Sunday, June 30, 2013

Previewing the Minnesota Twins/New York Yankees Series

In my recorded talking debut, I chatted with Ricky Keeler of Yanks Go Yard for about an hour on Sunday night about the upcoming Twins/Yankees series.  We discussed, among other things, Clete Thomas as an x-factor, CC Sabathia's "decline," Derek Jeter's farewell tour, Trevor Plouffe's power against lefties, Sam Deduno's wild success and Kyle Gibson's debut.

We also touched on Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Oswaldo Arcia and previewed all four games in the upcoming series.

It was a great time and you can hear me ask inane questions at the end.  Enjoy!

YGY Series Preview Show: Yankees-Twins 06/30 by Whats Brewin | Blog Talk Radio The Games The Transactions The Injuries The Standings The Team The Future Fantasy Tip of the Week

Friday, June 28, 2013

20 Minnesota Twins Trades: Viola for My Broken Heart

Back in 1989, the Twins ripped my tiny heart out and traded my favorite person from New England for a bunch of crap that I didn't care about.  Let's investigate why they would devastate a child in such a manner.

The Trade:  BREAKDOWN!

On July 31, 1989, the Minnesota Twins traded the truly beautiful Frank Viola to the New York Mets for Rick Aguilera, Kevin Tapani, Tim Drummond, David West and Jack Savage.  Viola continued to be a fantastic human being and pitcher for the Mets over the next two-and-a-half seasons.  Aguilera started 11 games for the Twins in 1989, but quickly became their closer the following season.  Tapani would become a good, reliable starter for the Twins.  Drummond, Savage and West didn't deserve to be in a trade with the great Frank Viola. 

How did I feel at the time?

I think it's quite clear that I was upset.  In fact, I cried when I heard.  That's right, I actually cried.  WHO WANTS TO FIGHT ME???   Well, I was seven and I was a kid and I was kind of emotional about my second favorite player.  In addition, I hadn't heard of any of the losers the Twins got for Viola and I didn't really care anyway because I loved Frank Viola and I wanted to pitch like him even though I was right-handed and I sucked at pitching.  Grrr, it's angering up my blood right now.  Anyway, I did cry and I don't even care.  I was seven; it was traumatizing. I'LL CRY RIGHT NOW, I DON'T CARE!!!

Why make the trade?

Ok monster, explain why this trade should have been made:

"Minnesota general manager Andy MacPhail says he traded Frank Viola partially because he believes the left-hander's ability is diminishing."

This came from this New York Times, AP story on the trade.  Of course, this statement reveals MacPhail as a heartless monster who doesn't know how to evaluate his talent or understand when he has a wonderful player with a great mustache under contract for a reasonable rate.  Here's more:

"Anytime you deal a guy who has done all Frankie has done for us, it's tough," MacPhail told the St. Paul Pioneer Press Dispatch.  "But the velocity of his fastball was diminishing.  It seemed they were catching up with him."

Surely, Viola would see diminished returns in 1990, due to this abhorrent decrease in velocity.  Oh wait, 20 wins and almost 250 innings is FANTASTIC!  FANTASTIC!  Good grief., you called him "Frankie," you clearly love him too.  Now this New York Times piece on the trade explains why the Mets would make this Shaq slam dunk of a trade, breaking the proverbial backboard of awesome lefties with great facial hair and accents.  Or whatever.

''I know we gave up a lot,'' Johnson said, ''but he's one of the best.'' Twins Wanted More

Johnson is Mets' manager Davey Johnson and he's clearly a genius.  Yeah, he was one of the best.  He was coming off a Cy Young season.  I guess the Twins wanting more shows that they weren't complete jerkstores, but they should have asked for even more than they did.  It's Frank Viola.  Ask for the World. 

Ok, I feel better now.  Clearly, I cannot reconcile the fan part of me with the blog-guy part of me on this issue. 


Emotions aside, this was a good trade for the Twins.  Viola had been signed to a rich contract, but the Twins were not a great team, so shedding the payroll was a logical move.   It was still a sucky move, though.  On the field, the Twins basically turned Viola into five new pitchers.  Tapani did a decent job taking the place of Viola in the rotation and Aguilera became one of the best closers in franchise history.  The other three guys didn't really pan out, but just Aguilera and Tapani alone made this a good trade for the Twins. 

However, MacPhail was wrong about Viola.  His stuff may have been diminishing, but he certainly pitched well for three-and-a-half more seasons, fulfilling that contract as best as he could. In 1990, he won 20 games for the Mets and finished third in Cy Young voting.  In 1991, he regressed a bit, but still won 13 games.  He bounced back and had two more good seasons with Boston in '92 and '93, but was basically done after those two seasons.   He and I lost touch after he left for the Red Sox.

The trade worked out well, but he was Sweet Music!  How could the Twins do this to the fans?  How could they do this to the clubhouse?  Most importantly, how could they do this me?  I deserved better.  I pretty much disliked Aguilera for the next few seasons, just because he was acquired for my beloved Viola. 

Who won the WAR?

Viola for the Mets:  9.7

Aguilera for the Twins:  16.1
Tapani for the Twins:  18.7
West for the Twins:  0.0
Drummond for the Twins:  0.9
Savage for the Twins:  -1.1

Total for the Twins:  34.6

WAR won by the Twins! 

One Sentence Summary

Frank Viola transcends WAR, so this trade was terrible.  

Thursday, June 27, 2013

20 Minnesota Twins Trades: Brunansky for Herr

About a month ago, I completed my voyage through the last 25 drafts in Twins history.  Since the moment I submitted that final draft summary, I have felt nothing but emptiness and solitude.  As a result, I decided that I need a new gimmick to bury into the ground and since the trade deadline is rapidly approaching, past Twins trades seems like a fair idea.  So, I will be reviewing some of the more notable trades from the past 25 years in Twins history.  If you love trades, Twins, and sloppily arranged "jokes," then you will want to accompany me on my new voyage. 

We'll start with a trade from 1988 where a future Twins' hitting coach is swapped for a guy with a pretty short name. 

The Trade:  BREAKDOWN!

On April 22, 1988, the Minnesota Twins traded outfielder Tom Brunansky to the St. Louis Cardinals for second baseman Tom Herr.  Herr immediately became the Twins' second baseman and immediately did his Tom Herr impression.  He got on base but showed little-to-no power.  He also missed much time due to injury.  Along the same lines, Brunansky was Tom Brunansky for the Cardinals in 1988, posting a 121 OPS+ in 143 games, hitting 22 home runs and posting 79 RBI. 

How did I feel at the time?

I can't say for certain.  I was only six and I was pretty much a terrible fan.  Brunansky was hitting under .200 when he was traded, so I probably thought he sucked.  I would never say that word at six, so I might have thought he was stupid or something.  I liked Randy Bush for some odd reason, so I was probably pretty happy that he would be playing more.  I dunno, I was kind of a stupid, sucky kid. 

Why make the trade?

Herr seemed less than stoked.  Here is a quote from Herr from an LA Times article back on 4/23/1988:

"From what I remember of Minnesota last year in the World Series, they were a bunch of fun-loving guys who know how to win. When this sinks in, I'm sure I'll realize it's a good opportunity. I mean this is a team that wants me."

He sounds somewhat dejected.  Although, being traded to a World Series winner is pretty awful, so this is easy to understand.  Here are some quotes from that same article with some justification from St. Louis' side:

"Two factors really influenced the trade," St. Louis General Manager Dal Maxvill said. "One, we haven't been getting much run production, and (two), we think we have a fine young man who is ready to be an everyday player here in Alicea."

Alicea came up, played in 93 games, sucked (-1.3 WAR), then went back to the Minors for two more seasons.  Good call.  Getting Brunansky should be enough justification.  In fact, it would be hard to justify in the opposite direction.  In this Orlando Sentinel article from 4/30/1988, Twins GM Andy MacPhail explains why the Twins wanted to make this trade:

``To begin with, it was a deal I simply couldn`t refuse,`` he said. ``We needed to improve our balance, and I think Tom Herr is one of the four or five best second baseman playing today.

Using WAR, Herr was the 34th best second baseman in 1987.  Perhaps WAR not existing clouded MacPhail's judgment.  Perhaps he was just looking at Herr's dope .263/.346/.331 triple slash.  Or maybe...

``He`s a switch hitter who gives us a much-needed left-handed bat at the first of the order (Herr is batting second in the lineup). He also can steal a base at any time. He has a good bat, glove and range. He`s a total winner.

He's a total winner.  This completely ignores the fact that the Twins had just won the World Series with that loser Steve Lombardozzi.  Lombo (as I am assuming he was called), posted a 1.3 WAR in 1987.  Again, WAR DID NOT EXIST IN 1987.  Calm.  Here's more:

``As long as this game is played, good teams want all the strength they can get up the middle. No, I didn`t hesitate to make the deal -- and I`d make it just as quickly if I had to again.``

Of course, only time travel would make that a reality, and time travel, much like WAR, did not exist in 1987.


The logic behind the trade wasn't terrible.  An up-the-middle, run producing player is very valuable.  In addition, the Twins had reasonable replacements in Bush and Mark Davidson.  However, all the players involved were just the wrong players.  Herr wasn't a bad player, but he wasn't a run producer either.  He had a big RBI season in 1985 but that was one of only two seasons in which he had slugged over .400 and he was hitting behind guys like Vince Coleman, Lonnie Smith and Willie McGee, who were on base fairly often. 

Brunansky may have driven in fewer runs than Herr over the previous three seasons, but he was a much more productive hitter.  Bruno outslugged Herr by 90 points over those same three seasons, while posting an OPS+ of 106 to Herr's 97.  Herr was also five years older and an impending free agent.  Trading a corner outfielder for a middle infielder wasn't a terrible idea, but specifically trading Brunansky for Herr was not a good idea for the Twins. 

Finally, Herr had feathered hair and Bruno had a Ron Swanson mustache.  The Twins should have known better. 

Who won the WAR?

Brunansky for the Cardinals:  2.7
Herr for the Twins:  1.4

WAR won by the Cardinals!

One Sentence Summary

The Twins beat the Cardinals in the World Series just about six months earlier, so no hard feelings.  

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Forgotten Twins? Gary Wayne

My memories of Gary Wayne

That face!

I'm a little obsessed.  Or perhaps everyone else isn't obsessed enough.  I remember the birth mark and I remember that he was a lefty reliever who pitched for the Twins in 1991.  Ok fine, I got all that from the card.  Honestly, I don't remember much of Gary Wayne at all.  Are you happy?  I mean, he's my face hero and all, but I really have no clue who he was or what he was doing.

So, let's do some research!

Note:  Gary Wayne has one of those names that you have to go first and last, it's too odd to just write "Wayne" and I don't know him well enough to continually call him Gary.


Gary Wayne's Wikipedia page is disgustingly and embarrassingly sparse.  He's from Michigan and he went to the University of Michigan.  Way to branch out, Gar (I do know him well enough to call him Gar).  He was drafted by the Expos, so that's cool.  I can't imagine growing up in Michigan and then finding myself in French-Canada.  He was a part of the inaugural Colorado Rockies team.  If they were smart, they'd bring him back to throw out every first pitch ever.  Do you see his pitch face above?  It's an unstoppable idea.   

Baseball Reference

Wow, Gary Wayne played for the Twins for four seasons, amassing 147 games.  For some reason, I thought he was just on the '91 team.  He debuted on April 7, 1989 in a game against the Baltimore Orioles.  He faced seven batters with this awesome line:  4 BB, 3 K, 1 ER.  He went strikeout, walk, walk, strikeout, walk, walk, strikeout.  Using that pattern, what would be the next outcome?  Answer:  walk.  Math!

Wayne posted a 90 tOPS+ against lefties, so he wasn't much of a specialist.  Oh well.

People who search for Gary Wayne also search for Gary Serum, Jerald Clark and Greg Harris.  Serum's middle name is Wayne, so that makes sense.  Jerald Clark and Greg Harris played for the '93 Rockies, so I guess that makes sense too.  That was boring.  Here's a fun image I found in Google Image search:  Yikes

A couple more things from the image search.  There are a ton of mugshots of dudes named Gary Wayne Something.  If you are having a baby boy, avoid Gary Wayne as a first and middle, unless you think statistics lie.  Also, Gary Coleman's middle name is Wayne, so he is a Gary Wayne as well.  I guess that's not so bad.

People who search for Gary Wayne on Bing also search for Bill Swift, Don Wakamatsu, Scott Bankhead and Bruce Ruffin.  Ruffin played on that stupid '93 Rockies team that everyone searches for.  Swift played for the Rockies a few years later.  The other two make no sense whatsoever beyond being baseball players.  Bing is stupid.  As a public service to all you weirdos searching for those '93 Rockies players, here are a few legitimately notable players from that team:  Andres Galarraga, Dante Bichette, Vinny Castilla, Dale Murphy, Eric Young and of course, Jayhawk Owens.  De nada.

Here's a whole mess of women's clothing that I found when searching "gary wayne" on eBay:  Your new wardrobe.  That's pretty confusing.  My favorite actual Gary Wayne item is this West Palm Beach Expos card:  Buy it!  For some unexplained reason, this card is $13.  Gary Wayne wouldn't spend 13 bucks on a Gary Wayne card.  He isn't even pitching in the card, so his face is pretty normal.  In case you were wondering, yes, shipping is 6 dollars.  It ships from the Moon though, so that is a pretty good rate.


Hmm, could this be our Gary Wayne?  There's no picture and no information, so I can really only come to the honest conclusion that yes, this is our Gary Wayne.  I sent him a friend request and once I show him all the great things I have done with his face, I am sure we will be best of friends.  I mean, how could he not enjoy this?  I'm guessing I'll be throwing out the first pitch at a Colorado Rockies game by mid-2014.  


Twitter doesn't seem to acknowledge Gary Wayne much at all.  There's this:

Cool history, bro.

And then this pathetic idiot using a 1991 Score Gary Wayne baseball card to try to get people to sign up for his pathetic Facebook page:


Ok, I know I have posted this before, but I'll be darned if I am not going to post it every chance I get.  Gary Wayne shows up with Kevin Tapani about 20 seconds in.  Watch the whole video.  It's going to change your life.

Gene Larkin might be insane.

Random Person

I thought about calling a random person in the phone book, but I kept laughing at A Gorilla.  I can't ask anyone I know because I keep sending them pictures with Gary Wayne's face attached.  So, I did the only sensible thing and I asked this dude at Target:

Me:  Hey, this is weird, but do you remember Gary Wayne of the Twins?

Him:  /walks past me, looks combination annoyed/murderous

Me:  /decides to not ask a follow-up question


Queens of the Stone Age has a song titled "You Can't Quit Me Baby" about a guy who won't let his beloved forget him, no matter what it takes.  I love that title.  It's terrifying and awesome all at once.  However, it's a dark topic and I feel some regret bringing it up right now, but You Can't Quit Gary Wayne Baby.  He'll never be forgotten.  Not on my watch.


What is your favorite Gary Wayne memory?  Mine is his face from that card.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Forgotten Twins? Bernardo Brito

For those who are unfamiliar with this feature, I scour the most reliable internet sites to try to determine whether or not a former Minnesota Twin is forgotten or not.  I use all the best sites – Wikipedia, Google, Bing, eBay, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Baseball Reference.  If the player isn't featured to my liking, they are officially forgotten.  The entire first paragraph will come from my own memory though.  No guarantees for accuracy or insight.  At the very end, I will ask one random person if they remember the player.  Let’s start with someone I barely remember.


My memories of Bernardo Brito

Can I say pass?  I certainly remember his name because it's hilarious.  But who is Bernardo Brito?  I'm going to say he was an outfielder and that he was only with the Twins for two seasons.  I want to say that he was on a Hall of Fame path as well.  I'll guess that he played for the Twins from 1993 to 1994 and that he hit about 7 home runs.  As you can clearly see, I have basically no recollection of Bernardo Brito.

Let's do some research!

Oh goodness, what a gold mine!  Apparently he is known as "El Pupo."  Fantastic.  I love Bernardo Brito.  I can't find a translation, but Google Image seems to think it means bellybutton.  Is Bernardo Brito "The Bellybutton?"  I am so glad I chose him.  Brito was born on December 4, 1963 in San Cristobal, Dominican Republic.  He made his MLB debut on September 15, 1992.  He was known for his power and hit five career home runs.  He was an outfielder!  He played in Japan after leaving the Twins in 1995 and also played for the Sioux Falls Canaries.  His nickname was "The Bellybutton."  

Brito was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 1980 and made his debut in 1992.  That is wild!  Brito is the most fascinating player ever.  Brito played 40 games for the Twins spread out over 1992, 1993 and 1995.  He hit .219/.237/.466 in those games.  His Minor League stats are amazing.  He hit 295 career Minor League home runs.  He played over 700 AAA games.  He had just under 1500 hits in the Minors.  His 1994 season at AAA:  .309/.353/.572, 24 doubles, 29 home runs, 122 RBI.  The Bellybutton!

Well, the third result down is a bit discouraging.  Apparently I completely ripped this idea off from RandBall.  Great.  We've come too far to not proceed; I'll just have to make sure to not completely rip him off.  

Stu's Hunt Down

No!  That would be ripping him off.  Idiot

Back to Google

Bernardo Brito E Cunha appears to be a Portuguese writer.  Going down South America way, I guess.  Anyway, he does not seem to be related to our Brito.  Here's a great Google Image result of Brito when he was apparently 13 years old:  Young Pupo.  The card looks to be a million years old, and I really wish I had it.  

Bing is stupid.  Regardless, I'll use it.  The Stu's Hunt Down feature is at the bottom of the second page of results, so that's something different.  On the fourth page of results, I did find this baseball card on Amazon, which you can buy for just over 7 bucks.  It's a great way to commemorate that awesome 1994 season that I mentioned earlier.  The paid search results seem to be imploring me to "find Bernardo Brito" and "uncover Bernardo Brito," which makes me worried that we have a missing persons case on our hands.  Probably not the case.  


Oh man.  Did you ever want a really fake looking baseball card AND a signed note card of Bernardo Brito?  Here you go! You know this is an authentic autograph because no one would forge a note card.  I had a friend write the third verse from Onyx's "Slam" on a note card in 3rd grade and that is the only note card I would take over this Brito autograph.  No word on whether or not the note card is GEM MINT 10!!!


Bernardo Brito doesn't have a facebook page that I can find.  He doesn't have a fan page yet either.  That's garbage.  El Pupo needs a fan page.  If anyone wants to go ahead and start one, I'll add a link at a later date.  Garbage.  


Ok, there is definitely a guy named Bernardo Brito on Twitter and he tweets a lot.  I don't think it's our man though.  I can't read any of it, because I don't speak any languages, but the picture doesn't match and I can see faces.  I decided to look for "el pupo brito" and that led me to this man who is arguing that Brito is a better hitter than Albert Pujols and Jose Bautista.  Do you want to argue that?  
There are all kinds of tweets including Brito and other fun baseball players but I can't read any of them because I only took 8 years of Spanish and I'm a fantastic student.


I decided to roll the dice using "el pupo brito" as my search terms on YouTube, but the first result was about Julia Stiles, so I think I failed.  I tried everything, you guys.  I looked for Brito, Brito plus Twins, Brito plus baseball and there's just nothing.  The internet is devoid of Bernardo Brito videos.  This video of the 10 worst ceremonial first pitches will have to suffice.  

Random Person

I sent a text to a friend regarding Brito:
  • Me:  Do you remember Bernardo Brito?

  • Friend:  Nope

  • Me:  Did you know he was nicknamed "El Pupo?"

  • Friend:  How would I?
Good point.


I say he's forgotten.  You can't have an HOF nickname like El Pupo or The Bellybutton,have such a lack of quality internet information and still be remembered.  When you throw in his Minor League career, Japanese career and huge power, it just feels like there should be more to uncover.  Thus, Bernardo Brito goes into the "forgotten" category, joining Pedro Munoz and Freddie Toliver.

What is your favorite El Pupo memory?  Do you even have one?

Monday, June 24, 2013

Forgotten Twins? Brian Harper

My memories of Brian Harper

I remember a lot about Brian Harper, but probably not as accurately as I should.  I'm pretty sure Harper caught for the Twins from 1988 to 1993.  I know that he was great and that he hit over .300 ALL THE TIME!  He was the catcher on the 1991 team.  He got run over during the World Series by an Atlanta player and when he got up he did this weird flip of the ball, as if he was going to flip it to someone else.  It was odd but cool.  He also had a great mustache and a mullet.  All in all, a plus player.  


Brian Harper's middle name is David.  He was born October 16, 1959 in San Pedro, California.  Harper was a fourth-round pick by the Angels back in 1977.  Apparently, he was a promising player but was never really given a chance to play catcher.  That all changed in 1988 when he signed with the Twins!  I totally nailed his time with the Twins, as he left after the 1993 because the Twins could not afford him.  (insert some things never change).  Harper is currently the hitting coach for the Iowa Cubs, the Chicago Cubs' AAA team.  Pretty cool.  

I was wrong about Harper hitting over .300 every year.  He hit over .300 in four of his six Twins seasons.  He hit .295 in 1988 and .294 in 1990.  What a bum.  Man, he did not walk or strike out much at all.  In his six years with the Twins, in 2691 plate appearances, he walked just 111 times and struck out just 128 times.  Remarkable.  Harper only played 66 more games after leaving the Twins.  He hit .291 in 64 games with the Brewers in 1994, then only played 2 games for Oakland in 1995.  Then he was done.  Crazy career.

Well, if you know me at all, you have to know where I am going next.  Brian Harper the ceramic artist is not the same Brian Harper I grew up watching.  However, he may be equally interesting.  Here is his artaxis site: Brian Harper Ceramics.  I'm going to do some more research for my own personal purposes, but for you, I'll just leave you with this video:

Using Bing Images, I found this iconic baseball card:

Nice phone bro.

I also came across some Amazon listings for Brian Harper.  I was confused because the same books were written by Brian Harper and Michael Prescott.  I thought I had uncovered a stolen identity scheme, but it turns out they are the same person.  Then, I thought it could be a The Prestige scenario, but nope, just a guy who wanted to change his name.  You can read about it here, at his beautiful website.  It's not our Harper either.

Alta Vista  eBay

This Altavista thing is stupid.  I used it as a joke, but search engines are all the same, so I really don't need three.  Switching to eBay paid off immediately.  I found this listing for a Brian Harper Pirates name plate from one of his jerseys.  First, the description says it was "obtained through the Pirates clubhouse."  Hmm, I wonder if they know that.  Second, it says it is from one of "his 1982 - 1984 jersey's."  That's precise, but not very accurate.  Anyway, if you want a likely stolen scrap from one of Brian Harper's old jerseys, you just hit the jackpot.  


Brian Harper and I are not friends on Facebook... yet.  I looked for a fan page for Harper, but one does not exist.  However, there is a fan page for a basketball player named Brian Harper and it has 290 likes.  That's like 290 more than my Facebook page (click here, I'll give away a Gary Wayne card if we hit 50).  This Brian Harper can play the Forward and Center position and is currently playing in Germany. He also looks joyless, doesn't have a huge cell phone, a mullet or a mustache.  Wait, he does have a mustache.


There's a Brian Harper on Twitter who likes baseball, but he seems mostly concerned with who is unfollowing him.  He does ask about catchers from time to time.  THE Brian Harper is not on Twitter.  He is busy being a hitting coach.  I did find two cool tweets about Harper though:
Answer:  Everyone
Brian Harper was very nearly a World Series hero before he was even a regular MLB player.  Too bad fate made him wait a few years to become relevant, but perhaps good for the Twins.


I'm not going to rip this kid at all.  I love his cards and I love that he is showing them to me.  His energy level is a bit low, but it looks like he has a lot going on behind him.

This one is from a couple years ago.  Harper still looks good and has that gruff former baseball player voice. That is until the wind sweeps in and steals all the sound from Knoxville.

Random Person

I asked my wife if she remembers Brian Harper.  She replied, "oh, your favorite?"  I was confused.  She thought I was talking about Bryce Harper, who I do adore.  When I explained that I was referring to Brian Harper, former Twin, she simply said, "no" and went upstairs.  That went about as well as I thought it would.


I think Brian Harper is properly remembered by the internet.  There is a cool kid showing his cards, he's a coach, he does ceramics and he assumed some author's identity.  Brian Harper was a great player for the Twins and helped them win the 1991 World Series.  I feel that I know this American Hero even better than I did before.  I guess that's why they call it research.  I'd say there is a very good chance that he coaches at the MLB level in the future and that's pretty cool.

What is your favorite Brian Harper memory?  You can't just say his mullet.  Or his mustache.

Friday, June 21, 2013

What is reasonable return for Minnesota Twins' veterans?

There has been a lot of talk about trading the Twins established MLB players for prospects in recent weeks.  This concept has become a bit more complicated due to the Twins' relative success this season.  A terrible team is an easy seller while a great team is an eager buyer.  The Twins are neither great nor terrible.  The difficulty for the Twins' front office will be determining who is a part of the future and who is expendable.

I don't intend to try to make that determination.  I'll leave that to everyone else.  However, I remember an episode of Gleeman and the Geek from last season, when our heroic hosts were discussing this very topic.  John wanted to use current Twins prospects to determine a fair value for current Twins players.  I loved it.  It seems like such an intuitive way to explain what type of return they would be willing to accept.  I figure, I can do the same just in case for some strange reason the Twins decided to give me all the power involved in making their trades. 

For the record, this would be a terrible decision, as I would make wild determinations based on factors like name hilarity, hair length, eye black wearing and stirrups. 

However, if I decided to use my brain instead of my heart/the bad part of my brain, here is what I would anticipate if the Twins got offers for current Twins, using current Twins prospects as a hypothetical return.  If this is too plagiarism-y (from that Gleeman and the Geek), just go ahead and ignore/delete/savage.  We'll go from smallest return to largest, just for fun. 

Drew Butera for Tom Brunansky right now

This is just mean.  Why?

Trade Approved. But seriously, be nice.

Mike Pelfrey for Tim Atherton

If Pelfrey can be traded for any young pitcher, I'll take it.  Atherton has a unique path to where he is right now, but as a 23-year-old at low A, he is the type of pitcher who could be reasonably acquired for Pelfrey.  Pelfrey is only signed until the end of the season.  While Atherton is no great prospect, he is young and has pitched reasonably well.  For Pelfrey, I'd take just that.

Trade Approved.  You have to take anything you can get for Pelfrey.

Jared Burton for Nelvin Fuentes

I'd want a bit more for Burton.  Fuentes is a pitcher with a bit more upside and he misses bats.  He also has barely pitched above A ball and is 24-years-old.  I'd want more upside in a Burton trade, simply because he is under contract for another two seasons and the Twins don't really have someone who can step into his role.  However, they have plenty of guys who they could try in that role, and a good offer would be hard to pass up.   

Trade Approved.  It's not a perfect return, but there are always random guys who can become setup men, as Burton proved last season.

Kevin Correia for Nelvin Fuentes

I'm not sure the return for Correia should be much different than the return for Burton.  Correia is still relatively young and can be reasonably relied upon as a fifth starter, but he is nothing special.  At 5 million in 2014, I might just keep him, rather than trade him for an A ball prospect.  If Correia somehow became the Twins' fourth or fifth starter next season, he'd look a lot more attractive. 

Trade Denied.  I think Correia will be worth keeping for the second year of his contract.

Ryan Doumit for Logan Darnell

Doumit is perfect for the Twins.  He can spell Joe Mauer behind the plate and is one of the Twins' best hitters, despite being just about league-average (101 OPS+ in 2013).   On other teams, with a more traditional backup catcher situation, Doumit would be a DH/corner outfielder who can't play outfield all that well.   He fits best with the Twins, but if another team offered a AA or AAA pitcher with a good chance to reach the Majors, I would find it to be a fair return and let that team figure the rest out.

Trade Approved. Chris Herrmann could reasonably replace him in the lineup right now and an extra arm in the system is a worthy return.

Glen Perkins for Matthew Summers

I'm not sure it's fair to use terms like "proven closer" and "established closer" with Perkins, but "dominant left-handed reliever" is apt.  The fact that he has been closing for the Twins is a nice boost, as closers do tend to bring back greater returns than non-closers.  However, teams seem to be learning that trading for closers is a exercise in futility (save for the Red Sox).  Summers is a low-level prospect with big upside, so there is something intriguing here.

Trade Denied.  Are you kidding?  Perkins is fantastic, the Twins should keep him.

Justin Morneau for Hudson Boyd and Jason Wheeler

Seeing Morneau hit one home run on Wednesday night and give air high fives almost made me completely flip on my feeling that the Twins should trade him for anything.  Emotionally, I like Morneau as a player and enjoyed watching him become an MVP.  In order to trade him, I'd want two pitching prospects, but I know that realistically, they wouldn't be top 25 prospects.  Boyd sits right on the edge and Wheeler looks like he could be a solid reliever, if nothing else.  This is the type of trade that is both reasonable and fair, however for emotional reasons...

Trade Denied.  I'd have to be blown away to trade one of the most popular players in recent history.

Melotakis seems like he will either be a great reliever or a decent starter with upside.  That kind of uncertainty is scary to many and as a result, many would be unwilling to part with a very popular player like Willingham.  However, Willingham is 34 and while his OBP is still good, his power and batting average have dropped significantly.  I was not a fan of trading Willingham last season, and I don't think the return would have been much better.  Melotakis is the type of risk-reward player that the Twins could target, should they decide to move Willingham.

Trade Approved.  An Oswaldo Arcia-Aaron Hicks-Chris Parmelee outfield can work for a season or two, until Byron Buxton is available.  Adding another high-upside arm is tough to pass up.   

Trevor Plouffe for Taylor Rogers and Hudson Boyd

I'd aim very high for Plouffe.  He's cheap, relatively young and has big power potential.  He might sail the occasional throw at third and his OBP is not ideal.  However, he has enough going for him to make me look for two lower level prospects with high upside, one of whom I am certain can start.  Rogers seems to have the stuff to start and Boyd still has big upside. 

Trade Approved.  Good luck getting another team to offer it though.

Joe Mauer for Miguel Sano, Alex Meyer and Niko Goodrum

Yep, that much.  He's a franchise player and I am irrational about him.  Mauer probably isn't worth that much right now, but I don't think the Twins would take anything but a "Godfather" offer, as Bill Simmons would say.  Even so... 

Trade Denied.  I just love him too much.

If you know the Twins system well, you'll see that I did not offer any top 10-15 prospects for Twins current players, save for Mauer.  That doesn't mean the Twins can't net top 10 prospects from other teams.  The Twins system is loaded, and others are not.  If the Twins decide to sell at the deadline, I would not be expecting huge returns.  However, every little bit helps. 

Alexi Casilla was acquired for J.C. Romero.  Jason Bartlett was acquired for Brian Buchanan.  Nick Punto and Carlos Silva were acquired for Eric Milton.  These aren't sexy names, but they were useful players who helped the Twins win divisions.  If the Twins can make smart trades at the deadline, it shouldn't matter who they trade and who they keep. 

What does everyone think?  Where am I waaaaaaay off?  What trades do you feel are fair?

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Twitline: Kevin Slowey's Tumultuous 2013 Season

I'm sitting at home Monday night, minding my own business when I receive a text from a friend that reads:  "Haha, Kevin Slowey to MIAMI'S bullpen.  lol."

First off, I already knew you were laughing from the "Haha" so you didn't need to add lol at the end.  Unless you were worried that I was unaware of how "out loud" you were laughing.  Second, capitalizing entire words for emphasis is poor literary form.  Third, you know I love Kevin Slowey irrationally, why are you trying to hurt me? 

Well, mission accomplished, "friend," it did hurt me.  Slowey was a personal favorite, as you know if you have read anything from this blog or if you simply can read a title.  I felt that he was unfairly judged by stupid Twins fans.  I also felt the stupid media treated him unfairly.  Finally, I felt his stupid teammates did not appreciate him.  Now, it appears that stupid Miami is treating him like some castoff spy who has lost everything and has to rely only on the people who are still talking to him. 

I decided that it would be only fair to recap his season in the best possible manner:  inventing something called a Twitline (Twitter time line).  As such, I present to you my very first Twitline:  Kevin Slowey's tumultuous 2013 season. 

When we last heard from our hero, he was injured and had missed most of the 2012 season.  He had not been retained by the Indians and was a free agent.  At least until:
Oh, cool, welcome back Mr. Slowey.  I figured he would get a chance with some team.  He was only 28 and he had moderate success as a Twin.  Of course, a Minor League deal is still no sure thing.  I knew he faced an uphill climb.  Of course, uphill in Miami is pretty much as steep as you can adjust a treadmill, so he certainly had found the best possible landing spot.  Soon the stories were pouring in, stating that Slowey was working his way toward a rotation spot:
If you read that article, you will see that Slowey's "competition" for the last rotation spot included John Maine, Wade LeBlanc, Alex Sanabia and Brad Hand.  Not surprisingly:
Congrats, Kevin!  This feeling will last forever, I'm sure.  Pitching for the Marlins will never lead to heartbreak...
Crud.  Of course, at least there is one media member who does not hate Slowey.  I can't imagine that the Marlins purposely scored few runs for Slowey, just to punish him for reading.  I suppose it's possible, but unlikely.  Perhaps they were just waiting to explode.
/Marlins explode.  Slowey hadn't won in over two years.  Could the Marlins hold on?
The suspense is killing me!

They held on.  He won.  I celebrated with an entire pack of Klondike bars, which are from Slowey's hometown of Pittsburgh.  I like to celebrate in a culturally sensitive manner.  At this point, Slowey has reached the highest of highs.  This would not be the time to get cocky and do something weird or something that makes you a target of your teammates...

Success for Slowey never seems to last.  He had pitched well in April, but was less impressive in May.  In June, Slowey had to do the thing that he hated most.  The very thing that drew Twins fans' ire and Twins media's catcalls and barbs:  pitch in relief.
Hooray!  This was not a normal relief outing.  He came in to what would become a 20 inning game and pitched for basically an entire Slowey start.  This shouldn't become anything permanent, so long as his next start goes well.
Welp #2.  Trounced is not a word that is generally associated with "good pitching."  However, it was just one start, right?
That hashtag is too long.  However, it does appear that he didn't just have one bad trouncing.  He had a 5.88 ERA, including that awesome relief outing.  That means his ERA must have been around 20 (I'm bad at estimating) in his starts.  Oh no, this can really only mean one thing.
Welp #3.  This was probably inevitable.  It does seem ironic that Slowey was relegated to the bullpen.  After all, the Twins tried to use Slowey in the bullpen and he famously declared that it takes him too long to get loose, so the bullpen isn't the right place for him.  I really think that he was just upset that Nick Blackburn was starting over him, but I can't prove that.  Kevin, if you are reading, back me up.

Regardless, I'm sure Twins fans/supporters will handle this news appropriately...

Good luck in the bullpen, Kevin.  I mean that sincerely.  I'll always appreciate you.  Godspeed.  To infinity and beyond.  Please don't go out on me.  Can't find a better man.  I'm still alive.  Even Flow.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Minnesota Twins Fan Confession: I don't hate the Yankees

Psst.  You there.  Yeah, you in the Twins hat and Joe Mauer shirsey.  Put down that plush TC bear, I have a secret that I can't hold in any longer.  This is very hard for me to say.  I've been thinking about it for a long time and I've felt this way even longer.  I can't hold it in; I need to confess to someone.  I'm trusting you to keep my secret, but it won't be easy.  Are you ready? 

I don't hate the Yankees.

There, I said it.  I don't hate them.  I don't loathe them.  I don't detest them.  I don't even simply dislike them.  In reality, I admire them.  I respect them.  I marvel at them.  I like them.  I like the way they play baseball.  I like the way they reward their fans on the field.  I like their history.  I like their players.  I even like their uniforms. 

I like the way they go about their business.  Business might be the key word.  The Yankees play baseball like a business.  For many, a business-like approach to a professional sport is boring or even abhorrent.  For someone like me, a person who demands efficiency and order, the Yankees are like an Excel Spreadsheet on a baseball diamond.  I know exactly what they want to do within the game:  take a lot of pitches, mash the mistakes, pitch methodically and wear out the other team.  Above all else:  win.  It's all so well organized, sometimes I feel I can conditionally format them while I watch them play. 

I'm in awe of their history.  As a Twins fan, I fondly remember both World Series titles, I remember all the playoff "runs" from the 2000s and I have heard wonderful stories from their successful 60s and 70s teams.  However, the Yankee fan history is a completely different animal.  Their fans can discuss which of their 27 World Series winners is the best.  Twenty seven!  They miss the playoffs about once in a generation.  Only four franchises have made the playoffs as frequently as the Yankees have won the World Series.  My goodness, to have their history.

Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, CC Sabathia, Mike Mussina, Don Mattingly, Reggie Jackson, Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth...  I could go on.  The sheer number of superstar, Hall of Fame players is staggering.  The Yankees can boast an all-time player, at any given point in their history.  Whenever you watch the Yankees, you are watching greatness.  Eventually, the Yankees are going to have to start issuing fractional or triple-digit uniform numbers, as they have retired a vast number of whole numbers.  If you do hate their players, it can only be because you secretly wish they wore the Minnesota Twins uniform. 

I am jealous of their fans.  I'm not happy to feel jealousy, but I can't help but wish that my favorite team went into each season with a realistic chance to win the World Series.  While the fan experience has certainly diminished since the construction of New Yankee Stadium, you cannot discount the experience of watching the Yankees play baseball each and every year.  In the average fan's lifetime, the Yankees are likely to win multiple championships.  Is there another fan base who can make that claim?

I even like their look.  The pinstripes are timeless.  They are the closest thing to a nice, designer suit that you'll find on the field.  Somehow, their uniforms look even better when they get sullied.  The dirt really accentuates the gray.  Their hats are classic too.  In fact, you could make the argument that the Twins borrowed their TC logo from the Yankee's NY logo.  I like that they make their players shave stupid beards.  I can't grow a beard, no one else should be allowed to either!

As the Twins head toward a series with the Yankees, I know that many Twins fans will be looking forward to rooting against the Yankees almost as much as they look forward to rooting for the Twins.  Not me.  I'll root for the Twins, but I won't root against the Yankees any more than I would root against any given opponent.  I might even secretly hope that Mariano Rivera gets into a game, just to see him in person one last time.  The Yankees may be the evil empire, but they certainly play some great baseball. 

I apologize once more, but I can't change the way I feel.  I don't hate the Yankees.  I can't muster up the energy to try.  In fact, when the Yankees aren't playing the Twins, I enjoy them.  If you have to hate me as a result, I understand.  This was not easy for me to confess.  I've carried this secret like a lush gift basket given to a lucky lady after a chance encounter with the great Derek Jeter.  I can't get rid of it, but I also don't really want to admit to having it.  Does this make me a bad Twins fan?  Maybe it does.   I just don't know anymore.  I feel so conflicted.

Alas, it isn't all bad.  I do hate Alex Rodriguez.  He's a dolt.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Monday Morning Madness: June 17, 2013

The Twins dropped two of three from the Tigers this weekend, falling to 7.5 games out of a division that they were never going to win.  While the Twins have played better in 2013, they still do not have the talent to match the Tigers over a full season.  Yet, there were some positives from the weekend and I have some apologies to make as well.

I apologize to Clete Thomas.  Just one week ago, I accused a wild turkey of creating a lineup that featured Clete Thomas batting second.  While I still feel that Thomas in the top half of an order is a move made out of desperation, it hasn't been a disaster because Thomas isn't as terrible as I made him out to be.  He strikes out a lot and he doesn't walk, but he can hit the ball and he plays a solid center field.  Clete, I don't despise you.  Unless he takes at bats from Aaron Hicks when Hicks is healthy.  Then, I lose it. 

I apologize to Sam Deduno.  I expected nothing but chaos from Deduno, and while I have been partially right, he has been more effective than I thought he would be.  Two things:  he doesn't throw hard and he doesn't get strikeouts.  So, he might be more effective than I thought he would be, but it's because he has gotten ground balls at a ridiculous 61.8% rate.  He has also limited home runs and stranded runners very well.  If all of these skills are real, then he can be effective long-term.  If he's been lucky (and watching him, he has been lucky), then this could all fall apart quickly. 

I apologize to Trevor Plouffe.  I think he wears too much eye black, but perhaps I am wrong.  Since his return from the DL, he has hit the ball very well.  I thought the lack of eye black over his rehab would make for a tough adjustment upon his return.  I was wrong.  Perhaps he wore the eye black while injured. 

Saturday's game was the best of the weekend, not only because the Twins won, but because I was able to watch Glen Perkins pitch.  I love to watch Glen Perkins pitch.  He struck out Torii Hunter, which I always enjoy.  It's more than that though.  Perkins comes in and challenges hitters.  He knows he has good stuff and he forces hitters to deal with it.  He pumps that fastball until he needs to go to his secondary stuff and he commands his pitches extremely well.  It's a shame his role only allows for him to pitch in very specific game situations. 

Enough with apologies and admiration, here is some madness:

Former Twin Update:

Danny Valencia has somehow become a fairly regular contributor to the Baltimore Orioles.  I honestly thought his MLB career was over when the Twins shipped him out for bubble gum last season.  Instead, he crushed AAA this season and earned a call-up to Baltimore.  He doesn't need his glove anymore, as Baltimore isn't going to let him see any time in the field unless they get desperate.  At the plate, he has slugged over .650 in limited DH duty this season.  Baltimore is using him more against lefties, and he is crushing them as he always has.  Perhaps Valencia has found his role.  Cool, good for him. 

Random Paint Image

For those who have read anything I have written this season, it is clear that I am the biggest Aaron Hicks defender/bobo in the fan base.  As such, this was how I reacted when I heard that Hicks was injured and needed time on the DL:

I did get a haircut since this was drawn.  It looks worse.

The One Save Club

Since 1961, there are 176 MLB players who have recorded exactly one save and have not started a single game.  Odd combo, I agree, but taking starters out removes guys like Johan Santana, who started their careers in long relief.  Your task is to name as many of the 12 Twins who have accomplished this feat.  Not all 12 earned their save with the Twins.  Please leave names in the comments.  One player is currently playing for the Twins.  I'll post the 12 names at some point, if I remember. 

Fun Baseball Card From the Past

  • First, I wrote about baseball cards on Friday.  If you missed it, you can read it here.  You should seriously consider buying the Joe Mauer card. 
  • Second, these Studio cards were awesome.  I believe the idea was that they were shot in a studio. 
  • Third, Shane Mack, if you read my blog for some reason, please let me know.  I'd love to set up an interview.  Not for an article or anything like that, just for me.
  • Fourth, Mack was underrated.  He did not get enough credit for his mustache.
Links to some funny baseball stuff:

I am not ashamed to admit that I love Grant Brisbee.  I think he is funny and that is all it takes for me.  This week, he chronicled the Dodgers-Diamondbacks brawl and then later graded the suspensions that were handed out as a result (of the brawl, not his article).  If you like to laugh, you should read them.  If you hate to laugh, you should not read them. 

Link to something stupid I wrote:

The Twins released Anthony Slama last week, which was only notable to me because I knew it would allow me to display my vast knowledge of school-yard jerkery.  I created a (fake) time line of events that shows a pattern of poor behavior toward Slama.  You can read it here.  It's complete stupidity. 

Parting Stat!

The Twins play the hated White Sox this week.  There have been only 8 players in MLB history who have played exclusively for the White Sox and Twins:  Glenn Borgmann, Jesse Crain, Joe Crede, Jerry Crider, Eduardo Escobar, Pedro Hernandez, Randy Johnson (not the right one though), and Cotton Nash.  

You're probably thinking, "hey dippy, what about Earl Battey?"  Well, Battey played one year for the Washington Senators, and that makes him a fat cat bureaucrat. 

Have a nice week, everyone!