A question for you


At a time like this/when everything looks hopeless/…

Monday, August 10th, 2009

…it’s time for haiku.

Because we’re not tackling the weighty issues of the day, I don’t feel like I’m doing a disservice by not taking apart the weekend.  If you want the rapid rewind version, it’s something like: Bad umpiring… Swarzak melts down… more bad umpiring… Can Pavano pitch every day? … Baker?… Cuddyer!… Look at Delmon go DEEP! …  Gardy calls out Harris … Guerrier loses lead on doinks … Twins 5 1/2 games back with 51 games to play.

But, instead, let’s try to wrap our feelings into 17 syllables in the traditional 5/7/5 format.

I know things are bad
But if we show discipline
Maybe it will rub off

Hunter Wendelstedt
Second-generation ump
Daddy must be proud

Pavano pitches
Everything’s right for a day
Then Baker falls short

Cuddy and Delmon
Go deep and even deeper
Announcers wet pants

Cabrera gets hits
But his range playing shortstop
Creates a trade-off

Guarding the lines late
That’s a baseball axiom
Don’t need to be told

Kansas City, Cleveland
Are the next two opponents
Six-and-oh seems right

I could do more, but it’s your turn…

The absolute all-time worst Twins?

Friday, July 10th, 2009

(Howard’s Note: Today’s guest poster is law student Josh Borken, who took a break from studying for the bar exam to come up with a list that’s open for debate and revision — the worst players to wear Twins colors during the Metrodome years. If you need to see the numbers of some of these baseball miscreants, go to baseball-reference.com. I decided against linking to each of these guys because it could do bad things to your computer. I hope this’ll keep you from dwelling too much on the Yankees series. Have a good weekend — and, again, thanks to the guest posters who are keeping things going through the All-Star break.)

As you know, the Twins are running a promotion to select the all-time best
Metrodome team — another way to honor Santana, Puckett and some of the others who have played for them since 1982.

I found it a lot easier, and a lot more enjoyable, to come
up with an all-time worst Metrodome team. Every position is subject to
debate, except Dave Stevens as the closer.

1B — Scott Stahoviak. He was seriously compared to Kent Hrbek in a preseason preview in this newspaper. Not quite.

2B — Brent Gates. Gator Gates. Rivas had 1 good year. Gates didn’t.

3B — Dave Hollins.  A jerk. Sulked his way into a trade netting David Ortiz,
who never amounted to anything.

SS — Jason Maxwell. The toughest selection to come up with for this team. He
gets the nod over Juan Castro based on team record.

LF — Butch Huskey. He didn’t see the wall while chasing a home run that landed
at least 6 rows back. It was turn ahead the clock night. A bad display of
judgment that occurred while wearing a silver Twins jersey. The chalk
outline on the wall the next day has to be the most bittersweet Dome moment
ever.

CF — Alex Cole. Alex Cole never showed any emotion, mainly because he always wore sunglasses.

RF — Rich Becker. Remember when he was a single shy of the cycle and had 2 chances to get it? The worst defender on this team.

Bench — Michael Restovich. But he has so much potential.

C (the year of 5: 2000) — Danny Ardois, Chad Moeller, Matthew LeCroy, Marcus Jensen. Rather than go through each one of these guys separately, it’s enough to say that if you don’t remember the year 2000 as the year of 5 catchers (A.J. Pierzynski being the fifth, and exempt from this list), then
you never experienced true agony.

Rotation: 

Dan Serafini. I saw his first start, and it was abysmal. A sentimental #1

Frankie Rodriguez. He pitched way too long for this team.

Scott Aldred. The worst part was how much money he got paid.

Adam Johnson. Not a very large sample size to draw from, but the combination
of high draft pick and never amounting to anything gets him the nod.

Sean Bergman. Nobody remembers Sean Bergman. There’s a reason.

Bullpen

Bob Wells. A set-up guy who just made things worse.

Hector Carrasco. I used to always stress a certain syllable from his name
whenever he entered.

Scott Klingenbeck. More terrible as a reliever than a starter.

Seth Gresinger. Bad numbers plus longevity.

Willie Eyre. The worst of the garbage men.

Ramon Ortiz. A tough call, but he had more relief appearances then starts. A
rare bad player on a good Twins team.

Closer

Dave Stevens He blew 5 saves in 16 chances. I’ll never forget the
game when he blew a save, got pulled, went into the dugout, and punched a
phone with his pitching hand. Had he never watched Bull Durham?

Can you top those — or add to the bench?

A step back, a different question

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009

Yesterday’s question about what the Twins should do generated more than 380 comments and there’s some interesting stuff if you have the time to go through it.

Let’s change the subject today.

I was listing to XM on the way home from work yesterday when Will Carroll of Baseball Prospectus talked about how he developed his love and interest in the game. It was during the early 1980s and cable TV brought him the Cubs, Braves and Mets. This was before ESPN and the web and when USA Today published comprehensive baseball statistics once a week and fantasy baseball junkies used those numbers to calculate their league standings by hand and calculator.

That got me thinking.

From what I can tell, Section 220 brings together people of different ages and backgrounds, and I’m hoping some of you will share how you got interested and developed your passion for the Twins and for baseball. I grew up in Chicago and always had baseball around because WGN showed whichever team, the Cubs or White Sox, was playing at home. A road game on TV was a special event. The first game I saw in person was between the Angels and White Sox on a Saturday afternoon in July 1965.

For some reason, I’ve always remembered that Rudy May was the starting pitcher for the Angels, but needed to check baseball-reference.com to know that the near-Hall of Famer Tommy John started for the White Sox. Maybe it was because May walked three batters and was pulled before he could pitch to a fourth. I also remember some disappointment that the White Sox didn’t hit a home run, depriving me a chance to see the “exploding scoreboard” shoot fireworks in person.

I’m guessing that makes me older than some of you.

I’m also guessing some of you found the love in Minnesota during 1987 or 1991, or by going to games during the lean years when the Metrodome attracted crowds of below 10,000. Are you a reformed fan of another team? I went to the Met during college days when the Twins played the White Sox and rooted for the visitors from the bleachers.We used to cheerfully taunt Larry Hisle for no other reason than he was the Twins left fielder, and he would now and again give us a good-natured smile in return — the biggest one coming when we greeted him from the bleachers at Comiskey Park during a trip to Chicago.

Want to share your story? We’ll get back to the other stuff tomorrow.

About those lefties in the batting order

Friday, May 1st, 2009

A couple of days back, I suggested that Joe Mauer’s return would allow the Twins to create a batting order featuring Mauer/Morneau/Kubel in the No. 2/3/4 spots. Gardy has since said that Mauer will return to the No. 3 spot, which I’m not going to quibble about.

The bigger question that came up in some of the comments was the wisdom of my suggestion that those three left-handers bat consecutively. There was a healthy dose of “conventional wisdom” and “you don’t do that, DUH!” being tossed around.

And you thought conventional wisdom had no place on the Internet?

My position was based on the fact that, if you look back on the 2008 season, Gardy’s primary lineup against right-handed pitchers evolved by midseason into Mauer/Morneau/Kubel in those three spots. I think the Twins can do this because, with Mauer and Morneau, it doesn’t much matter whether there’s a lefty or righty on the mound. So the only issue against a nasty lefty late in the game is whether you bring up a right-hander to hit for Kubel.

Given the makeup of this year’s team, there should be a good right-handed option on the bench.

So, with Mauer batting third, here’s how I’d go for now: Span, of; Harris ss/2b or Casilla, 2b; Mauer, c; Morneau, 1b;  Kubel, lf/rf; Crede, 3b; Buscher, dh; Cuddyer, rf or Gomez, cf, or Young, lf; Punto/Harris, ss.

Back to you all.

Guess the Opening Day lineup: Round 2

Saturday, April 4th, 2009

Let’s pass the final day of spring training by predicting the Twins starting lineup for the opener. I’m betting on Morneau to be healthy after testing his back today. My version is the lineup that I think Gardy will choose, as opposed to what I might do.

Span, cf; Casilla, 2b; Cuddyer, rf; Morneau, 1b; Kubel, dh; Crede, 3b; Young, lf; Redmond, c; Punto, ss.

And for Game 2,  against lefty Eric Bedard, Gomez gets the start in center and the 5-6-7 spots go Young/Kubel/Crede.

Crede batted .122 (10 for 82) against lefties last season, with no home runs. His career splits are pretty left/right neutral, so I’m using his back problems as an explanation for now.

Here’s what we were thinking a couple of weeks ago, when we took our first shot at Mauer-free batting orders.

Have at it and stay civil.

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