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Clearing up one thing about Morales

Sunday, January 17th, 2010

When I reported Jose Morales’ injury, Twins GM Bill Smith told me that Morales had the injury for some time.

That, apparently, got some Twins fans fired up. They wanted to know why it’s taken so long for this to play out.

Here’s the deal: Morales had a sore wrist during the offseason, but apparently thought it would get better with rest. It didn’t. Morales informed the team about a week ago that his wrist was still bothering him. That’s when it was examined and surgery was determined. The Twins didn’t know there was a problem until recently.

That’s the deal. I’m out of town this week to work on a, `special assignment.’ I will monitor Twins news – but it will be warm where I’m monitoring it from. Hee hee!

The only Big Mac I’m interested in is the one served at McDonald’s

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

Those were not crocodile tears flowing yesterday when Mark McGwire blubbered his way through an interview with Bob Costas about his admission that he took steroids and HGH.

McGwire was truly sorry for the mistakes he made during his career. McGwire, along with Sammy Sosa, helped baseball distance itself from labor wars with an all-time binge of home run hitting in 1998.

But it’s now official. Mark McGwire was riding dirty along with other busted members of the PED gang. We had our suspicions, especially after he stiff-armed a congressional committee in 2005 with his “I’m not here to talk about the past,’’ defense.

Now, let’s talk about the past.

McGwire was a cheater during an era in which baseball’s drug policy was a joke and many players took advantage of it.  The list of enablers is a long one, from officials on the MLB and club levels to teammates and even the media.

What’s fascinating is that McGwire believes the PED’s only helped him recover from injuries and stay on the field and had nothing to do with performance.

Sorry, Big Mac. You went from hitting 40-something homers to breaking the all-time single-season record. You’re going to have a hard time convincing us that it wasn’t the drugs.

McGwire likely has convinced himself of this – much like Roger Clemens has convinced himself that he’s done nothing wrong over the years. Yes, Big Mac, your swing had shortened over the years. Yes, you perfected the art of mental preparation. But when you missed first base and had to retreat to touch after historic homer No. 62, you were as massive as ever.

One of the biggest challenges facing Hall of Fame voters is how to judge players from the steroid era.  Do we look at it on a case-by-case basis, don’t vote for anyone you suspected to be a PED user or vote for anyone you want because it’s safe to assume that most everyone was using before 2002.

The Hall of Fame is not an all-Saints club. There are lawbreakers and cheaters and racists in Cooperstown. Gaylord Perry was an admitted manipulator of baseballs throughout his career, and he’s in the Hall.

And how do we know players weren’t cheating in the 1960’s, 70’s or 80’s? The way media saturates sports today makes it harder for unscrupulous athletes to operate.

Players cheated because they thought they could get away with it. To me, once you decide to join the dark side, you must pay for your mistakes if caught.

I have not voted for McGwire since he’s become eligible for Hall of Fame balloting. And I will continue to leave the box next to his name unchecked.

Some Monday morning links

Monday, January 11th, 2010

There have been many stories about Joe Mauer’s approaching free agency. And there will be many more.

But EPSN ESPN has blown out its baseball section front with a Mauer story, a story on how the Twins do business and, finally, a poll in which voters weigh in on if Mauer will remain a Twin after 2010.

As our Jim Souhan pointed out, Mauer has the advantage in negotiations.

The Twins scouted Cuban lefty Aroldis Chapman when he worked out for clubs recently. But we didn’t think they had a chance to sign him, especially after they stepped up to sign Miguel Angel Sano late last season.

Chapman reportedly is ready to sign – with the Reds. Not Yankees or Red Sox or some other deep-pocketed team.

The deal is believed to be worth $30 million over five years, which is a load of cash for a kid who is not polished and might have makeup issues.

I also agree with a fellow scribe’s tweet that Scott Boras must be seething that Chapman can get $30 million as a free agent while Stephen Strasburg could get only $15 million because he was drafted. But this also is another example of why the draft needs to survive.

Still, the Reds must be salivating over a future rotation of Chapman, Edinson Volquez and Johnny Cueto.

Twins closer Joe Nathan has added a bunch of photos to his website.

I visited the Twins offices last week after the staff had some time to move in. The offices are located in the left field corner where the big Budweiser sign sits on top of the building.

I have a feeling that might have been the only time I’ll be in GM Bill Smith’s office because it’s sort of out of the way. All the magic will happen in the pressbox, on the field and in the clubhouses. Smith’s office is near the foul pole. He has a little porch he can walk out onto to watch games. Lucky guy.

Mike Herman, the Twins director of baseball communications, gave me a quick tour of the pressbox. It’s located to the right of home plate and is a little bigger than the old pressbox with more room to walk around. There are separate men’s and women’s bathrooms, a snack room and a work room.

The Twins’ baseball communications office is about three times as big as their old one. They even have a library and an archives room! By the way, if anyone has a 1966 Twins media guide, the club needs one for their files.

I’m going to write this once again. I can’t believe the Twins have a new stadium. And fans are going to love it.

Finally, you ever wonder just how lucrative it is to be a Hall of Famer. Here’s a story about what Andre Dawson can expect. Which will give you an idea of what Bert Blyleven can look forward to a year from now.

The Hall of Fame vote: Quick Reaction

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

When Jeff Idelson, the president of the Baseball Hall of Fame, opened by calling the vote on of the closest ever, I knew Bert Blyleven was doomed.

I sensed that more writers were voting for him, but I wasn’t sure how many. Now we know: He needed five more.

It must be agonizing for Blyleven, getting this close after 13 tries but still without his day in the sun. But he will get in. He’s got to. Five votes are too close for him not to.

What’s just as shocking is that Roberto Alomar didn’t get in. I figured he would get in before Andre Dawson. Did the spitting incident cost him this year?

Will try to have more later after I get a hold of Blyleven. I guess we can, at least, spend the next year referring to him as the, “future Hall of Famer.”

Righthander Chris Province joins Twins

Saturday, December 12th, 2009

In addition to tendering contracts to all their eligible players, the Twins also have acquired righthander Chris Province as the player to be named later in the deal that sent Boof Bonser to the Red Sox.

Province, 24, was a fourth round pick of the Red Sox in 2007.  He was 2-4 with a 2.60 ERA in 43 games as a reliever for Class AA Portland. In 79.2 innings, Province gave up 72 hits with 32 walks and 55 strikeouts.

Update: Just swapped texts with a AL scout who has seen him pitch. The scout doesn’t like Province’s chances of being a good major league pitcher. He said Province’s sinker is very good but he has no second pitch.

The scout also texted, “Great build and makeup. Hardworker.”

So it seems like Province’s advancement will be based on him perfecting a second pitch.