September 13, 2013


• After six months on the radio with KFAN this week's "Gleeman and The Geek" episode returned to our podcast-only, beer-drinking roots at Summit Brewing's annual "Backyard Bash" event. We explained the switch, discussed Joe Mauer's health status and future, and marveled over Byron Buxton. And as one commenter put it: "Aaron got overly salty at the end there."

• After recording the podcast and nearly sweating to death Saturday at the beer fest I headed to Target Field at the Twins' invitation for their "Social Media Deckstravaganza" event, where a few dozen of the internet's finest nerds got together to watch a game, drink some beer, and stare at their phones. Twins team photographer Brace Hemmelgarn snapped this long-distance shot of our group in left field from his perch by the dugout:

aaron and parker on the deck

Ugly shirt? Check. Making a weird face? Check. Staring at your phone? Check. Good work, Aaron.

It was like 95 degrees outside that night, so some of us retreated to the air conditioning:

deck conference room

There are at least four Twins employees and three Twins Daily writers in that picture, along with me. Here's what I saw earlier when I arrived about 15 minutes before the first pitch:

social media deck2

And here are the last dozen or so people who stuck around after the final pitch, phone-staring:

social media deck5

There are a lot more pictures in existence, but you probably get the idea. Thanks to the Twins (and specifically Keith Beise and Chris Iles) for the invite. Good times, despite Kevin Correia.

• My long, hard journey to the Deckstravaganza was documented poetically by Axel Kohagen.

• My podcast co-host John Bonnes is speaking at the Minnesota Blogger Conference next month.

• As someone who's shared way too much of his life online for years I was fascinated by the idea platonic friends Jessica Walsh and Timothy Goodman had to date each other every day for 40 days, keep separate journals documenting the experience, and post it all for the world to see. It was part art project and part social experiment, and when combined with a well-done website featuring lots of quirky visual extras "40 Days Of Dating" is incredibly interesting.

• This season Buxton did things very few prospects have done and he did it at multiple levels.

• Some interesting local radio news, as 105.1-FM has switched to a sports talk format and added a bunch of well-known names like Tom Barnard, Don Shelby, Bob Sansevere, and Mike Morris to its lineup. Along with 100.3-KFAN and 1500-ESPN there are now three local stations devoted to full-time sports and 96.3-KTWN also has all the Twins games.

• Speaking of which, Adam Platt of Twins Cities Business took an in-depth look at the growing sports radio market in Minnesota and whether it's sustainable. It's a really good read, including a breakdown of each station involved and lots of interesting quotes from all sides.

• If you gave me a good bottle of Scotch and two hours I could grow a better mustache than the embarrassment Justin Bieber has on his upper lip.

• Braves teammates Dan Uggla and Gerald Laird had an ab contest via Twitter and as a Team Hirsute member I feel compelled to stick up for Laird. Freddie Freeman's photo bomb is the best part of the whole thing, although it might take a second to spot it.

• I'll be among 100 people embarking on Saturday's all-day "Grand Drunk Railroad" event, which involves taking the light rail from St. Paul to Target Field for the Twins-Rays game and stopping at a half-dozen bars along the way. Technically all the spots were already booked in advance, but if you'd like to crash the party at one of the bar stops or the game here's our planned schedule.

• Congrats to friend of Michael Rand on his promotion to Minneapolis Star Tribune digital sports editor. Great news for Minnesotans who consume their sports content online.

• Congrats to Dana Wessel of 96.3-KTWN for being friends with Rand and for buying a nice table.

Correction: Wessel did not, in fact, buy the table in question. Heather Balgaard is the real hero.

• Dodgers third baseman Juan Uribe hit three homers in one game and then had a pot hat in his locker afterward.

• On a related note, here's a picture from 1996 of 13-year-old me posing with Stephon Marbury while wearing a hat with a blunt in a banana peel on it:

aaron and marbury

Not pictured: Marbury made me take off my Jason Kidd jersey before the photo was taken.

• "Storage Wars: Dikembe Mutombo Edition" is a show I'd watch.

• One of my favorite sports memories is being in the student section when Bobby Jackson came back to Williams Arena and got a standing ovation, so this news is pretty cool. As a mediocre JCC league point guard I wore my socks high because of him.

• Even cancer knows not to mess with Robin Quivers.

• Monday was my all-time favorite musician Otis Redding's birthday. He died in 1967 at age 26 and would have been 72 years old now. I get sad thinking about how many songs we missed out on, but he managed to get a whole bunch of great ones in. Some of my favorites:

- "I've Got Dreams to Remember"
- "That's How Strong My Love Is"
- "You Left The Water Running"
- "Sittin' On The Dock Of The Bay"
- "Hard To Handle"
- "Try A Little Tenderness"
- "Your One And Only Man"
- "My Girl"
- "Shake"

And once you're done listening to those, you're encouraged to shake it like a bowl of soup.

• I'd never heard Dan Savage before and was only vaguely aware of his popularity, but I really enjoyed his appearance on Marc Maron's show.

• It took one podcast appearance for Jenny Slate to move near the top of best guest rankings.

• I've owned the same pair of glasses since college and they broke this week, making me realize just how horrible life is when you can't see beyond five feet. If any doctors out there want to trade Lasik surgery for some blog and podcast mentions, let me know. I'm serious (and cheap).

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

- "Jon Taffer hair transplant"
- "Dick Bremer net worth"
- "Corey Koskie net worth"
- "One beer or chicken wings worst for diet"
- "How to reduce weight in old men bloggers"
- "Sauce money 400 pounds"
- "Men-O-Rama"
- "Are the suites at Target Field air conditioned?"
- "Aaron Gleeman dead"

• Finally, this week's music video is "You Don't Miss Your Water" by the birthday boy Otis Redding, which accurately portrays how I feel about the Twins right now:

Interested in sponsoring a week of and advertising your product, service, local business, or website directly to thousands of readers each day? Click here for details.

July 20, 2012


(Our whole crew, including me in the middle and Bill Parker talking to Robby Incmikoski.)

I spent yesterday afternoon at Target Field watching the Twins-Orioles game in FOX Sports North's suite. Along with a few other bloggers I was invited there to try the "Game Connect" platform that incorporates play-by-play, statistics, scores, social media, and a bunch of other stuff for an online supplement to the game-watching experience. It's definitely worth trying, especially if you're like me and typically watch Twins games on FSN with your computer nearby.

(After seeing John Bonnes' tweet they actually asked to do this and who was I to say no?)

FSN treated us too well. Becky Ross and Laura Beshire were great hosts, plying us with beer and food. Angie Avestruz and Kaylin Cockriel--also known as "The FSN Girls"--couldn't have been nicer, even when John Bonnes creepily used Twitter to peer-pressure them into running their fingers through my hair. And sideline reporter Robby Incmikoski hung out, interviewed me on television, and was incredibly nice despite me often being critical of him and FSN.

 (Nick Nelson was more focused on his beer and sunglasses than my FSN television debut.)

And then after the game we put the finishing touches on a fun day at the Fulton Tap Room. You can find some more pictures and details about the whole experience on my Twitter page. Thanks to FOX Sports North for reaching out to the bloggers and thanks to everyone involved for being so damn nice. And last but not least check out "Game Connect" the next time you're watching the Twins on FSN, if only so they don't regret inviting me. OK, now on to the links ...

• As always, Louis C.K. is the best.

Pete Rose is getting his own reality television show and it sounds as bad as you'd expect.

• Yesterday morning during my KFAN appearance with Paul Allen the inevitable happened, as PA and my mom joined forces in the name of ... well, listen for yourself.

Heidi Klum was the first Official Fantasy Girl of way back in 2002 and suffice it to say she's aged a whole helluva lot better than I have.

• Friend of and former Gleeman and The Geek guest Lindsay Guentzel made it to the MLB Fan Cave's final seven, but after four months in New York she was voted out this week.

• Speaking of which, this week's Gleeman and The Geek show was our 50th episode, which means only 450 more until my mom is allowed to come on as a guest.

• Having reached the point where losing more weight isn't really possible--I'm down under 170 pounds after being 355 pounds on March 7, 2011--for the past two weeks or so I've been on a Chinese food and gum diet mostly just to see what happens. And despite getting takeout from Yangtze in St. Louis Park literally every day I somehow haven't gained any weight. Order the "hunan chicken with just carrots and baby corn." It'll change your life.

• Jets coach Rex Ryan went from 348 pounds in late 2009 to 242 pounds now, although he underwent lap-band surgery rather than relying strictly on diet and exercise.

Pete Caldera is officially the coolest beat reporter in baseball. And best-dressed, too.

• Nationals first-round pick Lucas Giolito has $2.9 million and a signed lightsaber from Samuel L. Jackson hanging in his room.

• If you're into statistical analysis for basketball, Court Vision's graphics showing exactly where rebounds wind up based on where shots are taken are pretty great.

Bert Blyleven had a perfect response to Reggie Jackson: "God gives us many holes in our body and he just spoke out of the wrong one."

• As someone forced to use a Blackberry for work, the company's situation is depressing.

• This will probably make it even more confusing when I try to explain where I work to people.

• Congrats to my HardballTalk blog-mate Craig Calcaterra for being named "internet writer of the year" by the Baseball Bloggers Alliance.

• Looking at Official Fantasy Girl of candidate Kelly Brook is just like riding a bike.

Darren Wolfson's ongoing coverage of the Timberwolves' offseason has been a must-read at 1500-ESPN and his lengthy article breaking down the Nicolas Batum drama was excellent.

• Except for the parts about leaving the house and hanging out with strangers for three hours this sounds like a great way to watch a Twins game at Target Field.

Paul F. Tomkins filmed a series of short video interviews with interesting actors, comedians, and musicians over drinks and they're all worth watching.

• Netflix instant recommendation: Rampart, which stars Woody Harrelson and convinced me even further that he's one of the best, most versatile, and most underrated actors around.

• On a related note, one screenshot can tell the story of a crazy evening.

John Legend was a great guest on The Champs with Neal Brennan and Moshe Kasher.

• Finally, this week's music video is Legend singing the hook to "Do You Wanna Ride" by Jay-Z:

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

July 19, 2012

Spending a day off from baseball writing at the ballpark, courtesy of FSN

I'm taking a rare day off from HardballTalk blogging duties on to attend this afternoon's Twins-Orioles game at Target Field, where the fine folks at FOX Sports North have invited me and a few other bloggers to their suite to watch Cole De Vries vs. Wei-Yin Chen and learn about the "Game Connect" platform. Depending on how the day unfolds I'll probably be posting updates on the whole experience, so check back later and/or follow me on Twitter.

Oh, and before heading to the ballpark I'll be on KFAN with Paul Allen this morning at 9:00.

UPDATE: This morning during my KFAN appearance on Allen's show the inevitable happened, as PA and my mom joined forces in the name of ... well, listen for yourself.

UPDATE: OK, so this happened (for the explanation, click here):

UPDATE: This is what it looks like when they put bloggers on television:

UPDATE: Robby Incmikoski interviewed me on FSN:

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

July 3, 2012

2012 SABR Convention Recap

As a Minnesotan news that the annual Society for American Baseball Research convention was coming to Minneapolis this year initially made me sad after attending eight consecutive SABR get-togethers in Cincinnati, Toronto, Seattle, St. Louis, Cleveland, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, and Long Beach. For me a big part of the fun has always been traveling to another city, seeing games at an unfamiliar MLB ballpark, and generally just feeling like I'm on an actual vacation.

(Our remake of Reservoir Dogs, from left to right: Jaffe, Dimino, Milazzo, Moore, Gleeman.)

At times it did feel weird to have it in my backyard, but as someone who lives in the suburbs and tends to stay home most nights going out eating, drinking, and shit-shooting with a bunch of non-Minnesotans in downtown Minneapolis for four days was an incredibly good time. Toss in a few local friends joining the fun, perfect weather, and the chance to see everyone fawn over Target Field and the convention experience proved to be every bit as great as usual.

(My seat at Target Field on Wednesday afternoon.)

Wednesday afternoon I headed to the Marriott, met up with my convention roommate and longtime SABR friend Joe Dimino, and walked to Target Field to watch the Twins-White Sox game with John Bonnes and Christine Bonnes. Three of my favorite people and first-row seats down the right field line made up for an ugly Twins loss and after baking in 90-degree sun for six innings we retreated to the in-park Town Ball Tavern for beer and air-conditioning.

(Intro to the hotel bar, from left to right: Temple, Leja, Webber, McCullough, Gleeman, Traven.)

That night I went to dinner at Hell's Kitchen with old convention friends Dimino, Mike Webber, Anthony Giacalone, Anthony Milazzo, and Mike McCullough, plus Fan Graphs and CBS Sports writer Jack Moore, Baseball Prospectus writers Bill Parker and Michael Bates, former sponsor of the week David Temple from TCPC Services, and Hardball Dynasty leaguemate Kevin Leja. Great food, better company, and I was smitten with our tattooed waitress Alexia.

(Webber and McCullough enjoy some local Grain Belt Premium at Hell's Kitchen.)

Back at the hotel with, among others, Mike Emeigh of Baseball Think Factory, Liz Roscher of The Good Phight, Cee Angi of Baseball Prospectus, and Wendy Thurm of Fan Graphs we had an intense debate about which MLB player put on the most weight during his career--Tony Gwynn was the consensus choice--and then closed down the bar. Predictably but stupidly I overslept the next morning and missed Twins president Dave St. Peter's opening remarks.

(Left to right at the hotel bar: Dimino, Emeigh, Temple, Roscher, Webber, Thurm, Parker.)

Instead the first thing I saw after groggily stumbling downstairs was a bunch of guys arguing about Lou Gehrig's career RBI total, followed by longtime friend and Hardball Times writer Steve Treder's excellent presentation about how 19-year journeyman Ducky Schofield was basically the Forrest Gump of baseball history. From there I went to The Local for fish and chips and big gingers with Giacalone, McCullough, Moore, Webber, and Kyle Eliason.

(Left to right at Brit's Pub: Moore, Gleeman, McCullough, Bonnes, Milazzo.)

After lunch I saw Paul Hensley's presentation about the Twins' almost-dynasty of 1965-1970, which is a topic that interests me following my "Top 40 Minnesota Twins" write-ups of players on those teams. Parker, Bates, and Angi hosted a Platoon Advantage happy hour get-together at Kieran's. Bonnes hung out, as did reader and local horror writer Axel Kohagen, and I had a great chat about the online baseball writing world with Angi, Moore, and Roscher.

(Switching to bourbon neat after three hours of Jameson seemed like a good plan.)

Once happy hour was over a big group of us went to Ike's Food and Cocktails for dinner followed by drinks outside on the patio at Brit's Pub, which was just about perfect way to end a fun official first day. We closed Brit's down, of course, and I successfully got Moore hooked on big gingers before I eventually ceased with the Jameson and tried to make Angi and my HardballTalk blogmate Craig Calcaterra proud by switching to neat bourbon.

(Ryan speaks to the people smart enough to set an alarm clock Friday morning.)

And then because I don't learn from mistakes I overslept again the next morning, missing Twins general manager Terry Ryan's one-man "panel" appearance. Once awake I ran into old friend Darren Wolfson of 1500-ESPN and KSTP-TV, who was shooting a piece on SABR for that evening's news. Giacalone gave a really good presentation about MLB's expansion in 1969 and I also saw Robert Garratt's presentation about Alvin Dark's controversial career.

(My famous "Jay Leno concentrating while sitting between Bates and Parker" impression.)

Lunch and margaritas at Masa followed with a group of 17 that got broken into three tables, with mine consisting of Giacalone, Dimino, McCullough, Eliason, and Hardball Times writer (and fellow SABR convention recapper) Chris Jaffe. It was outstanding Mexican food for not a ton of money. That night was SABR's group outing to Target Field for the Twins-Royals game, with a stop at Kieran's first for some more Jameson.

(Left to right at Masa: Jaffe, Dimino, Gleeman, Eliason, McCullough.)

I paid $40 for a Skyview ticket to the Twins-Royals game and then ended up not even finding my seat, instead standing around the open concourse chatting with SABR executive director Marc Appleman, creator Sean Forman, SABR web editor Jacob Pomrenke, and reader Hans Van Slooten. Once back at the hotel bar we learned that the Royals were also staying at the Marriott, which proved amusing (to me, at least).

(Left to right at Target Field before Friday night's game: Gleeman, Jaffe, Forman.)

I shared an elevator with former Twins reliever Jose Mijares and his incredibly good-looking girlfriend, although I was too worried about the flash or picture-snapping sound effect on my new phone going off to take a photo. I did, however, take a creepy photo of Salvador Perez after he silently sat alone on the same bar stool for two hours. And after drunkenly talking about going for 2:00 a.m. breakfast at Hell's Kitchen my dieting willpower narrowly saved me.

(Perez sitting alone at the hotel bar, with a cameo from Wyers.)

I woke up just in time for lunch Saturday, going to The Newsroom with a huge group that included most of the aforementioned usual suspects and Colin Wyers of Baseball Prospectus, whom I'll always remember sitting next to at Angels Stadium for Mike Trout's first big-league hit during last year's convention. After lunch I saw Garratt's presentation about Candlestick Park and Michael Humphreys' presentation about re-examining the value of defense.

(Too many people to name--and me way in the back--at The Newsroom.)

That essentially marked the end of the actual convention, but the fun was just getting started. Instead of going to the second game of the Twins-Royals doubleheader we decided to watch the game outside at Brit's. What started as a group of six having dinner at 6:00 p.m. turned into a group of 25 having drinks until they kicked us out at 2:15 a.m. I got a chance to catch up with former Twins blogger Will Young and Nick Nelson of Twins Daily stopped by briefly.

(Outside at Brit's Pub, listening to Forman and Webber.)

I had a great time talking about a whole bunch of stuff with Webber and Forman, who in addition to running the world's greatest website is also one of the people I look forward to seeing most every year. Eliason and Giacalone attempted to give me a post-weight loss pep talk about hitting on women--including Eliason hilariously suggesting that I visit his tailor--and I racked up a $94 bill despite eating less than $15 in food. In related news, vodka is good.

(Still outside at Brit's, left to right: Treder, Jaffe, McCullough, Eliason, Giacalone, Dimino.)

I had a tremendous drunken just-before-closing conversation about baseball writing, mothers, and phobias with Fan Graphs writer, editor, and podcaster Carson Cistulli, who cemented his status as one of my favorite people. As the bouncer was overseeing the group's exit a person who shall remain nameless asked him: "Can you tell me where to find the women who make bad decisions?" He wasn't sure, so instead we just decided to make our own bad decision.

(Still outside at Brit's and our group has multiplied.)

Apparently after the bars close at 2:00 a.m. the only place open downtown is Pizza Luce, so of course that's where I stumbled with Giacalone, Dimino, Milazzo, Moore, and Eliason. As if that wasn't dumb enough, once there we learned there was a line out the door filled with similarly stupid people and security guards were insisting on a (redeemable) $5 cover charge before frisking everyone on the way in. It was smelly, drunken, crowded, out of my element bedlam.

(Waiting in line for Pizza Luce at 3:00 am, which could have been the last picture of my life.)

We were in line behind three women in skintight white dresses, one of whom dropped her purse on the sidewalk as cash spilled out. Giacalone scooped up the money and handed it back, to which she said: "I'm sure glad you aren't poor." As we walked to the hotel chomping on pizza, a passer-by yelled: "They didn't slice you, huh? They let you get out of there with that Pizza Luce?" Oh, and a guy with two women on his arm asked for directions to Sex World.

(Mary Tyler Moore's nightmare starring Dimino, Milazzo, McCullough, Gleeman, Treder, Moore.)

And that's how my convention actually ended, eating pizza while stumbling back to the hotel at 3:30 a.m. with friends new and old, which I can assure you is a lot more fun than it sounds. I even managed to have the "guy who has lost 185 pounds in 15 months" part of my brain overrule the "guy who drank way too much and used to weigh 355 pounds" part of my brain enough to throw out the second slice after a few blocks, which I'm counting as a victory.

As has been the case since 2004 the SABR convention was my favorite four days of the year and while Minneapolis hosting the festivities changed some of what I love about the vacation it was great to hang out downtown with a mix of local and SABR friends. And the weather, Target Field, and great bars and restaurants made Minnesota a top-notch venue. Next year's convention is in Philadelphia and I'm already looking forward to regretting the cheese steaks.

January 31, 2011

Twins Notes: Waivers, trees, hearings, numbers, and scouts

Rob Delaney signed with the Twins in 2006 after going undrafted out of St. John's University and his numbers were always far better than his raw stuff, so they viewed his success in the minors very skeptically and didn't give him a chance in the majors until a week before his 26th birthday. Delaney made just one appearance in a month with the Twins, serving up a homer to Ian Kinsler of the Rangers on September 4, and Thursday he was designated for assignment.

It's no shock that the Twins ditched Delaney before ever giving him an extended opportunity, because he's been sort of like a poor man's Anthony Slama and they haven't seemed all that inclined to give the actual Anthony Slama a lengthy look. It's also no shock that Delaney was claimed off waivers by the Rays, whose front office relies way more on statistical analysis than the Twins' decision-makers.

Delaney's numbers went from amazing in the low minors to merely solid in the high minors. He pitched well in two seasons at Triple-A with a 130-to-38 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 128 innings, but his ERA was an unremarkable 4.65 thanks to serving up 17 homers. He's racked up lots of strikeouts with a repertoire headed by his low-90s fastball and has excellent control with just 1.9 walks per nine innings.

As a fly-ball pitcher with so-so raw stuff Delaney has little margin for error and the Twins were certainly right to view his success skeptically when it comes to translating to the big leagues, but he was worth giving a chance to considering the question mark-filled bullpen. Tampa Bay is in a very similar situation, needing to replace most of what was a fantastic bullpen following free agent departures, and Delaney is capable of being a solid middle reliever for the Rays.

• Delaney was dropped from the 40-man roster because the Twins needed to clear room after claiming Dusty Hughes off waivers from the Royals. He spent most of last year in Kansas City's bullpen, posting a nice-looking 3.83 ERA in 56 innings, but the 29-year-old left-hander also had a terrible 34-to-24 strikeout-to-walk ratio and wasn't particularly effective against lefties (.260) or righties (.283) while allowing opponents to bat .273/.351/.380 off him overall.

Hughes is left-handed and had a superficially strong ERA last year, but there isn't a whole lot else to like about him. Hughes was even older than Delaney when he debuted in September of 2009 and unlike Delaney his minor-league numbers have never been impressive. In two years at Triple-A he had a 4.10 ERA and 112-to-66 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 143 innings and his raw stuff is hardly special, as Hughes averaged just 90.2 miles per hour with his fastball.

Much like their decision to give a 40-man roster spot to Giants castoff Eric Hacker after signing him to a minor-league deal in November, losing Delaney to add Hughes to the 40-man roster is an odd move that seems predicated on looking at the wrong numbers. Hacker had 16 wins at Triple-A last year, but it came with a 4.51 ERA, sub par secondary numbers, and a track record full of mediocrity from a 28-year-old.

In this case Hughes' nice-looking 3.83 ERA caught the Twins' eye (and being left-handed surely helped too), but he needed an awful lot of smoke and mirrors just to have modest success for 56 innings and brings with him a similarly uninspiring history of mediocrity in the minors at age 29. Delaney isn't a huge loss and would've placed near the bottom of my annual ranking of the Twins' top 40 prospects, but picking Hacker and Hughes over giving him a shot is unfortunate.

• One of the misconceptions about park factors is that the dimensions of the field determine if a ballpark skews pitcher-friendly or hitter-friendly. In reality the dimensions definitely play a big role, but the run-scoring environment is also greatly impacted by other stuff like wind patterns, humidity, playing surfaces, and hitting backgrounds. Target Field was pitcher-friendly in its first year of existence, for a number of reasons, and the Twins have decided to make one change.

Hitters complained that the trees planted behind the wall in center field hurt their ability to see pitches, particularly in day games, so the Twins will remove them and install a new background designed to reduce glare. Obviously not being able to see pitches is something that had to be addressed, but it'll be interesting to find out what the overall impact ends up being considering the Twins went 53-28 at Target Field and actually scored more runs there than on the road.

Matt Capps ($7.15 million), Kevin Slowey ($2.7 million), Alexi Casilla ($865,000), and Glen Perkins ($700,000) have each avoided arbitration with one-year deals, leaving Delmon Young and Francisco Liriano as the unsigned arbitration eligible players. Young filed for $6.25 million, compared to $4.65 million by the Twins. Liriano filed for $5 million, compared to $3.6 million by the Twins. No player has gone to a hearing with the Twins since Kyle Lohse in 2005 and 2006.

• Much has been made about Bert Blyleven needing to wait 14 years before baseball writers voted him into the Hall of Fame, but he's also had to wait those same 14 years for the Twins to retire his number, which they'll officially do on July 16. Blyleven, who has the most strikeouts in Twins history and ranks second to Jim Kaat in wins and innings, will join Harmon Killebrew, Kirby Puckett, Rod Carew, Tony Oliva, and Kent Hrbek in the retired numbers club.

Eric Bynum of Baseball Journeyman recently interviewed Cary Broder, a Twins scout based in Asia whose evaluations played a big part in the team bidding on Japanese players Tsuyoshi Nishioka and Hisashi Iwakuma this offseason. They signed Nishioka for a total commitment of $15 million and finished runner-up for Iwakuma, who ended up not signing with the A's. Broder is a good guy and it's always interesting to learn about people working behind the scenes.

Jayson Stark of included Michael Cuddyer on his "all-underrated team" and I was preparing to rant about how incredibly misguided that is, but then Nick Nelson did it for me.

• I just put the finishing touches on my annual "Top 40 Twins Prospects" series, so the first of eight installments (covering five prospects apiece) will run later this week.

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