Sunday, August 30, 2009


Didn't the Twins already win a game to "get back to .500" this year? It seems like they do it every other day. I'm too lazy to look it up, but you'd think they could be making a run at a club record for the most times they have accomplished this feat in a single season.

I am worried about the Earth spinning off of its axis. Nick Punto laid down a nice bunt on a squeeze play today. Oddly enough, when he actually tries to sacrifice bunt in a sacrifice bunt situation, he gets on base. Who knew? If only he had managed to remember this all of those times he tried to bunt for a base hit when he was supposed to be sacrificing himself.

Apparently, Nick Punto's son was born earlier this week. With September call-ups around the corner, I think it's safe to expect another Punto in the lineup by Wednesday. At least the younger Punto has a chance to draw a walk before he hits a wimpy pop-fly to second.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Pleasantly Surprising Weekend

The Twins pleasantly surprised fans this weekend. I saw those three letters I love to see by Nick Punto's name: DNP. It's much better than GIDP- although that typically requires hitting the ball hard and on the ground. I guess that's the one upside to weak pop-ups to second. I'd say it can't be a coincidence that they swept the series with Punto on the bench, but that just means Casilla is out there instead. Both have their batting averages creeping upwards.

This sweep probably means the series with the Royals to close the Dome will be less interesting. I had expected that series would be for 4th place. And while the Twins could play poorly enough to make it close, the Royals can't play well enough to make up the ground. But there is one prize still in sights: Winning the division with a losing record. Can you imagine the Twins entering the final game at 80-81 with the Tigers at 79-82 and both teams lost to send the 80-82 Twins to the playoffs? I guess I would feel bad for the Metrodome to have to host the playoff series.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Homestand, Standings, Preseason

Today opens with the Twins 6 games behind 1st place Detroit and Cleveland 12 games behind first place Detroit. In other words, the Twins are as close to 4th place as 1st. Based on the quality of play lately, it's clear which direction they are headed. This afternoon, the Twins are not playing to "get back in the pennant race" in the AL Central. Instead, they are playing to protect their headstart in the race to stay out of 4th place. A strong finish would be nice, but honestly at this point, I wonder if an embarrassing 4th or 5th place finish may be best. If they limp to a third place finish, the marketing department can try to blame luck and injuries, but if things completely crumble they will know that the current personnel will be a tougher sell in Target Field.

The downside to the impending meaningless September baseball is that Nick Punto seems to perform at his best once thoughts in Minnesota have turned purple. He'll catch fire against the recalled AAA pitching and bring his average back to respectability. "Respectability" may seem insurmountable, but I figure he has about 160 at-bats left. If he hits .300 over that stretch, it brings him up to .240 or so for the season. Remember, he hit .286 in September of 2007 to salvage a .210 average. With Gardy at the helm, we know he'll get at-bats.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Bunt

From the accounts of Wednesday evening's game, I gathered that the Twins had all but wrapped up the 2009 American Central pennant. The Tigers lost, the Twins had some timely hitting, and Liriano reverted from- excuse me- returned to form. Certainly, the win was refreshing, and the Tigers and White Sox are undoubtedly too mediocre to end Twins fans' misery any time soon. A strong ballgame today would have at suggested that Wednesday's 5-1 victory was not an anomaly. Instead, a middle infielder with a .200 batting average known for his ability with the little things failed to lay down a sacrifice bunt with nobody out and two runners on base late in a 1-run contest that the Twins lost by 1 run. His whole tenure with the Twins would have been worth it if only Gardy or Bill Smith had marched onto the field and given Punto his outright release before he had time to get up, brush the dirt off- even if he fouled out, I'm sure he slid headfirst into first base- and return to the dugout. Is that too much to ask?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


(Thankfully) I was busy last night and missed the ballgame. I skimmed over the box score this morning. I saw Punto listed toward the middle of the order and listed as the 3rd baseman. What does it say that I thought he started the game batting in the middle of the order following Morneau in the batting lineup? I legitimately thought manager Ron Gardenhire decided to "mix things up a little bit" and "work Nicky in there." I then discovered that he had just one trip to the plate and apparently replaced Morneau late in the game.

Today, heads rolled in the Milwaukee Brewer's organization. In principal, I respect the stability of the Twins, but now and then I would like to see them employ such euphemisms as "dismissed" or "designated for assignment" in description of Twins personnel.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Dancin' Homer

Big Bill McLoskey coming up. As soon as he pops out, we'll get straight to the post-game show.

I happened to watch the Dancin' Homer episode of the Simpsons this evening. The dejection in the broadcaster's voice matches the emotion of Jon Gordon during recent Twins games. Regrettably, he does not actually phrase things so cynically.

In a 2006 game, I recall that the Twins had runners on first and second with nobody out late in a close ball game on the road. Nick Punto stepped into the box- probably batting in the second spot in the order- and unceremoniously laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt. His entire focus was on advancing the runners. He didn't try to be a hero and beat out the "sacrifice" nor did he try to drag it or slide headfirst into the base. A run from even one baserunner would have been a huge boost. Instead, the extra pressure on the pitcher produced a game-breaking rally for the Twins. At this point, I was willing to accept that the Twins would play the remainder of 2006 with a light-hitting utility infielder playing third base. If he plays superb defense and does the proverbial little things, it's a decent arrangement considering the shortage of quality third-basemen.

Since then, he has proven to be one of the worst on the team with the fundamentals. Yesterday, he failed another critical sacrifice bunt. For somebody who can't get on base, he has a remarkable knack for getting picked off. His defense is above average at best, and the the foolish risks he takes in order to justify his place in the lineup backfire far too often.

Just once, I would love to hear Gordon say it:

Punto coming up. Heck, let's just start the post-game show now.

Friday, August 7, 2009


Sure, the official scorer ruled it a hit. I don't care. Good thing we have Punto out there to play great defense for us. Of course, Gardy will blame the run on Harris. These Twins are so depressing, I'm looking forward to the Vikings. Heck, they are so pitiful, I honestly found myself excited to see how the Timberwolves do this year. Pavano and Cabrera must be wondering what they did to deserve this. And Cabrera was traded from Oakland.

It's now 4-1 before I have time to finish my post venting frustration at our $4 million defensive wizard. If he saves so many runs, why didn't he make that play? Argh.

I followed the Twins pretty closely through the late 90's and I couldn't even make it through one inning tonight.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Attack of the Clones

The Angels have left town having thoroughly embarrassed the Twins. I'm sure the Twins will pat themselves on the back for sweeping the Sox, though. Last weekend in Anaheim, Angels infielders Erick Aybar and Maicer Izturis nearly collided while playing a pop-up. One of them caught it- I'm not sure who. Aybar, Izturis, and Figgins are all pretty much from the same mold. Then I remember that the Twins acquired Alexi Casilla from the Angels organization. Curiously, though, the trio on the Angels has combined for only one full season (with 200 or more at-bats) with a batting average below .250. Why is it that these Piranhas can actually hit like so many people pretend Nick Punto can? Individually, a .270 hitter without much pop isn't much of a threat, but collectively they can do considerably more damage. Those 70 batting average points are a big difference. It's over twice as likely (1.9% to 0.8%) that all three of them get a hit in any given time through the order. The way the Angels run the bases, that's at least one run. Likewise, every time they don't get out, that's one more chance for the big sticks.

The most frustrating part of the pitching is that it makes complaining about the infielders seem so pointless.