Tuesday, July 31, 2007

I Hang My Head And Cry…

Well, maybe not…I only cry at weddings and West Wings. But still…what a weird f’ing sports day for folks in MN.

Garnett’s gone…that seems certain. I’ve long since given up any semblance of interest in the NBA. I honestly equate it to Cycling and NASCAR at this point…I only pay attention when there’s a disaster. But, there are other folks I know that remain loyal to the Picket Fence and consequently pay attention to the minutiae of the NBA…much as I still read box scores daily.

Those are the folks I cry for today. Rebuilding is not fun. And rebuilding while having very little confidence in your architect deserves its own circle of hell. As a card-carrying homer (there’s a loon on it), I wish all MN sports teams well. But good god, Kevin McHale has almost (and literally) swapped teams with a moribund franchise in less than a year…seemingly due entirely to the fact he knows their phone number by heart. My favorite part of this deal is McHale was “able” to get the Celtics to include a TIMBERWOLVES first round draft choice. Isn’t that a sign you should maybe mingle a little more at the annual GM jamboree? Christ, it’s like downloading porn from yourself. What’s the “plan” here, Hannibal?

And here’s where MN Basketball Fan is separated from MN Baseball Fan…the plan. While it’s certainly not unanimous, I believe most Timberwolves fans think it’s time for something new. The Kevin Garnett era was great, he’s been an amazing player and citizen…but the team isn’t getting better anyway. But…since NO ONE believes Kevin McHale knows what he’s doing, the assumption is that the Timberwolves made a terrible deal.

On the other side of town, the Quiet Genius can trade his starting second baseman for two low-level minor leaguers, and the first frame of reference for us (yes, I’m switching from “them” to “us”) is Joe Nathan, Boof Bonser, and He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named. Even if Twins Fan is apprehensive about the deal, four division championships in five years is a nice cushion to fall back on. “Phew…it’s okay, Ryan knows what he’s doing.”

And I think he does. The Castillo trade makes SOME sense. And I do firmly believe Terry Ryan understands that you base franchise operations on things slightly more tangible and important than nostalgic memories of clotheslining Kurt Rambis.

But I’m frustrated today. Frustrated that an upgrade at third base apparently could have come cheaper than originally thought. And by statements like this:

"No, we're not giving up at all," Ryan said. "We're 6½ games back, and we're better than we were last week. If we didn't think we could absorb this, we certainly wouldn't have done it."

Better than last week? Why? ‘Cuz we’re playing the Royals?

Catharsis demands a list. A list of frustrations and miscellaneous ramblings that will hopefully remind me that my team has a plan:

1: As linked to above, Ty Wigginton was available. I’m not going to argue about the merits of Dan Wheeler, but, look, the Twins have better pitchers than Dan Wheeler. We really couldn’t have let go of ONE of them to get an immediate upgrade to our most needy position…that could have also turned into a longer term solution? Even if Wigginton doesn’t turn-out to be the answer at third…isn’t he already a better option than Nick Punto as “super sub”? He’s done the same thing for most of his career that Nick Punto has done, but *NOW WITH HOME RUNS*. Breathing…

2: Trading Luis Castillo is fine. It’s long been certain that the Twins weren’t going to bring him back next year. And getting “something” for him (even if part of something is the son of this guy) is probably better than nothing. But if you really think you’re still fighting for a playoff berth, isn’t the “something” you’re hoping to get a trip to the World Series? If you’re going to make a run, you make a run. Let’s not pretend Casilla was kicking down the door. Breathing…

3: And what the hell is going on with Torii Hunter? No more silence, please, Mr. Ryan. It’s obviously bothering him. He’s definitively the leader of this team (which, by the way, is one of the reasons you should sign him) and his mood has proven to infect the team, whether positive or negative. We know you don’t like to work through the media, and, most of the time, that’s a fine attititude to take. But where has it got you with the Namesake? It’s gotten you a pissed off superstar. We all know you don’t have a replacement ready for him (which is the other reason you should sign him)...so why not come out and say,

“He’s not going anywhere this year, we’re still fighting for a playoff spot. He’s a key member of this organization and we’re going to work like hell to resign him. Torii’s been vocal about wanting to help christen our new stadium and retire a Twin…we’ll see how much he wants it when we sit down and talk in October.”

Is that so hard? Not only will it act to calm down Torii and his fans (raising my hand), but will also serve to turn the tables on him a bit.

4: The little moves haven’t worked. This franchise is in an amazing run of drafting and developing first-rate pitchers. And they deserve full credit for developing the little offensive punch we now have (Morneau, Hunter, Cuddyer, Mauer…Bartlett?). But enough already with the Ron Gardenhire School for the Old and Crappy. No more Ponson’s. No more Rondell White’s. No more Castro’s. Enough already. Go get a real bat, for Christ’s sake.

5: Did I mention you should have gotten Wigginton? Know why? ‘Cuz Nick Punto’s done. God love him, but he’s done.

6: What are we doing with Carlos Silva? He’s also most likely gone next year…so by the Castillo logic he should go too, no? But what about that pennant chase? Silva’s been a nice veteran presence on the staff. And it probably doesn’t hurt he’s best friends with Johan. So why not start the Sign Johan campaign now and sign Silva to a one year contract extension? Or , you know, trade him for Lombo’s kid.

And...I’m fine.

Please, fellow Twins fans, I encourage you to write your own cathartic rant. When we’re all done, I’ll print them and use the paper to make a giant Oragami Swan that I’ll then train to kill and eat Nick Punto. That's my plan.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Excuses and the Palooza.

Well, the excuses have started. Something to do with an inconsistant strike zone during Tuesday's game. Another rookie pitcher "making pitches when he had too" and dominating our squad as well as the Twins "no taking advantage of opportunites" (see 14 LOB last night). I was shining my shoes last night while watching the game, guess which activity was more fun?

Just so I can start talking about Garza sooner, I'm going to be brief. Blame Tuesday's game on another boot by our shortstop (sort of), but mostly on our inability to hit. Ditto that for last night. The strike zone did some inconsistant Tuesday, but at least it was inconsistant for both teams. Joe needs to be swinging on close pitches with 2 strikes. Garza's curveball to Ordonez that was a called strike 3 was too high. Cuddy took at least one pitch in the 6th that was right down the middle and called a ball. Don't blame the umps, sort of blame the defense but completely blame this squads inability to hit left hand pitching. Robertson isn't a terrible pitcher. I mean, he's no John Dank's, wait a minute ..... he is. Come on guys, just score a run or two. Oh, I understand Punto is a very good defensive player, but if you aren't going to hit (please see .209 batting average) then get a damn bunt down. Like I've said before, if Punto isn't going to hit in the .290-.300 area & steal some bases, he shouldn't be starting. I can live with the Punto of last year as our starter (can you say career year), but I can't live with the Punto from the other two years.

How much do we love Garza. I'm not going to start saying we've found our new "pitcher not to be named", but he has looked good. Granted it's two starts and let's see if he's still doing this good at start 5 and 6, but it gets me excited for our staff next year. The kid looks good out there. Seems to mix his pitches better. Now, can we trade someone for a thrid baseman? Six guys I can think of that might be interesting (and younger): Atkins, Chad Tracy, Ty Winnington, Mark Teahan, Bill Hall or Ed Encarnacion. Baker's been pitching well, Slowely wasn't terrible, Garza looks pretty good. I mean, really? They still want Perkins to be a starter so how many prospects can we have?

Happy day-late birthday to the namesake. 32 and still kicking ass. Hope I can still hit bombs in softball when I'm that old. Who am I kidding with that last statement.

Monday, July 16, 2007

There's Gold in Them Thar Arms

In the latest effort to protect his investment in the “small market” Twins, Carl Pohlad has come up with his most creative financial move yet.

Faced with the obvious loss of Johan Santana to free agency after the 2008 season, the Twins have begun, for a price, allowing the most likely suitors for Mr. Santana’s future services to dictate his pitch count.

After seven dominating innings against the A’s on Friday, Santana was pulled from the game by manager Ron Gardenhire…or was he?

Reached by satellite phone from his floating spaceship, super-duper quadrahexabillionaire Angels owner Arte Mareno had this to say about Santana, “Look, we all know that Pohlad isn’t going to sign him. So what’s wrong with paying a little upfront now to protect my investment for the future? It’s like paying earnest money. And to be fair, I actually asked the Twins to pull him after six innings. I think I’ll have to have my “advisors” talk to Mr. Ryan today.”

The Twins, unable to “keep up with the Epsteins” through traditional methods such as overcharging for terrible food and blackmailing taxpayers for luxury box filled stadiums, seem to have uncovered the small-market holy grail.

“I love it!” says the ghost of George Steinbrenner. “I wish they would have approached me first. I would have paid them not to use their entire bullpen! As it is, we’ve begun discussions about giving that big Canadian feller every Tuesday through Friday off.”

While the legalities of such a move are still under question, uber-rich Arte Moreno doesn’t seem concerned. “Look, first off, if we’ve learned anything over the years it’s that ‘baseball’ and ‘rules’ have a loose relationship at best. And secondly, it’s not like Carl isn’t going to use this additional revenue stream to…*guffaw*…upgrade…*snort*…his…team. I’m sorry I couldn’t get through that with a straight face. Could you not write that milk came flying out of my nose?”
(Ed. Note: Milk did in fact come flying out of Mr. Moreno’s nose.)

(C’mon Gardy…we’re just keeding. Plus…you don’t pay us to be nice to you. Yet.

In other news…the Twins swept the A’s by refusing to score one run more than was necessary. Reached for comment, The Quiet Genius had this to say…”Suck it”.)

Thursday, July 12, 2007

I'm Not Sayin'...

I have a money making scheme. I'm not saying that any one actual human being would attempt to do something like this, especially not me or say, anyone who "plays" a sport for one of my favorite teams or anything. I'm just saying that it is possible that something like this could happen. Were someone so inclined. Okay, say you sign a big contract. You're asked to produce "runs" and "hits" at a certain rate, the same rate that you've done so consistently throughout your career. But it's been a long career and frankly, you're tuckered out. You're not even asked to do anything athletic, like say run around in left field of a major league baseball stadium and catch hurtling white orbs. You just have to think about "running" and "hitting" all the time and meander up to plate once in awhile, say three to four times a day. But you suck at it for awhile. Suddenly, one of your teammates gets hurt and you are forced to try and catch hurtling orbs once again. Your hitting starts to improve, thereby satisfying one of the central tenets of statistics, and you instead decide to attribute this recorrection of the statistical universe to the coincidence of the additional hurtling orb workload. You were embarrassed for sucking and needed an excuse. But secretly, oh so secretly, you are majorly pissed that your once cushy position of thinking, sitting, and hitting has become quite anti-cushy. It's the anticush of what you expected. But what are you going to do? You "tough" it out for a year, and expect that next year, everything will be back to normal and you'll be back in that coveted, cushy position once again. But what's this? Your boss suddenly tells you that you did such a good job running, jumping, orb catching, and orb hitting the year before, that you will be responsible for ALL(!) these activities again. For the whole year! Arg! What's a guy to do!? So, you think to yourself...."Self, listen. What we need to do is pretend to get hurt while running. Then they will see that when you run, you get hurt, so you cannot run. In fact, you can't just get hurt running in a normal way say, while running after orbs. You have to get hurt in a really stupid way, so that your boss will be very, very frightened to make you spend much time running ever again." So you fake an injury to your legs while running out of the dugout. A good place to choose because leg injuries are very mysterious, and no one ever knows if your'e really hurt or how long it will take you to heal. "Good thinking self!" So, you go ahead and do that and get sent down to the minor leagues to "rehab". And when you get there you realize that you are getting paid the exact same! And there aren't big mean guys with pens and notepads and laptops writing down what you say and expecting you to actually do it, and you can drink Red Stripe in the clubhouse, and hang out in the hot tub for a long time because you are much older than all your teammates and "injured" and "need a good long soak". And then you realize that it is not such a bad gig, and maybe you should just stay there forever. And so you try. But after awhile, people start to realize that maybe even an old man should be healed by now, so you say that yeah yeah, you're leg is starting to feel a lot better. But then whoops! You hurt another part of your leg. Probably because you were overcompensating from the other part of your leg that was hurt before. Oh well! More hot tub and Red Stripe! Hooray beer!

.....I'm just sayin'.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Be afraid, Barry...be very afraid

I'm just sayin'.

As much as I hate the MLB marketing team (except for the folks that work for the Twins), I'm going to throw them a bone here. As a SURE FIRE way to spice up this year's All-Star game...have Torii in a kayak every time Barry comes up to the plate. If Barry hits it out there, and Torii catches it, it's an out.

Oh yeah...congrats to the other, non-blog named after them guys, too. Johan, promise us you'll watch after Justin...he's fragile.
(Vote for Neshek, here)