A Kubrick-Style Breakdown of Minnesota Twins’ GM Terry Ryan’s Descent Into Madness

10 09 2012

It’s no secret that the advisory board here at Dubsism is laden with fans of the Minnesota Twins. The Chairman of that board, the esteemed Dick Marple, is our man on all things Twins, and the newspaper article he pointed out was simply to good not to share.  To appreciate this, you don’t need to be a fan of the Twins; hell, you don’t even need to be a baseball fan. But, if you love a breakdown of a Jack-Nicholson-in-”The Shining” style descent into complete madness, then we have a treat for you, courtesy of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

The article lists several bullet points, but the original piece doesn’t put them in an order in which they really show how bat-shit crazy Ryan really has become. By a simple  re-ordering of these points in terms of how insane they are, the picture becomes clear.

Redrum.

The Bullet Point:  “Doubts he will pursue any elite free-agent pitchers this winter, saying it will be a “thin” market and that he’s averse to signing such pitchers to the long-term deals required to land them.”

“Shining” Crazy Level:  Just getting to the hotel, not crazy yet.

The Rationale: Ryan is actually right about this. If you stop and think about it, especially while perusing the list of pitchers likely to be available, there are precious few exceptions to the original author’s ludicrous use of the word “elite” to describe any of these guys. From Cot’s Baseball Contracts:

* – Player whose current contract includes 2013 option

  • Scott Baker *
  • Erik Bedard
  • Joe Blanton
  • Bartolo Colon
  • Aaron Cook
  • Kevin Correia
  • Jorge De La Rosa *
  • Ryan Dempster
  • R.A. Dickey *
  • Scott Feldman *
  • Gavin Floyd *
  • Jeff Francis
  • Freddy Garcia
  • Zack Greinke
  • Jeremy Guthrie
  • Rich Harden
  • Dan Haren *
  • Roberto Hernandez *
  • Tim Hudson *
  • Edwin Jackson
  • Hiroki Kuroda
  • Colby Lewis
  • Francisco Liriano
  • Kyle Lohse
  • Derek Lowe
  • Paul Maholm *
  • Shaun Marcum
  • Jason Marquis
  • Daisuke Matsuzaka
  • Brandon McCarthy
  • Kevin Millwood
  • Jamie Moyer
  • Roy Oswalt
  • Carl Pavano
  • Jake Peavy *
  • Anibal Sanchez
  • Jonathan Sanchez
  • Ervin Santana *
  • Joe Saunders
  • James Shields *
  • Carlos Villanueva
  • Chien-Ming Wang
  • Kip Wells
  • Randy Wolf
  • Chris Young
  • Carlos Zambrano

It gets a little better if you want to try to shore up the bullpen, but there will still a lot of slag-heaps out there.

  • David Aardsma
  • Jeremy Accardo
  • Mike Adams
  • Jeremy Affeldt
  • Luis Ayala
  • Grant Balfour *
  • Miguel Batista
  • Matt Belisle
  • Rafael Betancourt *
  • Jonathan Broxton
  • Taylor Buchholz
  • Sean Burnett *
  • Tim Byrdak
  • Shawn Camp
  • Matt Capps *
  • D.J. Carrasco
  • Randy Choate
  • Todd Coffey *
  • Jose Contreras *
  • Francisco Cordero
  • Juan Cruz
  • Octavio Dotel
  • Chad Durbin
  • Kyle Farnsworth
  • Pedro Feliciano *
  • Jason Frasor
  • Brian Fuentes *
  • Mike Gonzalez
  • Sean Green
  • Kevin Gregg *
  • Jason Grilli
  • LaTroy Hawkins
  • Clay Hensley
  • Livan Hernandez
  • J.P. Howell
  • Hong-Chih Kuo
  • Casey Janssen
  • Bobby Jenks
  • Brandon League
  • Brad Lidge
  • Matt Lindstrom *
  • Mark Lowe
  • Brandon Lyon
  • Ryan Madson
  • Shawn Marshall
  • Dustin McGowan
  • Guillermo Mota
  • Peter Moylan
  • Brett Myers *
  • Pat Neshek
  • Will Ohman
  • Darren Oliver *
  • Juan Carlos Oviedo (aka Leo Nunez)
  • Vicente Padilla
  • Tony Pena
  • Brad Penny
  • Joel Peralta
  • J.J. Putz *
  • Chad Qualls
  • Ramon Ramirez
  • Jon Rauch
  • Francisco Rodriguez
  • Mariano Rivera
  • Fernando Rodney
  • J.C. Romero
  • Takashi Saito
  • Joakim Soria *
  • Rafael Soriano *
  • Hisanori Takahashi
  • Robinson Tejeda
  • Jose Valverde
  • Carlos Villanueva
  • Jamey Wright

Sure, there might be a few guys that might be interesting, but it isn’t crazy to say “I’m not going to be the guy who gives R.A. Dickey $12 million.”

The Bullet Point:  “Would consider re-signing pending free-agent pitchers Scott Baker and Carl Pavano.”

“Shining” Crazy Level:  The writer’s block is just setting in; he’s more frustrated than crazy.

The Rationale: Unless you are going to take a Louisville Slugger to the piggy-back, why not stick with the devil you know versus the one you don’t?

“You have to be open to a lot of things when you’re looking for starting pitching,” he said. “You’ve going to have to take some risks and you’re going to have to look at all markets, not just free agency, but trades and waivers and Rule 5s. But if you want to do it the correct way, that’s going to provide stability over the long haul, you’re going to have to draft and develop guys, too.

“Even when we had rotations that were darn good, we got them from about every avenue. We have to do the same thing moving forward here.”

After all, it isn’t like the Twins are climbing out of the crapper in 2013, so why blow money now on what could easily be another flame-job?

The Bullet Point:  “Insists that he, not the previous general manager, the manager or ownership, should take the blame for this season.”

“Shining” Crazy Level: He’s now talking to Lloyd the invisible bartender; welcome to Warning Sign City.

The Rationale: Terry, it’s time to realize a few basic facts here. The Twins didn’t go from perennial-division winner to the Blue Astros overnight. There was a progression involved here, and on that started long before you stepped back in the general manager’s seat.  Now, having said that, let’s look at some examples of your work from both stints as the general manager:

  • Butch Huskey
  • Rondell White
  • Tony Batista
  • Ruben Sierra
  • Ramon Ortiz
  • Sidney Ponson
  • Joel Zumaya

Now, Terry, before you try to hoggy-pants all the blame for what has gone wrong in Minnesota, let’s take a look at what your immediate predecessor Bill Smith did.

His two best moves:

  • Carl Pavano (now, if he cost $16.5 million for two years, imagine what some of the guys on the aforementioned list might get…)
  • Jim Thome (once for $3 million, then again for $1.5 million, then traded for the dreaded “player to be named later”)

But then there’s this list of Smith signees…

  • Orlando Hudson – one year, $5 million
  • Joe Crede – one year, $2.5 million
  • Luis Ayala – one year, $1.3 million
  • Nick Punto – two years, $8.5 million
  • Livan Hernandez  - one year, $5 million
  • Mike Lamb –  two years, $6.6 million
  • Adam Everett – one year, $2.8 million

Shelley Duvall could be the typical weak-hitting middle-infielder of the Bill Smith era.

Ryan goes on to the following quote:

“We have not played well,” Ryan said. “And everything comes underneath my umbrella. So I’ll go through the next month and we’ll see exactly where we stand here, but sooner rather than later Mr. Pohlad has got to get a decision out of me. I know he can’t go on forever with this setup.”

There’s enough blame to go around here, Terry. Trying to pretend this is all your doing won’t help it get fixed.

The Bullet Point:  “Wants people to stop blaming Joe Mauer for the team’s problems.”

“Shining” Crazy Level: Making out with the naked ghost of Room 237

The Rationale: Forget about it Terry. It’s never going to happen.

“Does the eight-year, $184 million contract belonging to his other former MVP, Mauer, make his job more difficult? “No, it does not,” he said. “We’ve got to quit blaming Joe Mauer for any ills we have. If you took his name off the line and just looked at the statistics, you’d say, geez, this guy is really good.”

When a quasi-anonymous assistant football coach gets caught raping kids, the famous head coach takes the fall. When a team goes from division-winners to cellar-dwellars, the $23 million dollar singles-hitter is going to take the blame, fairly or not.

To quote the aforementioned Chairman Marple: “Minneapolis man reports several years of being butt-fucked by Jim Pohlad, Bill Smith, Terry Ryan, and Ron Gardenhire.”

“Come and play with us, Danny Valencia.”

The Bullet Point:  “Considers Justin Morneau a “core” player whom he expects to thrive next season.”

“Shining” Crazy Level: The hallway, the elevator full of blood, and those creepy twins

The Rationale: Time for some brutal honesty. Justin Morneau is never again going to be the MVP caliber player he once was.  The concussion issue has taken its toll, and despite the fact he is having a respectable season, he’s making MVP money.  That’s the problem.

“Morneau has been the subject of trade rumors. Ryan spoke of him as a key part of next year’s team.”

“I look at this as a transition year for him, because last year he didn’t get enough at-bats,” Ryan said. “I’m pleased with his progress. There was a time this spring when we didn’t think he was going to play any first base for us. We’ve come a long way from that point.”

While it is true “they’ve come a long way,” it is also true that they haven’t come back nearly to the height of the original fall.  Think about it this way. The Twins couldn’t unload Morneau on the Dodgers, a team who later ate nearly a quarter-billion dollars in salary to take on risks like Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett.

“I think his numbers are going to return. I think he’s a core guy. He’s a former MVP who’s what, 31? He’s one of the most important people in this organization, no doubt.”

Twins fans are all too familiar with big. slugging, Canadian lefties who show off a brief period of huge promise, then concussions end it all.  Raise your hand if you remember Corey Koskie.

The Bullet Point: “Won’t force Gardenhire to make changes to his coaching staff.”

“Shining” Crazy Level:  He’s coning through the door with the axe.

The Rationale: Two more dead-give away quotes:

“The most likely scapegoats in any baseball organization are the major league coaches. Ryan said he would never force Gardenhire to make a change. “It’s not that I would force him or he would force me,” Ryan said. “It would never come to that. If we need to make a change, in my opinion, I would recommend it to him. If he felt the need to make a change, he would bring that to me. Then we would discuss it.”

“I don’t think either one of us should independently make that call. I wouldn’t want to force-feed a coach on a manager. That never works in a clubhouse.”

Somebody ought to put George Stienbrenner’s grave on full Roll-Over Alert.

That leads to the piece d’resistance

The Bullet Point: “Will not fire manager Ron Gardenhire.”

“Shining” Crazy Level: Dude just got it with the axe.

The Rationale: The following two quotes illustrates the problem:

“I’ve never fired a manager because I’ve never had to. That’s as simple as I can put it. I have no interest in changing managers. I don’t see where Ronnie is the problem here.”

“Ryan did not fire Tom Kelly when Kelly was in the midst of eight consecutive losing seasons. He doesn’t plan to fire Gardenhire after two. “Gardy has a good track record,” Ryan said. “We’ve had a couple of tough years. Am I opposed to firing people? No. I’ve fired people in my life. Quite a few, in different departments. You have to do that on occasion. You don’t like to, but sometimes you have to.”

The fact that he’s comparing Tom Kelly, a manager who lived from 1993 on with essentially a Triple-A line-up, to Gardenhire, a manager who couldn’t win with two MVP-caliber players and a host of All-Stars is “makes little snowmen out of his own poop” crazy.

Now, if we could just get Terry Ryan to spend the winter at an isolated resort in the mountains somewhere…





By Putting Joe Mauer on Waivers, The Minnesota Twins Prove They Are Completely Clueless

29 08 2012

In the world of baseball, August is that time when guys get put on waivers for purposes of either being traded or to gauge if there is any trade interest on a big-contract player.  But to make this tactic work, you must understand the concept of timing.

The Minnesota Twins clearly do not understand this.

In case you didn’t notice, the Twins have put all-star catcher and former MVP Joe Mauer on the waiver wire, according to Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com.

Don’t get me wrong, I get why they did it. Let’s be honest; the Twins have plummeted to baseball’s basement, and Mauer’s has now become a millstone around Minnesota’s neck.  Yeah, I get that he is performing; his “slash numbers” are .309/.403/.425 with eight homers.  But the idea that he likely will never reproduce his  power numbers of his MVP year of 2009 combined with the fact he has roughly $142.5 million left on his contract means he is a likely candidate for a Red Sox-style salary dump.

The problem is the Twins are too late. Just look at the likely takers to eat such a big contract…

The Red Sox just unloaded a quarter-billion in salaries in Adrian Gonzalez , Josh Beckett, and Carl Crawford. They are not going to pick most of that back up in one fell swoop.

The Dodgers just ate Boston’s $250 million.

The Yankees really need pitchers more than yet another lefty bat.

The Cubs are still trying to get out from under Alfonso Soriano’s gorgon-like deal; not to mention they just ankled themselves to Starlin Castro for far too long and far too much, and rumor has it they are ready to piss away a giant pile of cash on professional under-achiever Jeff Samardzija.

The Angels blew their allowance on C.J. Wilson and Albert Pujols, not to mention what they still owe Vernon Wells, Torii Hunter, and what they will end up giving to Zach Grienke or any of those other pitchers.

The Rangers spent big for Yu Darvish and still have the Josh Hamilton situation to resolve.

Given all that, just where does the Twins’ front office think Mauer is going? You know he’s not going to be part of one of those “you take him but we will pay a big chunk of his salary” deals.  So what are they hoping to accomplish here?

Oh, and here’s the big problem…not only does Mauer’s contract guarantee him $23 million annually through the 2018 season, it also has full “no-trade” protection.  In other words, even if he is claimed, Mauer would have to approve any deal.

All that means that Joe Mauer changing team in the next few days is as likely as a Twins’ World Series Championship this year.  It just isn’t going to happen.  But it does make one wonder just what are the Twins thinking?





Great Moments in Minnesota Twins History: The Day Hating Joe Mauer Entered The Afterlife

20 09 2011

A few years ago, I would have never imagined this moment was possible; Joe Mauer was a god in catcher’s gear in Minnesota. But, when you sign a contract worth roughly the gross national product of Portugal, then bat under .250 with absolutely no power, the tables are going to turn.

But now we’ve entered a whole new realm. Thanks to the good people over at SportsPickle, we’ve learned that hating Mauer continues even after you’ve shaken off this mortal catcher’s coil. That’s the official confirmation that the love affair between Twins fans and the former hometown hero is now officially over.

My first clue the relationship was over came when the Chairman of the Dubsism Advisory Board, the esteemed Dick Marple, would only refer to Mauer as “the $23 million singles hitter.” Frankly, I may owe some money to the other member of that board as I may have bet the curse on Mauer’s house would come from Mr. Marple’s deathbed.  My bad bets notwithstanding, I can just imagine the curse a culture that contains the ascerbic Marple disdain and hatred from the grave would cast…





The Ten Best Football Players in Baseball

14 09 2010

September marks the time of year when football and baseball intersect. Its only natural that many players played both; the two-sport star existed before Bo Jackson, and to this day there are plenty who have laced it up on both fields. Many of the boys of summer you are watching now easily could have been footballers. Here’s a list of 10 such active baseball players who had significant football careers.

10)  Clayton Richard, San Diego Padres

On the Gridiron: The pride of Lafayette, Indiana, Richard was the first high school athlete to be named Indiana’s Mr. Football and Mr. Baseball in the same year. As a high school quarterback, Richard threw for 10,777 yards and 92 touchdowns. He then redshirted his freshman year in at Michigan in 2003, but lost the starting quarterback job to freshman Chad Henne in 2004. His football days were over when the Chicago White Sox selected him in the 8th round of the 2005 draft.

Had He Chosen Football? It what will prove a theme, Richard’s fate seemed a bit predestined. He was never going to rise past #2 on the Michigan depth chart, and when the Sox came calling, that was all for his football days.

9) Matt Holliday, St. Louis Cardinals

On the Gridiron: Here’s another tale of a kid who tore it up as a high school quarterback, got an offer from a big-time football program (Oklahoma State), then along came professional baseball; in this case the Colorado Rockies selected him in the 7th round of the 1998 draft.

Had He Chosen Football? He likely would have twirled into oblivion; Oklahoma State was the backwater of college football when Holliday would have been there.

8 ) Carl Crawford (Tampa Bay Rays)

On the Gridiron: See #9 and make the following changes:

  • Replace the words “Oklahoma State” with “Nebraska.”
  • Crawford was drafted in the second round of the 1999 draft.

Had He Chosen Football? Another guy who may have passed his way into loading trucks at UPS. Not only do Nebraska quarterbacks not go to the NFL, the Huskers already had a Heisman trophy winner in the paddock: Eric Crouch.

7) Grady Sizemore, Cleveland Indians

On the Gridiron: Sizemore played running back and cornerback in high school, setting school records for career rushing yards and interceptions. Sizemore committed to the University of Washington as a quarterback. However, after being drafted Montreal Expos, a $2 million signing bonus ended his days a Husky.

Had He Chosen Football? This is another “guess” job since Sizemore never played quarterback before. But, it is more likely he would have lost the job to Cody Pickett, who still holds Washington’s records for career passing yards and touchdowns

6) Seth Smith, Colorado Rockies

On the Gridiron: In high-school, Smith collected letters for sports like the rest of us collected baseball cards. But once he hit the University of Mississippi, he never saw a single snap as a quarterback. Why? Because Smith isn’t the only guy on this list to lose his football career to a guy named Manning. Once Eli became the starter, Smith was back to baseball.

Had He Chosen Football? This is the classic “Who knows?” We never even got a glimpse of what might have been. However, the fact that he hit .400 as a freshman at Ole Miss suggested that his future was not on the gridiron.

5) Mark DeRosa, San Francisco Giants

On the Gridiron: As a quarterback at the University of Pennsylvania, in two seasons DeRosa notched a 16-3 record as a starter, along with 3,885 passing yards. He played a role in leading the Quakers setting a Division I-AA record for consecutive wins (24), which included an undefeated 1994 Ivy League championship season.

Had He Chosen Football? Let’s do the math here…Know how many Ivy League quarterback have been drafted into the NFL in the last 40 years? Exactly 9.

  • Brown: Bob Bateman, Cincinnati Bengals (1976)
  • Columbia: John Witkowski, Detroit Lions (1984), Marty Domres, San Diego Chargers (1969)
  • Harvard: Ryan Fitzpatrick,  St. Louis Rams (2005), Brian Buckley, New England Patriots (1981), Eric Crone, St. Louis Cardinals (1973)
  • Princeton: Bob Holly, Washington Redskins (1982)
  • Yale: Tom Doyle, Oakland Raiders (1969), Brian Dowling, Minnesota vikings (1969)

Out of that 9, only Marty Domres was drafted higher than the 6th round, and only Domres and Ryan Fitzpatrick had any career worthy of even the slightest note. Not to mention at the time DeRosa would have been in the draft, an Ivy League quarterback hadn’t been drafted in over a decade.

4) Adam Dunn, Washington Nationals

On the Gridiron: At one time, Dunn was the #3 ranked high school quarterback in the state of Texas; his Friday night career consisted of 4,792 passing yards, 44 touchdowns, and a 24-9 record. Th4e trouble was that upon his arrival at the University of Texas,  he was still the #3 quarterback, behind local hero Major Applewhite and NFL-offspring Chris Simms.

Had He Chosen Football? Dunn’s 6’6,” 290-pound frame is more suggestive of a lineman then a quarterback. While he wasn’t quite as Brobdignagian at the time, the Longhorns were already in the process of converting him to tight end, and given Dunn’s notoriously bad hands, this was process that likely would have ended with Dunn on the offensive line. IHOP wishes it could make pancakes like the one Dunn laid on Carlos Santana. It all became moot when the when the Cincinnati Reds called him to the bigs in 2001.

3) Jeff Samardzija, Chicago Cubs

On the Gridiron: Even though he is the only guy on this list who wasn’t a quarterback, Samardzija was still a lethal weapon for Notre Dame in 2005. He had 77 catches, 1,215 yards and 15 touchdowns. He Irish single-season school records in receiving yardage, touchdown receptions and consecutive games with a touchdown reception. 2006 was a sequel; 78 receptions, 1,017 yards and a dozen scores, which was enough to make him a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award.

jeff

Had He Chosen Football? Mel Kiper was convinced Samardzija was a first-round pick, and we all know Kiper is never wrong.  But going with the Cubs was the smart financial move; Samardzija’s five-year, $10 million contract and $2.5 million signing bonus was all guaranteed. While the NFL doesn’t offer that sort of monetary security, there’s also no guarantee that Samardzija isn’t headed for the Iowa Cubs Hall of Fame.

2) Todd Helton, Colorado Rockies

On The Gridiron: Helton was a scholarship quarterback for Tennessee who was slated to play back-up to Heath Shuler and later Jerry Colquitt. However, when Colquitt was injured in the season opener in 1994, Helton became the starter.  He led Tennessee to 23 fourth-quarter points to nearly defeat UCLA. He started three games before getting injured himself, paving the way for a freshman named Peyton Something-or-other.

helton

Had He Chosen Football? It was never likely he would have made that choice. Even if Helton remained the starter at Tennessee, he wasn’t going to stay in front of Peyton Manning for long. Even without Manning, Helton may have been an NFL 2nd-or-third stringer or maybe been an Arena league guy, meanwhile on the diamond he set 19 school records, was named the 1995 SEC Player of the Year and was a three-time SEC Tournament MVP. But you still wonder if he gets together with Seth Smith for a “Screw the Mannings” bitch-session.

1) Joe Mauer, Minnesota Twins

On The Gridiron: Hark back to the days before Mauer was the reigning AL Most Valuable Player. Rather, set the Wayback Machine for 2000 and look at the anticipation Florida State fans have as they have Mauer signed as a the successor to Heisman Trophy winner (and fellow Cretin-Derham High School product) Chris Weinke. After all, Mauer was only the 2000 High School Player of the Year, being named so for torching the high school fields of Minnesota for 41 touchdowns during his senior year;  including seven in a single playoff game.  Mauer was the top-ranked recruit in the country, ahead of current NFL quarterbacks Derek Anderson, Kyle Orton, Kellen Clemens, Brodie Croyle, and Heisman trophy winner Matt Leinart.

mauer

Had He Chosen Football? We quite possibly could have had an NFL draft in 2004 where 3 of the top 5 picks could have been Heisman Trophy winner Mauer with two other “franchise” quarterbacks, Eli Manning and Philip Rivers.





The Baseball Trading Deadline – The Shark Week Edition

4 08 2010

Whether it’s stocks, fantasy baseball, or the real thing, trading can be a dangerous proposition. There’s no guarantee that the deal will work; only time will tell whether your investment pays off or whether you get to sell you blood to make the rent this month.

But, one thing that is certain; where there’s trading there’s bleeding, and nothing draws the sharks like blood in the water. Since we here at Dubsism are at the same time not willing to wait for two years to see who the bleeders are and stuck in the middle of the Discovery Channel’s “Shark Week,” we’ve decided to give the rating of winners and losers a bit of a  Swim With The Sharks twist.

Great White Shark: The Texas Rangers

The Los Angeles Angels, pictured here as a seal, seem destined to give up their grip on the AL West.

Clearly, The Texas Rangers are going to need a bigger boat. Rangers’ General manager Jon Daniels played the role of Chief Brody to a tee. Not only did Daniels figure out he’s got a team ready to reel in winning now, he set sail to bag the fish he needed to make this team complete. The Rangers have been playing fur seal to the Angels’ Great White for nearly a decade now, but the additions of of ace Cliff Lee, catcher Bengie Molina, infielder Cristian Guzman, and slugger Jorge Cantu make a frankly scary roster when mixed with the likes of Josh Hamilton, Michael Young, Elvis Andrus and ironically enough Vladimir Guerrero, who was acquired in the off-season from the Angels.

Not only does this make the Ranges likely to seal up the American League West sometime in August, barring an unforeseen collapse, the Rangers become an honest-to-goodness World Series contender. If that weren’t good enough, the Rangers, who are awash in bankruptcy even managed to get the Nationals and the Marlins to toss in cash in their respective deals. Could this finally be the year where a good-looking Ranger team doesn’t get grilled into oblivion in the broiling Texas summer?

Tiger Shark: San Diego Padres

The Padres have spent eons being the bottom feeder of the NL West, so much so they gained a reputation for eating anything that would come their way; they were so desperate a few years ago they were the only team that showed interest in a clearly-finished Mark Prior. However, even a creature that eats everything occasionally gets a gourmet meal. Gaining the services of both  infielder Miguel Tejada and outfielder Ryan Ludwick while not giving away anything useful cement the Padres as a legitimate force come October.

Ludwick’s big bat finally provides some protection for Adrian Gonzalez, while his glove complements a stellar pitching staff. As long as they manage Tejada correctly, meaning they play him at shortstop as long as David Eckstein is on the disabled list. Once Eckstein returns, it will be necessary to platoon him with Jerry Hairston Jr. at shortstop. Otherwise, the Padres run the risk of seeing Tejada’s age and lack of range cost them in the long run.

Bull Shark: New York Yankees

Bull sharks are notorious for conducting the most attacks on humans; the Yankees commit the most atrocities against humanity. The Bronx Bombers were likely the best team in baseball before the trade deadline, however, that didn’t stop them from adding Lance Berkman to shore up the DH slot, Austin Kearns to make them even better against left-handed pitching, and (if he stays healthy) Kerry Wood to add the consistency to the setup role Joba Chamberlain seems completely incapable of doing.

Hammerhead Shark: Philadelphia Phillies

Just looking at a hammerhead, one gets the idea they are completely bereft of the ability to see either forward or backward. With some foresight, they might have seen the combination of Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay could’ve dominated National League lineups. Instead, they must give up a good bullpen guy to get Roy Oswalt.

With some hindsight, they might have seen that Greg Dobbs alone isn’t a good enough insurance policy against injury. In the absence of Ryan Howard, imagine how that line-up would look now had they dealt Jayson Werth for the obligatory bag of magic beans. In other words, they easily could be the bottom-feeder that didn’t find the good meal.

Nurse Shark: Los Angeles Dodgers

Much like a nurse shark is a large fearsome looking creature that actually has the aggression level of Mickey Mouse on valium, the Dodgers looked like a contender until the calendar read August.  Honestly (and I can’t believe I’m saying this), it really isn’t general manager Ned Colletti’s fault for once. Coletti is suffering the Malachi Crunch of being pinned in between the ugly divorce of owing junta Frank and Jamie McCourt and the over-priced, under-performing Manny Ramirez who is rapidly becoming the millstone around the neck of this franchise.

In other words, Colletti is trying to do his job, but he is in a swimming race in a shark tank with a bleeding side of beef chained around his neck. Somehow, he has manged to make deals for effective B-list players like Ted Lilly, Scott Podsednik, Ryan Theriot, and Octavio Dotel; the trouble is this team needed a couple of A-listers to make the difference.

Mako Shark: Minnesota Twins

This is a case of a shark that is the fastest in the sea, and a seriously feared predator. Just look at that thing; I shit my pants just uploading that picture. But the problem is the Mako wastes that fearsome nature chasing Charlie the Tuna. This is the perfect analogy for the Twins; a franchise that can grow some seriously scary talent, yet has no idea how to get full value on a trade.

It was no secret that even though the Twins uber-catching prospect Wilson Ramos was never going to do more at Target Field than sell hot dogs to the “ya, you betcha” Minnesota crowd as long as God in a Mask Joe Mauer is a Twin uniform. Sure it was obvious Ramos was the chum to catalyze any deal, but with high-quality bait you expect a high-quality catch.

To be blunt, Ramos should have got the Twins Miss Universe, but Matt Capps is Miss Iowa. Now don’t misunderstand us here, while Iowa may be an acronym for “Individuals Out Watering Animals,” Miss Iowa is a hottie in her own right. But unless she becomes Miss Universe, she’s a decked-out Cadillac Seville in a world of Rolls-Royce Silver Shadows.  In other words, Capps is a fully-loaded, brand new Cadillac for which the Twins paid $750,000.

Blacktip Reef Shark: Arizona Diamondbacks

Timid and skittish, the blacktip reef shark seldom poses a danger in the National League West. However, teams wading through Arizona do occassionally run the risk of having their legs mistakenly bitten.  However, this timid nature leads some to believe that this shark may be an endangered species when in fact they may have put a screwing to a couple of larger sharks in the Baseball ocean.

Frankly, I’m amazed to hear people who think the Diamondbacks got screwed in the Dan Haren trade. Keep in mind this is a franchise in need of swimming into a gill net and hoping for a better lot in the next life. Just in the deal with Angels alone, they unloaded $30 million in salary while getting four pitchers in return, including Joe Saunders, a not-that-long-ago former All-Star. When you add how they fleeced the White Sux for the perenially shaky Edwin Jackson, the D-backs now boast a farm system stocked with nine of the top 80 picks from last year’s draft.

Remora: San Francisco Giants

Yeah, we know a remora isn’t a shark, but you can’t watch Shark Week without seeing one. If you  aren’t familiar, a remora is one of those little fish that just hangs around, cleaning up whatever bits the big sharks leave behind. Lots of other sharks had a major feeding, and the Giants got a few nice bits in relievers Ramon Ramirez and Javier Lopez. Plus, the bit of “addition by subtraction” that happened by shipping Bengie Molina to Texas, thus opening the way Buster Posey to look like a right-handed coming of God In a Mask Joe Mauer could easily move the Giants up the food chain.

The Chum Bucket:

"Yeah, I'd like to see you come down here and spoon out some of this slop..."

Just as you would expect, this would a a mish-mash of the assorted pieces left over from those who really didn’t figure out what the trade game is all about. For example, the Los Angeles Angels did net a nice catch in Dan Haren, but this team really needed a big bat at a corner infield position/designated hitter position (Adam Dunn, anyone?). When you combine that with the price of the Haren deal, it’s pretty hard to say  the Halos helped themselves for the long term. Another team that needed offensive firepower and didn’t get it were the White Sux. Not only they not get Adam Dunn, Lance Berkman shot down the Sux with his no-trade clause. They still can make this worse by engineering one of those Kenny Williams “waiver wire” specials by grabbing Manny Ramirez. Plus, Ken Griffey, Jr. is still out there – oh wait, Williams has already made that mistake before.

Then there’s the teams who added nothing. The Cincinnati Reds find themselves in a neck-in-neck race with the Cardinals, but just couldn’t get that extra horse they need. Roy Oswalt cost too much, Dan Haren pulled out the no-trade clause, and they came up empty looking for bullpen help. In the end, they are pinning their hopes on a couple of senior citizens they have stashed in Triple-A Louisville, Russ Springer and Jason Isringhausen (yeah, I can’t believe they are still alive either!)  But at least the Cardinals’ swim in the shark tank came out as a net zero. Sure, Jake Westbrook helps the rotation, but giving up Ryan Ludwick when the Cards were already offensively challenged… this team better plan on winning a lot of 2-1 games. The Mets literally did nothing, Jarrod Saltalamacchia likely can’t replace the injured Kevin Youkilis (except as a Scrabble word) for the Red Sox, much like Jhonny Peralta won’t come close to replacing Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Guillen for the increasingly toothless Tigers.

The Idiot Who Gets Bitten Because He’s an Idiot:

Again, this is something that no Shark Week would be complete without. You’ve all seen this guy, usually a fisherman who while trying to retrieve a 40-cent hook somehow forgets that even small sharks have mouths full of razor-sharp teeth that make an exceptionally efficient finger-removal tool.  Welcome to the world of the Houston Astros, a team that actually gave the Yankees, a.k.a. the richest team in baseball $4 million to put Lance Berkman in pinstripes.

But worry not sports and shark fans; while Shark Week is just a week, there still the waiver wire deals for which August is notorious. In fact, I hear Adam Dunn may still be available…





The National Pitching Association

13 04 2010

Until this point, Tom Emanski was the standard reference for those cheesebag youth-baseball instructional videos. You know, the sort usually purchased by those parents who have already emotionally scarred their little-leaguers for life, and are well on their way to complete douchebaggery.

May I introduce Dr. Tom House, co-founder of the The National Pitching Association, which seems less an association and more a shell organization encrusted around an infomercial.  Despite that, whoever assembled this organization has gone to great lengths to give it “gravitas.” But, they just missed the plate (you knew that was coming). So, if you are one of those parents, peruse a pitch-by-pitch breakdown of what the NPA is really all about.

1) It’s an infomercial.

Let’s face it. This isn’t exactly a medium that inspires “gravitas.”

The Juice Loosener: "It's Whisper Quiet!"

2) Dr. Tom House

As a devotee of arcane references, it took two re-reads of this for me to stop confusing him with Dr. Tom Davis. I pinged on that because I always wondered just what kind of doctor Dr. Tom was? In Dr. Tom House’s case, I was picturing a graduate of Hollywood Upstairs Medical College, a la Dr. Nick Riviera. But in the following bio, Dr. Tom House claims a doctorate in psychology, but does not name the granting institution. I’m just sayin’…

Tom House is one of the top pitching experts in the world. After playing for the legendary Rod Dedeaux at USC, House pitched in the Major Leagues for the Atlanta Braves from 1967 to 1975, for the Boston Red Sox from 1976 to 1977, and for the Seattle Mariners from 1977 to 1979. He then coached pitchers for the Houston Astros, San Diego Padres, and Texas Rangers. He also has coached in Japan and Latin America.

In addition to his on-field experience, House has made pitching a scientific study. His company, Bio-Kinetics, uses computer-generated, three-dimensional motion analysis to help athletes maximize performance through proper biomechanics. House also holds a Ph.D. in psychology and has been a sport psychology consultant for many professional and amateur baseball players.

House is the author of eight previous books on baseball and has produced eight instructional videos on pitching. He is a member of the Major League Baseball Players’ Association, as well as the American College of Sports Medicine and the Association for the Advancement of Applied Sport Psychology. In 1998, House was presented with the American Baseball Coaches Association’s lifetime achievement award.

The three parts of Freud's Structure of Mind: The Ego, the Super Ego, and the 70's White Guy 'Fro.

3) The Advisory Board

Granted, this list has an impressive start; you can’t go wrong with Nolan Ryan. If nothing else, Ryan teaches young pitchers the valuable lesson of pitching inside, and how to deal with pussies who can’t take it.

Then, there’s Robb Nen, who was one of best closers in the National League throughout the ‘90’s. Nor can you argue with Randy Johnson, a sure-fire Hall of Famer who can kill seagulls in a single toss. Too bad Dave Winfield wasn’t a pitcher. Or this guy, because sadly, the bullpen thins from here.

Take Mark Prior for example. One of the lunatics in my life saw fit to make me live through his incessant harping about how the Twins would be better off had they drafted Prior rather than Joe Mauer. It only took Mauer’s 3rd batting title and Prior’s looming date with the same destiny as Barbaro to silence him.

Not the most tasteless joke you’ll see today.

Then you get Orel Hershiser, who was both a Dodger and most likely a Nazi, or at least one of those “born-again” assholes that deserves a cup-splitting line drive.

Whenever I saw a name I would recognize, my reactions ranged from, “oh, so that’s where that guy ended up” to “I didn’t think he was allowed to work with kids anymore.”

The piece-de-resistance? No such list would be complete without it’s Dave Dravecky reference, and the opportunity it presents to offer you this:

THE most tasteless joke you’ll see today.

Besides, if you really want to get results for your kids, you should call Rafael Palmeiro.





Its Joe Mauer’s World…You Are Just Living In It

24 03 2010

Because Joe Mauer's life is better than yours...

You could fill volumes with what money can’t buy. How many of us played ball as kids in the backyard pretending to be the star player for the hometown team? No amount of money will bring back that moment, but Joe Mauer gets paid to live it. Even all the money Mauer just banked from the Minnesota Twins matters little because Mauer can’t buy the world. See, when you are Joe Mauer, you don’t need to buy it; rather the world gives itself to you.

It even transcends our little world.  Look at the complete harmonic convergence that is Mauer’s life. The man gets a franchise-record $184 million contract from one of the historically most miserly organizations in baseball largely because they had no way to say “No.” How do you refuse the 26-year old reigning American League MVP heading into the last year of a contract with his hometown team that happens to be opening a new stadium in a few weeks? Had the Twins not signed Mauer to a contract extension, every wheel of karma issue suddenly turns against Minnesota.

Not resigning Mauer would have guaranteed a special kind of doom for the Twins; the kind reserved for those guys who got their faces melted at the end of “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” Once the fans’ curiosity of the new park passes, their attendance disappears once the team’s ability to compete does the same. One needn’t look any farther than the AL Central for the proof.

Remember when the Mighty Whiteys spent all their dough on their new ballpark in the early 90’s? Granted, the White Sox won a division title in 1993, but look at what happened to their attendance once they started parting out the team, like the time they sent the majority of their pitching staff to the Giants at the trade deadline despite the fact the Whiteys were only 3 ½ games back. No team can move into a new ballpark and expect fans to show up if the product on the field is littered with the usual flotsam the Twins generally skim from the free-agent market.

It’s funny how a few short years can change the landscape. In 2002, the Twins were deemed to be non-competitive and were targets of contraction. Since then, they’ve won a string of division titles and now have a payroll hovering around $100 million per year.

Perhaps it is time for those in baseball still singing the shopworn “big market/small market” song to realize the trick is in the decisions, not the size of the bank book.





Traditions of the Minnesota Twins

21 02 2010

Is there a sport richer with tradition than baseball? Think about it…from the ceremonial first pitch to the parade for the winners of the World Series, baseball oozes tradition. But not all traditions are good. With spring training underway, it is time to look at the Minnesota Twins, and three traditions that franchise really needs to end.  

1) Haggling with the superstar talent, or failing that, sticking them on a bus.  

The current contract wrangling involving uber-catcher Joe Mauer is just the latest in a long line of Twins’ decisions with “star” players. Twice in the past 20 years, the Twins have somehow managed to sign one of their stars for less than the market would have borne for them. Kent Hrbek passed on a big deal from the Red Sox to stay in Minnesota, and Kirby Puckett kept his address in the Land of 10,000 Lakes when the Twins made him baseball’s first $3 million per year player.  

At least in those cases, and hopefully in Mauer’s as well, the Twins managed to get the deal done. This is crucial as when deals don’t get done, or if the Twins even think the price is going to be too high, they have no problem shipping a guy out of town. In fact, one could make a respectable Major League team were it possible to field in their primes all the guys the Twins let go via trade or free agency. 

The Twins All-Time “Let ‘em Go” Team   

  • 1B/DH – David Ortiz
  • 2B – Chuck Knoblauch 
  • SS – Zoilo Versalles
  • 3B – Gary Gaetti
  • C – Butch Wynegar
  • OF – Lyman Bostock
  • OF – Torii Hunter
  • OF – Tom Brunansky
  • SP – Bert Blyleven (twice)
  • SP – Dave Goltz
  • SP – Jim Kaat
  • SP – Johan Santana
  • SP – Frank Viola
  • RP – Dave LaRoche 

Calvin Griffith's extreme forearm musculature

The master of this practice was old-school owner and professional cheapskate Calvin Griffith. Griffith never met a penny he didn’t pinch so hard that Abe Lincoln farted.  

It was rumored that Griffith sported flexor pollicus longus muscles rivaling those of Mark McGwire and Magilla Gorilla, muscles so powerful that he could crush a cinder block simply by clenching it in his massive thumbs.  

He used those titanic opposing digits to point out the road to Orange County, California, as many Twins were shipped down that road to the Angels. The list is long, and ranges from hall of famer Rod Carew to utility infielder Rob Wilfong, with solid major league talent sandwiched in between like Lyman Bostock, “Disco” Danny Ford, Geoff Zahn; and after Griffith’s reign Bert Blyleven and Gary Gaetti.  

2) The “Value” Free-Agent   

While it is too late to stop this madness for this season, Twins fans must unite and demand an end to this madness now. Saving a few dollars on a guy who is past his prime never works.     

Granted, Shannon Stewart and Chili Davis had flashes of productivity, but you have to admit the rest of the list over the past 20 years can be a bit frightening.  

  • 1990 – Jim Dwyer and John Candelaria
  • 1991 – Steve Bedrosian
  • 1992 – Chili Davis
  • 1993 – Dave Winfield
  • 1994 – Jim Deshaies
  • 1995 – Kevin Maas
  • 1996 – Dave Hollins
  • 1997 – Terry Steinbach
  • 1998 – Otis Nixon
  • 1999 – Midre Cummings
  • 2000 – Butch Huskey
  • 2001 – Todd Jones
  • 2002 – Mike Jackson
  • 2003 – Shannon Stewart
  • 2004 – Jose Offerman
  • 2005 – Brett Boone
  • 2006 – Tony Batista, Phil Nevin, and Ruben Sierra
  • 2007 – Sidney Ponson and Rondell White
  • 2008 – Mike Lamb and Craig Monroe
  • 2009 – Joe Crede
  • 2010 – Jim Thome 

3) The Rookie of the Year Curse  
Thank God Joe Mauer didn’t win this award, because it would doom him to a shortened career, being traded, or an early death. 

  • 1959 – Bob Allison (as a Washington Senator) – Died of ataxia
  • 1964 – Tony Oliva – Retired in 1976 after knee injuries had reduced him to designated hitter duties for the last four years of his career
  • 1967 – Rod Carew – Traded to the California Angels for Ken Landreaux
  • 1979 – John Castino – Retired in 1985 due to a fused disc in his back
  • 1991 – Chuck Knoblauch – After demanding a trade in 1998, Knoblauch made an ingracious exit from Minnesota by bad-mouthing Twins fans. Naturally when he returned to the Metrodome as a New York Yankees, he was pelted with debris
  • 1995 – Marty Cordova – Chronic back and foot injuries hampered his career, and that time he fell asleep in the tanning bed didn’t help either  

The Marty Cordova monument in St. Paul

As Twins fans move forward into an era with a new ballpark, let see if the franchise can make a similar stride past these not-so-good traditions. After all, Minnesota already has the Vikings, and that should be more than enough futility for one state.








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