Fire Gardy

Mismanaging games since 2002

Archive for July, 2009

Useless Offday Thoughts: Morales, Young, Casilla, DOrtiz

You know what I hate? Offdays. But you know what I love? Useless Offday Thoughts! So let’s get some.

Despite missing the first month of the season and slumping for the most recent one, Mauer has produced this year like a transcendent superstar — he’s put together 43.4 Runs Above Replacement so far this year, which is amazing at this point of the year even without considering the time missed. Everyone knows this — everyone also knows that Morneau has done pretty well, at 35.6 RAR he’s also a pretty big star.

Aside from the two superstars, we also have Kubel and Crede over 20 RAR, at 21.9 and 21.1, respectively, along with a couple more solid players in Span and Cuddyer at 18.9 and 12.5 RAR on the year so far. So how can a team with 2 superstars, 2 good regulars, and 2 more solid regulars end up with a bad offense? Well, before I answer that, guess who the 7th best offensive regular has been thus far.

Seriously, guess.

I didn’t think you’d get it — it’s Jose Morales. That’s right, in extremely limited time in the majors, during which Gardy kept him on the bench as much as possible, Morales produced 7.0 RAR. I’m not advocating for that much more playing time for Morales, after all I’d like Mauer to get as much time at catcher as possible. And he’s proven extremely durable so far this year, and Redmond hasn’t been an unmitigated disaster as a backup — I mean, he sucks, and at $1M per year we’d expect him to produce about 0.2 WAR. He’s at 0.1 so far, so he’s right on pace to be exactly what we’re paying him for.

The problem is not Morales or Redmond. The problem is that the rest of the team has been unable to produce more in the entire season (so far) than Morales produced in a month and a half of extremely (and unacceptably) limited playing time. After a good week, Gomez has jumped up to 4.0 RAR (0.4 WAR), making him the last guy on the roster that isn’t replacement-level or worse. (And knowing Gomez, he’ll be right back down at 0.1 by Monday.)

Redmond, Punto, Harris, and Buscher are all completely replaceable at 1.0 RAR. The real problem, of course, is the guys coming in below them: Tolbert at -9.3, Young at -13.3, and Casilla at -13.7 RAR, all in very limited playing time, have been hemorrhaging wins from this team. If none of them had played at all this season, and instead we’d had easily found AAA-caliber players at their positions, we’d be more than 3 wins better right now, and would be in first place. So the next time you wonder about what it’d be like to be leading the division, don’t blame Mauer and Morneau for not being better, and don’t blame Bill Smith for failing to acquire a top player at one of our positions of need, and don’t blame the pitching (too much) — just blame the fact that Tolbert, Casilla, and Young are fucking terrible at baseball and have sucked as much as anyone in the league.

Oh, another useless thing. Apparently David Ortiz tested positive for steroids in 2003. The famous list of 104 strikes again — boy is it a good thing that thing wasn’t destroyed like it should have been, right? Of course, it was pretty obvious that DOrtiz had done steroids as soon as he went to the Red Sox — in 2003. He went from a 120 OPS+ to a 144 OPS+ right then (which is a big jump), from 1.3 WAR straight to 3.4 WAR. From a merely good hitter to one of the best in the league. Subjectively, he went from a regular-sized guy who wasn’t good enough at hitting to stick as a DH and wasn’t good enough at fielding to stick as a 1B to a big fat slugger pounding homers at a prodigious rate. Pictures of him before 2003 are tough to find, but the last time I looked he’d put on a whole lot of weight as soon as he put on a Red Sox uniform.

That’s all fine. But can we be sure he started in 2003 once he got to the Red Sox, and never did anything when he was with the Twins? I don’t think so. He was starting to get bigger in his last season with the Twins, he did hit 20 HR, and his OPS+ in previous seasons? 101 and 106, before his 120 in 2002. He very well may have noticed that the Twins weren’t high on him, and that he was at risk of washing out of the league. You can’t be sure. But that’s not my problem. I’ve pretty much gotten over all this steroid bullshit.

My problem now is that these names keep getting leaked to the press, one or two at a time. The test was supposed to be anonymous, and the list was supposed to be destroyed years ago. It wasn’t, of course. And now some dickhead lawyers are keeping up a slow trickle of names. My take on that? I think every time the steroid conversation subsides a little bit, these guys leak the next biggest name on the list. It’s basically as sleazy as possible, and given how many more names are on that list, this is going to continue for a long time. My advice? Don’t get too worked up. It’s just not worth it any more.

Oh … one last thing. I’d hereby like to apologize to Garrett Jones. I know he’s having a great time for the Pirates right now, really hitting the crap out of the ball — but that’s all about to end. I picked him up for my fantasy team, and if there’s one thing I know about guys on my fantasy team, it’s that they immediately start sucking. Or get injured.

Alright everyone, hopefully this little bit of rambling tided you over a little bit during this brutal offday. I know it helped me. Tomorrow, we start a pretty big series against the Angels. Go Twins.

28 comments

Trades, Sanchez, Duensing

Last week everyone was down, and the impression I got was that the Twins were in the process of losing a bunch of fans for the season; after sweeping the White Sox, some of those fans might be sticking around for a little while longer. Last week it was clear to everyone — including the front office — that the team needed to add players in order to stick around in the divisional race; now, though, the front office doesn’t seem to be in panic mode any more. I can’t say the same thing about the #Twins stream on Twitter, though. After spending some time following that, I’m pretty sure the sky is falling. If it hasn’t fallen already.

The big acquisition the Twins failed to make in the last week was Freddy Sanchez. He’s a solid second baseman who can hit for average and has a vesting option for next year (which he’s sure to get). He would have been a defensive improvement at 2B over Casilla, and could have slotted very nicely into the 2-hole between Span and Mauer, alleviating Gardy’s fear of batting Mauer second. I thought getting Sanchez would have been huge, and that the Twins should go after him.

Well, he was traded yesterday, and (in case you feel like being surprised) it wasn’t to the Twins. He went to the Giants. And before everyone gets their blood boiling about it, this was definitely one of those times when the Twins were legitimately outbid. We all know it’s the Twins’ constant position that acquiring people in trades costs too much, and every GM is asking for way too much, and blah blah blah, the result is that they didn’t do anything and then the guy gets traded for a couple of nobodies who’ll never make it to the majors. This is not one of those times. The Giants gave up a pitcher named Tim Alderson, who at 20 years old is holding his own at AA in a hitting-friendly environment with guys 2-3 years older than he is. He was rated as the 26th best prospect in all of baseball. The Giants gave up a whole lot for the privilege of paying Sanchez $11M through 2010, and I don’t think the Twins should have tried to outbid them.

In all likelihood, the fact that the Giants gave up so much says to me that the Twins were serious about getting Sanchez. That Smith offered a pretty good package, and the Giants’ GM is a more aggressive guy and is going for it this year and tried to shoot the moon. I think it’s better to make no deal than to make a bad deal, and giving up more than Alderson was a pretty bad deal. At least our involvement is going to kill the Giants in 3 years and make Sabean look like even more of an idiot than he already looks. That counts for something, right?

With about 36 hours or so left until the trade deadline, I don’t think the Twins are going to make any moves. I think Smith spent most of his time trying to get Sanchez, and I think offering so much* and getting turned down probably rattled him. As you can probably tell, I’m not high on Smith’s emotional strength. So what I’m saying is don’t get your hopes up that there’ll be a new face in the locker room this weekend — we’re going to have to get by with what we’ve got, just like every year.

* Yes, I’m going to assume we offered a lot until I hear otherwise. As I mentioned, if we didn’t, then there’s no reason to think Sabean would have given up Alderson.

And I don’t think that’s a bad thing. It’s kind of a part of the identity of the Twins, year in and year out. You can scream as loud as you want that the team owes you something, but they consistently contend and make money, and they wouldn’t do either of those things (consistently) if they threw a bunch of prospects away at the deadline every year.

I think a much more interesting development, one that might give us some hope, is Duensing’s start last night against the White Sox. I’d always kind of liked him as he was coming up through the minors (as a starter), but he’d performed extremely poorly in the majors in his 9 relief appearances. I was not confident at all that he’d be able to do much in his start, and thought we’d get our doors blown off. Instead, he looked pretty good. His best pitch is his curveball, and he hadn’t been using that as a reliever — it looked pretty good to me in his start. He shut the White Sox down for 5 innings, giving up just 2 solo homers (a young Twins pitcher prone to giving up home runs? No way!), and kept us in the game. And he didn’t get knocked out after 5 IP — he’d thrown only 64 pitches, which is pretty efficient work. He’s just not stretched out right now after spending a bunch of time in the bullpen.

In my opinion, Duensing has earned another start, and I think it should come at the expense of Liriano. He continues to look bad, and now he’s hurt his forearm. Time to shut him down for a while and see what we’ve got in Duensing. If he can stretch out a little and give us what we got last night over 6-7 innings most times out, we’ll win a whole lot of those games. I’m just a little wary of the fact that he only struck out 2 guys — that’s what Perkins and Blackburn were doing during their periods of success, and it turned out to be unsustainable.

We’re in second place, two games behind an extremely flawed Tigers team that’s clutching to its winning ways, and has been doing it longer than I thought they could. I still expect them to fall apart at some point in the next couple of months. The Twins are in a pretty good spot right now. And while adding a guy or two would sure help, it’s really not worth getting so worked up over.

Really, what did you expect?

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Not good enough

Another brutal loss last night, this one because Nathan blew a rare save. That happens, I guess. It’s hard to take right now, especially given the stretch we’re in, but there’s nothing wrong with Nathan, and we’ll continue to win right around 90% of the games we’re leading in the 9th inning. The remaining 10% do hurt a lot, though. I think Gardy can feel what we’re feeling too, by the way.

“We’re in one of those stretches where you have to keep battling,” he said. “You’ve go to work your way out of it. No one is going to give you anything. No one is going to feel sorry for you in this game. If they start feeling sorry for themselves, shame on them. I don’t feel sorry for myself as the manager of this team. You have to keep playing. You have to keep going out there and trying to figure out how to win ballgames.”
I’ve seen a lot of fans screaming, lately*, about the lack of aggressive moves by the front office. Just make some trades, damn it! Steal us some pieces without giving up anything in return! But is it really a good idea?

* When I say “lately,” what I really mean is “today,” specifically. If you haven’t seen the open letter to Twins management that’s been bouncing around the Twins Twitterverse this morning, you might want to go read it. I mean, just to be caught up and all. I think most of it is pretty off base, myself.

The problem with this team is that they’re not good enough. And when I say that, I mean it in the most profound, complete sense that anyone can possibly* mean it.

* I’m not kidding. Read on. If you’ve gotten this far, you should really continue. Is it natural that I have this ongoing fear that people read about the first third of every one of my posts and then just bomb the browser tab, possibly cackling ominously? I should probably think of some way to get over that. It can’t be healthy.

This team is not good enough as it is right now to compete for, well, anything. They also don’t have any bigtime prospects that other teams value and would offer difference-making players for — and that’s a good thing, because the Twins are more than one or two pieces away from being good enough.

When you look at your team in mid-July and say “Okay, we just need 3 infielders, an outfielder, a starting rotation, and a bullpen,” then it’s not time to be a buyer at the trade deadline. It’s time to wonder how you’re only 2.5 games back in the division, and wonder if it even matters, when there are real contenders to play against in the playoffs.

But you know what else this team isn’t good enough at? They’re not even good enough to be sellers. I suppose that’s part of being a young team across the board; if you’re in a position where you should be a seller at the deadline, you can’t because you don’t even have any movable assets in the majors. Who’s the only person the team might be able to move? Cuddyer? What team is going to make a deadline deal to improve their team and give up a prospect for Michael Cuddyer? It’s not happening.

So while it’s frustrating to hear Gardy talk about the need to keep on battling, and it feels like they’re just sitting on their hands and doing nothing in their ivory tower on Kirby Puckett Place, the front office has certainly appraised their chances and seen that a) they have too much buying to do, b) they don’t have anything to buy with, c) they have nothing to sell. So yes, the only thing they can do is “keep battling,” and hope that the 25 hits that Punto and Casilla get for the rest of the year happen at opportune times.

The question they have to ask, though, is whether the fans will watch that. I suppose we all have to ask ourselves that too.

My answer is yes, I will watch. I’ll watch every game, I’ll still fume when we lose and feel like we’re a couple good hits away from the World Series when we win. I’m not getting off this roller coaster until they kick me off.

I don’t know what that says about me, though. I doubt it’s good. And if too many people feel that way, then what incentive does the front office have to do anything?

2 comments

Another rough night

There wasn’t really one thing that went wrong last night.  Nathan screwed up.  I think he can do that once every 25 times he pitches or so.  Instead of 25 times every one time he pitches, Jesse Crain style. 

 

Other than that I don’t have much to say.  I’m out of town this weekend so maybe me not watching the Twins will cause them to win.  Stranger things have happened.

7 comments

Red Flags?

Alright, remember when that AAA umpire blew a call at the plate to end the game on Monday? You know, that game where we blew the 10 run lead? Okay, now that I’ve brought back a bunch of bad memories for you, let me change the subject a little. Apparently, after that game, Gardy started lobbying for a rule change — red flags:

“I’ve said it all along, I want a red flag,” Gardenhire said Tuesday. “If you use it and you’re wrong, you don’t get the red flag the rest of the game. But if you use it and you’re right, you get your red flag back. … Last night would have been a great red flag game. I could have thrown it out there and then they could have run and checked the replay. It would have been perfect.

“Football has a red flag. Why can’t we? Keep it in my sock like they do.”

My first reaction, upon reading that, was that Gardy should call the NFL. The replay rules would be a LOT better if the coach didn’t lose a challenge for being correct. You should be able to challenge 10 times in a game if the ref keeps getting calls wrong.

I then waited a couple days for my thoughts on this issue to percolate.* I think I’m finally ready to talk about it. Also, I felt it’d be wise to delay this so it didn’t come off as complaining about that particular play. That’s really not the point of this.

* Ferment, perhaps. Rot? What happens to an idea once it gets a little over-ripe?

How would this work in baseball? I’m a big proponent of instant replay — I think they waited too long to institute it for home run calls, and I think they should do it for foul balls and close plays at bases.* But I also think it shouldn’t be the field umpires who all get together and talk over the call in secret, hidden away in a dark room somewhere in the mystical bowels** of the stadium. There should be a team of replay officials who are NOT umpires, but are employed by the league, and they should be in a booth somewhere in the stadium, and they should choose what plays will be reviewed and alert the umpires to wait while they do it. There should be a camera on them while they review, and it should be shown both on television and in the stadium. Everything about this would be better.

* I am also in favor of using a computer to call balls and strikes; in what sense is letting a curmudgeonly 60 year old who’s losing his eyesight blow calls because he can’t see the ball “good for baseball,” or any such nonsense? It’s bullshit, and the problem needs to be addressed.

** First time anyone has ever used the phrase “mystical bowels” in a sentence? I hope so.

But I’m getting away from myself a little bit. What of this red flag idea of Gardy’s? Calcaterra’s take is that “if you have an idea to improve baseball, and your reasoning in support of it requires you to cite football’s adoption of said idea, it is ipso facto a bad idea.” He calls it the “Carlin Rule” in honor of George Carlin’s brilliant football vs baseball sketch. Noted Twins-hating windbag Rob Neyer attempts to “throw a wet blanket on Ron Gardenhire’s recommendation that baseball be football-ized,” calling it a lousy idea.

From an aesthetic perspective, frankly, I love the idea. I love it when managers start throwing things, and this would be something they’d be allowed to throw, presumably every few games. Sounds like a lot of fun.

In the end, though, I don’t like it very much. Would managers have to throw the red flag on home run calls? That doesn’t seem right — they can’t really see, they don’t get a good view of the replay, they’d just be guessing, and really, we just want the call to be correct. Let someone outside the heat of the game decide whether to review the home run calls. And while we’re at it, it should be someone outside the game that decides to review any reviewable call. If the manager has a little red flag to throw, perhaps in addition to The Benevolent Reviewing Dictator, the Dictator would be loathe to automatically review anything — expecting the manager to initiate every review.* And that sucks.

* I think there are a few reasons for that. Cover-Your-Ass, certainly, would play a part. If the Dictator waits for the manager to initiate every review, he can never be second guessed on his “decisions.” I think that’d be a huge problem.

The only input the manager should have over whether a call gets replayed is to go yell at the umpire to delay the game a little bit while the Dictator and his band of merry men decide whether to review. If the manager gets ejected during said delay, well, great. But lose the red flags.

I want the calls to be right, and I want them to be consistent. I don’t trust umpires in either regard, and if a manager loses his flag on a close call early in the game he’d be unable to challenge an egregious call later on. The Benevolent Reviewing Dictator and his Band of Merry Men is a more elegant solution than the NFL’s red-flag-tossing situation, and I think it suits baseball a whole lot better than a secret meeting of reluctant umpires.

1 comment

They are not what we thought they were

Sometimes a game comes along that makes you change what you think of a team. I’d say such a game typically involves a comeback of some sort, either by the team or its opponent. Last night, I think, was one of those games. All season I’ve basically been of the opinion that the Twins are a pretty good team, perhaps a 90 win team, and they just need to bide their time around .500 until they get hot and make a run to the playoffs. I kept waiting for it to happen, as June passed, and as July passes. After the happenings of last night, though, I’ve begun to think it’s just not going to happen. Not this year.

Everybody knows about the game. They know that Kubel swung like an MVP, and that Morneau had 7 RBI by the 2nd inning. That we were winning 12-2 in the 3rd. That a few bad plays by Punto and Morneau extended innings that led to the A’s scoring runs. That Blackburn turned into Blackburn of last year, and given a lead does everything he can to give it back. That we lost the lead on a grand slam backed up by a solo shot. That Cuddyer was safe at home but the game ended anyway. And that we lost, and that hearts were broken.

Maybe it was fatigue that shortened Punto’s arm, the reason he couldn’t get the ball across the diamond. Maybe Morneau was tired from the long, late flight, and from swinging so hard early in the game, and that was why he couldn’t snag those tough throws and why he missed that popup. Maybe Blackburn was tired, which is why his pitches had no movement and were basically batting practice, why he did everything he could to give back the lead.

Maybe Gardy was most tired of all. Maybe that’s why Duensing was warming up for three innings before he finally entered the game. Maybe that’s why Redmond batted and Mauer pinch hit for Casilla — and then entered the game as the catcher.* Maybe that’s why Keppel came in with the bases loaded — has he stranded an inherited runner all season? Was there any doubt those runs would score? The only surprise in my mind was that Keppel went on to give up 3 of his own.

* Seriously, the idea was to take both Redmond and Casilla out of the game. So you have the following options for who hits against a right handed reliever: Redmond/Mauer, Mauer/Buscher, Mauer/Crede. Tell me which one of these makes more sense. Okay, now take into account that Redmond promptly grounded into a double play, and that Mauer pinch hit with 2 outs and the bases empty. Which makes the most sense now? And another thing — once the double play happened, why not save Mauer for the 9th to hit instead of Punto? He’s not going to hit a game tying homer.

In the end, Cuddyer was called out at home, and we lost the game. Sure, he wasn’t actually out. Sure, it was a bad call. But it sure wasn’t the reason we lost the game. If anything, it was the umpire saying “You idiots deserve to lose this game.” And he was right.

“There was no doubt in my mind I was safe,” Cuddyer said.

“Definitely, Cuddy was safe,” Gardenhire said. “There’s no doubt about that. A little bit of a bad call there … but we also shot ourselves in the foot.”

I’m pretty sure this is made funnier by the fact that Posnanski just wrote yesterday about how much he hates it when teams, managers, players, etc complain about bad breaks. About injuries, about bad calls, about the things that go against them. And about how it’s all bullshit, because that happens to everyone. You make your own breaks. Cuddyer defended himself last night, but Gardy was right on.

Gardy was right about something else, too.

“You don’t even know how to describe this game,” Gardenhire said, “because this stuff doesn’t happen very often.”
No, it doesn’t happen very often. But when it does, you know you’re not a very good team.

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What the F was that?

There will be no discussion of last nights “game”.  That is all.

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Knocking Casilla for the wrong reasons

The always entertaining Jim Souhan wrote an article today in the Star Tribune about the Twins trade prospects.  He basically says “don’t hold your breath for Freddy Sanchez”  Which is actually a good point.  However, he does repeatedly make statements that upset me more than anything else in all of sports journalism.

Have you ever been watching a basketball game with someone, and their favorite team is losing and they lament “If we made our shots, we’d be winning”  Um, duh.  Souhan has this gem in the middle of the article

When Casilla failed to maintain a professional demeanor and approach earlier this season, he left the Twins with a shallow and slow lineup
Why is it his lack of professionalism?  Why can’t it be he simply isn’t good.  That the Casilla we saw briefly was just a flash?
Casilla will start at second base today. If he can be a professional, the Twins could become a dynamic offensive team again

I can be professional while playing baseball.  It doesn’t mean I will be any good.  I act very professionally at my job, and do it quite well.  Articles like this are just perpetuating the stereotype started by Gardy that Casilla is nothing more than a lazy Latin player who can’t focus.  I want to like Casilla.  Just like I want to like Young.  Why doesn’t anyone else get blamed for Casilla’s struggles?  Don’t you think all the times Gardy jerked him in and out of the lineup and threw him under the bus made him feel more confident?  Maybe he still has lingering hand problems going back to last season.  Souhan writes as though Casilla chooses to play poorly.  I do not think this is the case.  I think if he played for a manager who had some faith in him, he could succeed. 

He doesn’t specify how Casilla can play better, just that he needs to.  The Monty Burns approach to managing “You Strawberry, hit a homerun”

I understand that mental lapses can kill a team, but is the team doing anything to help Alexi get over them?  Has anyone noticed that the only native Spanish speakers on the 25 man roster (now) are Casilla, Gomez, Mijares, and Liriano.  That includes coaches.  Four of the youngest and most inexperienced guys on the team.  Also, 3 of those guys get most of the negative press.  Casilla gets called out in this Souhan article, it seems like everyday we read a “Liriano needs to pitch better or he will be moved to the bullpen” piece, and there is the “We traded Santana for Gomez? WTF?” piece quite often.   There can’t be too many positive vibes coming from the Twins Latin community. 

This post wasn’t written to rip on Souhan or his column (well, it kind of was), but after reading him it got me thinking about why Casilla has done poorly.  Could it possibly have anything to do with the lack of Spanish speakers in the clubhouse? We have to be the only Major League team without a latino coach.  Now, I don’t think we should hire one for the sake of hiring one, but I think it would really help our young Spanish speaking players get adjusted to the game and feel more comfortable.  Especially when they are struggling like they are. 

2 comments

All-Star Game

I know the All-Star game was on Tuesday, and this is Thursday, but I wanted to post some comments anyway.  Now, I have mixed feelings about the all-star game.  The fact every team needs a rep and it counts doesn’t make sense to me.  Either let managers manage to win, or tell them it doesn’t matter and to have fun.  You can’t have both, Bud.

Every all-star game has its flaws.  The NBA plays no defense (as if they ever do), the NHL plays their game on a Tuesday afternoon on versus or some crap, and the Pro-Bowl exists.  So of the four major sports I would say baseball is the best.  I also think the baseball all-star game is the most salvageable.  Those comments deserve their own post, though

This years game was actually quite good.  The managers managed to win.  The game moved at a nice pace (maybe that is because no Red Sox or Yankee starting pitchers got into the game).  It was played like a real god-damned baseball game.  I hope this has become the norm and not the exception to the rule.  Most times I find myself watching something else and flipping back to the all-star game every so often, but this year I was glued to my set.  I even watched all the pre-game stuff.  Joe Buck is still terrible, and the fact that he fake laughed directly into his mic when Obama told the “we’re out of money” joke was awful.  I enjoyed the fact that a) Obama cheered for one team and didn’t wear a generic MLB jacket (even if it is the dastardly white sox) and b) he hated on the Nats.  This comes from someone who has never and will never vote democrat in his life.  So take your compliments, because those will be the last you ever get from this guy. 

The Twins are off today, but start a 9 game west coast road trip starting Friday in Texas.  What are the chances that while playing in the brutal heat on Sunday, Mike Redmond suffers heat stroke and goes on the DL?  I kind of hope its high, because that is the only way Morales will get any PT behind Mauer.  Not that I wish ill will on Redmond, but Morales is just the better player.  Simple as that.

7 comments

All-Star Break Open thread

Well, we are entering the worst 48 hours of the year for sports (so basically the worst 48 hours for anything).  I’m going to use this opportunity to get a few mini-rants out in the open and you all can do the same in the comments.

  • First, what would a series of rants be without a Nick Punto rant.   For some reason I found myself reading Sid Hartman the other day and he had this quote from Gardy
    • Nicky can play anywhere,” Gardenhire said. “He’s a glove guy. … He’s good everywhere you put him. He’s great at third base. He’s plays great at short. He plays great at second. He can flat-out pick it
  • Ok, Gardy.  If Punto’s value comes from his being able to play three infield positions reasonably well, doesn’t locking him in at second base eliminate most of his value?  I think it does, and therefore he should be made a full-time utility player.  Not a starter. 
  • Another quote from the same article  “If everybody else does their job in the lineup, Nick Punto is fantastic. When other people start struggling … then people starting saying, maybe he can’t hit”  So basically what you are saying, Ron, is that the reason Punto is hitting 200 is because everyone else around him is sucking?  We aren’t giving Punto enough lineup protection?  Are you f-ing serious?  He also says “He’s hit .280 in this league”.  Yes he has.  But he has also hit .200.   He just flat out can’t hit enough to justify playing everyday. I just don’t get it.  Would we instantly turn into the worst team ever if we didn’t play Punto everyday?  Gardy seems to think so. 
  •  I was happy with Mauer’s performance in the derby last night.  As we learned from last year, nobody remembers who won the previous year.  ESPN made it seem as if Josh Hamilton won, when it was really some dude named Jason Morneau who only has one MVP award.  Loser.  Joe didn’t get shutout (suck it Tigers) and he was in a “swing off” with the AL and NL HR leaders.  Not bad.  He was also wearing some sweet yellow kicks.
  •  All-Star Game.  Here is what I think.  Either don’t make it count, and keep the rules the same.  Or, make it count and eliminate the stupid “one player from every team” rule.  I know pretty much every baseball-related blog has had something on this topic this week, and we at firegardy don’t want to be left out.  You are basically telling a manager he has to manage to win, but then handcuffing him when it comes to constructing his roster.  I still don’t get why Charlie Manuel pick Ryan Howard as a replacement, thus giving him about 12 first baseman (remember: No DH) on his team.  I like that the AL has Youklis and Zobrist.  Gives them quite a bit of positional flexibility.   If its a close game I wonder if Maddon will use Mauer late into the game so the NL can’t run all over Victor Martinez. 
  • Trade deadline:  The MLB trade deadline is July 31st.  Will the Twins make a move?  Don’t hold your breath.  I think the move to bring Casilla back means they are going to try to make a run with what they have.  Maybe they can deal for a bullpen arm.  But there doesn’t seem to be much out there.  I think one of the moves that MUST be made involves Anthony Slama.  If we can bring a hard throwing, strikeout pitcher up, why the hell not?  Can’t hurt. 
  • I tihnk this 9 game, west coast road trip is do or die for the Twins.  If we can’t come back home with at least a 5-4 record, we might be in trouble.  We have been playing well on the road lately, but a lot of that was against NL teams.  Doesn’t really count. 
  • What are your mid-season thoughts?  I will be weakly attempting to constantly update the All-Star game via Twitter (@Robert_Short) but no promises. 

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