Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Home Runs and Walks

I'd much rather have a pitcher give up a lead-off home run than a lead-off walk. Even in the 9th inning with a 1-run lead, I'd rather have the pitcher give up a lead-off home run than a lead-off walk. I'm sure you can look up statistics that say you lose more win shares with the homer, but I'm sticking with the anecdotal evidence demonstrated in games like this one.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Left Handed Relief Pitchers

In Monday night's game, Rays manager Joe Maddon elected not to bring in a left-handed pitcher to face Twins first-baseman Justin Morneau with a few runners on base. Remarkably, the earth did not spin off its axis. Instead, Morneau flew out to center field. It's amazing what happens when you just leave a guy in the game when he's throwing the ball well. Gardy's usually pretty good about this, too. I just can't stand the conventional wisdom that you have to bring in a southpaw. Of course, if Sunday afternoon was any indication, sometimes anybody throwing with his left hand can get tough left-handed hitters out.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Angels

Who remembers the book Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day? I think that's a pretty good description of the start to the Angels' 2009 season. Last weekend, the Twins benefited at the Angels' expense. While the sweep was certainly encouraging for the Twins, it also highlighted something that troubles me about a baseball team. It has been all too rare that the Twins win a game; usually the opponent loses the ballgame. You have to win the gifts, and it's nice to see the Twins doing that. Over the course of the season, those aren't enough on their own. The great teams win all the freebies, rarely give games away, and earns of a few wins of their own. Over the past six games, the Twins have earned two wins, been given two more, and gave two away.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Winning Pitchers

Last night, I almost turned off the radio to go to bed in the middle of the eighth inning. I've followed baseball long enough to know better, so I decided to listen to the very end. A bullpen meltdown and a Jason Kubel grand-slam later, the Twins had completed a dramatic comeback. Kubel deserves plenty of credit for the victory- particularly because he was one of few players who didn't wait until the last minute to try to win the ball game.

As is usually the case after a game like this, I had no idea who picked up the win. Apparently, surrendering two of your predecessor's runs in the 7th followed by one of your own in the 8th is all it takes. The 9 runs allowed really were a collective effort of Blackburn, Crain, and Guerrier. In such circumstances, I propose that the scorekeepers credit the win to the player most responsible for it. Last night, that would either be the Twins left-fielder or possibly Angels manager Mike Scioscia for over-managing the 8th inning. Any one of those pitchers could have recorded three outs before giving up 7 runs.

Finally, let's not forget the contributions of Brendan Harris. Sure, he struck out with the bases loaded in the eighth. But he had a solo HR early and a sacrifice fly in the 7th. Those two runs were the margin of victory.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


People around baseball are mourning the passing of radio broadcaster Harry Kalas. These announcers are irreplaceable, and I fear we are experiencing the literal and figurative death of baseball on the radio.

I've been following the Twins primarily on the radio this season. John Gordon's tendency to accent the strangest words provides welcome relief from Dick Bremer perpetually thinking a pop-fly to the second baseman has a chance. (I suppose it's a valid assumption with a Twins pitcher on the hill). There's also a certain charm to baseball on the radio.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Opening Series

The season begins with a split at home against the Mariners. What did we learn from this? We learned a lesson any baseball fan already knows. Baseball season is the best six (hopefully seven) months of the year. Every day there is another game in which anything could happen. One night they'll refuse to even get hits. The next will look like more of the same, only they'll face a bigger deficit. But a disciplined Carlos Gomez at-bat, a Mariner bullpen meltdown, and some timely hitting will steal a win in the 9th. After this, the Twins timely hitting in the middle innings and early power will win a game. Finally, in the rubber match, they'll rever to "He pitched a heckuva ballgame against us" form. On Friday night, R.A. Dickey pitches the first of many games on the Southside. In principal, I'm none too pleased to see the knuckleballer in the rotation, yet I'm overwhelmed with curiosity at what might happen.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Twins 2009

"He pitched a heckuva ballgame against us."

Sunday, April 5, 2009


It has been brought to my attention that Dennys Reyes is no longer a member of the Minnesota Twins. If that really were the case, I'm sure I'd have marked the news as the highlight of the offseason. I checked and sources seem to concur that Reyes is in fact a St. Louis Cardinal. I will believe it when I see it. A few years ago, I recall being delighted to learn that the Anaheim Angels had overpaid one Juan Carlos Romero. At last I'd be spared of watching the left-handed specialist enter the game in place of an effective righty and walk the #8 batter. Instead, it turned out that the southpaw had merely put on some weight and changed his name. Based on the Twins roster, it looks like the role of giving up home runs to switch-hitting reserve catchers that Gardy wanted to "turn around" has been recast to Jose Mijares.

Friday, April 3, 2009

The Rotation

The 2009 Twins will begin the season with journeyman knuckleballer R.A. Dickey in their starting rotation. There. I said it.

Before there were bloggers, there were columnists. I want to thank Sid Hartmann for informing me that Doug Mientkiewicz, Eric Milton, and Juan "Knows How to Handle A Bat" Castro have been in camp with the Dodgers.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Toughest Part of a Manager's Job

Spring Training is winding down and the Twins must decide which 25 players will open the season in the Major Leagues. Names like Matt Tolbert, Brian Duensing, R.A. Dickey, and Philip Humber are tossed around. At this point, the manager realizes that he has to choose at least two of these clowns to come north for the season. The pitchers will join a bullpen which includes such firemen as Matt Guerrier and Dennys Reyes. Matt Tolbert would join speedy, slap-hitting middle infielders like Nick Punto and Alexi Casilla. Brendan Harris will resurface with the Royals and destroy the Twins worse than Royals pitching.