Braves 2, Twins 0 – To be fair, there was no report on Lucas Haren

The Moment: The Twins and Braves played what will look like a pitchers duel on paper, but really, a little bit of clutch hitting would have made this a completely different situation. Instead, it took an actual, real home run to ensure a run would score. It came off the bat of Adonis Garcia, and was enough for the Braves to stay in front. Great name, Adonis Garcia.

The Hero: Bert Blyleven kept calling him Lucas Haren, but no, it’s Lucas Harrell that worked 6 innings of 4 hit shut out ball for the Braves.

The Condolences: Miguel Sano actually was ok on defense today, but made up for it by going 0-4 at the plate with a trio of strikeouts

The Soundtrack: Flexicution – Logic. For a guy with the name “Logic” it seems unusual to make up words for the titles of his song, doesn’t it?

The Story:  Everything about this game was sloppy. Pitchers’ control, RISP execution, and even the announcing work from Dickenbert was painful. If there was a positive note on the night, it was Brian Dozier’s defense. That was pretty. Many times.

The only offensive player on either team that really had any success was Adonis Garcia, who had two hits. The Twins were regularly on base, thanks to 7 hits and three walks,but were never able to execute. They even had Byron Buxton on twice to lead off innings, a double from Kurt Suzuki and a lead off walk from Eduardo Nunez to start the game.

One player that looked good for the Twins, aside from Dozier, was Ervin Santana, who pitched a complete 9 innings, with 5 strikeouts and only 2 runs allowed. Allegedly, there was a bevy of scouts checking out the action, but then there was also Rob Antony saying that they didn’t want to have to go into free agency to replace Santana

Hopefully the permanent hire will know about Jose Berrios. (Yes, it is more important, at this juncture, to think about the future than 2-0 losses to the worst team in the NL)

The next Twins GM: I’m pulling for Alex Anthopoulos

Anthopoulos

I will point out and readily admit that I found a picture of Alex Anthopoulos with a smile on his face, in an effort to make him appear more lovable. After all, lovability is one aspect of a potential GM that Jim Pohlad labels as a “must”. Hopefully, this will help give the Twins in Anthopoulos’ direction, because honestly, there isn’t much about him that the Pohlads are going to like.

First, the obligatory link to explain why I’m even talking about the former Blue Jays GM. According to Jon Heyman, and linked through Bring Me The News, two names have surfaced in the Twins hunt: Anthopoulos and former Red Sox GM Ben Cherington. I think either would be a tremendous coup for the Twins, and fully suspect that the name will come elsewhere from this post. (I have a bad feeling about Wayne Krivsky).

Of those two, I think Cherington has the most in common with Terry Ryan, in that he was excellent at building his farm system, scouting and developing players. Cherington maybe wasn’t so great with the checkbook, however, which was also a failing of Ryan’s. Cherington also had a bigger bank account to work with in Boston.

Now, Anthopoulos is a complete wild card, completely unlike Terry Ryan. The biggest trade, in terms of players involved, in the entire 18 year combined tenure of Terry Ryan was the 5 player Chuck Knoblauch deal, in which Knoblauch went to New York and Eric Milton, Cristian Guzman, Brian Buchanan and Danny Mota coming to Minnesota. In the span of a calendar month in 2012, Anthopoulous executed 2 trades that saw 18 players change hands including 1, John Buck, who moved twice.

Anthopoulos, in total, had 6 trades in which 5 or more players were moved, and he was only at the helm for 6 years. In total, he had approximately as many trades as Terry Ryan did in his entire tenure. Anthopoulos would be instant gratification, and every trade deadline and offseason would be nuts. We would likely lose a few local writers to cardiac arrest.

There is a lot to be said for the approach that Terry Ryan had for so long, being patient and using the draft and the internal system to build from within. There is also something to be said for using those prospects to bring in needed components, and push the team over the top.

Alex Anthopoulos might not be a great general manager, but he is very different from Terry Ryan, and would do things that he would have been uncomfortable for the previous administration. And for what it’s worth, he sure would be exciting.

Red Sox 8, Twins 7 – The Twins should try to not give up 3 run homers

The Moment: Tommy Milone gave up only 4 earned runs in nearly 5 innings of work, with the remaining runs unearned. 75% of his earned runs allowed came on this swing from Hanley Ramirez. Did you remember he was in Boston? Because sometimes I forget.

The Hero: Haney Ramirez definitely reminded me of his presence, as he had the above home run, and also had another hit in 4 at bats.

The Condolences: Tommy Milone had those 4 earned runs, but he also had four unearned runs, thanks in large part to a booted ball from Miguel Sano. You can blame Sano all you want, but frankly, Sano didn’t give up the 3 run blast to Travis Shaw for runs 5 through 8.

The Soundtrack. Dope – TI ft Marsha Ambrosiius – Not many Marsha’s out there in the world today, hm?

The Story – The Twins are swinging a much hotter bat of late, thanks in large part to Max Kepler, Kennys Vargas, and the odd contribution from other players. Today, that other player was Juan Centeno, who had 3 hits, including the single that brought in the first two runs for the Twins. He later added another RBI in the 8th inning that made the game look a lot closer.

Alas, however, the issues were not on the offensive side of the ball. Tommy Milone gave up three home runs, which is subprime. Miguel Sano had another error, this time it was more of the backbreaking variety, rather than of the mind boggling variety. Nether are great.

This is a team that seems like it might soon be really fun to watch, but they obviously have many questions that need to be answered, like “who will pitch” and “can they catch?” The first question they will have to figure out, of course, is “who’s running this show?”.  It’s going to be a while before any of these questions are resolved.

Prepare to be underwhelmed

If you are like me, you have the opinion that the Twins should be looking to reset their roster, and should be taking advantage of a seller’s market. If you were really talking yourself into an active deadline, I have a couple of recent snippets from MLBTraderumors to serve as a wet blanket.

First, the best way to really blow things up is to deal from strength, sending off the redundant pieces, or redistributing value from one spot to many different areas. In the Twins case, there is nobody more valuable, thanks to the market, than Ervin Santana, who is also holding Jose Berrios in Rochester by his mere presence.

The Twins aren’t inclined to deal right-hander Ervin Santana unless they’re “wowed” by an offer, tweets Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com. Despite Santana’s age (33) and their distance from contention, the last-place Twins regard him as a quality future piece.

A “quality future piece” is something said by a team without a GM and an owner that doesn’t know anything about baseball, usually about mediocre, old players. He’s neither quality nor future.

Second, the Twins are likely seeking to dictate the market. There are a lot of players that the Twins could stand to excise in order to set the table for a new season and a new GM. Is there a dialogue between the Twins and other teams about their players? The market is open, after all!

  • The Twins are seen as something of a “backup plan” for multiple contending teams in case other deadline plans ball through, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports (Twitter link).  Ervin Santana, Eduardo Nunez,Fernando Abad and Kurt Suzuki are a few of the Twins mentioned as possible trade chips, though since none of these players are top-tier upgrades, it makes sense that contenders would explore other options first.

The Twins are looking desperately to trade, and nobody is interested in taking on Minnesota players, unless they have to.

Don’t expect much to happen this week, Twins fans. The rebuild was supposed to get a kick in the pants as July concluded, but it seems as though circumstances are conspiring against it.

 

Twins 11, Red Sox 9 – Twins starting to look like a playoff team

The Moment: The Red Sox had a late lead, 8-5 with two out in the 7th, and the Twins started reeling off hits, capped by a 2 run single from Eduardo Nunez to put the Twins in front. The Red Sox tried, but they couldn’t overcome Brandon Kintzler, and this would go down as the game winner.

The Hero: It seems as though Eddie Rosario learned something while he was down in Rochester. He has been much better since his return, and had 4 hits over the course of the game, and scored three times. I’m impressed.

The Condolences: Now that I’ve recently come out with some pro-Nolasco propaganda He had to come out and pitch a real turd SAturday night. 2 innings with 6ER does not instill confidence.

The Perils:

The Soundtrack: Keasbey Nights – Streetlight Manifesto – Seems like a fitting song, this ska-punk blend for a game in Boston. At least, that’s what movies have told me.

The Story: This wasn’t what you would call a well pitched game, but it was a ton of fun, if you like offense. David Price was the pitcher with the longest outing, and he went only 5 2/3 innings. In total, there were 13 pitchers used. The only disappointment is that none of those pitchers are also position players.

There were 34 hits, 15 for Boston and 19 for the Twins. Only 2 home runs though, which is interesting. That seems like a low total for 20 total runs, right? There were two triples (Robbie Grossman and Max Kepler) and 7 doubles, which go a long way to scoring a lot of runs I guess.

Kurt Suzuki, as you can see, took a foul ball in the chin, splitting it and leading to some stitches. This seems like an inevitability, since Kurt Suzuki is a magnet for foul tips. A few innings later, though, the same batter, Dustin Pedroia, nearly took out Juan Centeno the same way. We didn’t get a position player pitching, but we almost had Eduardo Escobar catching.

The Twins have now, at the very least, split their series with the Red Sox in Boston. That’s something else, really. Maybe they will be buyers this week.

Twins 2, Red Sox 1 – The Sox don’t seem so bad

The Moment: Kyle Gibson pitched a hell of a ball game, but he was pulled in the 9th inning in favor of Brandon Kintzler. Kintzler struggled a bit, allowing a pair of singles and then a walk, giving way for the player Dick Bremer called the greatest clutch hitter in Red Sox history. Well, I’m sure you can guess what happened next…. Oh, maybe you can’t. Ortiz bounced into a 4-2-3 double play, just when it looked like the Twins were going to blow it.

The Hero: Kyle Gibson, as I noted above, pitched a hell of a game. 2 hits, only 1 run and 6 strikeouts. That’s really quite good.

The Condolences: I’ve never seen an individual WPA this low. David Ortiz’s bases loaded GIDP was devastating, and it wasn’t even the first DP of the game for him.

The Soundtrack: Refugee – Tom Petty and the Heartbreaers. The perfect song for the trade deadline. Which players are on the cusp of fleeing this disaster?

The Story: I know that everyone was expecting this, but I’ll give you a recap anyway. Kyle Gibson gave up 2 hits early, and then didn’t give up another hit. He had 7 no hit innings. You are hearing that, right? Good Kyle Gibson is back!

The problem with something like WPA and the Hero/Condolences thing is that it’s all based on offense, because even though Miguel Sano was solid on offense, driving in the game winning run with a double, but that doesn’t encapsulate just how bad his case of the yips is right now, when there are pop ups headed his way. This time, an 8th inning drop while Kyle Gibson was cruising seemed like it was going to derail everything. Maybe Gibson having to pitch to an extra batter prevented his return in the 9th?

One other player that looked really good? Well that’s Brian Dozier, who was a gem in the field, and put the Twins on the board with a home run of his own. Dozier, Gibson, Kintzler and Ervin Santana are all getting hot right before the trade deadline, which is great for a team looking to sell.

Anyways, who knows if that matters for this particular situation.

Red Sox 13, Twins 2 – Forget any positive vibes you had

The Moment: The Red Sox roundly thumped the Twins on Thursday evening. That big victory meant that there weren’t many swings in momentum, and Mookie Betts’ lead off home run that gave Boston their first lead was the biggest WPA move. The Red Sox did so many things to Minnesota, MLB.com didn’t even include a video in their highlight package.

The Hero: I don’t think anyone had a BAD game per se, but the best Red Sock was Stephen Wright. Under the previous administration, I believe the Twins would have decided it was time to go all in on a knuckleballer.

The Condolences: Tyler Duffey was pretty bad. He was outshined by Michael Tonkin for heavens sake. Duffey allowed 6 runs and gave up 6 runs in 2 1/3 innings. Gross.

The Soundtrack: Lucille – BB King. For some reason, this game has me listening to the Blues. That said, there is quite a bit more skill at play here than there was earlier this evening.

The Story: Well, this was awful. It got away from the Twins quickly. The Sox hit three home runs (shout out to Buddy Boshers who is back and didn’t give up a home run). The bullpen had to work 5 2/3 innings, and managed to allow 7 runs of their own. The offense was clamped down, with the Twins only collecting 5 hits.

Two of those hits belonged to Max Kepler, who I like more and more every time I see him. Remember how everyone latched on to Danny Santana and Eddie Rosario the last two years? This is like that, but Max Kepler is good. No smoke and mirrors here. If there was a mirror, Kepler might do something about his facial hair.

Of course, all this is the undercard to the real event. The real entertainment is the trade deadline. There is nothing to report their, though, either.

The Twins make a catacylsmic move

Terry Ryan, in happier times

Terry Ryan, in happier times

The Twins fired Terry Ryan earlier this week in a move that will likely devastate the organization for the next several years. The handling of Terry Ryan’s dismissal was nothing short of disturbing, and none of the conclusions I draw from the dismissal and its aftermath are good.

Let’s first get one thing out of the way. The Twins were right to let Terry Ryan go. The Twins have regressed heavily this season, many of his free agent moves have failed to pan out, and reflecting on the past run of success the Twins had, he was reluctant to make a move that would put the Twins over the top if it meant giving up a prospect. I think everyone recognizes that the Twins are on the cusp of having a very solid core, and I’m not convinced Terry Ryan is the right guy to build around it.

The Twins, though, completely butchered the process, and in interviews since the termination, and a reflection of what has gone on since then, I am not sure they will recover.

Let’s first address the timing, which came about at approximately the worst time to have a change in the leadership of the organization. The Twins didn’t choose to dismiss him at this time. Terry Ryan was allowed to choose how he went out. The organization elected to tell him a month ago that they didn’t plan to bring him back, and he waited until just now, again, the worst time, to leave the team. I don’t care what other excuses or reasons the Twins have for the timing of the move, but Terry Ryan had to know what this would do the organization. For a loyal soldier to put his old team in such a bad spot tells me only bad things about the working environment at Target Field.

Then, of course, there is the notion that the Twins will be going outside the organization for someone, and they would like to hire someone before the season is through. That means Rob Antony is in charge, and was given the reins to a team that he likely will have no investment in going forward. At the very least, the Twins should have made it clear that the rest of the season was an audition for Antony. What move will Antony have to make the right moves for the Twins? Or any moves, for that matter?

For that matter, who will the Twins hire in the middle of the season? Who is available in August to take over as general manager? You aren’t going to hire anyone that is currently in a front office, because their current employer wouldn’t allow them to interview with the Twins. So that leaves GM candidates that are presently unemployed, while having the team run by someone with no stake in the future of the organization. Yikes.

And these are just the things that I worry about without opening things up to speculation. Let’s consider a few things that have been said, or have occurred in the past several years within the Twins organization. First, let’s look at the primary requirement of the next general manager.

“If I had to pick one requirement for somebody going forward, it’s someone that’s lovable. The only way you can be loved is if you’re lovable. We want someone that can ultimately be loved.” – Jim Pohlad

This is, of course, ludicrous. That said, it speaks to the mentality the Twins have maintained for as long as I can remember. They care deeply about the members of their organization, loyalty and personability. Ron Gardenhire and Bill Smith both still have jobs in the organization, for example. The Twins want to make sure that Paul Molitor remains the manager next year, further boxing in the new GM, who is beginning to sound more and more like a precious unicorn.

Jim Pohlad, in part because of the new stadium, but also in part because he is his own man, has been more willing to spend in free agency. The first splash he made was Joe Mauer, the hometown hero but that was followed by a much more expensive rotation. It’s clear that Pohlad doesn’t have the patience (indifference?) of his father. With reports that there was a disagreement about the best way to improve the team, it leads to an obvious conclusion.

The Pohlads want to win with what they have already paid for, and the players that are already on the roster. Terry Ryan isn’t and likely will never be, good at adding veterans, but at least he recognized when a team needs to be reset. I’m guessing that he told the Pohlads as much, and Jim, with his heavy investment and a need to win now to staunch the loss of attendance, didn’t like this.

The Twins need to make drastic moves, and that needs to start by trading away veterans, some of them even beloved (Brian Dozier and Ervin Santana stand out in my mind) in order to open positions for prospects already within the organization and to add new talent from without. It’s not a quick fix, but it may be the only fix.

Jim Pohlad expected unquestioning loyalty among Terry Ryan, despite confirming that he would be let go, and prior to that, continued sycophancy from the GM, continuing to operate a plan that wasn’t going to work. Ryan had definitely run his course in Minnesota, but the transition is being bungled in such a way, and the prospects for the future when taken in the scope of the past are so troublesome that I can’t help but believe the real issue was Jim Pohlad all along.

Twins 4, Tigers 1 – Hold on a sec, are the Twins making a playoff run?

The Moment: The Twins were involved in another pitcher’s duel with the Tigers on Thursday afternoon, with the score locked at 1 until the 9th inning. The Twins finally took the lead when Max Kepler hit a solo home run off of the infamous K-Rod. Max Kepler is not afraid of Francisco Rodriguez.

The Hero: Justin Verlander was undoubtedly the best pitcher of the day. He matched Ervin Santana by allowing only one run, but he also worked an extra inning and struck out 7 more batters. Santana was acceptably mediocre.

The Condolences: Francisco Rodriguez, as noted above, gave up the game winning home run. For good measure, he gave up another one later in the inning. Francisco Rodriguez is Kevin Jepsen.

The Soundtrack: Who’s Crying Now – Journey. It’s the Tigers.

The Story: The Twins had another sneakily mediocre start from Ervin Santana, who struck out only two and allowed a home run, but held the Tigers to but a run over 6 innings. Justin Verlander had similar results, with the homer and the one run and all, but he collected 9 strikeouts and worked 8 innings.

The dinger was a Joe Mauer special, the second, performed in the first inning to give the the Twins the early lead. This type of thing always seems to happen when people are at work and nobody can see it. Joe Mauer is the worst, right?

The big move by the Twins came in the final frame off of a once dominant pitcher. Max Kepler and Eddie Rosario aren’t intimidated, and they each had a homer, with the latter making his a two run shot. Is there anything these two can’t do?

Well, Max Kepler can’t grow a beard. Whatever that is on his face looks abysmal.

Twins 6, Tigers 2 – He did good! (trade him)

The Moment: Tommy Milone had his foot on the throat of the Detroit Tigers tonight. When the Twins expanded their lead from 1-3 on this Eduardo Nunez single, it was more than enough to seal the deal for the Good Guys.

The Hero: Until Tommy Milone hit the 9th inning he had a 1 hitter and a shut out. He got one out in the 9th, but allowed 3 more runs and the only two runs he would allow, but by that point, it was pretty well in the bag for the Twins.

The Condolences: Bruce Rondon gave up three of the Twins’ runs, the second half of their total, including a home run to Brian Dozier. He did it in a much shorter amount of time than Anibal Sanchez, so he scored fewer points for effectiveness.

The Soundtrack: Listening to the BBC, listening to coverage of the RNC from a  foreign country. It’s surprisingly even handed. It’s not like they don’t have problems of their own.

The Story: Rob Antony only took 2 games into his tenure to get a win. He also fixed Tommy Milone, who pitched into the 9th inning and allowed only 1 hit through the first 8 innings. The offense improved by 6 runs a game, also. What can’t he do?

Eduardo Nunez had a 2 run single to expand the lead, Joe Mauer had an RBI single of his own while Brian Dozier polished things off with a home run. When Milone slowed down in the 9th, it was time for Brandon Kintzler to come in and clean things up. Great game all around!

Now trade ’em all. Everyone. Or don’t. Either way this team is irredeemable. More on that later!