David Bromberg was the Twins' minor league pitcher of the year in 2009, but he was dropped from the 40-man roster after missing most of 2011 with a broken forearm and became a minor-league free agent last month. It was somewhat surprising to see the Twins sour on Bromberg so quickly, but he was never considered a top prospect and struggled this year working mostly as a reliever at age 24. He signed a minor-league deal with the Pirates.

• If you're into misleading headlines "Twins sign former top prospect, No. 3 pick" is a good one, but Jeff Clement seems destined for Rochester after inking a minor-league deal. While in the Mariners' farm system Clement ranked among Baseball America's top 75 prospects in 2006, 2007, and 2008, but poor defense kept him from playing catcher regularly and his bat hasn't been good enough for first base/designated hitter. For now he's just intriguing Triple-A depth.

Tim Doherty and Marty Mason replaced Tom Brunansky and Bobby Cuellar on the Triple-A coaching staff. Doherty will be Rochester's hitting coach after serving as a Red Sox assistant hitting coach this year. Mason takes over as pitching coach and his resume includes 11 seasons as the Cardinals' bullpen coach under manager Tony La Russa. Brunansky and Cuellar were promoted to the Twins' coaching staff as part of last month's quasi-shakeup.

• Last month when Tsuyoshi Nishioka forfeited the remaining $3.25 million on his contract to part ways with the Twins it was portrayed as an act of charity on his part. There's no doubt he did the Twins a favor, but as I wrote at the time: "He'll likely recoup the $3.25 million and then some back in Japan, where he was a .346-hitting, Gold Glove-winning star before leaving." Sure enough, Nishioka signed a two-year, $7.5 million deal with the Hanshin Tigers.

Danny Valencia spent most of his time at Triple-A after the Twins traded him to the Red Sox for a non-prospect in early August and now Boston has cut him from the 40-man roster. Overall this year Valencia hit .188/.199/.299 in the majors and .259/.300/.404 in the minors, posting a combined 90/21 K/BB ratio in 126 games. At age 28 he might be nearing the end of the line, although Valencia re-emering as a right-handed bench bat wouldn't be shocking.

Torii Hunter is back in the AL Central, signing a two-year, $26 million contract with the Tigers. That's a big commitment to a 37-year-old and his 2012 production was built on an sustainably great ball-in-play batting average, but it's worth noting that Hunter has more or less been worth $20 million over every two-year period since establishing himself in 2001. He's aged remarkably well and moving from center field to right field resuscitated his defense.

• For a whole lot more about the 40-man roster additions, Nishioka's raise, and the state of the Twins' farm system check out this week's "Gleeman and The Geek" episode.

November 16, 2012

Link-O-Rama

• I recently wrote a lengthy article touting my 15 must-listen podcasts and yesterday I had the honor of being a guest on one of them. I talked to one of my favorite people for 93 minutes and baseball was barely mentioned, which is another way of saying it was a fantastic time. If you like me even the slightest bit, check it out (and leave some comments there too).

• Next time someone says Twitter is pointless, show them this brilliant chronicling of life as a drunken, Dwayne Rudd jersey-wearing Vikings fan.

• Someone broke down every episode from all 20 seasons of "Law and Order" to analyze the trial results, sabermetrics-style. Hopefully the Pulitzer Prize committee has been alerted.

• OK, but did he like the restaurant or not?

• Now that the election is over Nate Silver went back to his baseball-writing roots to explain why Mike Trout deserved the AL MVP over Miguel Cabrera.

• I'm having trouble deciding whether Trout or Ryan Gosling was robbed more this week.

LaVelle E. Neal III has made the big time now. Or again, I guess.

Scott Baker signed a one-year deal with the Cubs after seven seasons with the Twins.

• Who can the Twins (realistically) sign to replace Baker? I'm glad you asked.

• On this week's "Gleeman and The Geek" episode we mostly talked Claire Forlani and facial hair, but also found time for an argument that made me want to punch John Bonnes again.

Manny Ramirez made quite a debut in the Dominican Winter League:

Seems like kind of a fun place to watch a baseball game, huh?

• Knowing what I know about both parties involved, this exchange made my week.

• This interview with longtime AG.com favorites Lizzy Caplan and Alison Brie was so good I had to take a break halfway through to compose myself.

• Old friend Torii Hunter signed a two-year, $26 million deal with Detroit, where he more or less replaces old friend Delmon Young in the lineup.

• After seeing Dave Attell perform live at Mystic Lake Casino last week I really enjoyed watching his two-hour chat with Joe Rogan and Brian Redban.

• Speaking of really good stand-up comedy, I'm going to see Hannibal Buress at Acme Comedy Company in Minneapolis next weekend. I invited him on the podcast, too.

Royce White's rookie season isn't off to such a great start.

• My favorite part of Jon Hamm drunkenly strolling around Los Angeles is the hat.

• Official Fantasy Girl of AG.com candidate Jenna Fischer bought Casey Stengel's old house.

• Everyone getting hurt is bad news for the Timberwolves and good news for local pot dealers.

• I asked Twitter for post-apocalyptic book recommendations and then immediately spent $100 ordering them all on Amazon, leading to this exciting Wednesday evening.

• This look lasted less than 72 hours, for fear it was too sexy even during Movember.

Chelsea Peretti's greatness is a frequent Link-O-Rama topic and her script-flipping appearance on "You Made It Weird" with Pete Holmes is her at the peak of her powers.

• We didn't know it at the time, but Twins fans were watching history being made in 1999.

• "Stop Podcasting Yourself" with Graham Clark and Dave Shumka is my pick for the most underrated podcast around and this week's episode is an excellent example of why.

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

- "Toddler found in cage"
- "Mila Kunis or Aubrey Plaza"
- "Anthony Slama deception"
- "Gleeman Cistulli enemies"
- "Robby Incmikoski real name"
- "Jerome Felton girlfriend"
- "Kevin Slowey engaged"
- "Minnesota chubby chasers"

• Seriously, go listen to me as a guest on one of my favorite podcasts. Money-back guarantee!

• Finally, in honor of the song turning 20 years old and me still knowing all the words this week's AG.com-approved music video is "Nothin' But A G Thang" by Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg:

May 25, 2012

Link-O-Rama

Dmitri Young sold his baseball card collection for $2.5 million. And here's my favorite part of the story: "Only seven cards in the entire collection received no bids and all were rookie cards of his brother, current Tigers outfielder Delmon Young."

• Anyone know if this team needs a blogger?

• Oddly both brilliant and creepy: The evolution of a family, one picture per year.

Joe Mauer and Snoop Dogg, together again at Thursday night's White Sox-Twins game.

• Financing the remake of a Pauly Shore movie is a sure sign that you have too much money.

• Thing that made me feel elderly: This week is the 20th anniversary of The Real World on MTV.

• Friend of AG.com and former Gleeman and The Geek guest Lindsay Guentzel beat out 22,000 applicants for a spot in the MLB Fan Cave, but now they're voting out residents, Survivor-style, and she needs your help to stick around and keep living in New York all season. Go vote.

LeBron James reads The Hunger Games in the locker room, obviously.

Michael Cuddyer is in a new league and on a new bad team, but the newspaper articles about him and "clubhouse chemistry" predictably live on.

Curt Schilling: Great pitcher, not-so-great businessman.

• Saying this will inevitably lead to ridicule, but whatever: John Mayer's new album is really good and also quite a bit different than most of his previous stuff.

• If you're interested in becoming an AG.com "sponsor of the week" click here for details.

• Fat-O-Meter update: I wrote on March 7 about losing 153 pounds in one year. Since then I've dropped another 23 pounds and now weigh 179 pounds, compared to 176 pounds lost.

• My weekly appearance on KFAN with Paul Allen was fun and you can listen to us talk about the Twins and the MLB draft and my life as a robot by clicking here.

• On a related note, I showed up at the radio station immediately after this took place:

 Not so long ago I'd have been excited about the fact that there were still donuts around.

• I'd like this cake for my next birthday, please. But definitely not the blond version.

Aroldis Chapman was arrested for driving significantly slower than he throws.

Jim Thome is single-handedly trying to prop up the housing market by selling his old place for $3.8 million and buying a new place for $4.6 million.

• Someone bought Babe Ruth's old jersey for $4.4 million.

Torii Hunter has yet to rejoin the Angels two weeks after his 17-year-old son's arrest on sexual assault charges.

• My former Sunday school classmate Leora Itman writes about how my old temple in St. Paul has a new, supposedly "cool" rabbi. And he has a sports blog called The Great Rabbino.

Chris Brown and his fans truly deserve each other.

Albert Chen of Sports Illustrated wrote a lengthy profile of Georgia high school center fielder Byron Buxton, who might end up being the Twins' choice with the No. 2 pick next month.

• I've never tuned in specifically to watch this show, yet cancellation is probably the only way to stop me from watching five episodes in a row every time I stumble across a marathon.

• NBC renewed Community for another season, but creator and show-runner Dan Harmon got fired and it's tough imagine the quality and creativity not suffering without him.

• Who is Cole De Vries and what is he doing in the Twins' rotation? I'm glad you asked.

• In similar news, I'm taking myself out of consideration for People's sexiest man of the year.

Jesse Thorn's long-form interview show Bullseye is always a must-listen, but that's especially true this week with Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey as his guest.

• Finally, this week's AG.com-approved music video is the studio version of the title track from Mayer's new album, "Born and Raised":

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.

May 18, 2012

Link-O-Rama

• This is a great New York Times correction: "An earlier version of this article misstated the name of Howard Stern's bulldog. It's Bianca, not Bernice."

Mila Kunis took a break from her Official Fantasy Girl of AG.com duties to save someone's life.

• They told me to bring the stats, so I unleashed some sabermetrics (to the tune of Steely Dan) on KFAN with Paul Allen yesterday. You can listen to my entire appearance here.

• Almost every supermodel claims to have been unattractive in high school, but based on their yearbook pictures almost every supermodel is lying.

Torii Hunter took a leave of absence from the Angels after his 17-year-old son was arrested and charged with sexual assault of a child following a months-long investigation.

• Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, great teacher, and awesome person Chris Ison was badly burned in a propane explosion, but thankfully is now recovering well.

• Not since Brett Favre has a legend coming out of retirement been such a sad idea. On the other hand, maybe that's just the 12-year-old me who had the original version talking.

• Last week's Gleeman and The Geek episode featured my mom's podcast/radio debut. Hilarity did not, as they say, ensue. And she claims to have been trying to sound like Lauren Bacall.

• My fellow Friday Night Lights fans will like this compilation of Coach Taylor warning people that he has something to tell them:

Let me tell you something: That video somehow makes me miss the show even more.

• On a related note, Coach Taylor's television daughter seems to be doing well post-FNL.

• As always my MinnPost colleage David Brauer analyzing local radio ratings is a must-read. Among the interesting notes: KFAN has the No. 1 or No. 2 rated show among male listeners in every time slot.

• On a related note, KFAN's overall ratings rank No. 9 among all sports stations in the country.

• I look forward to running into Michelle Beadle at the NBC holiday party. Also, congrats on getting away from Colin Cowherd.

• As an NBC homer I'm extra happy that they renewed Parks and Recreation, Community, 30 Rock, and the highly underrated Parenthood.

• Once again, Penn State seems like a wonderful place to spend your college years.

Jon Hamm answering advice questions submitted by teenage girls is pretty great, and as usual when not dressed as Don Draper he's repping the St. Louis Cardinals.

• Speaking of which, if John Slattery co-stars as Andrew McCutchen this movie will be great.

• One of my favorite basketball writers, Zach Lowe of SI.com, writes about the return of vintage Kevin Garnett at age 36.

• If you haven't been following the Sarah Phillips story, it's a weird one about fake identities, Twitter followers, ESPN, and gambling.

Ozzie Guillen explains, via video, that he's quitting Twitter because "people out there are nasty" and "I'm not Kim Kardashian":

I'm sad to see him go, because Guillen's tweets were pretty great, but he's basically right.

• Who are the Twins considering with the No. 2 pick in next month's draft? I'm glad you asked.

• Thing that makes me feel elderly: Kerry Wood is retiring.

David Letterman and Conan O'Brien get together to talk Jay Leno.

• After hundreds of Link-O-Rama posts over the years I'm amazed this has never happened.

Chelsea Peretti might be my all-time favorite podcast guest regardless of the show, so not surprisingly she was great recently on Sklarbro Country and You Made It Weird.

• Worlds colliding: Will Leitch was a guest on Julie Klausner's podcast to chat about Fargo.

• It was fun while it lasted, but I certainly understand.

• Congrats to friend of AG.com and original baseball blogger Jay Jaffe for his new SI.com gig.

Drive is on Netflix streaming now, so I'm planning to re-watch it over and over again until I figure out why so many people loved it.

• Car update: I bought a new Honda Fit on February 27 and it took me until May 9 for the little 10.6-gallon gas tank to be empty for the first time. I drove a total of 315 miles in 73 days.

• If you're interested in advertising your product, service, business, or website on AG.com I'm taking "sponsor of the week" reservations through the All-Star break. Click here for details.

• Finally, this week's AG.com-approved music video is Ellie Goulding's live version of "Lights":

This week's blog content is sponsored by PickPointz, where you can make predictions, pick games, and win prizes for free. Please support them for supporting AG.com.

April 27, 2012

Link-O-Rama

• Reminder: Gleeman and The Geek will be live on KFAN again Sunday at 4:00, shortly after the Twins-Royals game. Taking calls from listeners went well last week, so we'll probably do that again if you feel like listening live on 100.3-FM or KFAN.com instead of waiting for the podcast.

Josh Willingham welcoming his son into the world is pretty damn cute.

According to the New York Post a "highly intoxicated" Delmon Young was arrested and charged with assault late Thursday night. And not only did the incident occur on the six-year anniversary of his 50-game suspension for throwing a bat at an umpire, Young is being charged with a hate crime for "anti-Semitic remarks" during the assault.

Bobby Valentine had to redo the Red Sox's lineup Wednesday because he had no idea Liam Hendriks was right-handed and not left-handed. And then they clobbered him anyway.

• In addition to the "Mr. Irrelevant" title and a celebration at Disneyland the last pick in the NFL draft now also gets ... well, let's call it a date.

Picture of the week: Louis C.K. meets Hillary Clinton, with photo-bomb by Amy Poehler.

Mila Kunis has made headlines for all the wrong reasons lately, but thankfully the Official Fantasy Girl of AG.com still looks like this at a photo shoot and like this at the airport.

Chuck Klosterman bravely attended Creed and Nickelback concerts on the same night so he could write about the experience for Grantland.

• I'm pretty much obsessed with weight loss after being fat for most of my life and losing 150 pounds in one year, so Tara Parker-Pope's lengthy New York Times article was fascinating.

• Speaking of which, it's been a while since the last Fat-O-Meter update: My new goal is to have lost more pounds than my current weight. I started at 355 pounds on March 7, 2011 and now I'm 188 pounds, so the goal is to weigh 177 pounds compared to 178 pounds lost.

Brad Miller closed out his 13-year career in style with a three-pointer and some tears:

And most of Miller's teammates, including the injured, in-street-clothes Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love, wore headbands to honor him.

• It turns out not speaking Spanish really hurt Kyrie Irving's case for Rookie of the Year.

• Court Vision is a great website for "examining the NBA through spatial and visual analytics."

• On last week's Gleeman and The Geek episode I talked about playing basketball for the first time in five years and how depressing it was. One of my former teammates chimed in with a glowing scouting report on my old skills: "Undersized 4, no left hand, ugly jump shot."

Kerry Ligtenberg, the former Gophers pitcher who went from the independent league Minneapolis Loons to closing for the Atlanta Braves, is the St. Paul Saints' new pitching coach.

• Watching live as this bit of baseball history unfolded was surreal.

• Remember last week when I wondered what percentage of adult males could throw as hard as Jamie Moyer? I apparently wasn't the only person curious.

Chris Parmelee's life passing before his eyes, in picture form.

Kathleen Robertson is so good (and so good-looking) on the Starz show Boss that I'm willing to forgive her for bouncing the first pitch at a White Sox game.

Hanley Ramirez always wear a Nirvana shirt and a white belt when he hangs with Jay-Z.

Chelsea Peretti writes for one of my favorite shows, Parks and Recreation, and is one of my favorite follows on Twitter. And as this video shows, she's also a hilarious stand-up comic:

For a woman so thin to accurately describe life as a fat man is impressive.

Torii Hunter is up to his old tricks, throwing people under the bus in the media.

• For years now friend of AG.com Ted Berg has been an expert at eating and writing about sandwiches, so making sandwiches on YouTube was the natural progression.

• HBO sadly has canceled one of my favorite shows, The Life And Times Of Tim, after three underrated seasons.

• My fellow Community fans will enjoy Gillian Jacobs' appearance on Janet Varney's podcast.

• I'm hooked on HBO's new show, Veep, and it's reassuring to know that 29-year-old me likes 31-year-old Anna Chlumsky as much as 9-year-old me liked 11-year-old Anna Chlumsky.

• If you don't like Astros second baseman Jose Altuve we can't be friends.

• My cousin Josh Gallop had a 0.90 ERA and 13-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio for the Hopkins sophomore team, so they moved him up to the junior varsity squad. I've already put in a request with Baseball America editor John Manuel for a cover story.

• Netflix recommendation: The Messenger, starring Woody Harrelson and Ben Foster.

• Finally, in honor of the Twins' terrible start this week's AG.com-approved music video is "The World (Is Going Up In Flames)" by Charles Bradley:

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.

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