Posted by: gravessack | July 22, 2015

The Rumors Are Swirling!

Today marks the start of a long week of MLB trade rumors and crazy speculations leading up to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. Right now, the Twins have the fifth best AL record at 50-43. Heading into the deadline, it has been reported that the Twins are really looking at acquiring another catcher and/or relief pitcher. Relief pitching is really costing the Twins to secure a great record, costing the team precious wins this year.

During the last home stand before the All-Star Break, the Twins went 6-1, but just 1-3 afterwards. Ultimately this week will be big as it will decide what GM Terry Ryan wants to do before the deadline. In the meantime, here are some crazy and intriguing Twins rumors.

  • One of the most oddest and fascinating rumor that I started hearing this week is that the Twins have been talking with Colorado about, yes, Troy Tulowitzki. Even through Tulowitzki is having a down year (.316, 12 home runs, and 52 RBIs) for him, he would be an immediate upgrade at shortstop. Ultimately, the Twins would never bring in his large contract, or give the Rockies what they want (reportedly starter Kyle Gibson or even Miguel Sano). Supposedly, the teams are still talking so this will be interesting.
  • Former Twin Carlos Gomez has recently been connected to the Twins, after our club indicated the openness to a reunion. During six years in Milwaukee, Gomez has resurrected his career, hitting .268 with 87 dingers, 287 RBIs, and 120 doubles. In recent days, the Twins have been veering away from him, and Baltimore is now interested in Gomez.
  • We have just heard about one pitcher in the last couple weeks that the Twins have been interested in: San Diego reliever Joaquin Benoit. Benoit has been in MLB 14 years, posting a 54-41 record with a 3.88 ERA and 934 strike outs. I believe Benoit would be a good addition to the bullpen, but this report has lost steam so far.
  • The Twins are seriously considering trading for a catcher that could split time with the struggling Kurt Suzuki. The most notable names that have been connected to us are: Atlanta’s A.J. Pierzynski, Milwaukee’s Jonathan Lucroy, and Detroit’s Alex Avila. All of these would be a great fit, but it would be crazy and fun to see the Twins reunite with Pierzynski. With the Braves this year, the 38-year-old is having a decent year batting .280 with 66 hits and 30 RBIs.

Let’s see where all these initial rumors lead us this week. It will be a fun week ahead – one of my favorite weeks of the year! So, let me get back to the Twitter and trade rumors world and I will be back if anything breaks! A question for you: Who do you want the Twins to acquire at the deadline? Anybody who you want to see traded?

Written by: Michael L. Sack

Posted by: gravessack | July 12, 2015

Dozier An All-Star After All!

It has been quite a week for Brian Dozier. This past Monday, Dozier was left off the AL All-Star roster but was one of five AL Final Vote candidates, even though many thought he deserved to be selected on Monday. That night, he hit a walk-off home run as the Twins beat the Baltimore Orioles. Three nights later, after Dozier finished second in the AL Final Vote, he hit another walk-off home run in the Twins’ dramatic comeback against the Detroit Tigers. One day later, it was announced that Dozier would replace injured Jose Bautista and go to the All-Star Game after all. What a week!

Congratulations to Dozier, along with closer Glen Perkins, on making the AL All-Star team! Let’s hope both players play well in the Game on July 14 and have successful second halves of the season!

Written by: Sam Graves

Posted by: gravessack | July 11, 2015

Dozier Delivers!!

The title of this post may not make sense since it was announced yesterday, June 10th, that Brian Dozier finished second in the AL Final vote, meaning he won’t go to this year’s All-Star Game. Although that was disappointing, he delivered much more for the Twins later that night.

The game looked like a blowout. The Twins were losing 6-0 in the eighth inning to Detroit. Twins starter Ervin Santana got hit hard and the Twins could hardly do anything against Detroit starter Justin Verlander.

Then, something crazy happened. After the Twins came within 6-5 in the ninth inning and immediately following Danny Santana’s big two-run single, Brian Dozier hit a three-run homer to finish an extremely unlikely comeback and beat the Tigers 8-6! Target Field was insane!

I, like every other Twins fan, was very disappointed when Dozier did not win the AL Final Vote. But what he did yesterday and on June 6, when he hit another walk-off homer, is much more important than Dozier getting selected to the All-Star Game. Click for more on what Dozier means to the Twins. Let’s hope he can keep it up for the rest of the season!

Written by Sam Graves

Posted by: gravessack | July 8, 2015

Sano Is Making Serious Impact In Line-Up

General Manager Terry Ryan is throwing us fans surprise after surprise this season. On July 1, two weeks after he summoned Byron Buxton to the Twins, Ryan called up Minor-League prodigy Miguel Sano. Sano, who missed all of last year after undergoing Tommy John Surgery, is known for his power but he is surprising us in other ways. The Twins were hoping to have Sano and Buxton in the same MLB line-up for the first time, but that must wait because Buxton is still out with a sprained thumb.

Sano, who replaced the struggling Kennys Vargas, has been impressive during his first week. Sano has hit safely in all seven games and has been smashing the ball. Sano’s first hit was an infield single to Kansas City’s third baseman Mike Moustakas in his final at-bat of the July 2 game. Ever since then Sano has been smacking the ball, including hitting a screaming line drive off the right field wall in his second game for his first double. His first seven games have provided a big jolt to the line-up.

Sano’s first week stats read like this: .455 batting average, 10 hits, 5 RBIs with one home run. Sano has also recorded 6 walks and 6 strike outs. I am impressed with his patience at the plate, especially for a young power hitter. I was at the game where Sano smashed his first home run off of Baltimore’s starter Kevin Gausman on Tuesday.

It will be exciting to see how Sano progresses this year. If this first week holds true, Sano will be fun to watch this year, especially when Buxton can join him. Ryan probably has more moves up his sleeve this year after already promoting four younglings. Let’s see when Adam Brett Walker (.268, 23 home runs, and 71 RBIs in 78 games in Double-A) gets the call! In the meantime, enjoy watching Sano smack that ball around. This is exciting!

Written by: Michael L. Sack

Posted by: gravessack | July 7, 2015

Vote for Dozier!!!

Over the last couple days, MLB has announced the American and National League All-Stars for the All-Star Game on July 14. Closer Glen Perkins was selected but no else from the Twins…yet! Each year MLB has a “Final Vote” to determine who gets the final spot on each All-Star team. One of the five AL candidates this year is Twins second baseman Brian Dozier!

Dozier is more than deserving of this honor. Among all second baseman, he ranks 1st in runs scored this season with 63 (and is tied for the league lead), 1st in home runs with 17 (including a walk-off last night), 2nd in doubles with 26 and 1st in RBI with 42. Why not vote for a guy with those stats! Plus, I’ve heard he’s a great person!

Click here to vote for Dozier, as well as for instructions on how to text or tweet your vote. There is no limit to the amount of times you can vote! I encourage you to vote as many times as you can! Voting ends at 3 p.m. CT Friday, July 10. Until then, vote like crazy to help Brian Dozier get selected to his 1st MLB All-Star Game!

Written by: Sam Graves

Posted by: gravessack | June 15, 2015

Buxton Gets The Call To Join Twins

General Manager Terry Ryan rarely offers surprises, but he surprised us all over the weekend. During a rain delay in Texas on Saturday, the Twins announced that they called up the #1 MLB prospect, center fielder Byron Buxton. Fans have been longing for this day as they watched Buxton play in the Minors.

On Saturday, Chattanooga Manager Doug Mienkiewicz gathered his team and announced that the 21-year-old would be heading to the Big Leagues. There are a few clues that Buxton’s first MLB stint won’t be a short one either. The Twins waited a day to make room on the roster and came after Aaron Hicks tested his elbow and was placed on the 15-day DL. Plus, Manager Paul Molitor said if Buxton performs well, he’s staying in the Majors.

In his debut on Sunday batting ninth, Buxton showed his nerves as he went 0-for-4 with 2 strike outs. In his second at-bat, Buxton hit a hot-shot to Texas’ third baseman Joey Gallo, who made a good play as Buxton almost beat out the routine ground ball. Buxton proved his speed in the ninth inning, when his failed bunt didn’t get the runner to third base with the score tied but he ended up on first base for the first time. During the next at-bat, rookie Eddie Rosario smashed a line drive into the gap and Buxton easily scored the winning run. Buxton also made some nice running catches in center field. After the game, Buxton said he was nervous until his last at-bat, and he was excited to help his team win. According to Molitor, expect Buxton to play every day this week.

During the St. Louis series, Buxton will get the feel for pitching and should struggle some. He needs to get the feel of laying of the curve ball, but once he does, I think he will perform the way we all know he can. Buxton looks like Torii Hunter 16 years ago when Hunter could not lay off the curve in the dirt at all. Before Buxton reached the Majors, he was batting .283 with 12 triples, 67 hits, and racked up 37 RBIs in 59 games in Double-A. I believe once Buxton figures out the pitching, he will go on hot-streak.

Assuming Buxton stays up for a long while, the Twins might be starting the “prospect transition.” It will be interesting to see if the Twins soon bring up their #2 prospect, Miguel Sano, who is currently batting .258 with 11 home runs and 37 RBIs in 55 games in AA. Since they called up Buxton, I wouldn’t be shocked if they started to call up their best prospects!

Written by: Michael L. Sack

Posted by: gravessack | June 13, 2015

An Electronic Strike Zone??

Following Torii Hunter’s recent meltdown, which earned him a fine and a two-game suspension, I heard two guys on the radio mention the possibility of having an electronic strike zone in MLB. I am not sure if they supported the idea but I started thinking about what this would mean for MLB.

I support MLB using an electronic strike zone. I am aware this may be a bad idea and don’t know exactly how an electronic strike zone would work, but there are two main reasons for it: Less pressure would be put on umpires to make the right call all the time, and there would not be any outbursts from players or coaches (although I thought Hunter’s meltdown was somewhat amusing!).

Players, fans and coaches get mad at umpires when they appear to make bad calls. Although umpires are good at what they do, they make mistakes just like everyone else. An electronic strike zone would help umpires since it would take a lot of the pressure off the home-plate umpire and make games more fair.

Although meltdowns such as Hunter’s can be entertaining, they are very disruptive to games and often lead to ejections, fines and even suspensions. Since an electronic strike zone should be very reliable, there would be a dramatic decrease of player-umpire arguments and would benefit everyone involved.

One important issue this idea raises is the necessity and role of the home-plate umpire. While having an electronic strike zone would mean far fewer responsibilities for him. A home-plate umpire would still be necessary to make baserunning calls at home plate (this umpire would be in better position to make those calls than the other umpires). The home-plate umpire could also determine whether a batter swung on a check swing (although the first or third base umpires sometimes are asked to make those calls).

This issue is controversial and I’m sure many people are opposed to it since it takes away part of the human element of the game. Read more about the issue. A lot of people like baseball since the game is more old-fashioned than other sports, but I am more concerned with making it more fair for everyone. Now that there is instant replay in MLB, I am sure that someday there will be an electronic strike zone!

What do you think of MLB adopting an electronic strike zone??

Written by: Sam Graves

Posted by: gravessack | May 28, 2015

What The Heck Is Happening With Our Team!?

We are back and alive! Nearly two months into this season, the Twins are exceeding all expectations that fans and reporters had for this team. The AL Central was declared the toughest division in baseball before the season and the Twins were predicted to be in deep trouble, especially with the 80-game suspension of starter Ervin Santana.

Apparently, the Twins didn’t get the memo as they are firing on all cylinders. After digging themselves into a deep hole in early April, the Twins climbed all the way to the top of the division after Memorial Day for the first time since 2010. The pitching has been great, the offense has been productive, and the base running has been spectacular. It feels like something special is happening!

The Twins’ starting pitching is vastly improved from years past. The starters are going longer and our bullpen is holding leads. The starting pitchers have 20 wins of 28, with Ricky Nolasco in the lead with 5. Each pitcher in the rotation is getting sharper as the season goes on and pitching into the 7th more often. Once reliever Casey Fien was placed on the DL in late April, Blaine Boyer has been an outstanding replacement. In 23 games this year, Boyer has an 2.28 ERA with 10 strike outs and 9 holds. Since Fien’s return is imminent, it will be hard for him to regain his set-up role during Boyer’s hot streak. Closer Glen Perkins has been perfect, closing out 18 games with an 1.19 ERA and 21 strikeouts while only surrendering 2 walks. This pitching staff is rocking right now.

The Twins’ 16-6 May record is one of the best in the League right now and their offense is a big factor in that. Before the May 27 game, the Twins scored first in nine straight games, winning most of them. As a team, the Twins are hitting .257 with 57 home runs and have scored 212 runs. Torii Hunter is contributing more at the plate than many of us imagined. He has 7 dingers with 29 RBIs, resulting in a .280 batting average. Others, like Joe Mauer and Eduardo Nunez, have been great at the plate. Mauer is batting .276 with 27 RBIs, while Nunez is currently batting .387 in 12 games.

Earlier this month, the Twins called up prospect Eddie Rosario from Triple-A. In his first MLB at-bat on May 6, Rosario smacked the first pitch that he saw over the fence for his first home run. Rosario since then has 14 hits with 10 RBIs. The Twins offense is surging without Kennys Vargas, who was sent down last week, and with Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano destroying the Double-A pitchers. Don’t be surprised if all three players join the Twins in the coming months.

A couple of times this year a Twin has scored from first base on a single. It seems like the base coaches are more riskier than the former ones. Third base coach Gene Glynn has a good eye for when to send the runner or not and the players are being more aggressive at running.

It definitely seems that Manager Paul Molitor has his team on a serious roll. Let’s see how far they go with this 28-18 start, their best start in 5 years! Once free agent signee Santana returns in July, the Club could potentially be even better. Just think: if the Twins play just .500 baseball from now on, they will finish with a 86-76 record.

Written by: Michael L. Sack

Posted by: gravessack | May 19, 2015

Should MLB Games Be Sped Up?

Recently, there have been steps taken to speed up MLB games. Listen to a brief speech on why these measures will benefit the sport.

What is your opinion on this issue? Will MLB benefit from having quicker games? Please comment!

Narrated by: Sam Graves

Posted by: gravessack | April 4, 2015

Down In The Dumps

This would happen to the Twins, wouldn’t it? As soon as everyone thought the starting rotation was set, something dramatic happens. Ervin Santana, who had secured the number two spot in the rotation this year, has been suspended 80 games for testing positive for using performance-enhancing drugs during the off-season. This is a huge blow to the team. Santana said he has no idea on how the drugs got in his system.

This announcement forced the Twins to choose between veteran Mike Pelfrey and rookie Trevor May. The club chose the frustrated Pelfrey, who had earned a spot in the bullpen, so he becomes the fifth starter. Pelfrey was frustrated because he thought he earned a spot in the rotation over May and Tommy Milone. The 31-year-old, who missed most of the 2014 season due to injuries, started two games and pitched in six this spring going 0-2 with a 1.15 ERA and 7 strikeouts. Hopefully Pelfrey pitches like he did to win the fifth spot and proves himself to the Twins.

This suspension raises a question: When did the Twins first have an inkling that Santana had tested positive? Before they signed him to a $5 million contract in December? Since then? I’ll be curious to hear about the timetable. In the comments, we would like to hear your responses to this development.

As we move forward, it looks like the rotation is now set. Phil Hughes will lead-off, followed by Ricky Nolasco, Kyle Gibson, Milone, then Pelfrey. Since the Twins don’t need to pay Santana his $6.25 million during his suspension, the club could look for another starter to cover the time period before Santana can return on July 4.

Sometimes it feels to us fans that it’s one step forward, two steps back for the Twins!

Written by: Michael L. Sack

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