Thanks Joe

I have had the privilege to follow the entirety of Joe Mauer’s career with the Minnesota Twins, which is to say his entire career. From the prodigy to the elder statesman on my favorite sports team, Joe has been nothing but a professional.

I have felt more sadness over his (potential) pending retirement than I would have thought, but it is only because of who he was both on and off the field. Looking back, had the knee injury not happened his rookie season and the concussions not caught up with him, I dare to think how great he would, universally, be considered.

While his teams didn’t bring home a World Series, I will always remember Joe Mauer, #7, one of the very best of his era and a legend wearing a Twins uniform.

Thanks Joe.

Following the Loons

I did not follow soccer at all growing up.

However, with Minnesota United FC starting its second season and my oldest son showing a little bit of an interest in soccer, it has been fun to watch the game a little more closely and start following the local team as well. It was also a World Cup year, so I was able to get updates on the day’s games from my two older sons as they followed the action in the afternoon.

One thing I have benefitted from has been my age as I am able to watch the game itself with a new set of eyes. Where in the past I might have seen nothing more than some (a lot) of running, now I pay more attention to the little things going on around the entire pitch. There is a lot going on away from the ball, and sometimes there is a lot more to enjoy when watching for the entire build up to something happening instead of focusing only on where the ball is.

So it has been a fun season so far, with three straight wins and 9 straight points. I am hoping the new additions will bring some more dynamism and that Darwin Quintero continues to find his extremely exciting niche in the league.

Twins make the right call!

Article: Ryan back in GM role as Twins replace Smith

This is the move that needed to happen. I was cheering for anything less than 100 losses this year, and luckily the Twins were able to stick with only 99 losses and a terrible, wasted season of disappointment, injury, and false hopes.

Getting Terry Ryan back, one of the architects of the run of competitive Twins teams from 2001 – 2010. Most of the players on those teams were brought in by Ryan in some way, and now he’s back in the driver’s seat.

There is a ton of work to do for a team that lost 99 games, but he’s done it before. Right now he carries the “interim” label, but don’t be surprised if Terry Ryan is around for a while. Let’s hope he can turn things around again.

The Season that Stunk

I don’t think it is a stretch to consider the 2011 season for the Minnesota Twins nothing less than a complete and total failure. No sugar-coating it, especially after running over the AL Central last year, but this year was terrible. The team, from top to bottom, was various kinds of terrible. I’m going to go ahead and use a little time to not look back but ahead at what needs to change.

Let’s get started!

Management

Where do I even start with this? I’m a believer that Gardenhire should be given one more season to do something with the Twins, at least another playoff showing (and hopefully get out of the 1st round … right Ron!?). However, from there, you can blow up the whole of the organization for all I care.

Billy Smith has to go, and he can take whatever talent evaluation staff he has as well (along with the medical staff … how many lingering injuries can the Twins have in a single season?). Start fresh, get in someone with a dang vision and passion, and get the ship righted REAL QUICK. The Twins now have the resources to be really good, but so much has been wasted that they need to blow this thing up.

Pitchers

Can Baker come back next year and be the Baker he was this year? Before he got hurt, he was one of the top pitchers in the league. Pavano is who is he, an innings-eater who fits in nicely at the back end of the rotation. Who is there after that!? Starting pitching should be a priority right away.

And the bullpen? What do you do? Keep Perkins and give almost everyone else their walking papers. To say the bullpen was a disaster would be stating it lightly. Get everyone else off of this team (including Nathan if he doesn’t show HUGE improvement over winter) and find some arms that can actually get people out. Ugh.

Infielders

Parmelee has played himself into some role on this team next year, and I think he will slot in really nicely at the DH/1B spot to split time with Morneau … if he ever comes back. Plouffe is in the same boat, that kid needs to have a spot whether it is in the outfield or 2B. Find a competent SS if Nishioka isn’t going to cut it (give him another year). Keep Valencia at 3B and tell him to take grounders every day during the winter. Spring training should be spent fielding grounders and learning how to throw properly. Pick up a veteran who can field and put in on the bench to teach the kids.

Outfielders

You are going to have to part ways with either Kubel or Cuddyer … so make a choice and go from there. Losing Cuddy’s RH bat would hurt, but I still hold out hope that Kubel can turn it around. This season was just such a waste.

Also, nice work not shipping Span out of here before the trade deadline. Revere should be manning on spot in the outfield, but now what do you do? Revere in left, Span in center, Cuddy/Kubel in right? Well that stinks. I would much rather have RH bat pickup in left, Revere in center (arm and all), and Cuddy/Kubel in right. However, we can’t have everything we want, can we.

Here’s to hoping Span returns to the pre-injury self so we can have a good on-base/speed combo at the 9/1 spot (thinking it would be Revere at 9 and Span at 1). ARGH!

Catchers

Capps was a bust, plain and simple. Too bad we don’t have Ramos anymore to backup Mauer, huh? Let’s hope the winter goes better for Mauer than either of the past two so that we can have a HEALTHY Joe Mauer for DAY 1 of the season. Pipe dream? Maybe.

Otherwise, Butera has been more than competent as far as defense goes, but if you can find a better bat with decent-enough defense, pick him up. Butera has filled-in valiantly, but it has to stop. I miss Mike Redmond.

Mauer needs to turn it around. We need an MVP season from him NOW!

Other Comments

Has there ever been a team that has gotten has fleeced with trades as the Twins over the past four seasons? What happened!? Garza for Delmon? Delmon for a bag of balls? Santana for a bag of balls? Hardy for rusty parts? Ramos for Capps? Just bad bad bad. Get better … now.

The batting order is going to be a mess next year. Maybe we can get by with the following (using only current players):

  1. Span
  2. Plouffe
  3. Mauer
  4. Morneau
  5. Cuddyer
  6. Parmelee
  7. Valencia
  8. Nishioka
  9. Revere

Who are we going to scare with that lineup? Hopefully some of those players can turn it around … but we are so weak on RH bats if Cuddy leaves that it isn’t even funny. Once again, fire your talent evaluation staff and get better!

Let’s not even begin to think about the rotation or bullpen. Don’t even go there.

Just a bad, bad year.