Sports. Baseball. Twins


“If you change your name to Boof, you’d better be good.”

Friday, January 26th, 2007

Words to live by, fresh from the mouth of Twins manager Ron Gardenhire. If it seems as though the mascot story has been on top of RandBall forever, there’s a reason: We just came from the Twins’ media luncheon, which was both delicious and informative. We’ll let dedicated ball guy Joe Christensen fill you in on most of the nuts and bolts on Startribune.com and in tomorrow’s paper, but here are a few highlights:

*Dave St. Peter said he’s excited to have Dick Bremer and “a censored Bert Blyleven” back on the broadcast team. … No further elaboration is required, but that drew a pretty big laugh.

*Look forward to Justin Morneau, Joe Mauer and Michael Cuddyer bobbleheads in 2007.

*Twins President Jerry Bell said despite headaches over the land for the new ballpark, “It will get done.” … He also said it will have a distinctive look, adding, “Nothing will say, ‘That’s like the Metrodome,’ if we’ve done our job.”

*Several Twins players are shooting commercials today for an upcoming TV ad campaign.

*Boof Bonser and Joe Nathan were the player representatives. Much of the roster is in town for TwinsFest, which starts tonight.

*Of Sidney Ponson, Terry Ryan said, “There’s urgency in his career. … We’re going to see if we can get lucky here.” Several candidates are in the mix for the final spot in the rotation, including Ponson and the youngsters.

*Gardenhire went last, and was his typical funny self, baiting a certain columnist at the Star Tribune with a phrase RandBall is not at liberty to repeat.

*Gardenhire guaranteed a World Series title, and also boasted that he could eat his own weight in jelly beans. OK, we made both of those things up.

Jay Leno is trying to take jobs away from Americans

Thursday, January 25th, 2007

That’s all we can glean from what seems to be Leno’s maiden journey into the world of breaking sports news. On The Tonight Show Tuesday, guest Jeff Garcia said he would be testing the waters of free agency. The media has enough problems, Jay. Leave our scoops alone, and quit stealing our jobs. Of course, As MJD points out over at the Fanhouse, Garcia was an odd choice of guests considering the Eagles were bounced from the playoffs in the first round. We can only hope for an odder choice next week, like perhaps Jeff Kent — the baseball player, not the dwarf rabbit (check the “about me” section).

Ramon Ortiz: In all seriousness

Saturday, January 20th, 2007

When the news broke of Ortiz signing a one-year deal with the Twins for $3.1 million, we went for the humor angle. With a day to digest things, we’d like to take a run at some serious pros and cons:

Pros:

*$3.1 million is a relative bargain these days. As Diddy pointed out on a previous thread, Ortiz has a career ERA of 4.85. Gil Meche has a career ERA of 4.65. Ortiz got $3.1 mil; Meche got five years, $55 million from the Royals. Both pitchers are flawed; Ortiz’s flaws come considerably cheaper.

*For some reason, Ortiz’s best seasons have come in the American League. With Anaheim in 2001-2003, he was a combined 44-33 with a respectable ERA in the mid-fours. The past two years (one each in Cincy and Washington), he was 20-27 with a combined ERA in the mid-fives. And his best overall year was 2002 — 15-9, 3.77 ERA for Anaheim, the year the Angels won it all. Put him on a good team, which the Twins hope they are, and perhaps he’s a better pitcher.

*He eats innings: Despite some struggles in recent years, he’s thrown at least 170 innings in five of his past six seasons. He’ll turn 34 in May, which is hardly ancient for a pitcher. If he can come close to duplicating his Angels’ numbers, he can be a functional back end of the rotation guy.

Cons:

*The Twins have a lot of No. 4 and No. 5 starter candidates. They also have a clear ace. What this says is aside from Johan Santana, Minnesota still doesn’t have any starting pitcher you completely trust. Not Boof yet. Not Silva after last year. Not any of the other young guys, no matter how much potential they have. Not Ortiz and Ponson, veterans the Twins are hoping to revive. The Twins winged it in this situation last year after Liriano and Radke were injured, but it’s a dangerous way to live. So from that standpoint, the Ortiz signing just adds one more candidate to the mix.

*With the exception of 2002, Ortiz has allowed more hits than innings pitched in the past six seasons. Unlike Radke or (good) Silva, he doesn’t make up for it with pinpoint control, having allowed more than 3 walks per 9 innings over the course of his career. That’s a lot of baserunners, meaning he will likely tend to skate a fine line in a lot of games.

Overall:

A pretty good signing given the market and the Twins’ circumstances. It’s only one year; if it works, they can could try to extend him; if it doesn’t, they aim to get Liriano back in 2008. And, don’t forget: He’s making $1.1 million less than Kyle Lohse. Which one would you rather have?

Ramon Ortiz brings weight proportionality to staff

Friday, January 19th, 2007

Can the pitcher, who floundered with the Nationals last season (11-16, 5.57 ERA) turn things around with the Twins, with whom he has agreed to a one-year, $3.1 million deal contingent on passing a physical? No clue. But if our guy La Velle E. Neal III is correct in guessing at a rotation of Johan Santana, Sidney Ponson, Boof Bonser, Carlos Silva and Ramon Ortiz, you have to like the move purely from a weight standpoint. Ortiz, checking in at a downright gangly 175 pounds on his 6-0 frame, stands in stark contrast to Bonser (260), Silva (246) and Ponson (250). Ortiz will be stuck at the top of the teeter-totter should the staff ever make a trip to the playground, but that’s a concession the Twins needed to make in the name of balance.

A reminder that Kyle Lohse is the Reds’ problem now

Thursday, January 18th, 2007

It’s nice to see these types of rants are originating from Cincinnati fans, not Twins fans, these days. There were some who thought Minnesota was unwise to get rid of Lohse, warts and all, when all the arms got hurt last year. Not a chance. It was addition by subtraction.