Head over to Twins Centric to read an in-depth article about Jason Kubel’s lack of production early this season.

Personally, I think it’s not much more than limited sample size and the season still being young.

Twins head to KC after winning their the first 5 series of the season. Can they make it 6?

Let’s see if the Twins bats can come back alive like during the last road trip.


Today, the newest Twin Orlando Hudson sticks his foot in his mouth. According to Jeff Passan, Hudson hints at racism being a key element in unsigned free agents like Jermaine Dye.

“You see guys like Dye without a job.  Guy with [27 home runs and 81 RBIs] and can’t get a job. Pretty much sums it up right there, no? You’ve got some guys who miss a year who can come back and get $5, $6 million, and a guy like Jermaine Dye can’t get a job. A guy like Gary Sheffield,  a first-ballot Hall of Famer, can’t get a job.  We both know what it is. You’ll get it right. You’ll figure it out. I’m not gonna say it because then I’ll be in [trouble].”

What about the fact that Dye is one of the worst outfielders in the game and is generally in decline as a player?  Sure he has some pop, and could fit as a DH or pinch hitter somewhere…and he has received interest and probably some offers – but he’s not gonna make 5 million – and he should know that. Thome signed for 1.5 million, he understands his value and where he is at in his career.

The real story isn’t racism, I think is as simple as teams being more fiscally responsible while player/agent greed remains high. Players like Washburn and Dye would apparently rather not play at all, than play for less than they think they are worth. Really Washburn? 5 million dollars a year to play a child’s game isn’t enough for a wildly inconsistent and old starting pitcher? I’m glad we didn’t sign him – especially with the way Cy-Vano is going.

What do you think? O-Dawg maybe shouldn’t have opened his mouth? Is there some racism going on? There very well could be. But when he points to Dye and Sheffield as his examples, it makes it a harder pill to swallow. Maybe he feels he’s worth a little more than the 5 million he signed for.

Three decisions I’d like to second guess.

1. Leaving Blackburn in to start the 8th after he’s shown he didn’t have his best stuff

2. Bringing in Mijares with runners on – Mijares hasn’t shown he has his stuff this year yet. Duensing, Crain, Guerrier would have been better picks.

3. Obvious one, sending Hardy. He was out by a mile.

What do you think?

Nam Y. Huh, Associated Press

Many Twins fans are excited to see if Francisco Liriano can bounce back from a horrible year last year and regain any semblance of his amazing 2006 season, so the opening game in the White Sox series had a little extra interest – especially with the Twins offense coming off a 10 run victory and series win in Anaheim.

Liriano ended up going 6 innings with 4 hits, 3 ERs, 5 BB, and 3 Ks. A modest debut, but the 5 walks were a bit troubling. You can see flashes of his potential – or former-self  – or whatever you want to call it – especially when his slider works. His fastball clocked in the mid-nineties, but his lack of control will have to improve if he ever wants to be the pitcher he was or can be. You can see his mechanics are all over the place, recoiling when he should follow through, and still maybe not trusting his stuff. He had a chance to put the 6th  inning away with the lead intact after a visit to the mount by pitching coach Rick Anderson. He threw several sliders, but then went away from the slider and Rios drilled a two RBI double. It wasn’t a particularly bad pitch, not a meatball, but having the benefit of being able to second guess, you think maybe sticking with the slider would have been a good idea. His pitch count was good. He seems close, but if he can’t throw more strikes… I guess I’m just hesitant in putting too much trust in Liriano. He has the talent to be the Twins ace in the hole, but he has to work to get there.

Missed opportunities seemed to highlight the game offensively for the Twins, blowing two bases-loaded opportunities. The first was in the first inning with the rotten base-running mistake by Orlando Hudson (maybe he hit his head harder then we thought last night) who got double-up and then again in the seventh after Morneau tied it up with a double down the line and Cuddyer was intentionally walked. Kubel and and the hot-hitting Young fell short and ended up leaving the bases juiced.

Then the game went to the bullpen. Impressive job by Guerrier and Duensing – managing to take the game to the 11th when Mauer pinch hit and got on base with a walk. Span moved him over with a bunt. Hudson got out and Hardy – slotted in the three hole – got his most clutch hit in his young Twins career – driving in Mauer for the lead and handing the game to Big Jon “The Committee” Rauch, for his third save opportunity.

Rauch came in for his third save in as many opportunities, but it wasn’t pretty. We can thank the Twins defense for that one. Mauer threw out Rios in a stolen base attempt after a base hit and Span made a great play on a shallow line drive to center for the third out. Rauch gave up two hits, and almost a third. If it weren’t for Mauer throwing out the runner and Spans nice play… who knows? All that matters is the win.

Hardy comes through as my pick for player of the game with a couple of hits and a great play up the middle in the 9th, but Span’s catch gets the defensive play of the game. That makes 4 in a row on the road against two pretty good baseball teams. Exciting start to the season.

Anyone else watch the first non-9pm game?

Another good game last night. Pavano looked like Cy-vano, and pitched out of some jams. Morneau and Hardy with the pop again. Rauch gives up a run but gets the save. Thome gets the start and gets 3 Ks – not what we’re looking for when he takes the place of Kubel in the lineup.

Not too much insight from me today, but I have THREE good links for you to read if you’re interested.

John Bonnes has an article at Twins Centric about why managers sometimes keep in starting pitchers. He makes some great points. It’s a good read, but do you agree that the win stat is meaningless?

Apparently the New York Vs Boston games are as unbearable to the umpires as they are to us in the midwest. Umpire Joe West called the two teams slow play  “embarrassing“. What do you expect, they are the divas of the baseball world. But I support any and all Yankee and Red Sox bashing.

Lastly, we have a funny uniform misspelling. Check it out.

Great game all around last night. If you could duplicate a game, that would be an ideal contest to emulate. We got quality start from Blackburn, solid bullpen pitching – including a 1-2-3 9th from Rauch – and some HRs from the already impressively potent lineup.

I expect to see a lot of games like this. Solid pitching, but not lights out. Consistency goes a long way, which is why Blackburn is currently the most reliable starter on the staff. You know he’ll keep you in the game, which is all this lineup should need.

It’s good to see Morneau get that first homerun under his belt after the bad spring. His confidence should be back where it belongs. Mauer doesn’t surprise anyone with his homer to dead center, and Hardy shows he could be back to form after losing his swing last year.

Switching from the game last night to a little discussion regarding the Twins catching prospect Wilson Ramos, MLB TRADE RUMORS  has an article discussing what the Twins will do with him now that Mauer is locked-up. There has been some discussion among Twins fans to convert him to a third baseman, a position the Twins have long struggled with since losing Koskie. Not wanting to lose his bat, I tend to like that idea – but it appears he might be just too valuable as a catcher to justify moving positions.

The question isn’t if the Twins trade Ramos, but when. I like the idea of trading for a number one starter, maybe including Ramos in a package deal. The Twins might play out the season and see where their biggest need lies. If they are in contention for the playoffs mid-season, adding a top of the line starter would help a lot. We’ll have to see who is available then. Obviously a closer would be in that list of needs, but let’s see how Big Jon does.

If nothing else, keeping him at AAA will provide depth in case Mauer gets injured and if Ramos continues to hit the cover off the ball, waiting to deal him will raise his trade value.

What would you do with Ramos?

Delmon Young homers on opening day

Morneau congratulats Young on first homer of season. Photo by Jae C. Hong, Associated Press

It was a rough first start for Baker. As I mentioned yesterday, he had a tendency to leave the ball up. It’s pretty clear he had some nerves/excitement going in that first inning, it was pretty tough to watch. And as usual, the walks kill you.

The game was a lot closer than the final score indicated as the Twins had a couple chances to score. The Morneau at-bat with the bases loaded was actually a really good AB. He fought off some good pitches, worked the count, and lined out on a well hit ball that just happened to be at the first basemen.

I don’t want to get too pessimistic after one loss, so let’s focus on the possitives – reliever Jesse Crain pitched great, and Delmon Young looked fantastic.  Crain retired every batter he faced and looked like the Crain we will need this season to keep some sanity in the bullpen. Young hit his first homer of the season on opening day, which is a good thing. He has been a second-half player the last couple seasons. If he can play as well in the first half as the second you could start seeing 20+ HRs – many claim he has the most raw power on the team. It’d be great to see that develop.

More impressive than his home run though, was his base running. The 30 pounds he lost will help him get around on more swings as well as get around on the bases. It was good to see a stolen base after legging out an infield hit. He eventually came around to score – that run was pretty much generated solely on Young’s newfound speed – with special thanks to Hardy for getting him to third and Punto for the sac fly.

Another side note. It was exciting to see Jim Thome come to bat for us. Interesting use of him in the seventh inning, but a good decision. Down – with a runner on, batting for Punto. It’ll be interesting to see Thome’s success as a pinch hitter. He didn’t do much there in LA last season – but he’s too good not to get the ABs necessary to contribute significantly.

Tonight Nick Blackburn gets his first start of the season and we’ll see if the Twins can get one under their belt in the win column.

Lastly, those new road uniforms are fantastic. It’s fun having your team rebrand a little bit.

Twins fans have a lot to be excited for this year with the reigning AL MVP Mauer locked up for another 9 years, a brand-new amazing ballpark, additions of Thome, Hudson, and Hardy. Baseball is going to be fun to watch. Being at the first exhibition game at Target Field reaffirmed my decision to get season tickets. I texted some friends and family that I had found my new home away from home. It’s fantastic. Even watching the second exhibition game on TV was a much more enjoyable experience.

There will be some tough challenges this year as well overcoming the loss of Nathan. As I predicted when he first went down, Rauch will become the closer – for now. This is not a long term solution. I fully expect a trade mid-season. How well Rauch does will dictate how soon that trade comes. I’d timeline that for mid-May. I think Rauch can be successful, but expect the bullpen to fluctuate a bit this year. Neshek, the fan favorite, has a lot to prove after making the team and Slama will come up mid-season as well.

I think we can expect similar offensive years compared to last year for most of our position players. One player not getting much press/attention is Morneau. The last couple seasons he has faded in the back half of the year and his injury last season and poor spring has some worried – but don’t forget he has averaged 30 hrs and 118 runs driven in during the last four seasons. If he’s healthy and finds away to remain strong at the end of the year, this could be another MVP type season for Morneau. We’ll see how healthy he stays.

Also, Kubel should have another great year. I expect him to hit for a slightly higher average as well as come in around the 30 hrs/100rbi totals. The addition of Thome is probably the most under-rated addition this offseason. This spring he has shown he still can hit, batting over .300 and hitting 3 hrs. I fully expect and support more than just a coming-off-the bench role, even if it takes time from away from Delmon. I mean, it’s Jim Thome. First ballot hall of famer. Still has the pop.

We’ll see how Baker does tonight. He has one of the better winning percentages for AL pitchers in recent years, but his tendency to pitch up in the zone will still result in lots of hrs and big innings. If he could just learn to pitch low in the zone, he could be great. Also, we’ll see how his mentality and competitive edge develop this year. If he steps it up in big games like Blackburn did last year, this could be a good year for Scott.

I know it has been a couple weeks since updating, and I apologize for that. I’m going to be switching the tone of the blog a bit from less journalistic to more casual fan-reactions. The season is too long and there is too much to talk about to spend hours working on writing one fine journalistic piece. So instead, forgive any grammatical errors or misspellings. I’m going to be focusing more on a conversational blog hoping to share some thoughts on the season and have some good discussions.


I got some great shots of Target Field from my good friend  who was able to tour Target Field today. He wanted to give me a chance to share with everyone. Check them out! Thanks Lee!

After a mediocre 2007 season at AAA, the Twins weren’t convinced that Denard Span was the man to take the reigns from Torii Hunter in center. The phrase “playing angry” has been used to describe Span’s mentality since then. And if that’s what it takes to motivate him – it seems to have worked. When Michael Cuddyer had an injury-plagued season in 2008, Span got the chance to show his mettle. He played in 93 games, hit .296, and wound up sixth in Rookie of the Year considerations.

2009 saw the emergence of Span as one of the League’s best lead-off hitters – posting a .311/.392/.807 line while displaying patience at the plate and hitting lefties about as well as righties. While juggling all three outfield positions in 2009, he found a home at the top of the Twins lineup.

The offseason trade of the excitable and erratic Carlos Gomez for the Brewers’ J.J. Hardy has made room for Span to claim center field as his own – where you will find him at least until the 2014 season thanks to the new 5 year deal worth $16.5 million – with a $9 million option for the 2015 season.

Locking up the 26 year old Span follows a strategy of signing younger players prior to arbitration and free agency. The same was done with pitchers Scott Baker and Nick Blackburn. Don’t be surprised to see a similar deal made in the near future with Kevin Slowey – now that it appears he has recovered from a season-ending wrist injury in ‘08.

These contracts are a win-win for the front office and players. They secure rising talent at a reasonable rate and offer stability to players who know that one injury or bad season could lessen their market value.

This season Span will be faced with the new challenge of being the everyday center fielder. Losing Gomez sacrifices mobility and range in the outfield. But knowing Span’s track record, telling him Gomez’s defense will be missed is probably the best thing that could be done to motivate Span. We have yet to see the extent of his defensive capabilities.

He is off to a great start this spring, hitting over .500 in his first 6 games – that following the .331 mark he posted in the second half last season. If he keeps up that pace he may even find himself a spot on an all-star roster in the near future. How about that idea, an all-star center fielder for the Minnesota Twins? Sound familiar?

With his hard work and dedication, Span has become one of the most liked and well-rounded players on the Twins roster.

Twins center fielder Denard Span debuts the new/retro alternative home uniform for 2010.
(AP Photo/Jim Mone)


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