2007: 17 K’s

August 19, 2010

Sunday, August 19, 2007

I still have the scorecard from this game, the best live pitching performance I have ever seen. Here is what I wrote the day after:

Yesterday was my dad’s birthday (Happy Birthday, Dad), and we were all happy that our season ticket package included Sunday afternoon ballgame at which we could celebrate. We started with breakfast where my seven-month old son nearly downed half a pancake, and I enjoyed a veggie omelet with plenty of jalepeno peppers before we headed for the dome.

The rain was a small annoyance, but it’s worth noting that three years from now we probably wouldn’t have had a Sunday afternoon game to watch due to the weather. My family arrived early at the game, as it turned out before the doors opened. It was a bobble head give away day, so there were plenty of people who had been waiting for quite a while in the rain. We went early thinking that we may get our Gary Gaetti bobble heads, but we weren’t counting on it. As it turned out, the doors opened shortly after we arrived, and every member of my family got a Gary Gaetti doll (except for my son, who got a book).

The Gaetti doll was in conjunction with Gary’s induction into the Twins Hall of Fame which was in conjunction with the 20th Anniversary of the 1987 World Series. There was a nice ceremony before the game that included a reenactment of the final out of the 1987 Series, Gaetti to Hrbek, 5-3. It was great to see the ‘87 team on the field, and even better to see Herbie and the G-Man together.

As a child, I watched Gaetti closely to try and learn how to play third base. There were a few Twins’ games at the dome where I followed #8 rather than the ball, watching where he would stand in different situations. I suppose it was a good example to follow, though I personally didn’t really catch on at third base (not for lack of knowledge about how to play third, however).

I commented to my wife during the ceremony about the gloves popping in the background. Usually the Twins have music playing during the warm ups, but when Gaetti was making his induction speech the only background noise was the snap of horse hide hitting leather; the loudest of which was coming from the Twins’ bullpen, where Johan Santana was taking his warm up tosses.

Santana, of course, went on to strikeout nearly as many Rangers as my Dad is years old, a great birthday present that I would like to take credit for.

I am still holding out hope that one day I will see a major league no-hitter in person, but those hopes were dashed when Sammy Sosa blooped a single to lead off the fifth inning- yet another reason not to like Sosa, who performed his traditional heel kick on a long foul ball later in the game. I was pleased that he had to turn around and return to the batter’s box, and was hoping he would then strikeout (kick your heels for that), but he ended up getting another hit off of Santana, representing the only two hits allowed in an otherwise perfect performance by the best pitcher in baseball.

Santana struck out each Ranger at least once; got Wilkerson and Saltalamacchia twice each; and made Young, Byrd, and Laird look foolish three times each. It was the kind of performance you expect from a Little League pitcher who turns out to be older than all of the other kids.

It would have been nice to see Santana finish the game, but with today’s environment I suppose seeing him  in the eighth was a gift (and I actually would have second-guessed management had Santana showed his face for the ninth with 112 pitches thrown). Nathan had a little bit of trouble closing out the win, but did manage to do so by striking out Michael Young to give the Ranger shortstop the dreaded 0-for-4 with 4 k line.

It was a good enough day to make one forget that this team just scored three runs in three games against one of the worst pitching staffs in the league, and that the post season is a faint hope. None of that really mattered on my father’s birthday, the day that Gary Gaetti was recognized and Johan Santana struck out 17.

A couple of months later I wrote this as part of my series at TwinsCards.com on the greatest pitching performances in Twins history:

Sunday August 19, 2007
HHH Metrodome
Minneapolis, MN

The 2007 season was a bit of a downer for the Twins and their fans, but it did produce two pitching performances that are worthy of this list that I started a few months before either of them happened.

The first came on a Sunday afternoon at the Metrodome. It happened to be the weekend of the 1987 reunion, and the game actually fell on a day in which Gary Gaetti was to be inducted into the Twins Hall of Fame. Fans waited in line on a rainy day to get the Gaetti bobblehead, and filed in to see what was at the time a .500 baseball team try to make its way back into the AL Central race before it was too late.

The other draw, of course, was Johan Santana, whose starts had become events worth seeing a few years ago when he won his first Cy Young award. Once the ceremony honoring Gaetti was complete, and the final out of the 1987 World Series reenacted, Johan took the mound to the familiar sound of Rob Thomas and Santana’s “Smooth” – the song that still brings the best pitcher in baseball to the mound at the Metrodome.

It was a favorable matchup for Santana from the start. The Rangers had an above average offense, but were a collection of free swingers who were prone to striking out. By season’s end, Texas hitters had compiled 1,224 K’s, second most in the league. Santana, of course a strikeout pitcher, took advantage of the free swinging nature of the lineup early and often.

The Rangers didn’t do themselves any favors, of course, but in the end there really wasn’t much they could have done. Santana’s command was clear as he hit the corners with his fastball, change up, and seemingly whatever pitch he decided to throw. Two K’s recorded in the first inning, three in the second, and two more in the third. The rhythm was clear and it wasn’t looking good for Texas. Santana was perfect until the top of the fifth inning, when a Sammy Sosa soft liner found its way to a safe landing in left field. No matter, Santana retired the next three, including two more strikeouts to run the game total to 11 after five innings.

The Twins got the only run they would need in the second inning, when Michael Cuddyer hit a lead off home run to left center.

After trying something new and retiring the Rangers in order without a strikeout in the sixth, Santana struck out three more in the seventh, leaving Sosa’s two out double stranded at second.

With 14 strikeouts under his belt, Santana came out for the eighth inning even though his pitch count was at the point where he might normally be removed. Prior to Santana’s performance, the most strikeouts recorded in a game by a Twins pitcher was 15, done four times, the last by Bert Blyleven in 1986. Santana equaled that mark when he got Gerald Laird swinging for the third time in the game. He surpassed the mark when he got Nelson Cruz to swing and miss. It took him just four pitches to get number 17, when he got Jarrod Saltalamacchia swinging.

Santana pumped his fist and tipped his cap to the cheering crowd on his way to the dugout, a sign that he was not likely to return to make a run at the major league record of 20 K’s. From the Pioneer Press:

“I really didn’t make a decision. He did a curtain call before I even got down there,” manager Ron Gardenhire said after Santana pitched eight record-breaking innings, then walked into history and allowed Joe Nathan to cement the Twins’ 1-0 victory over Texas. “I said ‘Andy, what does that mean?’ (Pitching coach Rick Anderson) said, ‘I guess he’s done.’ ”


That Reminds Me of a Story…

May 14, 2010

The Mariners are up in arms about a report by Tacoma News-Tribune reporter Larry LaRue that Ken Griffey Jr. was unavailable to pinch hit in a recent game because he had fallen asleep in the clubhouse. As I have picked up little pieces of the controversy over the past week, I am reminded of a Jim Souhan column from a few years ago in which he leveled the charge that Joe Mauer had invented a leg injury.

What is intriguing about the two columns is how different the Mariners’ and the Twins’ players reaction to the charges were.

Mariners players have been very publicly shutting LaRue out, to the point where Cliff Lee would not speak at a press conference until the reporter left the room. This was on the heels of a team meeting in which Mike Sweeney reportedly offered to fight the two anonymous players quoted in the original report. Unsurprisingly, nobody took Sweeney up on his offer, leaving the team to conclude that LaRue had simply made the story up. For its part, the Mariners organization has stayed out of the fray, issuing a statement essentially hoping for an “organic” end to the dispute.

In September of 2007, Jim Souhan penned a column in which he expressed the opinion that it was time to move Joe Mauer to third base. Tucked in that column was the somehow related nugget:

In 2007, Mauer – like the Twins – revisited 2005. In spring training he caused a scare with what was termed a “stress reaction.” I’ve spoken with trainers in other sports who have told me there is no such thing.

Souhan flat out said the team’s young superstar and future franchise player had concocted an injury out of thin air. Unlike LaRue, he did not cite team sources, he instead talked to a few of his trainer friends who said there was no such injury (never mind that a Google search at the time turned up several hits on “stress reaction”).

I don’t recall any team push back on Souhan. I don’t recall it even being an issue outside of the Twins’ blogosphere at the time.

It’s not that I am particularly impressed with the Mariners players. The “reveal yourself so I can beat you up” is probably not an effective way to start a team dialogue, and not speaking to the reporter, who simply did his job, comes across as childish. Still, it’s a team sticking up for a teammate.

Perhaps the Twins handled the allegations the right way in 2007 – it is possible that a player or group of players privately communicated disgust with Souhan. Smart money says they didn’t. The 2007 Twins clubhouse was dominated by Torii Hunter, who had questioned Mauer’s toughness in the past. It is likely that team leadership agreed with Souhan’s sentiment, or perhaps had even planted the seed of doubt. In any case, I wonder if, given the new makeup of this team, there would be a different reaction in 2010.


The “Worldwide Leader in Sports”

October 1, 2007

I had some rare time to just sit and watch television Sunday afternoon, and I was looking forward to watching some meaningful baseball. I figured that with four teams challenging for two playoff spots in the National League, there would be a pretty good chance that at least one of the meaningful games would be televised; or, even better would be that I could follow them all. I vividly remember watching ESPN on the final day of regular seasons past as they bounced from game to game trying to catch the significant moments.

Instead of televising any baseball on the final day of the regular season, ESPN and ESPN2′s schedules included a reality show, bowling, horse racing, hunting, and fishing. No baseball. ESPNEWS was covering all things NFL, and would occasionally flash a baseball score. There would be no meaningful baseball for me. I flipped between the Twins and a football game instead (though I was pleased to see that the Vikings were wearing throwback uniforms, otherwise known as “what they were wearing last time I cared”).

Incidentally, I was 1-for-6 in pre-season predictions, 1-for-8 if you count Wild Card teams (though I correctly named four of the eight playoff teams). I guess that’s why I write about history, it’s much easier to be right.

With my prognosticating record, I will skip the playoff predictions, but say that my rooting interest currently lies with Philadelphia.

Born October 1
Roberto Kelly 1964
Jeff Reardon 1955
Rod Carew 1945


What a difference a year makes

September 27, 2007

Then…

Coffeyville Whirlwind, 10/2/2006

Twins Week: Division Champions

centralchamps.jpg
Results

9/25 def kc.gif 8-1
9/26 def kc.gif 3-2
9/27 lost to kc.gif 4-6
9/28 def kc.gif 2-1
9/29 lost to cha.gif 3-4
9/30 lost to cha.gif3-6
10/1 def cha.gif5-1

Weekly Totals 4-3 28 RS 21 RA

In the fall of 1987, I was all of nine years old, and so excited about the Twins division title that I wanted my parents to buy me a “Division Champions” sweatshirt. My mother talked me out of it, suggesting that I might regret having a shirt that only said “Division Champions” after the team won the World Series. The next few weeks were rough at school, seeing that just about everybody else had Twins shirts, but I was confident that I would own an even better prize before the month of October was over.

And so it is today, 19 years later. I will not be purchasing any Division Championship merchandise. Nope, I want my son’s onesie to proudly say “World Series Champions”.

It took a little help from the Royals, but the Twins became the only team in history to take sole possession of first place for the first time after the final game of the season.

I will post the final regular season stats and preview the playoffs tomorrow. Today, however, Minnesota celebrates.

Final AL Central Standings
min.gif96-66 801 RS 683 RA -
det.gif95-67 822 RS 675 RA 1.0 GB
cha.gif90-72 868 RS 794 RA 6.0 GB
cle.gif78-84 870 RS 782 RA 18.0 GB
kc.gif62-100 757 RS 971 RA 34.0 GB

Oh, I almost forgot:
battingchamp.jpg
Final MLB Batting Stats
1. Joe Mauer, MIN .347
2. Freddy Sanchez, PIT .344
3. Derek Jeter, NYY .343
4. Robinson Cano, NYY .342

Now…

A sampling of blog headlines from the past week:

Santana to the Dodgers?

Mauer hernia watch

When did Johan Santana become Brad Radke?

Free Agent Marketplace: CF, Part 1

LeCroy to start at catcher for Twins

Hunter’s Home Farewell


More from local daily archives: Terry Ryan

September 14, 2007

Dennis Brackin, 9/14/1994 (shortly after Terry Ryan was named to replace Andy MacPhail as Twins GM).

A general manager’s job can be divided into three areas: talent evaluation, budget concerns and public relations. Ryan has no doubts about his proficiency in evaluating talent. He has had an active role in Twins’ contract negotiations in the last 2 1/2 years.

It is the spotlight that concerns Ryan. He has shown a preference for working in the background, “a blue jean and flannel shirt guy,” according to Corrigan.

“I’ve had a tough time with B.S.,” Ryan said. “I can’t do that too well. I’ve always wanted people to tell me what’s on their minds, and I’ve obviously done that with them. I think our minor league players will tell you that I’m brutally honest. I won’t sugarcoat.”

Ryan promises to be equally candid in his dealings with the media. He asks only that he be judged on what he says, not how he says it.

“I wouldn’t say I’m going to be the greatest public speaker that’s ever come down the pike, but I’m not worried about that,” Ryan said. “I won’t hide from mistakes. If somebody wants to talk to me, I’ll be there.” The job at hand Ryan knows that 1994 has not been pretty, but he does not believe that signals another year of rebuilding is at hand.

“Some of those guys at Salt Lake City are about ready, and it’s about time they start contributing up here,” Ryan said. “Once you’ve got four or five years in the minors, we should be expecting them to be here, and you look around the diamond at Salt Lake and [Scott] Stahoviak and [Denny] Hocking and [Marty] Cordova and [David] McCarty and [Rich] Becker and [Eddie] Guardado should be ready to contribute. If we get a little luck here and there, we’re going to be all right. This isn’t barren by any stretch.”

Asked if he would be satisfied with a climb to .500 next season, Ryan cringed.

“We should be better than that,” he said. “I wouldn’t want to take a job thinking .500 is good enough. We’ve got a good nucleus, and we’ve got a guy in right field [Kirby Puckett] who can carry a club for a month. We’ve got a closer here [Rick Aguilera] who is one of the premier guys in the league . . . The other thing we’ve got here is a good manager [Tom Kelly].”

Ryan’s first move came a few days later, as reported by Scott Miller in the PiPress (9/16/1994)

On The Day After, new Twins general manager Terry Ryan, as expected, promoted Bill Smith to the position of vice president/general manager and then looked ahead toward the vast unknown.

More on Smith from the same article, who we recently learned will be Ryan’s replacement.

Smith’s promotion gives Ryan a hand in understanding the Basic Agreement and any other rules that a general manager needs to know. MacPhail understood the intricacies of baseball’s rules, and that’s one department in which Ryan – admittedly – is lacking.

Smith’s domain in large part will be rules, waivers and details. As Ryan has done for the past couple of years, Smith also will be placed in charge of negotiating contracts for those players who have been in the majors for three years or less. Ryan now will negotiate the contracts of more experienced players.

“I’m happy,” Ryan said of Smith’s promotion. “He’s a talented guy. It will be a pretty good mix. His assets and strengths are many of my weaknesses, and vice versa.”

Smith, 36, was the Twins’ director of baseball administration for two years before being named assistant general manager on Sept. 23, 1991, the day Ryan was promoted from director of scouting to vice president for player personnel. Smith joined the Twins in March 1986 as assistant director of minor leagues and scouting.

Before that, he was the general manager of the Class A Appleton Foxes, then an affiliate of the Chicago White Sox in the Midwest League.


Here’s the thing…

September 4, 2007

I don’t blame Nick Punto for the current struggles of the hometown nine. There is plenty of blame to go around (although I think the pitching staff gets off without any blame).

Still, he’s hitting .199/.288/.256 this year. I’m starting to take it personally that he still plays every day.

Maybe the worst thing that could have happened to Nick was his incredibly fluky 2006 season. He set career highs in many offensive categories, some weren’t even close. Expectations were high coming into the season, but rather than revert back to form, Punto has had an historically inept season.

We’re told he is a nice guy, and a lot of people are rooting for him. I don’t doubt that. He seems like a nice enough guy, and I would like to see him succeed. The problem is that he isn’t succeeding, and he hasn’t been for quite a while (the most similar hitter to Punto, according to BR, is Herb Plews- I don’t believe that considers Punto’s 2007 numbers).

Earlier in the season, it would have been nice to see the team address the problem at third base in some way other than waiting for Punto to come around. Now that it is too late for any post season hopes, it would be nice to let some of the younger guys play, see if there might be any hope for an in-house solution for 2008.

The message being sent now, however, is that Punto is the guy for next year and beyond, and the organization will wait for him to “come around” – no matter how long it takes. Not a particularly encouraging message for a season ticket holder.

Born September 4, 1980
Pat Neshek
Probably the closer of the future, and a fellow blogger.

Born September 4, 1973
Aaron Fultz
Currently a member of the Cleveland Indians, Fultz pitched for the Twins in 2004.


A (Near) Perfect Day

August 20, 2007

Yesterday was my dad’s birthday (Happy Birthday, Dad), and we were all happy that our season ticket package included Sunday afternoon ballgame at which we could celebrate. We started with breakfast where my seven-month old son nearly downed half a pancake, and I enjoyed a veggie omelet with plenty of jalepeno peppers before we headed for the dome.

The rain was a small annoyance, but it’s worth noting that three years from now we probably wouldn’t have had a Sunday afternoon game to watch due to the weather. My family arrived early at the game, as it turned out before the doors opened. It was a bobble head give away day, so there were plenty of people who had been waiting for quite a while in the rain. We went early thinking that we may get our Gary Gaetti bobble heads, but we weren’t counting on it. As it turned out, the doors opened shortly after we arrived, and every member of my family got a Gary Gaetti doll (except for my son, who got a book).

The Gaetti doll was in conjunction with Gary’s induction into the Twins Hall of Fame which was in conjunction with the 20th Anniversary of the 1987 World Series. There was a nice ceremony before the game that included a reenactment of the final out of the 1987 Series, Gaetti to Hrbek, 5-3. It was great to see the ’87 team on the field, and even better to see Herbie and the G-Man together.

As a child, I watched Gaetti closely to try and learn how to play third base. There were a few Twins’ games at the dome where I followed #8 rather than the ball, watching where he would stand in different situations. I suppose it was a good example to follow, though I personally didn’t really catch on at third base (not for lack of knowledge about how to play third, however).

I commented to my wife during the ceremony about the gloves popping in the background. Usually the Twins have music playing during the warm ups, but when Gaetti was making his induction speech the only background noise was the snap of horse hide hitting leather; the loudest of which was coming from the Twins’ bullpen, where Johan Santana was taking his warm up tosses.

Santana, of course, went on to strikeout nearly as many Rangers as my Dad is years old, a great birthday present that I would like to take credit for.

I am still holding out hope that one day I will see a major league no-hitter in person, but those hopes were dashed when Sammy Sosa blooped a single to lead off the fifth inning- yet another reason not to like Sosa, who performed his traditional heel kick on a long foul ball later in the game. I was pleased that he had to turn around and return to the batter’s box, and was hoping he would then strikeout (kick your heels for that), but he ended up getting another hit off of Santana, representing the only two hits allowed in an otherwise perfect performance by the best pitcher in baseball.

Santana struck out each Ranger at least once; got Wilkerson and Saltalamacchia twice each; and made Young, Byrd, and Laird look foolish three times each. It was the kind of performance you expect from a Little League pitcher who turns out to be older than all of the other kids.

It would have been nice to see Santana finish the game, but with today’s environment I suppose seeing him  in the eighth was a gift (and I actually would have second-guessed management had Santana showed his face for the ninth with 112 pitches thrown). Nathan had a little bit of trouble closing out the win, but did manage to do so by striking out Michael Young to give the Ranger shortstop the dreaded 0-for-4 with 4 k line.

It was a good enough day to make one forget that this team just scored three runs in three games against one of the worst pitching staffs in the league, and that the post season is a faint hope. None of that really mattered on my father’s birthday, the day that Gary Gaetti was recognized and Johan Santana struck out 17.

Born August 19, 1958
Gary Gaetti
Very appropriate. I had a post of his top games ready to go, but with the events of Sunday I pushed it to tomorrow.

Born August 19, 1949
Pop
I, of course, know him as Dad, but he has started a new role in the past few months as “Pop” and he is the kind of guy that seems like he was born to be a grandfather. Happy Birthday, Pop.

Born August 20, 1960
Tom Brunansky
Another member of the ’87 team that was in town this weekend.


Is it 2005 all over again?

August 17, 2007

I have heard it said a few times that the 2007 Twins team is very similar to the 2005 team (in fact, I have thought that myself). The 2005 team had a good pitching staff that got very little run support, and that certainly seems to be the case in 2007. I wondered if the numbers reflected that comparison, and found that the do in some respect, but there are a couple of other seasons in Twins history that 2007 also closely resembles.

So far this year, the Twins have scored 545 runs, or 4.54 runs per game, while allowing 529 (4.41 per game). If they continue at the same pace over the final 42 games, the Twins will finish 2007 with 736 runs scored and 714 runs against. For a frame of reference, the 2007 American League averages 4.87 runs per game, or roughly 789 over a full season. The Twins are currently 12th out of 14 AL teams in runs scored per game, and 5th out of 14 in runs allowed per game.

In 2005, the Twins finished with 688 runs scored (4.25 per game), with 662 runs allowed (4.09 per game). They were dead last in AL runs per game, and 5th out of 14 in runs allowed per game. The league scored 4.76 runs per game in 2005, an average team would score about 771 runs in 2005.

So the short answer is yes, 2007 and 2005 are quite similar. Relative to the league in which they played, the 2005 team had a slightly worse offense, but also allowed fewer runs relative to the league.

There are a couple of other seasons in Twins history that look similar to 2007, both happening more than 30 years ago. The 1976 Twins finished 85-77, third in the AL West. They scored 743 runs and allowed 704. Though the raw numbers look almost identical to the 2007 projections, it should be noted that in 1976, 4.59 runs per game was enough to lead the American League, while the 4.35 runs per game that the Twins allowed ranked them 10th out of 12 AL teams. Same story for the 1973 team that finished 81-81. They scored 738 and allowed 692, were 5th out of 12 in runs scored per game, 6th out of 12 in runs allowed per game.

2007   4.54 R/G (12th AL)   4.41 RA/G (5th AL)         AL R/G = 4.87
2005    4.25 R/G (14th AL)    4.09 RA/G (5th AL)     AL R/G = 4.76
1976    4.59 R/G (1st AL)        4.35 RA/G (10th AL)      AL R/G = 4.01
1973   4.56 R/G (5th AL)      4.27 RA/G (6th AL)         AL R/G = 4.28

I only include the 1970′s seasons to show that if the current version of the Twins (or the 2005 version) played in the 1970′s they would have one of the league’s better offenses.

As it stands, the 2007 season is shaping up to look a lot like the 2005 season, not only in run splits, but also in final record and place in the division. I suppose that the encouraging thing is that 2006 followed 2007, so I suppose we have 2008 to look forward to.

Born August 17, 1965
Alex Cole
Was an outfielder for the Twins in 1994 and 1995. He had a solid 1994 season but there wasn’t much room for him when Marty Cordova came along in 1995. If the Twins could have known that 1995 was Kirby Puckett’s last season, it might have made since to keep Cole around for 1996. Cole was more famous to me as the guy with the fashionable eye wear, shown off over the years on his baseball cards.

Born August 17, 1930
Buck Varner
His entire career happened in September of 1952: 2 games, 5 plate appearances, 1 walk, 0 hits, and my guess is that this is his only mention on a blog.


On Bonds

August 10, 2007

It finally happened. Earlier in the week Barry Bonds hit number 756, and somehow life goes on. Since I waited a few days to react, there is probably nothing I can write that hasn’t been written. I don’t have any particular love for Barry Bonds. I find his public persona to be surly, arrogant, and not particularly likable. That said, there are a number of people who have spent time with him and said that he isn’t as bad a guy as he comes across. Either way it should be irrelevant. Despite his shortcomings, I have found him to be somewhat of a sympathetic character over the past few weeks.

Meanwhile, I was once again saddened to be reminded of who is in charge of the game I love. Bud Selig, the man who looked the other way for more than a decade while it became more and more apparent that there was a problem in the game, was presumably too busy counting the money he has made to be at the game in which the record home run was hit.  Suddenly Mr. Selig is the moral authority on all things performance enhancing, and has declared through his actions and delicately chosen words that Bonds’ record is tainted. Selig, who is as much to blame as any player for the problem, has chosen to leave Barry Bonds hanging out to dry, and has taken several opportunities to point out how much he has done over the past few years to clean up the game. There has been no word from Bud about what he was doing during the mid-to-late 90′s.

The big question, of course, is if the record is tainted. While it is pretty safe to say that Bonds did use some form of performance enhancing drugs in his career, the extent of his use is unknown (as is the extent of the use of the pitchers he hit his home runs against). 756 is a lot of home runs, and if it was a simple as taking a PED to get there, Bonds would not be the only one.

When history remembers Barry Bonds and his home run record (which is likely to be broken in a few years by Alex Rodriguez, who, by the way, is not a true Yankee), it will be understood in the context of his era. Similar to some of the great pitchers of the dead ball era, Bonds put up the biggest number in a time of big numbers. Like it or not, Barry Bonds is baseball’s new home run king.

Meanwhile, the AAA team that stole the Twins’ uniforms and began to play in their place continues to struggle in the run-scoring department. There seem to be two distinct camps that Twins fans fall in these days:

1. The fault lies with Mauer, Cuddyer, Morneau, and Hunter. Call this the Barriero camp. These are the guys who are expected to perform, but have struggled with the team. Joe Mauer seems to be a particular target in this regard, though I did overhear a guy at the Metrodome claiming that Justin Morneau is the problem. Not that Morneau is struggling, mind you, but that he is the reason the Twins are losing.

2. The fault lies with team management, who have stocked the rest of the team with piranhas who seem to lack bite. It is Terry Ryan and Ron Gardenhire’s job to stock the team with hitting talent. Beyond the top four, the team is pretty thin in that department, and has done nothing to improve as it has become more and more apparent that there are some major holes in this lineup.

I tend to lean more towards the second camp. When a team loses to the Royals 1-0, however, there is plenty of blame to go around.

Born August 10, 1927
Bob Chakales
The Golden Greek pitched for Washington from 1955-1957. As a relief pitcher, he walked more than he struck out, but could handle a bat, hitting .271/.278/.333 lifetime.

Born August 10, 1923
Bob Porterfield
Porterfield won 22 games for the Senators in 1953, but his best statistical season was 1952. Though he finished with a 13-14 record, his ERA was 2.72 and his ERA+ was 131, compared with 3.35 and 117 in his 22-win year.

Born August 10, 1916
Buddy Lewis
John Kelly Lewis took over at second base for an injured Buddy Myer in 1935. Though Myer returned, Lewis was shifted to third base and continued to play with Myer, who took the 18-year-old under his wing. Myer eventually passed on his nickname to Lewis, who played mostly at third base for Washington until the war. After returning from the service, he finished his career in the outfield. Lewis was a very good player who lost some of his prime years to WWII.


What’s Your Favorite Luis Castillo Story?

July 30, 2007

With the news that Castillo is on his way to New York, I remembered one of my favorite quotes from the Twins this year. It was originally reported by Lavelle E. Neal when the Twins were playing in early April and there was a chance of snow.

“Considering I’m not even sure Luis knows how to even get to the ballpark, it will be tough for him, let alone to drive in the snow,” (Mike) Redmond said. “I would want to alert the Minneapolis-area commuters that Luis Castillo would be driving in the snow, because that would be scary. Truly scary.”

Castillo, who has never driven in the snow, was unaware of the forecast.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do,” he said. “I better go slow.”

By the time the Twins took the field for early stretching, Redmond had promised to bring Castillo to the park today.

It’s sad to see Castillo go, and it feels like a white flag of sorts, but it is probably the right move considering that Luis is not a part of this team’s future plans.

On the plus side, the Twins acquired Drew Butera, son of former Twin Sal, in the deal.


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