The race

Deadline day update

Friday, July 31st, 2009

The Twins had their phone lines going well into this morning. Unless there was a breakthrough this morning that we haven’t heard of, the feeling I got was that they weren’t close to making a deal.

ESPN reported last night that the Twins and A’s were making progress on a deal for shortstop Orlando Cabrera. That was not the sense I got after late evening communication. USA Today is reporting this morning that the A’s asking price was too much for the Twins. That’s in line with what Joe C. and I have heard for days. It’s unclear if Oakland has  moved off their demand for third baseman Danny Valencia.

There  is a belief that Oakland’s Billy Beane will play this up to the 3 p.m. deadline before lowering his demands.

Meanwhile, the Tigers have dealt for lefty Jarrod Washburn, a move that makes them the favorite in the A.L. Central. Instead of going after a bat, the Tigers – more of a pitching and defense team this season – strengthened their rotation. Luke French and Mauricio Robles weren’t listed among the Tigers’ top ten prospects by Baseball America heading into the season.

Not sure if there’s another starting pitcher out there that the Twins can deal for. But I’m surprised that the Twins couldn’t land Washburn based on what Detroit gave up.

There’s a belief that the Twins might look toward David Eckstein or Adam Kennedy for middle infield help. The front office feels the heat about making a deal. While I doubt they will make an impact trade, they might make a move just to show they did SOMETHING.

Joe C. and I are double-teaming this one up to the deadline. Will let you know if we hear something…anything….

It hurts in Chicago too…..

Wednesday, October 1st, 2008

I know Twins fans everywhere are hurting right now. I know one person in particular.

I’m the oldest of three children. As the older brother, I’ve often had to be the voice of reason and the rock of composure when dealing with my brother and sister.

And I had to be at my brotherly best on Tuesday.

My sister, Leslie, and brother, Lawrence, still live in the house we grew up in on the south side of town. My brother is a huge White Sox fan. My sister has always liked the Twins. We never understood why, we think she just wanted to be different from the rest of us, but they’ve always been her team.

My brother called at 9:03 – six minutes after the game ended.

“Did you see that! We’re in!,” he yells into the phone. “That was incredible!”

We talked for a few minutes. I told him that I’m happy for him and the Sox deserve credit for pulling out a tough game. I’m wasn’t going to rain on the little guy’s parade – but I could only take so much and told him I had to go. I was at Al Baker’s in Eagan with a bunch of friends, they were crushed, and I was steamed that my trip to Tampa to cover the ALDS was blown up.

I went home. put the phone on the counter and watched TV. I realized after awhile that I forgot to plug the phone into the charger. I went over to pick it up, looked at it and saw that my sister had left a stream of text messages.

9:55:09: (one word, rhymes with ham)

9:56:24: That was not supposed to happen. Sucks!

9:57:04: I feel for u.

9:57:07: (how was that possible?) I’m going to bed!

10:06:02: You have no idea how disappointed I am. Even though ESPN is praising the Twins for a good season with all the setbacks and roster changes, I hope the Sox get whipped!

I plugged the phone in while thinking, “I hope Larry stays upstairs in his room. I hope Leslie stays downstairs in her room. And I hope they aren’t in the kitchen at the same time in the morning.”

Are the Twins ready for what’s about to hit them?

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

Joe C. and Jim Souhan are at the mike tonight for the show at The Cell. And while I often embrace the,`You don’t know what’s going to going to happen when you get to the ballpark,’ thing, I just don’t know how the Twins can pull this one off.

I have my reasons:

1.The game was sold out within a hour. It will be the most hostile environment many Twins players will have experienced to this point in their careers. I have NOT forgotten the 2003 All-Star Game in Chicago, when fans booed Eddie Guardado mercilessly during introductions.

2. The Sox have called it a black out game. They have urged all fans to dress in black and will hand out black, `Sox Pride’ towels. The place will rock.

3. The Sox hate playing in the Dome to the point where they feel they the Twins can’t beat them at The Cell. I’m not kidding. Sox officials told me last week that they can’t wait until the Twins move out the Dome because the Twins get away with bloops and chop hits and luck – I guess they’ve forgotten the 90-something horseshoes they had up their rears in 2005.

But they are convinced that the Twins are a different team out of the Dome. I agree. The home-road splits back that up. But it’s not because of bloop hits, it’s because their pitchers – especially the relievers – have been awful at times on the road.

4. The Sox hate losing to the Twins. Read this…and this. The Sox talk more stuff about the Twins than any team I know. They will be fired up. Expect A. J. Pierzynski to be at his best tonight.

5. Weather. It’s expected to be in the 60′s with wind gusts up to 30 mph blowing toward center-right center. Not good for Blackburn, who’s has left the ball up too much in recent starts. He did pitch better against the White Sox at the Dome, but he’ll need to be better tonight.

6. Nick Blackburn. Is he ready for what he’s about to experience? Sox fans will be all over him. Ozzie Guiilen talks like his team is about to make mincemeat out of him. Blackburn was 0-2 with 7.20 ERA in The Cell this season. The wind is blowing the WRONG way. He’s got to keep the ball down and mix his pitches – and the batting champion catcher needs to make sure he does that!

If Blackburn and the Twins can pull this off, it will be one of the greatest wins in club history. I have purchased a ticket to Tampa to cover Wednesday’s workout before Game One of the ALDS. 

I would like to use it.

Stakeout at the Dome, wondering if Howard stole my material…and watching Kevin Slowey play catch

Monday, September 29th, 2008

I’m in the Metrodome pressbox in my grubbiest clothing just in case the White Sox lose and the Twins start popping corks. But everything is on hold now that the Sox-Tigers game is in a rain delay.

Joe C. e-mailed from The Cell that it won’t be totally clear until 6 p.m., so they might have to play among raindrops once the game begins.

I have some programming notes:

1. The Sox-Tigers game can be heard on AM690 The Score once it begins.

2. Dick Stockton, Ron Darling  and Harold Reynolds will call the Twins-White Sox play-in game (if necessary) on Tuesday. Marc Fein will report from the field. 

3. Dan Orsillo, Reynolds and Fein will work the first two games of the Rays ALDS.

Now, I was about to lay out a few reasons why the Tigers should be motivated to beat the Sox today. Unfortunately, I mentioned my reasons on KFAN during the P.A. and Dubay Show.

Funny, just when I get ready to blog my thoughts, I noticed that Howard Sinker has a list of reasons – and the first four are exactly what I said on the air – Gary Sheffield going for 500 career homers, Miguel Cabrera going for the RBI title. Freddy Garcia pitching for a 2009 contract and Curtis Granderson being from Chicago.

Makes you go hmmmmm.

Was Howard listening to the show and decided to steal my material? That’s what I’m going with! The only other possibility would be that Howard and I think alike, and that thought makes me want to take a shower.

I feel like I’ve been had.

Anyway, Twins fans should hope that more than a handful of Tigers are motivated to win today. Because if they aren’t, that means they might have tied one on last night….

1:55 update: The Dome is slowly being converted to football because the Gophers play host to Indiana this week. Jose Mijares just showed up and the field and walked around for a few minutes. He better watch out. If Tim Brewster sees him, he might try to enroll him.

4:41 update: Kevin Slowey, who was struck on the wrist Saturday by a Juan Uribe line drive, just finished playing catch in the outfield with Scott Baker while team trainer Rick McWane looked on. The two threw to each other for about 10 minutes before Slowey left and Baker threw against a wall.

It’s a good sign that Slowey can play a little catch. We’ll have more on this later…

Twins-Royals postgame thoughts

Saturday, September 27th, 2008

The race: The White Sox are down 7-1 as I write this, so it looks looks like the Twins blew another chance to increase their lead in the division.

I get the feeling there will be a game on Tuesday at The Cell.

Heartbreaking Royals: Kansas City is familiar with being the spoiler. The Royals went into Detroit in late September, 2006 and swept the Tigers, allowing the Twins to snatch the division title on the final day of the regular season.

Torii Hunter tried to send them champagne in appreciation, but the MLB fun police busted him.

But here are the Royals again, making it hard for the Twins to reach the postseason.

“They come in here. They are not in the playoff race,” Twins outfielder Denard Span said. “But they are playing hard.”

Five-n-Fly: Glen Perkins gave up one run over five innings on Saturday – but needed 85 pitches to do so.

“I wish I could have gone deeper and given my team a better chance,” he said.

At least he was O.K. after really struggling his past four starts. The Twins used Monday’s off-day to skip his turn in the rotation, which may have come at the right time.

“I think it was mainly giving my arm a chance to take a break,” Perkins said. “The way I felt today, I haven’t felt since August.”

I still think Perkins can be a good starter, but he has to figure out how to get through the batting order one more time. He’s got the stuff. And it’s head-scratching how there were times this year in which he’s had comfortable leads but lost them.

Soria the closer: Royals fans have given closer Joakim Soria a nickname that hasn’t caught on nationally: `The Mexicutioner.’

Soria normally has a super nasty breaking ball but didn’t have it on Saturday. Span said the last time he faced Soria, he threw something that was indescribable.

Span and Alexi Casilla opened the ninth with walks. I’m sitting in the pressbox thinking, `He doesn’t have it today.’ But Mauer hits into his 21st double play of the season (he entered the day 10th in the AL) and Morneau is in a mess at the plate.