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Posts Tagged ‘Minnesota Twins’

2011 American League Central Preview

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Royals Joakim SoriaKansas City Royals
Strengths: Having an all-star closer like Joakim Soria is a great luxury, but getting the ball to him with a lead will be tough for the Royals. OF Jeff Francoeur is a nice addition in the outfield, and 2B Mike Aviles is a solid all-around player.

Weaknesses: The loss of SP Zack Greinke just adds to the woes of a very depleted pitching staff, and the outfield lacks a slugger after losing Jose Guillen last season. Pick a position, and the Royals have many questions to answer about it.

Analysis: It’s been 26 years since the Royals have made the postseason, and 2011 does not look to be the year that the streak ends. Second-year manager Ned Yost is going to have his hands full with this bunch.

Prediction: 5th in AL Central

Cleveland Indians
Strengths: OF Shin-Soo Choo showed that he can put together back-to-back successful seasons and lead the team far and away in all-around offense with 22 HR, 90 RBIs, and 22 SB. Closer Chris Perez returns after posting a sub 2.00 ERA and 23 saves in 2010.

Weaknesses: OF Grady Sizemore needs to stay healthy if the Tribe wants to have any chance of contending in the AL Central. The pitching staff, which wasn’t very good in 2010, returns many familiar faces, but they have another year of experience. They aren’t going to look much better in 2011 unless the young guys in the field like 1B Matt LaPorta can hit better than the .221 AVG he put up last season.

Analysis: The Indians are in a rebuilding phase and will need to add some veterans. They did not do much in the off-season, so the pickings could be slim when they realize what they have isn’t worth very much.

Prediction: 4th in AL Central

More 2011 AL Central Predictions after the jump >>

Twins Win! Twins Win! Twins Win!


Fan video from the game

163 games and 9 innings weren’t enough to decide which team would win the AL Central and advance to the MLB Playoffs, where a date with the New York Yankees await. No, the Twins and the Tigers still needed extra innings to determine their fate, and after the baseline chalk cleared, the Minnesota Twins defeated the Detroit Tigers 6-5. Your hero? Carlos Gomez, who scored the winning run; although, some could argue home plate umpire Randy Marsh deserves a mention here too.

Just ask Brandon Inge.

Alas, missed hit batsmen aside, the Twins are moving on, and their award is the aforementioned Yankees. The series starts today, as a matter of fact, in about seven hours. The Twins will undoubtedly be drained after last night’s heroics, but the if they can ride the emotional high, you never know, they just might steal Game 1. Talk about a cherry on top of a delicious sundae for Twins fans. Speaking of, I hope you guys are alive enough to enjoy the start of the Yankees/Twins series.

Hopefully, the Twins nation didn’t drink themselves into oblivion after Gomez scored the winning run.

When 162 Games Aren’t Enough

Twins and White Sox

What do you do if 162 games aren’t enough to decide which team from the AL Central gets to go to the playoffs? Why, you have yourself a one-game playoff, and that’s just what we have tonight when the Minnesota Twins and the Chicago White Sox meet in the Windy City to see who gets the golden ticket. After playing the allotted amount of regular season games, the Twins and White Sox have the same record at 88-74.

Hence the need for the extra game, which takes place in Chicago with the first pitch scheduled for 7:30/6:30 Central. For the White Sox, Ozzie Guillen is sending John Danks and his 11-9/3.47 ERA to mound. Ron Gardenhire counters with Nick Blackburn, he of the 11-10/4.14 ERA record.

Based on that and the fact the White Sox have the home-field advantage, it’s hard not to like Chicago’s chances. They are also 7-2 versus the Twins at home. However, the last time these two teams met — admittedly in Minnesota — the Sox were swept. This should give the Twins a boost of confidence; although, their record at U.S. Cellular Field looms large.

The winner, as indicated, gets a trip the playoffs and will be facing the Tampa Bay Rays, a devil of a team.

Meaningful Baseball – Are The Yankees Done?

Yankees

After last night’s 11-3 beatdown courtesy of all-time Yankee fan favorites, the Boston Red Sox. Because of the loss, the Yankees are now seven games behind the Red Sox for the AL Wild Card berth, and it looks like the Bronx Bombers will miss the postseason for the first time since 1993.

Is this why Joe Torre was removed parted with on mutually agreeable terms?

For the Red Sox, last night’s win gave them a 2.5 game lead over the Minnesota Twins, who are hot on the heels of the Chicago White Sox in the AL Central. Since the Yankees started their last Yankee Stadium series with the beloved Red Sox, they’ve been outscored 18-6. I doubt this is the way Hank Steinbrenner wanted Boston’s last visit to the historic stadium to go. His team is in danger of being swept today, which would add insult to the injury that is realizing the Yanks — barring a Major League-like miracle — are done when it comes to postseason play this year.

The majority of the Red Sox damage was provided by second baseman, Dustin Pedoria, who hit a game-sealing grand slam in the eighth. According to ESPN, Pedoria is the first Red Sox second baseman to hit a grand slam against the Yankees in 50 years.

The third game of this particular Sox/Yankees series is already in progress.

That Josh Hamilton Is Something Else

Even eventual winner Justin Morneau knew he was witnessing something special. So much so, he even admitted he was “kind of cheering” for Hamilton following his first round explosion of 28 home run bombs. Because the Home Run Derby doesn’t accumulate these bombs after the second round, both Morneau and Hamilton started the final round with a clean slate where Morneau out homered Hamilton, five to three, to win the event.

But, even Morneau knows he couldn’t overshadow Hamilton’s first round magic. Hamilton’s round of 28 was so enthralling, the attendees at Yankees Stadium adopted him as their own. This is a great way to let management know who you’d like to root for when the player becomes a free agent, something the Yankees are great at doing — free agent signings, that is.

Although this probably won’t make it through the day, on205th did find a video of Hamilton’s first round performance:

At one point, Hamilton hit 13 bombs in a row and the massively approving crowd wasn’t shy about sharing their feelings, chanting his last name in that ever-so familiar clap-during-the-syllables cheer. Hamilton’s first round performance broke the previous single-round record of 24 held by Bobby Abreu.

One last thing, does the presence of Edinson Volquez reduce the sting of trading Hamilton for Cincinnati Reds fans? It should, but it’s probably tough to see a former Red up there blasting all those shots last night.

Intentional Upset: Johan Santana To The Mets

Johan SantanaNo, this little event is not exactly a “sports upset” per se, but the news Santana would be leaving the Twin Cities certainly was upsetting, especially for one particular blogger. Santana was traded to the New York Mets yesterday and pending the acceptance of a long-term contract, it looks like Johan has pitched his last game in Minnesota as the Twins fell victim to Major League Baseball’s business as usual method.

Because of some unfortunate labor agreements, smaller market teams like the Twins (who were once asked to be contracted, lest we forget) are having a hard time keeping their “home grown” stars when said star gets close to free agency. The idea, because these “lesser” franchises don’t have the disposable income the big market teams do, is to trade these stars before their free agent period in order to get some value in return.

And that’s exactly what happened with Santana and the Twins. However, did the Twins get anything in return for trading MLB’s best pitcher? No, not really. Over at Babes Love Baseball, Sooze has a great write-up on the prospects the Mets had to give up for Santana and to put it mildly, she doesn’t seem that impressed:

Wait… who? Exactly. Congratulations, Mets fans. Apparently, Bill Smith was bribed threatened convinced that those four — a motley crew, as Mel called them — added up to one Johan Santana. Let’s just say I hope there’s some cash thrown into the mix, and at least the Twins will only have to face him during Interleague Play.

As you can see, the excitement is overwhelming. At Twins Geek, there’s much more in this vein:

The package that the Twins got from the Mets illustrates this. Carlos Gomez and pitchers Phil Humber and Kevin Mulvey are duplicates of half of a dozen pitchers in the Twins organization. Deolis Guerra might be special, but hasn’t made it anywhere near the upper levels of the minors. And it isn’t clear that Carlos Gomez, who headlines the package, is a significantly better prospect than Jason Pridie. He’s certainly not someone that Twins can count on before 2009.

So what does this do for the Mets? Are they now the favorite to come out of the National League? Well, if they can avoid season-ending collapses… If you looking for reactions from Mets fans, check out the MetsBlog and the NY Post’s Mets blog.

As for me, this little episode personifies why I’m still at odds with MLB. Smaller franchises shouldn’t have to be punished just because a prospect came up from the organizational ranks and turned out to be a stud, only to ship him off the market with the most money.