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Thursday, July 31, 2008

It's Liriano Time

A matter of hours remaining until the trade deadline. Word has it the Twins are looking at Rich Aurillia as well as a middle infielder after the devastating injury to Alexi Casilla. Also, my childhood hero Ken Griffey Jr. is headed to the AL Central to dawn White Sox stripes. Yuck! It'll certainly be hard to watch Griffey play for the Sox, but we will get to seem him in the dome more. Sorry for my writing delay, I have been away for work in Chicago for the last two weeks. More to come on the Casilla and Giffey issues and stay tuned for deadline deals, for now DY21 has this to say...

Sorry it has been over a week since my last post but life has been hectic as of late. Since my last post the Twins have been up and down, but things are looking good now taking the first 2 games of the ginormous July series verse the Chi Sox.

As Twins fans know there have been many grumblings about the young lefty Francisco Liriano's recent dominance in AAA. For the season Liriano has 10 wins and a 3.28 ERA with 5 less strikeouts then innings pitched. That's not even the sick part. Up until his most recent start in which he allowed 4 runs in 6 innings (he did still strike out nine) Liriano had a 0.26 ERA in his previous 5 starts. If that isn't deserving of a callup I don't know what is.

Early in the year it seemed Liriano was just a little timid to wing it again after Tommy John surgery, which is very understandable. But the Twins handled him perfectly, and now it looks like he remembers how to be just as filthy as he was in 2006. But the question arises, whose spot does he take in the rotation? Or better yet, should he be brought up as a bullpen guy? To me it isn't fair to replace Liriano for one of the four young starters who have been surprisingly pretty consistent at this juncture of the season. Therefore, my take on this is that it is time to get Livan Hernandez out of the rotation. It seems Livan's only plus nowadays is that he eats up innings and gives the bullpen a rest. Beneficial, yes, but at what cost? In his past twelve outings Livan as given up 3 or less earned runs in only four starts. There is not a doubt in my mind that Liriano is ready to do much better and with the Twins in the thick of a heated division race, this is the move that must be made.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

DY21's 2nd Half Preview

On the night of the start of the second half of the season, DY21 gives his predictions for the remainder of the 2008 season. Expect MVB picks on the way soon...

I don't know about all you guys, but I'm still riding the high the All Star game Tuesday night gave me. It was incredible to see the best in each league keep taking punches from the other side, yet then deliver a counter blow just as heavy. I mean how many incredible opportunities did each league have throughout extra innings? And if Cory Hart didn't throw like my little sister we probably would have seen even more baseball, forcing managers Terry Francona and Clint Hurdle to make lose/lose decisions in dealing with their pitchers.

Any who the "first half" of the season is now behind us and it is now time to look forward to what the next half of the season has to offer. I'm a subscriber to ESPN the magazine and one of my favorite things to do is look back at their preview editions to see who they picked to win it and where teams ranked in each division. As I looked back on this years baseball preview the writers would be lucky if they still had their jobs. Division winners for them were the Yankees, Indians, and Mariners. Ouch is right as they would have had better success drawing out of a hat then using their minds and baseball IQ. So on that note I will now give you my 2nd half predictions, and more then likely mess them up worse then ESPN did at the beginning of the year.

In the AL East all of me wants to just say the Rays will the division because it would be incredible for baseball and Dick Vitale may go crazy and I will never have to hear him broadcast a game again. But I have to believe that by September the Red Sox will be about 5 up on the Yankees and hold on to win the division. With DiceK becoming unhittable and we all know what Beckett can do mixed with the great lineup (that hasn't even seen a healthy David Ortiz) it’s scary what this team will be like when they hit on all cylinders. A week ago the Rays would have been my pick, but after this disaster of a week for them I just can't pick such an inexperienced team to compete with the big boys.

The AL Central will be the division to watch in the second half of the year. The Twins and White Sox will both be around but the Tigers seem to turn it on whenever they so choose and will probably surge at times in the second half. As I look into my crystal ball I see the White Sox taking the division, the Tigers finishing about 2 out and the Twins just don't have the gas and end 5 away. The reasons I say this is one because I think that Chicago and Detroit have the firepower in their lineups to hit at will, with ultimately the Chicago pitching will outdo Detroit's and also it's a win win situation for me, for either my prediction comes right or the Twins make the playoffs.

Some things I'm certain of in life are one day I will die, Brookings, South Dakota has the best Taco Johns in the nation, 2+2=4, and that in September the A's and Angels are battling for a division. It doesn't matter how ugly the A's lineup looks or how many superstars they trade away because they always find young guys that can come up and play right away, and do very good too. If the Twins are the PT Cruiser of young prospects and minor league development then the A's are the Rolls-Royce. But when it is all said and done I see the Angels narrowing out the A's because I see the Angels acquiring another bat to even add more oomph to the already very stacked lineup. Who would have though coming into this year that Ervin Santana and Joe Saunders would carry this staff rather then John Lackey and Kelvim Escobar? Definitely not ESPN the magazine.
So who will be representing the AL to face the Diamondbacks in the World Series? Hope you all liked the 2001 World Series as the Yankees come in as the wild card to face Arizona in the fall classic, only this time the Yankees prevail in 6 games. I just think this team has too many veterans and too much swagger to be left out of the playoffs, and once they get there I think they will win a couple of series’ and will take their 28th championship in 2008(excuse me while I go throw up) .

So there you have it, my second half preview for the rest of this already incredible MLB season. Now that I think of it, I have one more thing to add to my list of things I’m certain of in life; that these predictions are sure to be wrong.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Hamilton Wows, Morneau Wins!

I'm pretty certain I've watched the All-Star Game homerun derby every year since I was about nine years old. As a little boy I remember getting so excited for the contest and sitting in front of the television to watch only after getting bored 20 minutes later. I'll tell you what.... last night was not boring!

Last night was the greatest home run derby I have ever watched (well, I suppose 1998 when I was at the derby in Coors Field would be the greatest) but even on TV this may have been the best. Obviously, the night will always belong to Josh Hamilton and the way he made the derby and Yankee stadium look like a video game. At one point he had a run where 13 straight swings were homeruns, that's insane! I can't even do that on Ken Griffey Jr. baseball on my old Super Nintendo.

Hamilton and his incredible story is hard not to love, but in true Justin Morneau fashion, the quiet and calm star secretly won the derby with no one really noticing. Yeah, maybe Hamilton deserved it as he hit more total homers than Justin, but heck, Justin won and lets congratulate him. First Twin to ever win the award and an awesome trophy to add to his collection. Here's what our homerun king had to say...


Monday, July 14, 2008

All-Star Twins

As the all star game approaches I thought I would take the time to break down the mid summer festivities by reflecting on the game and also the 3 Twins who made the game. All in all I really do enjoy the MLB's All-Star Week, but it definitely has its ups and downs. A very heated debate over years past has been Bud Selig's decision that the winner of the all star game receives home field advantage in the World Series. I love this aspect of the game for it gives the game meaning and forces the players to play hard and take the game more seriously. I feel that the most over hyped aspect of all star week is the home run derby. The boo birds may come out for this statement but honestly I'm really only interested for the first 15 minutes and the next thing I know I'm watching reruns of Americas Next Top Model. I mean really how many times can we hear Chris Berman's "back, back, back, back, back, etc." in one night without going insane. Sure it's a fun event that the fans seem to adore, but I think it would be a lot better if it was tweaked to make it shorter and a little easier to watch.

Now onto the real important issue about All Star week, the Minnesota Twins that will represent one of the biggest surprises of the season. First I would love to tip my cap to Joe Mauer, for not only was he selected to the All Star game, he was also chosen to be a starter for the AL. This couldn't be more justified as he leads all catchers in runs and average and is also first in the AL in RBI's. It's also worth noting the job he has done in molding the young Twins pitching staff into one of the best staffs again this year. Another interesting thing I saw about Mauer came from the ESPN game last Monday verses the Red Sox (a heart breaker i know). During Mauer's last at bat Mauer was faced with a 3-1 count. Above the score on ESPN a statistic came up that said Mauer's average whenever the count as gotten to 3-1 is .480 on the season. That's right, Mauer gets a hit nearly 50% of the time if he gets ahead 3-1 in an at bat. I found this to be just an astounding figure and a true testament to the spectacular hitter Mauer has become .

The next Twin American League All Star is the punch to the Twins lineup. Cleanup hitter Justin Morneau was selected as a reserve at first base. This was another no brainer selection into the game for Morneau ranks 2nd among AL 1B in runs, and even better 1st in RBI's and Avg. Surprisingly so Justin Morneau is now battling aforementioned Joe Mauer for the batting champ not only on the Twins but also in the AL. Morneau has been a constant all year for the Twins and without him in the middle of the lineup the Twins probably would be sitting closer to where the Royals are now rather then 1 game and a half out of the division.

To anchor my article I decided to go to the anchor of the Twins rotation. Joe Nathan was probably the least likely of the three to make the All Star game coming into the year. No it wasn't because his skills had diminished or that he signed a lucrative deal, but rather because the Twins would be horrible and his save chances would be minuscule. But as it turns out the exact opposite has occurred as Nathan seems to have to close the door on a game at least once a series and almost always get the job done without giving my grandma any chance of having a heart attack (Something Latroy Hawkins and Eddie Guardado struggled with). When the Twins gave Nathan so much dough at the beginning of the year I questioned it thinking there wasn't a way closers were worth that kind of money. But Nathan has made me eat my words as he has been lights out in the 9th inning and is very deserving to be traveling to New York to pitch July 15th. - DY21

I certainly can agree with DY21 that Chris Berman's Home Run Derby commentary can be quite annoying, but with Twin Justin Morneau becoming a late addition to the derby I'll be watching tonight. Although Morneau has the least amount of homeruns of the 8 competitors, I think he an underdog candidate for tonight's competition. Morneau struggled last year in this same contest in San Franciso, but I believe he's learned from last time and will benefit from short right field porch in Yankee Stadium. Chris Singleton of Baseball Tonight predicted Justin Morneau as the winner. MVB's pick - Josh Hamilton. Enjoy the homers!

BREAKING NEWS: MVB makes trade!

It’s July 11th and the July 31st trade deadline is approaching fast. Teams are looking to boost their roster and make that one move that puts their team over the top.

The frenzy started this week with the Milwaukee Brewers acquiring Cleveland Indian’s ace C.C. Sabathia. The move seemed like that perfect piece to make the Brewers formidable contenders in the NL Central. However, the Chicago Cubs were not going to be outdone. The next day they made a very bold move acquiring Rich Harden from the Oakland A’s. Both pitchers bring ace quality to a crowded NL Central division. Sabathia is the reigning AL Cy Young winner and Harden is one of the toughest pitchers to hit (when he is healthy).

Most importantly, two great pitchers have left the American League, especially Sabathia who the Twins will no longer have to face three times a year. So with the deadline nearing, the Twins MVB decided to make a big move of his own to lead his blog into the playoffs.

The Twins MVB is announcing the emergence of another blogger on the MVB network…DY21!

DY21, which stands for his favorite Twin player Delmon Young, is a huge addition to the MVB squad (which was previously a squad of one). DY21 is a lifelong Twins fan with blog experience and extensive knowledge of the game.

So please welcome the second member of the MVB network. FYI: whenever there is a new post it will be tagged by the author, either Twins MVB or DY21. Here’s to a playoff push!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Maybe I'm Not Crazy

I'm not calling it a done deal yet or proclaiming myself right, BUT.... check out what I read on ESPN.com's Rumor Central...

The Minnesota Twins have reportedly had discussions internally about possibly acquiring Adrian Beltre from the Mariners, writes Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Christensen reports the Twins have not yet contacted the Mariners. Minnesota is not historically known for making big trades in July, but the Star-Tribune reports the the Twins scouts are ready if the need arises.

In case you forgot, I made a bold suggestion that the Twins should trade for the Mariners thirdbaseman. The trade is probably as unlikely today as it was when I wrote about it in June, but I couldn't help to be a bit surprised and rather proud of my conjecture. I do still believe Beltre would fill a gap both offensively and defensively for the Twins.

Not only may one Mariner (Beltre) be on the Twins radar, but with the recent release of Seattle DH Richie Sexson, I'm curious what playoff teams may be looking to add a veteran bat. Not quite sure if the guy is the right fit for the Twins. He's certainly a more attractive name than Craig Monroe, but pretty much the same type of player.

Time will only tell if GM Bill Smith makes a move for this potential playoff contender in the few weeks leading up to the July 31st trade deadline.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Thoughts from a Fellow Fan

Here is another installment of "Thoughts from a Fellow Fan," Taylor speaks his mind on the hot Minnesota Twins...

It certainly has been awhile since my last blog from mid June, but in that blog I said that the Twins season would be full of ups and downs because of the pitching. This statement was both right and wrong for me in that I was right in saying the Twins would be up and down, for after the blog the Twins started struggling for a bit and then absolutely have been on fire as of late. But then I was terribly wrong as somehow this group of no-namers to many MLB junkies have came in night in and night out and been unbelievably consistent. So in what has been a very exciting time for "Twins Nation" since my last post I thought I would reflect on why the Twins have become red hot.

1. Pitching - As I reference earlier, the Twins supposed biggest weakness coming into the season, has now become the Twins biggest strength. The young studs of Baker, Blackburn, Slowey, and Perkins now have Twins fans asking the question Johan who? At the beginning of the season I was encouraged with mediocre stars such as 6IP and maybe 4 earned runs. Now those type of starts are viewed as huge disappointments in my mind. The bullpen has stayed also stayed strong, even though they lost their 8th inning specialist in Neshak early in the season. But in usual Twins fashion the Twins bring up more then capable bullpen pitchers year in and year out, this year those guys being Brian Bass and Craig Breslow. Then there is Joe Nathan. Enough said.

2. Piranhas no more - I hated the piranhas. This may not be a popular comment, but I despised of the term used by Ozzie Guillen about Punto, Tyner, and Bartlett, or whomever else batted in the bottom of the Twins order, in reference to their lack of power and used in stead infield hits and bunt singles to get on base. Well much to my pleasure the guys now filling this void, Casilla, Span, and Punto have emerged as more of a complete MLB hitter. Sure they all have speed, but they also are capable of hitting the ball hard and far. Casilla now has two hit streaks of over 13 games since being called up, and has hit 4 home runs in the short amount of time he has been in the big leagues. Span just added more depth the the already loaded outfield for the Twins, and he seems to just keep getting hits nightly. Then as much as it pains me to say, Punto has shown his inner A-Rod by hitting .360 with a homerun and 6 RBI's in June. The ability of these guys to come in and drive in the Morneau's, Kubel's, and Young's has been very important to the Twins.

3. Delmon Young - Peter Gammons said Sunday on Baseball Tonight that the key for the Twins in this incredible run has been none other then Delmon Young. Delmon has raised his average to near .300 during this win streak, and has provided many clutch hits along the way. Yes he may be first pitch happy, and when I say happy I mean he swings at the first pitch 99 percent of the time, but somehow he has finally turned it on and has been an integral piece in this marvelous stretch for the Twins.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Twins Ramblings

Tough loss last night for the Twins. After Kevin Slowey's complete game gem on Sunday and great start from Glen Perkins last night, quality starts from the rotation have become nearly customary lately; however, an uncostumary bullpen collapse occurred last night.

Perkins left the game in the 7th inning leaving the bullpen to protect a 4-1 lead. A trio of Jesse Crain, Dennys Reyes, and Matt Guerrier all tried to get the final 9 outs but were to no avail. Very quickly a 4-1 slipped to a 5-4 deficit and the Twins weren't able to rally back. What seemed like another great victory against the division rival Detroit Tigers was suddenly a tough loss.


With two out in the first inning Twins pitcher, Glen Perkins, had a pitch get away from him and come up and in on Detroit slugger, Carlos Guillen. Guillen gave Perkins a long stare and was certainly not happy about the inside pitch. "There is no reason to try and hit him, especially not in the first inning," Perkins said. "He's a good hitter. I tried to make good pitches to him. I didn't want to leave a ball over the plate. It was one that just got away from me. I threw it as hard as I could. It was unfortunate that it went right there."

It didn't take long for the Tigers to retalliate whether it was justified or not. In the 3rd inning Tigers pitcher, Armando Galarraga, threw his first pitch behind batter Joe Mauer which led to a rare show of emotion from the calm catcher as he made a slight glance back toward the mound. But on the second pitch it appeared that Galarraga was throwing at Mauer's knees. Believe it or not, Mauer nearly charged the mound taking three steps toward Galarraga and then made the logical choice to get back in the batter's box. "I thought it was unnecessary, especially the second one," Mauer said. "Nobody got hit. But obviously it looked like they were throwing at us."

Ron Gardenhire did however lose his cool and dedcided he needed to protect his start catcher. I agree, that after the first pitch a second attack from Galarraga should have resulted in an ejection for the pitcher. However, Gardy's tantrem left him as the only person to get ejected from the game.


With the recent move of Michael Cuddyer to the DL (for the second time this year) young outfielder Denard Span has been recalled to take over the rightfield duties.

After struggling during his first callup in April, Span when back down and raised his batting average to .340 through 40 games with a .434 OBP. Span went 2 for 4 last night with a double and defensively made an awesome diving catch that earned him a Web Gem on Baseball Tonight.

I'm excited to watch Span play for the next two weeks and here's hoping for the best for the young outfielder. For more info on Span check out MLB.com here.