Thursday, October 27, 2005

New hitting coach

Joe Vavra is the new hitting coach. Did you just ask the same question I did? Probably. Who is this guy? According to ESPN, well-regarded minor league staffer in the organization, who previously was a player and coach in the Dodgers' system, starred at the University of Wisconsin-Stout, and has been the Twins' minor league field coordinator for the past four years.

Wow. That's a star. (Fingers crossed) So the Twins interviewed Hall of Famers Rod Carew and Paul Molitor, and should-be-in-the-Hall Tony Olivia was probably asked, about the job and they declined. As I've said, I'm suspicious that has something to do with Gardy's attitude and the general aura in the Twins clubhouse, which is sumed up with the word "cancerous."

So what we have instead of below-.500 OPS Ullger is a guy who never even played in the majors. I have to ask if this is even an upgrade. But I suppose any change is good. Who knows. Maybe guys will respond to someone else who never could hit major league hitting.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Don't Blame Lidge

I apologize, to begin, to our readers for the lack of recent posting, but there is little going on in the Twins world right now. Yes, Paul Molitor turned down the hitting coach job and that's unfortunate. It probably reflects a lack of desire to work with Gardenhire, but that's just me. The next best option is likely Tony Olivia or, of course, the Twins can try to find some help outside the organzation, but we know that's unlikely. (But let's pray its anyone but Ullger) Eventually, both of us here at the blog will post needs for the offseason, but lets wait til the season is truly over. Because there is plenty going on.

What I wish to touch on is Game 5 of the NLCS. Albert Pujols, as most baseball fans should know, hit a majestic three-run blast with two outs in the ninth off of Brad Lidge to starve off elimination for the St. Louis Cardinals. It was an amazing feat. Pujols, in that moment, showed what an great, patient, and smart hitter he as he demonstrated his clutch abilites. But, instead of reading about a great game and just how stunning the home run was, lots of pundits are instead concentrating on Brad Lidge.

Lidge emerged last year out of the shell of Billy Wagner and Octavio Dotel to go from a great set-up man to a dominant closer. He set a strikeout record for relivers with 157 last year and absolutely dominanted the playoffs, giving up one run and eight hits in 14 innings with 22 Ks. Those are Riveria-esque numbers and he should that again this season, sparkling with another great campaign. Lidge has two pitches: A 95-99 MPH fastball and likely the best slider in all of baseball. His slider is so good that he has, on many occasions, struck out hitters on three straight sliders. Its simply unhittable. And his fastball isn't too shabby either. So why blame Lidge?

Lots of pundits are saying that he shouldn't have thrown the slider, that he should have walked Pujols or thrown a fastball to challenge him. (With two outs, after striking out two, he gave up a hit to David Eckstein and walked Jim Edmonds) This is ridiculous for many reasons. For one, he didn't have control of the fastball that night (or in Game 4 for that matter). He showed that when he got a strike on Edmonds with his slider before walking him on four straight fastballs. Secondly, Pujols is a great fastball hitter. Challenging that good of a hitter, who is that clutch, in such a calm mindset, with a fastball is just mind-boggling. Lidge is a closer and closers, especially in the postseason, tend to rely on their best pitch for good reasons. If Rivera gave up a home run to Barry Bonds or Manny Ramirez in the postseason, would you blame Rivera? No. He would have gone up against the best hitters with a great pitch and lost. Almost 99 percent the time that slider is going to work. But we aren't talking about giving up a homer to John Mabry here. We are talking about Albert Pujols, the best hitter in all of baseball right now.

Pujols, in the easiest terms, simply won the battle. He knew that Lidge would challenge him, but he also knew it was unlikely he would get a pitch to hit or that he would hit the slider hard. But when you have such a pure, powerful swing like Pujols, the slightest miscalculation throws things out of orbit. So lets not be ridiculous guys and lets put things in perspective:

* Pujols is one of the best hitters the game has ever seen. If Babe Ruth hit a Game 4 homer off of Lefty Grove or one of Walter Johnson's infamous fastballs, no one would blame Johnson. Ruth is just that good. So is Pujols.

* Lidge is one of the best closers we have ever seen. His stuff is just nasty and unhittable. What happen should be classic because if you replayed the inning, it probably wouldn't happen again.

* Houston is not done with the series. Everyone acts like Pujols' homer crushed any chance of them winning. How? Houston is up 3-2. Pujols saved the Cardinals, whose starting pitching isn't that great and whose bullpen is a mess. The pressure is all on St. Louis right now. If Lidge comes in to close out Game 6, don't expect a repeat. It won't happen.

* Roger Clemens and Roy Oswalt will be pitching the last two games of the series against a very hittable Mark Mulder and the fading Matt Morris. Clemens and Oswalt have won over 400 games combined and are two of the best pitchers in the NL. Mulder has lost his step and Morris hasn't been the same for years. They'll both get knocked around and no one should expect either Oswalt or Clemens to crumble under pressure.

It was a great moment and its unforgettable, but in the end, Houston still has this series. This won't be a repeat of the 86' series between Boston and California, like everyone wants it to be. Its Houston's year and be prepared to watch Lidge celebrate the biggest save of his career in the next 24 hours.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Just a Few Thoughts

Perusing the Twins official website, we come across a few tidbits regarding the past season. Any surprises here among the Twins team leaders for the season?

Batting Average: Joe Mauer (.294)
Home Runs: Jacque Jones (23)
Runs Batted In: Justin Morneau (79)

ERA: Johan Santana (2.87)
Wins: Johan Santana (16)
Strikeouts: Johan Santana (238)

Nothing very surprising there, except for the unimpressive nature of the offensive numbers. If you would've told me at the beginning of the season that our leading RBI man wouldn't even top 80, I would've called you crazy.

The end of this disappointing season brought some quick changes, which is good, although they aren't necessarily the changes one would like to see. The cutting of underperformers Joe Mays and Luis Rivas were pretty obviously going to happen, but still it was good to see it. Matt LeCroy being cut was a bit more surprising, and the team might miss his lefty-mashing big bat, but I stand by the opinion that I've had all along the a player who can't run, can't field, and can't hit right-handed pitchers simply doesn't have enough value to deserve a roster spot on a contending ballclub. Therefore, I wasn't too unhappy to see him go. His agent is Scott Boras, which should lead to an interesting market search.

Despite all the changes that the Twins SHOULD make this offseason, I don't think it's too terribly likely that they will be making any major ones, knowing the history of Terry Ryan and Carl Pohlad. Instead, we will have to remain content with overanalyzing any small free agency pickups they make to fill holes and track the performance of our young prospects in the Arizona Fall League. First baseman Garret Jones has already hit 4 dingers and Travis Bowyer and Glen Perkins have both looked dominant. And while I don't suspect the Twins will add the reliable veteran bat they need this winter, there is some hope for improvement in this offense in that Jason Kubel will be returning and the Twins do have 2 minor league hitters among Baseball America's top 25 prospects in Matt Moses and Denard Span.

I will be very disappointed if the team resigns Jacque Jones. I think that his style of play epitomizes what is wrong with this offense. He swings at too many bad pitches, he has worthless at bats, and he constantly hits weak grounders to the right side of the infield. Despite the fact that he was statistically the best power hitter on the team last year (and for the last few years, for that matter), and he has been known to come through with the occasional dramatic clutch hit, I am sick and tired of his inconsistency.

That's about all for today. More later.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

The Reign of Doug "The Terrible" Eddings

Well, I at least assume a name like that will soon be attached to Eddings. Its not so much that Eddings made a terrible call and possibly took away the ALCS from the Angels. He never made it clear to anyone what his call was. Based on his explanation, he never made a call (but he made a motion) so therefore the ball was still in play and AJ needed to get tagged out.

Now, if anyone is confused to what I'm writing about, they apparently havent seen any tv or read any papers in the last 12 hours. Eddings might have made the right call by saying that the ball was in the dirt. Close replays show some sort of directional change in the path of the baseball. And yea, Josh Paul showed his worth as a third-string catcher, doing something Corky Miller would do by not tagging Pierzynski out. I fault Paul at least half as much as I do Eddings. He butchering of the call allow the White Sox to keep two basrunners on after what would have been the third out. And, yep, the winning game very quickly thereafter.

Now, did Eddings admit any wrong doing? Nope. He was right, and his crew seems to have his back on that. So who needs to be discliplined and what should have been done? Well, Josh Paul shouldn't catch again anytime soon. That was a bonehead play and there is no defense for that. He should have tagged Pierzynski or when he saw him going to first, thrown the ball there as a precaution, not back to the pitcher. Its not as if AJ runs fast. (He tried to steal in this postseason in a most embarrasing way) But what should have happened was a third out, and thats mainly because Eddings was unclear about his call. He made a hand gesture suggestion a strike three before calling the ball in the dirt and Pierzynski safe at first.

Lets just hope this doesn't do to the Angels what calls tend to do to playoff contenders: Suck the life out of them. I would like nothing more than to see the White Sox and Guillen fall to their own arrogance. Lets just hope the Angels can find some starters around that clubhouse who don't lob basic throws over their first-baseman's head.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

A Question of Patience

Now, this is just begging for a long, and maybe pointless, rant. But after reading Aaron Gleeman's post this morning, I had a thought I bet most of us have had: Why is the Twins' patience so inconsistent? Most of have lulled over Joe Mays' 20 million dollar contract in 2001 and of course, the lack of a small one to David Ortiz.

Why do we continue to ask such questions? A few reasons: For one, obviously Ortiz has developed into a great player. But its unrealistic to say he would have done the same here. He wouldn't. Want to know why? Scotty Ullger isn't a great hitting coach, where is Boston actually pays guys to teach people to drive in runs. He likely would have hit 30-35 HRs and driven in 100 RBIs and been a star for us, but not quite the way he is in Boston. A let us keep one thing in mind: The man is hitting behind Manny Ramirez, the best right-handed hitter in the AL for years now. Don't listen to any pundets who tell you otherwise. Pitchers are a lot more afraid of Manny, because of his incredible power to the opposite field and his strike-zone knowledge. But even so, a nice 3 year, 9-10 million deal would have likely kept him around for a few years. Thats not asking a lot, but for some reason the Twins were impatient and acted like 20 HRs, 75 RBI, and a .500 slugging percentage are bad numbers for a little over 400 at bats. (Those are 2002 numbers, by the way)

Those aren't bad numbers at all, especially for a Twins hitter. So, what I conclude from this case study is simple: The Twins have no patience with hitters who can emerge, and thats likely cause they don't teach them or develop them very well. On the other hand, they have infinite patience with terrible pitchers and terrible small-ball players. Nick Punto? Has very little talent, in my opinion, but he gets plenty of playing time over a guy like Jason Bartlett, who has plenty of high-end talent. Or how Corky Miller over Michael Restovich? Or Terry Mulholland and Joe Mays over any one of our talented Triple-A pitchers?

Now, there is no complaints about a 3.71 team ERA or our pitching in general. But, thats because Rick Anderson does a good job with his staff because he keeps them throwing strikes. The same can't be said for Gardenhire and Ullger, who do not push guys the right way and who consistently bench the wrong guys. Many of us are still looking at that .259 with a giant "what-if" in our heads. What if we signed David Ortiz? What if we kept Corey Koskie? What if we kept Matt Lawton? But its better to clear our heads and look at every situation popping up. Who does everyone seem to have a problem with? Gardenhire. Ortiz never said it, but I'm sure Gardy didn't think he played well into "small-ball." But Newman? He didn't have kind words upon leaving. Lohse and Morneau are clearly immature players, but Gardy didn't help those situations. Its the nasty clubhouse atmosphere in the end. Chemistry could change those numbers. So could a few "veteran" bats. So could a new staff. But will it happen? I sure hope Terry Ryan is thinking real hard about that right now.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Fatty Says Goodbye

Wow. More wonderful news from the Twins front-office! When Terry Ryan and Ron Gardenhire said they had big changes in store, they may have meant it. After letting Rivas going yesterday, they made another move they should have made a while ago: Getting rid of Matthew LeCroy. As everyone who reads this site knows, I am not a fan of LeCroy's. I am glad that the front office finally sees that they are overpaying a guy who's only good use is against left-handers. I grant that we don't have much against left-handers, but if Gardy doesn't want to be smart and platoon him against lefties, then they might as well get rid of him because he'll just hurt the team.

In addition, Glenn Williams and Jason Tyner were outrighted to Triple-A. This means, as with all the others, that they have been removed from the 40-man roster. That means that anyone of them could return, but its far more likely that Tyner, Williams, or Abernathy will return then LeCroy or Rivas. I'm sure we'll be seeing Fatty soon, where he belongs: In a beer league or, better yet, Tampa Bay.

Changes Afloat

Shortly after the finish of a disappointing 2005 season, changes are taking place in the Twins organization.

The most exciting of these changes is the fact that the Twins have finally cut ties with under-performing second baseman Luis Rivas. For four years, Rivas has been doing essentially nothing while starting at second base for the Twins, and it seems that finally the team has gotten the hint and gotten rid of him.

Also cut were outfielder Mike Ryan and second baseman Brent Abernathy. The team will make an effort to bring back Abernathy, who was decent in his stint filling in at second for the team this year; they will not pursue Ryan, who was mediocre at best in trying to fill the left-handed bench bat role for the Twins.

On a sadder note, it was announced yesterday that third-base coach Al Newman will be leaving the team to become an advance scout for the Diamondbacks. Newmy was with the organization for 19 years and it will be sad to see him go. I respected him as a guy who would tell it like it was, which made him different from a lot of other guys in the organization, namely Gardenhire.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Postseason Predictions

Alright, readers. Here's my chance to have some fun and give everyone an idea of who will win the World Series. Now, both me and Nelson predicted the Marlins and Red Sox would go to the series, me choosing the Marlins to win and Nelson picking the Red Sox. Obviously the Marlines had a dissapointing season and aren't in the playoffs and I doubt the Red Sox have the pitching to get to the big series. So here are my predictions:


Boston over Chicago, Four Games

LA Angels over New York, Five Games


Houston over Atlanta, Four Games

St. Louis over San Diego, Three Games


Angels over Boston, Six Games

MVP: Fransisco Rodriguez


Houston over St. Louis, Seven Games

MVP: Andy Pettite

World Series:

Houston over Angels, Six Games

MVP: Roger Clemens

Yes, Houston is a popular choice. In fact Rob Neyer, Jayson Stark, and Peter Gammons all agree with the choice. But the fact is, I don't see anyone in the postseason who has anything resembling the four-headed monster Houston has for pitching. The Clemens-Pettite-Oswald combo is 1-2-6 respectively in ERA for the National League. Nothing like that has been done since Atlanta's John Smotlz, Greg Maddux, and Tom Glavine in 1995. (That's three likely Hall of Famers, mind you) Oh yea, they also have this guy Brad Lidge in the bullpen. I may have to change my MVP at some point because if its not one of these starters, its going to be Lidge. For anyone who skipped over the glamour of the Boston-New York series last year, they saw an amazing performance from Lidge. He was a post-season monster unlike anything this side of Mariano Riveria. His slider is unhittable beyond explanation and him and Riveria go up against each other this postseason, I'd put the tape recorder on for the history books.

Clemens, as I've mentioned, had a great year for a outerwordly career. Pettite had a career year, as he has added many pitches to offset his cutter. Roy Oswalt has been one of the best pitchers since he came up in 2001 and he is the only pitcher with two 20-win seasons in 2004 and 2005. Offensively, they aren't the greatest, but I'd love to believe that Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio have something left to prove after all their great years. And Morgan Ensburg (36 HR, 101 RBI) isn't a slouch and neither is Lance Berkman. They are constant underdogs and I almost think its easier to pick St. Louis or the Angels. But the Angels don't have a true ace. I'm sorry, but Colon doesn't qualify as that in my book just because he has the wins. Lackey is a good pitcher too, but Byrd won't do too much for them. Donnelly has been off this year and Shields has broken down and Rodriguez isn't the dominating closer Lidge is. And offensively, they are more of a mess than the Astros are. Guerroro is their man, but Anderson has had a year plague by back injuries and a power outage and Steve Finley has been a big bust.

The Red Sox? Count them out. They'll destroy the soft arms of Buerhle, Garland, and the other White Sox, but they won't match up well against the Angels, just like the Yankees won't either. The have an incredible offense and the best 3-4 team I've ever seen in Ramirez and Ortiz, but that's not enough when none of their starters have a sub-4.00 ERA, Schilling has a 5.69, and the bullpen is the worst in the AL.

Mark down Houston. If they don't go to the series, they'll at least be the most exciting team to watch with the kind of pitching they have. That combination rivals the one we saw a few years ago in Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling and everyone remembers what an incredible series that was.

The Nelson Picks

You've seen my associate's picks, now my picks for winners in the playoffs.


New York Yankees over LA Angels

I didn't even like the Yanks to make the playoffs, honestly, but right now I simply like them to beat the Angels. Anaheim has a great bullpen, but their starting pitching will not be able handle the big bats of New York. Granted, Randy Johnson is only going once in this series, and I love Vladie Guerrero, but Mariano Rivera will make it a 7-8 inning game and the New York offense will give the questionable starting pitching plenty of breathing room. Yankees in 4.

Boston Red Sox over Chicago White Sox

Boston's pitching sucks, but I just don't like the White Sox in any post-season series. They didn't fare particularly well against good competition in the regular season, and they certainly weren't extraordinary in the last two months. Boston will lose a couple of games because their pitching is just not very good, but I still like Manny and Ortiz to carry them to the AL Championship Series. Boston in 5.

NL Division Series

Atlanta Braves over Houston Astros

My buddy Mr. Mosvick likes the Astros to go all the way. And while I love their pitching, I don't think their offense will take them anywhere. The Braves are a very solid all-around team, with solid starting pitching and some great young bats. The bullpen isn't great, but I still like them to come through against the 'Stros. Braves in 4.

St. Louis Cardinals over San Diego Padres

This one's not too hard to pick. The Padres will win a game, but will get blown out in the other 3. The Cardinals are just a FAR superior team.


Boston Red Sox over New York Yankees

Sox return to the World Series after taking out the Yankees in six games in a championship series featuring plenty of fireworks.


St. Louis Cardinals over Atlanta Braves

The Cards sweep the Braves easily to return for a World Series rematch with the Bo-Sox.


St. Louis Cardinals over Boston Red Sox

Pujols and the Cards' tremendous pitching staff overcome the shoddy Red Sox pitching to get revenge for last year and take the World Series in six games.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Season Awards and Assessment

Its been a tight season all around the MLB, so its a little fun to get out of the Twins hellhole and jumped into the fray. All the awards seem to be up for grabs between a few select choices, so here are my MVPs, Cy Youngs, and Rookie of the Years:

AL MVP: Alex Rodriguez, 3B Yankees

.321, 48 HRs, 130 RBIs, 124 runs, 21 SB, .421 OBP, .610 slugging, 1.031 OPS

Yes, of course I realize that Ortiz had a magical season. He did. But regardless, the DH is a trouble spot for me. The position itself should likely be removed for competitive reasons, but beyond that, the DH can only effect the game one way: with the bat. In, over the course of the entire season, Ortiz only had the upper hand on two accounts: RBIs and in general, the clutch stats. Its easy to paint an MVP win based on Ortiz's September, but thats not to say Rodriguez's was so bad. He hit .317 in September with 7 HRs (one on Oct. 1 as well) and 14 RBIs.

And, of course, he hasn't had an error since June. His defense is spectacular at third, as he had only 12 errors over the year. His gaving saving plays are another MVP factor. So is being a smart player. Rodriguez scores runs (124 runs to lead the AL) and steals bases (21). And this is all in addition to a campaign on par or superior to Ortiz's. Rodriguez's .321 average was second in the AL and his 48 HRs lead the AL, with most of them coming at Yankees stadium, a place not necessarly friendly to right-handers and breaking Joe Dimaggio's 1937 club record.

Yes, Ortiz was great but he also has Manny right behind him with his 45 HRs and 144 RBIs and a similar average and great clutch performances in September. So, unless its shared, the MVP is undoubtably A-Rod. Congrats to the best overall player in the bigs.

AL Cy Young: Johan Santana, Minnesota Twins

Yes, I know he's our hometown favorite. But he's also the most feared starter in the AL and maybe in the majors. Its hard to pitch in the AL and he managed to put up numbers starkingly similar to last year's great Cy Young season. 16 wins on this year's last-in-AL-in-runs-scored-mess-of-a-offense Twins isn't just impressive, its great. For all the terrible run support and losses in one-run games, he managed those 16 wins. And oh yea, he lead the big leagues in Ks with 238. That's a first for the club since 1921, when Walter Johnson did so. And he may be the best pitcher ever.

Lets run down the line in all the categories he leads the AL in, by a good margin I might add: Opponent OPS (.595), opponent BAA (.210), opponent OBP (.250, best in bigs), 2.87 ERA (barely second in the AL), WHIP (.97), and there is his record against the AL Central: 9-1. The highest ERA he had was against Cleveland, at 3.33 but with 36 Ks in 27 innings. He went an amazing 4-0 with a .92 ERA against the White Sox, beating them three times in a month down the strech. He went 9-2 after the All-Star break with a 1.59 ERA that would have been comparable to last year's 13-0, 1.21 run if the Twins could actually score.

With that said, Colon may well win it, but like our President, its never official in my mind. If not Santana, it should be Mariono Rivera, who has had a career-best season for the greatest closer of all time.

NL MVP: Albert Pujols, Cardinals

Three things tell me to pick Pujols: his amazing history and consistency, the line-up around him, and Andruw Jones' September breakdown. With a .330/41/117 line, its not Pujols' best year (2003 was that, and if not for Bonds, he was the MVP far and above everyone else). But it is the best in the NL this year. Jones' 51 HR and 128 are impressive and he's a great fielder, but he seriously broke down after getting to 50 HRs and a .263 average is not what to look for in MVPs. Jones couldn't even break 100 runs. Pujols has for 5 straight seasons, including a MLB-high 129 this year.

In fact, he has done something in his first five seasons no one has. He has had a .300 average, 30 HRs, 100 RBIs, 100 runs, and a OPS over .950 in every season he has been in the majors. No one has done that. His seasons have only comparison to greats like Williams. And this year has not been a down year at all. Just look at his constantcy: .322, .324, .370, .358, .287, .318. That is his averages for each month. I wouldn't exactly called .287 a slump. Especially with 7 HRs and 16 RBI in August.

And with injuries to great stars like Rolen, Edmonds, and Walker, Pujols has had little protection around him and has still managed to put up amazing numbers. He even stole a career-high 16 bases this year. Pujols had a MVP year, but his also has had a historical five years that will put him in the Hall of Fame. Its unquestionably his award, especially with no Barry.

NL Cy Young: Roger Clemens, Houston

I realize that all my picks may be unrealistic to some, but despite a 13-8 record, Clemens had a historical year in terms of dominating the league. And he's 43 years old people. This was an incredible season for him, on par with 1986 and 1997. He has earned a eight Cy Young, which is the record by far. Roger Clemens may be the best pitcher ever and he's by far the best any of us have ever seen and he got better this year.

Look at the stats: 1.87 ERA (Pedro was the last sub-2.00 starter and that was in 2000, an amazing season as well), 185 Ks, .198 opponent BAA, .284 opponent slugging, .542 opponent OPS, 1.01 WHIP. No one can come close to these numbers he has put up. If the Cy Young is about the best pitcher, its Clemens. And the post-season should prove it. His only competition should come from his teammate Andy Pettite, whose 17-9 record and 2.39 are career-bests, and Dontrelle Willis, who had a MLB-high 22 wins, and of course Chris Carpenter. Carpenter was great, but he broke down big time down the strech, with a 5.73 ERA in September. He may still win the Cy Young, but only because of his 21-5 record.

AL ROY: Huston Street, Oakland

Street had a amazing rookie year after being a dominant college closer before his drafting. When Octavio Dotel went down with an arm injury in May, Street was called on to take up closing duties and he preformed very well. His 23 saves, 1.72 ERA, and 72 Ks gave Oakland a winning chance to go to the playoffs this year and the award should be his in the face of a overall weak crop this year.

NL ROY: Ryan Howard, Phillies

Howard had a situation similar to Street's, and like the A's, the Phillies almost went to the playoffs because of Howard's strong play in a rookie season. Long highly-touted as a prospect but held back because of Jim Thome, he got his chance when Thome fell hard to injuries and Howard was given his chance. With 22 HRs, 62 RBIs, a .286 average, and a .568 slugging percentage, Howard beats out his rookie class. Jeff Francoer had a great month of July, but he quickly faded. Willy Taveras has had a good season, but just not strong enough to beat out Howard.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

A Disappointing Season Comes to a Close

Today was the last game of what has been a very disappointing 2005 season for the Minnesota Twins. Picked by many before the season to contend for a World Series title, the Twins instead barely finished above .500 with a mediocre 83-79 record, 16 games out of first place and watching the playoffs from home for the first time in three seasons.

There will be plenty of analysis of the team's failures this year in the days to come as look back at the season that should have been, but for now I will just make a small commentary on Johan Santana, who picked up his 16th win today. Bartolo Colon is getting a lot of hype for the Cy Young Award, but there is no question in my mind that Santana is more deserving as he has undoubtedly been the best starting pitcher in the AL this year. He is significantly ahead of Colon in every meaningful stat except for wins, and it seems totally unfair to punish him for the Twins' horrid offense. I wouldn't be upset at all to see Mariano Rivera win the award, but to see Colon win it over Santana would simply make me sick.

Be sure to check in over the next couple weeks for analysis of the playoffs and our picks for the MVP and Cy Young awards, plus post-season analysis of the 2005 season and a look into the future at next season.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Liriano's First Win

Fransisco Liriano has had a pretty turbelant MLB-debut throughout September, beginning with his first batter hitting a homer, following with five straight Ks through two games, and then following a few disasterous starts. Tonight, he finally settled down. His problem, of course, had been control and hopefully it seems Rick Anderson has helped him out. If that's the case, look at AL. Liriano threw seven innings of solid ball without walking anyone, while striking out eight and giving five hits and two runs. This, hopefully, is an indication of things to come. With Liriano's solid start, he sets a pattern of things to come along with a intimidating rotation for next year: Santana, Radke, Silva, Baker, and Liriano. A perfect blend of power and control, there aren't too many holes in it. (Of course, that's not to ignore the great bullpen either. With Nathan, Crain, Rincon, Bowyer, and Balfour if he ever returns, the Twins have so many power arms to throw at oppenents, its unfair) With that said, here's to next year Fransisco Liriano. Can't wait.

One more first came tonight, that being Justin Morneau's first grand slam. Replacing Terry Tiffee at first in the eight, he slammed the big hit off of Jamie Walker. Here's to you Justin. 22 HRs and 78 RBIs isnt the worse thing we've seen. Its decent. But that .236 average and .302 (ugh) on-base percentage need to go up big time. Don't fire yourself, Justin, just help us all get rid of Scotty "Go the other way and bunt lots" Ulger. (I was sooo unhappy to hear that Gardy displaces the blame and wants to keep him around next year. Great. The hitting won't improve at all. Really smart)