According to Elias

Phil Hughes

Phil Hughes

Phil Hughes allowed three runs over six innings yesterday to earn his first victory in 17 starts, dating back to last July, in Minnesota’s 8-3 win at Kansas City. For all his struggles, one thing Hughes has unfailingly done is turn a big lead into a victory, and Sunday was no different as the Twins staked him to a 5-0 lead in their first five turns at-bat. Hughes has a 32-0 record as a starter when given a lead of four or more runs, and his teams are 37-0 in those games.

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This Day in History – April 21

 

Ray Moore

Ray Moore

April 21, 1961 – The Minnesota Twins played their inaugural home game at Metropolitan stadium but came away with a loss against Joe McClain and the Washington Senators. The Senators score 2 in the top of the ninth off reliever Ray Moore and pin a 5-3 defeat on the Twins. 24,606 fans attended the Twins first home game and team ownership was disappointed that the game was not a sell-out with about 6,000 seats sitting empty. Temperature at game time was 63 degrees. There were no line-up cards available so Twins manager Cookie Lavagetto and Senators manager Mickey Vernon had to scribble their line-ups on pieces of scrap paper.

April 21, 1967 - Tony Oliva of Minnesota lost a home run due to a base running blunder. Playing in Detroit in the third inning, Cesar Tovar was the runner at first base. Oliva hit the ball out of the park off Denny McLain, but then passed Tovar between first and second. He was credited with a single and one RBI for scoring Tovar. In the ninth inning Oliva hit another home run and this one counted.

John ButcherApril 21, 1985 – The Twins had won the first two games of the 1985 season under manager Billy Gardner but then proceeded to lose nine in a row before John Butcher took the mound for the Twins against the Oakland A’s at Oakland-Alameda County Stadium on this day and shut out the A’s on just 3 hits facing only 28 batters and threw just 81 pitches. The game lasted just 1 hour and 55 minutes and Kirby Puckett went 3 for 5 and knocked in both runs.

April 21, 1994Eddie Murray set a major league record with his 11th switch-hit home run (home run from each side of the plate) game as the Cleveland Indians beat the Minnesota Twins 10-6 at the Metrodome.

April 21, 2004 – The Twins sell pitcher Brad Thomas to the Boston Red Sox.

 

Joe Nathan

Joe Nathan

April 21, 2007 - The Twins had started the 2007 season with 19 consecutive stolen bases before Torii Hunter gets caught in the 8th inning of their 17th game of the season. However; the Twins beat the Royals at Kauffman Stadium 7-5 and Joe Nathan performs a rarity during his 6th save of the season when he retires the Royals 1-2-3 in the ninth getting Esteban German, Tony Pena, and David DeJesus all looking at 3rd strikes. Getting the side out 1-2-3 for a save, all on called third strikes is rare feat and was last done in 2003 by Jose Valverde.

April 21, 2012 – With his leadoff single in the ninth inning, Josh Willingham extended his season-opening hitting streak to 15 games. He improved upon the record he set Friday night, the longest hitting streak by a player to start his Twins career. And he tied Kirby Puckett’s 1994 Twins record for the longest season-opening hitting streak. His streaks ended as he went hitless on April 22nd.

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Twins Minor League Player of the Week

Rochester (AAA – International League) right-handed pitcher Yohan Pino is the Twins Minor League Player of the Week. The 29-year-old Pino made two starts for the Red Wings, going 1-0, 0.82 ERA (11.0 IP, 1 ER) with four walks nine strikeouts and a 7.0-inning complete game shutout vs. Pawtucket on Thursday. The Turmero, Venezuela native has made four appearance (2 starts) for the Wings this season, going 2-0, 0.59 ERA (15.1 IP, 1 ER) with six walks and 12 strikeouts. Pino’s fastball is in the mid-to-high 80′s and he has  great curveball and slider. Pino suffered a foot injury in 2008 and he has not been the same pitcher that once threw a no-hitter in 2007.

Yohan Pino

Yohan Pino

Pino, a right-hander was originally signed by the Twins in 2004 and spent parts of six seasons in the Twins system before being the PTBNL in a trade that helped the Twins acquire right-handed pitcher Carl Pavano in August of 2009. Pino also spent time in the minor league organizations of the Blue Jays and Reds before he was resigned by the Twins this past offseason and was invited to Spring Training.

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According to Elias

Three Wins In Three Games For Kyle Gibson

Kyle Gibson

Kyle Gibson

Kyle Gibson pitched eight innings and did not allow a run in his victory against the Blue Jays on Thursday afternoon. Gibson has won all three of his games for the Twins this season and he’s sporting a 0.93 earned-run average, having given up only two earned runs in 19¿ innings. Since the original Washington Senators relocated to Minnesota in 1961, the only other Twins pitchers to win their first three starts of a season while posting an ERA below 1.00 were Bill Krueger in 1992 (0.75 ERA) and Francisco Liriano in 2006 (0.56 ERA).

By the way, the temperature for the first pitch at Target Field in game 1 of the day/night doubleheader was 31 degrees, the coldest start ever for a Twins home game.

 

Twins Draw Eight Walks In One Inning

The Twins scored six runs on only one hit in the bottom of the eighth inning as they came from behind to beat the Blue Jays, 9-5, in the second half of their split doubleheader at Target Field on Thursday. Minnesota’s six-run “rally” benefited from the almost total inability of Toronto pitchers to throw strikes in that inning, as Steve Delabar, Sergio Santos and J.A. Happ combined to walk eight Twins batters. (Santos threw gasoline on the fire by uncorking three run-scoring wild pitches in that inning.) Minnesota was the first big-league team to draw eight walks in one inning since April 19, 1996, when the Texas Rangers did that as they scored 16 runs in the eighth inning of a 26-7 win against the Orioles. The eight walks by Baltimore pitchers in that inning were issued by Armando Benitez, Jesse Orosco and infielder Manny Alexander.

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Is MLB ready for Google Glass?

Google GlassDid you order your Google Glass yesterday? Google was selling its $1,500 high-tech specs to anyone in the US but the deal was good for just one day. If you missed it, you are out of luck for the time being.

This one day sale of Google Glass got me to thinking. What if someone invented an app for Google Glass for major league baseball players. The possibilities of how this could help ball players seem endless. With historical information at their finger tips players in the field could position themselves to allow them the best opportunity to get the batter out. Pitchers could immediately “see” a video of their last pitch and see statistics on how to get the batter out based on the situation,  position of his fielders and batter tendencies depending on the ball/strike count. But the batter wearing the Google Glass could learn pitcher/catcher tendencies, he could tell what type of pitch was coming as soon as it left the pitchers hand, the speed of the pitch and the proposed trajectory of the pitch. Maybe it could even tell him if the pitch was going to be a ball or a strike? Holy crap, where is this leading to? Will games be delayed because as peck of dirt is blocking the Google Glass camera or if a battery powering the device calls it a day? The umpires can use Google Glass too, instant replays will be at their disposal right on the spot without having to stop the game for an instant replay. The home plate umpire has a ball/strike assist device to help him make the proper call on each pitch.

The fans benefit too, the fans in the stands can queue up replays and see close-up action of any play or pitch they want when they want it. If a game gets out of hand like some Twins games do now and then fans at Target field can pretend to watch the game but really be watching the Yankees and Red Sox going at it in Fenway Park or they can relive the Twins glory days and watch game 7 of the 1991 World Series.

It seems like the possibilities of Google Glass are endless and is MLB ready for what Google Glass can do? Is there a rule on the books to prevent devices like Google Glass from becoming part of baseball? Players wear glasses to help their vision, is Google Glass any different?

I have also wondered about prosthetic devices and the technological advances they are making there. What if a player comes on the market one day and says that he can throw a baseball at 150 MPH and has a curve that will make your eyes bug out. All because he lost his arm in a farming accident and now his new prosthetic arm has opened up a whole new career for him. Can you pitch in the major leagues with a prosthetic arm?

With all the arm injuries to pitchers should humans pitch at all? Are we going down a track that before long a mechanical device will be placed on the mound and a pitching coach or manager will sit in the dugout and decide with his clicker what pitch should be thrown and at what speed? Are pitchers going to become obsolete and the big money will be paid to engineers who can make the best mechanical pitching device? I can hear it now, “now coming in to pitch for the Minnesota Twins is Google pitching device Mach 7.643 model B.” Yikes!

What’s wrong with me and why am I thinking such crazy thoughts? What a can of worms, it makes my head spin and gives me a headache. I think I will just go back to watching the Twins and Bluejays play tonight in the cold, rain and snow. Then again as I look out the window it is snowing harder than it has all day, there might not even be a game tonight. Maybe I should have ordered that Google Glass yesterday so that I could entertain myself when there is no baseball game to watch.

UPDATE - Looks like no game today (Wednesday), the Twins and Blue Jays game has already been postpond and rescheduled as a day/night double-header on Thursday.

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Twins Minor League Player of the Week is Mitchell Garver

 

Catcher Mitchell Garver -spring training 2014

Catcher Mitchell Garver -spring training 2014

Cedar Rapids (A – Midwest League) catcher Mitch Garver is the Twins Minor League Player of the Week. In seven games for the Kernels Garver hit .400 (8-for-20) with three doubles, four home runs, six RBI, six runs scored and five walks. The Twins ninth round pick in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft is in his second full season in the Twins system, the Albuquerque native spent last season at Rookie-Elizabethton, hitting .243 (49-for-202) in 56 games.

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This Day in Twins History – April 12

April 12, 1965 – In Minnesota, the Yankees drop their second straight 11 inning opener, as the Twins win 5-4. Twins starter Jim Kaat, stranded because of the ice and snow, is brought to Metropolitan Stadium by helicopter. Kaat is matched by Jim Bouton, who goes five innings, giving up two earned runs. Bob Allison‘s wind-blown fly ball in the 11th drops untouched for a three-base error by Hector Lopez, one of eight errors the two teams committed on this day. Cesar Tovar‘s 2-out single scores the winner off ex-Twins hurler Pedro Ramos. I did a piece about this opening day back in 2008 that you can view at http://wp.me/p1YQUj-tT

.April 12, 1990 – The Twins and Rangers hook up on a deal and the Twins get 2B Fred Manrique and the Rangers receive pitcher Jeff Satzinger.

April 12, 2002 – In their first sellout since winning the World Series in 1991, the Twins beat the Tigers in their home opener, 4-2, in front of 48,244 loud and enthusiastic fans at the Metrodome. The Minnesota franchise had been considered for elimination due to MLB’s contraction plan proposed during the off-season.

April 12, 2005 – The Twins beat the Tigers 5-4 when Shannon Stewart singles off Troy Percival in the bottom of the 9th and breaks a streak in which Percival had not allowed the Twins to score an earned run over 40 innings since 1995.

April 12, 2010 – In the first regular season game at Target Field the Twins beat the Boston Red Sox 5-2 with starter Carl Pavano getting the win and Red Sox starter Jon Lester took the loss. Closer Jon Rauch recorded the first save at Target Field. The first hit was a single by Red Sox leadoff hitter Marco Scutaro who was later thrown out trying to steal 2B. The first Twins hit was a single by Orlando Hudson. The first homerun at Target Field was a 391 foot shot to right off the bat of Jason Kubel in the 7th inning. Game time temperature was 68 degrees with partly sunny skies. Attendance was 39,715, slightly over the capacity figure of 39,504. Paid attendance was 38,145. The game lasted 2:59.

April 12, 2013 – The New York Mets thumped the Twins 16-5 at Target Field. The temperature at game time was 34 degrees and snow flurries were evident throughout the game. Twins fans came layered in ski gear, hunting clothes and whatever else they could find to keep warm. The Twins provided free coffee and hot chocolate to the Twins fans at the gate as they entered the ballpark. But the fact that the Mets batted around in each of the first 2 innings putting up 10 runs did little to warm Twins fans. The announced attendance was 23,735, but that’s tickets sold and not the actual number of people inside Target Field.

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According to Elias

The A’s beat the Twins, 6-1, Thursday afternoon. Oakland has scored at least six runs in each of its last nine games against the Twins. That’s the longest such streak by one major league team against another since the Tigers scored at least six runs in 14 consecutive games against the Royals during the 2006 season. The last time the A’s had a streak like this was in 1949 when the Philadelphia A’s had an 11-game streak against the Washington Senators.

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Where do Twins rank in MLB ticket prices?

MoneyI have been keeping track of Minnesota Twins ticket prices for some time and you can see my work on the Twins Ticket Price History page. Based on how I calculate Twins ticket price averages I have the Twins with an average ticket price of $30.68. TMR (Team Marketing Report) publishes their MLB FCI (Fan Cost index) each year and this year according to their formula they have the Minnesota Twins with an average ticket price of $32.59. Why the difference in our average ticket prices? It could be many different things but as long as we each approach our data in a consistent format each year the numbers will remain valid. My goal is to track Twins ticket prices from year to year and I don’t do any comparisons to the other MLB teams. TMR on the other hand is interested in comparing where each team stands in their FCI of which average ticket price is an important piece.

The other day TMR put out this chart showing 2014 MLB average ticket prices.

MLB2014Tickets

Click on the chart twice to make it larger and easier to read.

Click on the chart twice to make it larger and easier to read.

MLB2014Tickets

In  2014 the Boston Red Sox have the highest average ticket price at $52.32 and the San Diego Padres have the lowest average ticket price at $16.37. The Red Sox have had the highest average priced MLB ticket since 2011 when they took over the crown from the Chicago Cubs. As I mentioned earlier, the average MLB ticket price is $27.93. The Twins average ticket price of $32.59 ranks them with the seventh highest average ticket price moving up one spot from last year. Eleven teams have rank above the MLB average ticket price and 19 teams rank below the average. Of the 10 teams that appeared in postseason play in 2013, seven of them had ticket prices that fell below the MLB average ticket price.

So back to the Minnesota Twins and where their ticket prices have ranked according to TMR since 2006.

2013 at Target Field - Team record was 66-96. MLB average ticket price was $27.73. Twins average ticket price was $32.59 ranking them with 8th highest average ticket price.

2012 at Target Field – Team record was 66-96. MLB average ticket price was $26.98. Twins average ticket price was $33.04 ranking them with 5th highest average ticket price.

2011 at Target Field – Team record was 63-99. MLB average ticket price was $26.91. Twins average ticket price was $33.04 ranking them with 6th highest average ticket price.

2010 at Target Field – Team record was 94-68 and in postseason. MLB average ticket price was $26.74. Twins average ticket price was $31.47 ranking them with 7th highest average ticket price.

2009 in Metrodome - Team record was 87-76 and in postseason. MLB average ticket price was $26.64. Twins average ticket price was $21.70 ranking them with 17th highest average ticket price.

2008 in Metrodome – Team record was 88-75. MLB average ticket price was $25.43. Twins average ticket price was $20.68 ranking them with 19th highest average ticket price.

2007 in Metrodome – Team record was 79-83. MLB average ticket price was $22.77. Twins average ticket price was $19.27 ranking them with 20th highest average ticket price.

2006 in Metrodome – Team record was 96-66 and in postseason. MLB average ticket price was $22.21. Twins average ticket price was $17.26 ranking them with 21st highest average ticket price.

So what does all this prove? I am not sure but the Twins organization is fond of saying that the Minnesota Twins should not be compared to organizations like the Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers, Cardinals etc. because the revenue numbers are very different. While that is true, how can the Twins justify such high average ticket prices when their payroll is nowhere near the top and their record on the field is one of the worst each of the last three years but yet they have asked their fans to pay ticket prices that are 7th, 8th, 5th, and 7th highest in all of major league baseball. In the National League the Cubs have put a bad product on the field and been gouging their fans for years and it looks like the Twins have become the Chicago Cubs of the American League both in play and in average ticket prices. Owner Jim Pohlad and everyone in the Twins organization should be pretty embarrassed by these numbers.

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According to Elias

Phil Hughes

Phil Hughes

Phil Hughes recorded his first out of the game (a strikeout of John Jaso) on his 40th pitch of the afternoon yesterday after he had already allowed four first-inning runs to the Athletics. The Twins took Hughes “off the hook” by tying the game in the ninth inning before Derek Norris hit a decisive three-run homer in the 11th inning in the A’s 7-4 victory at Minnesota. But let’s get back to Hughes, who became the first starting pitcher who needed as many as 40 pitches to register his first out of a game since the Dodgers’ Derek Lowe finally retired a batter on his 43rd pitch of a loss at Colorado on May 4, 2008.

A couple of notes about our site. Make sure you check out our new “Down on the Farm” news on the right hand side of the page that will allow you stay up-to-date on current events with the Twins minor league teams. We also added an electronic version  of the 2014 Twins Media guide for your reference needs. In case you have not checked out the link to MLB Game Notes also on the right hand side of the page you should do so. There is a lot of interesting information that each team publishes in their notes every game day, check it out.

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According to Elias

Chris Colabello

Chris Colabello

Chris Colabello drove in four runs in Minnesota’s win in Cleveland yesterday, increasing his total this season to 11 RBIs. That’s the most RBIs any Twins player has had in the team’s first six games of a season since Bobby Darwin had the same total at the same point in 1972.

The Twins won 7-3 at Cleveland on Saturday, giving manager Ron Gardenhire his 1,000th win as a major-league manager, all for Minnesota. Gardenhire is third skipper in Senators/Twins franchise history to reach 1,000 wins, joining Bucky Harris (1336 wins for the original Washington Senators) and Tom Kelly (1,140 wins for Minnesota). The only other franchises that have had three different managers each lead them to 1,000 or more wins are the Yankees (four: Miller Huggins, Joe McCarthy, Casey Stengel and Joe Torre) and Dodgers (Wilbert Robinson, Walter Alston and Tom Lasorda).

Ron Gardenhire

Ron Gardenhire

Gardy became just the second manager in club history to reach 1,000 victories, the other being Tom Kelly who went 1,140-1,244 from 1986-2001. Kelly earned his 1,000th win on May 7, 2000 with a 4-0 victory over Detroit in his 2,093rd career game as a Manager, Saturday marked Gardy’s 1,950th career game.

Gardy becomes the 60th manager to win 1,000 games, 24 of these managers have won 1,000 games with one team but only 10 have won 1,000 games while managing only one team and both Ron Gardenhire and Tom Kelly belong to this exclusive club.

 

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Did you know?

 

Aaron Hicks

Aaron Hicks

The Twins finished spring training with a record of 9-16-3, their fewest spring wins since 1995 when they went 8-6. Aaron Hicks led the club in hits (17) for the second straight spring. The Twins drew 107,806 in attendance in 16 home dates surpassing the 100,000 mark for the 13th consecutive year. Two additional home dates were rained out. The team averaged 6,738 fans per game as compared to 6,697 fans per game in 2013.

The Twins have opened the season on March 31st twice before, once against the Tigers in 2003 and once against the Angels in 2008 and the Twins won both games. Yesterday’s 5-3 loss in Chicago to the mighty whities makes the team 2-1 on March 31. The team has never played a regular season game in March in Minnesota.

Paul Konerko didn’t play for the White Sox as Chicago began its season by beating the Twins 5-3 yesterday. Konerko had started his team’s season opener in each of the past 16 years (1998 through 2013); he and Todd Helton were the only major-league players to do that. With Konerko on the bench and Helton retired, the longest streak of consecutive opening-day starts now belongs to Torii Hunter, who extended his streak to 16 consecutive seasons (1999 through 2014) in the Tigers’ victory over the Royals.

Ron Gardenhire

Ron Gardenhire

Ron Gardenhire is just two wins away from becoming the fifth active manager to reach 1,000 victories and 60th all-time. The other four active managers with more wins are Bruce Bochy (1,530), Mike Scioscia (1,233), Buck Showalter (1,163) and Terry Francona with (1,121).

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TMR’s 2014 Fan Cost Index

Each year Team Marketing Report publishes their MLB Fan Cost index and here is what they have published for 2014.

The average Major League Baseball season ticket has increased by 2.0 percent to $27.93 for the 2014 season, according to the Team Marketing Report Fan Cost Index®.

This minor increase is part of a trend; last season, the average MLB ticket increased by 1.8 percent. The year before that, there was no percentage increase. In 2010-11, tickets rose by a combined 2.7 percent.

The Fan Cost Index (FCI) total, the average price to take a family of four to a game, increased by 2.3 percent to $212.46. The FCI is created by combining four non-premium season tickets, two beers, four soft drinks, four hot dogs, parking, two programs or scorecards, and two adult-size hats.

TMR uses season ticket pricing and the lowest full-size prices for the ancillary items, so if a team has an $8 beer and a $6 beer, TMR uses the latter to show how much, or how little, one can spend at a game.

The average “premium” season ticket is $93.41. TMR splits up premium and general seats in its methodology. The Yankees lead baseball with an average premium price of $305.39, while the Dodgers are second at $254.19.

The “premium” designation is supposed to be used for club seats or any section that has special features. According to TMR research, the MLB average for premium seats is 13.7 percent . The Yankees classify 16.2 percent of season ticket seats as premium, while the Dodgers classify 8.6 percent.

Some teams with newer stadiums have a heavy dose of premium seating. The New York Mets, for example, classify an “amazin’” 59.3 percent of seats as premium. Their premium average ticket is $83.78, compared to a general ticket of $25.30. The Washington Nationals are second-highest in premium percentage at 26 percent. Their premium average is $187.29, while their general ticket is $35.24.

This season, 17 teams showed increases of more than 1 percent in general average tickets, while only two teams lowered their average ticket by more than 1 percent. Eleven teams kept ticket prices essentially flat.

The two teams that dropped prices had the worst records in baseball. After a 111-loss season in its first season in the American League, Houston’s average ticket price fell 13.6 percent to $27.98. Miami, which lost 100 games, dropped ticket prices by 7.7 percent to $27.01.

Interestingly, many of these increases came from the lower-priced teams. Of the 10 lowest-priced tickets in baseball, nine had percentage increases this season, with only Toronto going down. Just four of the 10 highest-priced tickets increased.

Fresh off an unlikely World Series, the Boston Red Sox remain the most expensive average ticket at $52.32, still above the New York Yankees’ $51.55, whose season tickets remained flat. The Red Sox’s price deserves a minor explanation. We have the Red Sox listed with a 4.9 percent increase. But in the 2013 FCI, we show Boston has an average ticket price of $53.38. As it turns out, the Red Sox had been submitting single-game prices for a few years. We corrected it this season and did a retroactive change to last year’s price. So technically, the Yankees had the highest average ticket price last season.

The Chicago Cubs remain baseball’s third most-expensive ticket at $44.16, which is down 0.9 percent from last season.Their FCI of $303.64 is third, and includes a $25 parking fee for nearby lots. The Cubs are offering a free lot, with shuttle service, about 2 1/4 miles west of Wrigley this year. Speaking of the Cubs, after signing a big-money deal with Anheuser-Busch InBev they jettisoned longtime beer partner Old Style from the vendors to stands, while adding Goose Island beers to the vending options. The cheapest beer at Wrigley is $7.50 for a 16-ounce pour at several stands around the park.

The average MLB beer stayed flat, price-wise, at $6.09. The Marlins boast the most expensive, cheapest beer option at $8 for a 16-ounce beer.

The cheapest average ticket this year comes again from the San Diego Padres $16.37, which is a 2.4 percent increase from 2013. The Arizona Diamondbacks, with an average ticket of $17.98 (up 6.4 percent), has the cheapest FCI again at $126.89.

Of course, market size, and fan demographics, often determine prices. Certainly, many fans don’t get what they pay for in regard to winning teams.

Of the teams with the top 10 FCIs in 2014, only three – Boston, St, Louis and Detroit -made the playoffs last season.

Compare that to the bottom 10, where five teams – Atlanta, Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Cleveland – made the postseason.

Kansas City, fresh off its first winning season since 2003, bumped up prices by 24.7 percent, the biggest jump in baseball. The Royals’ average ticket price of $24.73 is still well below the league average. The Dodgers had the second-high percentage increase at 15.3 percent, with an average ticket of $25.80.

EDITOR’S NOTE: TMR reserves the right to make retroactive changes to the FCI and could update the official chart after the initial release. All information comes from teams, concessionaires, MLB and affiliated websites.

2014 MLB Fan Cost Index

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Checking in at Hammond Stadium after Twins left town

I was going to head over to Hammond Stadium on Saturday but it was raining and the wind was blowing so I decided to wait until Sunday and catch the Rochester versus New Britain and Ft. Myers versus Cedar Rapids games. I got there a few minutes before the games started at Noon on a beautiful sunny Sunday in Ft. Myers. Hammond Stadium sat empty and the crowds at each minor league field were small and the players sitting in the stands that were not suited up for these games easily out numbered the fans.

 

Kyle Gibson

Kyle Gibson

The Twins left Kyle Gibson behind in Ft. Myers so he could pitch in one of these games and sure enough he was the starting pitcher for New Britain. The first two innings went smoothly for Gibson but in the third inning the Red Wings hit Gibson all over the field as he gave up 6 hits and 5 earned runs. In that inning it appeared that everything he threw to the plate was hit hard and Gibson would throw the pitch and high-tail it over to back up third base. To me Gibson looked really frustrated  and appeared to have lost his composure. He calmed down after that but an inning or so later he took a hard shot off his left shin but chased the ball down only to throw it wildly to first base. After five innings it was decided that Gibson had enough and he left the game having given up 8 hits and 5 runs. Not exactly what Gibson or the Twins were looking for.

 

Jeremias Pineda

Jeremias Pineda

On the other field a player that caught my attention was outfielder Jeremias Pineda. Pineda who is scheduled to start the season with Cedar Rapids this year was acquired from the Boston Red Sox in August 2012 in the Danny Valencia trade. The 23-year-old Pineda is a 5-11, 175 pound switch-hitter from the Dominican Republic, signed by the Red Sox in 2011. I am not sure how much of a prospect Pineda really is but on this day he stood out because of his speed and hustle. I watched him hit a hard ground ball to third that he beat out easily because of speed and hustle although the third baseman might have made it a closer play had he not waited on the ball. Later in the game Pineda was on first base when the batter hit a routine double play ball just a few steps to the left of second. The shortstop decided to touch second and then complete the double play by throwing to first. Turns out that was easier said then done as Pineda beat the shortstop to the bag at second. Speed and hustle again and it brought a lot of comments and head shaking from both teams.

It was fun to watch these Twins minor league teams play and learn the game. One player who will remain nameless hit a grounder to third that he apparently thought was foul and he didn’t move out of the batters box, turns out it was fair and the third baseman made an easy throw to first for the out. As the batter sheepishly walked back to the dugout it was easy to hear his manager tell him, “it is Sunday today, we are running them all out today”.

I took a bunch of pictures again today and I hope to get them uploaded later today. Not sure if this is my last visit to Hammond Stadium this year or not but I have enjoyed every minute of spring training here in Ft. Myers., almost time to head for home.

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This Day in Twins History – March 31

March 31, 1987 - Just before the Twins open their championship 1987 season they trade pitchers Bryan Hickerson, Ray Velasquez, and Jose Dominguez to the Giants for pitcher David Blakely and outfielder Dan Gladden.

March 31, 1999 – The Twins send pitcher Dan Serafini to the Cubs and get cash for their coffers.

March 31, 2003 – The earliest opening day in Minnesota Twins history takes place at the Twins beat the Tigers 3-1 in Detroit.

March 31, 2010 - Twins outfielder Denard Span struck his mother, Wanda Wilson, in the chest with a foul ball while batting in the first inning on Wednesday at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa against the Yankees in a spring training game. Span was leading off the game against the Yankees’ Phil Hughes when he fouled a 3-2 pitch directly to the left of the visitors’ third-base dugout, where a group of friends and family members were settling in for the game. The ball struck his mother, who was sitting three rows from the field and wearing a Twins jersey with Span’s name on it, with a thud that was audible to the players on the Minnesota bench. Span immediately dashed into the seating bowl, consoling her as help arrived. Luckily, Span’s mother was not seriously hurt and after being checked out, watched the remainder of the game.

Make sure you stop by and check out our “Today in Twins History” page every day.

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The Twins Trivia Magic 8-Ball comes into focus

The Twins are in Chicago by now having left Florida and their spring training record of 9-16-3 in their wake. Earlier today the Twins won their final 2014 Grapefruit League outing by a score of 7-4. The Twins scored more than five runs in just five exhibition games and scored two or fewer runs on 10 occasions. The Twins ended spring training with a .360% winning percentage, the worst in the American league. All that being said, the team along with every other team in the American League stands at 0-0. With the regular season just around the corner, some teams have high expectations and others are left with hope and a prayer. The Twins who finished last season at 66-96 and booked their third straight 90+ loss season are part of that latter group and strangely enough this team does not have a single player on their opening day roster that qualifies as a rookie. How strange is that?

So how many games will the Twins win in 2014? I see the Twins improving this year in spite of what has been a horrendous spring going back to when Terry Ryan announced he had cancer, to Miguel Sano‘s injured elbow that needs surgery, all the way through the spring training season where Twins players acted as if it was a crime to get more than two hits in an inning or that they would be sent to prison if they attempted to steal a base. The Twins can brag up the 2014 All-Star game all they want but many Twins fans have jumped off the band wagon and others are mystified as to how a team this bad for so long has no rookies on the roster while players like Jason Kubel and Jason Bartlett grace the roster. How about  Chris Colabello who spent 2005-2011 playing in an independent league before the Twins gave him a shot? This team will improve as the season goes along but there are numerous players on this opening day roster that will not be wearing TWINS on their chest when the 2014 season comes to an end.  I have no doubt in my mind that Byron Buxton will be playing centerfield in Target Field some time this summer and Aaron Hicks and Oswaldo Arcia will be his wingmen. So without further ado, here is what the Twins will do….

According to Mr. Einstein there will be no fourth straight 90+ loss season for the Twins. Although not a SABR member, the man knows his numbers.

According to Mr. Einstein there will be no fourth straight 90+ loss season for the Twins and that there will actually be an 11 game improvement. Although not a SABR member, the man knows his numbers.

The 2014 MLB season should be exciting once again and Twins Trivia has consulted with the experts, reviewed all the stats and more importantly shaken the old  Magic 8-Ball and here is what will happen in 2014.

NL West

1. Dodgers
2. Giants (wild card)
3. Diamondbacks
4. Rockies
5. Padres

..

NL Central

1. Cardinals
2. Pirates (wild card)
3. Reds
4. Brewers
5. Cubs

..

NL East

1. Nationals
2. Braves
3. Mets
4. Phillies
5. Marlins

..

AL West

1. Rangers
2. A’s
3. Mariners
4. Angels
5. Astros

..

AL Central

1. Royals
2. Tigers (wild card)
3. Indians
4. Twins
5. White Sox

..

AL East

1. Rays
2. Red Sox (wild card)
3. Orioles
4. Yankees
5. Blue Jays

..

New blood in the Series folks! When the smoke and fog clears, the Magic 8-Ball and I see the Washington Nationals beating the Tampa Bay Rays 4 games to three in a very exciting World Series. (I know Twins fans don’t want to hear this but the 26-year-old Wilson Ramos will finally stay healthy all year and have a break-out season and become one of baseball’s top catchers)

 

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Watching the Twins lose to the Pirates 2-1

We attended our final Twins spring training game yesterday as we watched the Twins lose 2-1 to the Pittsburgh Pirates. It was a sunny day albeit only 60 degrees at game time with a stiff wind blowing to left field. Ricky Nolasco started for the home town nine and pitched a strong 4 innings giving up just one hit while striking out three in his tune-up for opening day against the White Sox in Chicago. It was a fast paced (2 hours and 24 minutes) game with little hitting but it still had some interest when a mini bean-ball war broke out. Pirates starter Brandon Cumpton threw a pitch that catcher Kurt Suzuki was just able to get his face out of the way of and that started the ball rolling. Not too longer after that Anthony Swarzak nailed Tony Sanchez and then Oswaldo Arcia took one in the back and both benches ended up with a warning.

Swarzak’s pitching line came to an end after two innings when a line drive off the bat of Travis Snider struck him in the forearm, but Swarzak grabbed the ricochet and threw the batter out. As he walked off the field, the Pirates were yelling something at Swarzak and he stopped to yell back. Things got a bit testy before Swarzak was pulled away. The Pirates who had brought a lot of players to Hammond Stadium were all on the top step of their dugout ready to mix it up with the Twins but it never came to that.

The old saying is that if you give the team a freebie like the Pirates did when catcher Tony Sanchez dropped Arcia’s easy pop up behind the plate it will come back to bite you and it certainly held true here when Arcia hit a rocket out to right-center field that just cleared the fence for a home run and gave the Twins a short-lived 1-0 lead. The lead did not last long however, as the Pirates loaded the bases with two-out and a ground ball was hit to first baseman Joe Mauer who knocked it down and then panicked trying to pick up the ball and by the time he had it under control the Pirates runner from second base was racing home with the winning run and Mauer’s throw to the plate was too late.

Shortstop Pedro Florimon who is just coming back from an appendectomy was his normal self, he made an error on an easy play and then made a very nice play later in the game. With the bat, Florimon seemed lost but that is really nothing new for Pedro. Manager Gardenhire said after the game that maybe Florimon’s bat is not ready yet and he may not be in the opening day line-up. On the plus side the Twins did turn two nice double plays.

There were 6,585 fans at the game but we had very little to cheer about and it was so quiet for most of the game that you could hear a pin drop. There is not a lot of excitement with this Twins team this spring and with an 8-14 record which is second worst in the AL there seems to be little hope for the up-coming season.

The Twins pitching is not that bad but their hitting this spring is a whole different story. Let’s take a quick look at the batting averages for the Twins starters -

C – Suzuki – .200
1B – Mauer – .300
2B – Dozier – .255
SS – Florimon – .150
3B – Plouffe – .239
LF – Willingham – .056
CF – Hicks – .318
RF – Arcia – .256
DH – Kubel – .195
 
Tom Brunansky

Tom Brunansky

Between them the leading home run hitter has 2 (Arcia) and the RBI leader has 6 (Arcia again). Both Eduardo Escobar (9) and Chris Colabello (8) have more RBI then any of the starters and they are not assured of even making this team. I just can’t see this current line-up staying intact for very deep into the season. If this team gets off to a bad start there will be changes galore in no time. Before spring training started I thought this team had a chance to finish at .500 with the improved pitching, now I am thinking they will still be better than last year but will fall short of the .500 mark. The hitting on this team this spring is just plain appalling, where is that great hitting coach Brunansky now when they need him. I have not heard Brunansky’s name mentioned in weeks, is he still part of the coaching staff? Then again the case could certainly be made that you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear….

But in the end it is still spring training and no one but the Diamondbacks has lost a game yet so there is still hope that the hit fairy will bless the Twins bats and that they will come to life in Chicago. Come on Twins, give me a reason to watch you play ball every day this summer. Please!

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Barely a week left in spring training and things are not looking good

Vance Worley

Vance Worley

The Twins announced yesterday that RHP Vance Worley, who posted a 13.50 ERA in spring training, was sent outright to Class AAA Rochester on Friday. In order to send Worley to AAA Rochester, Worley has to clear waivers, which he did. That means that every team in baseball passed on Worley, who finished third in National League Rookie of the Year voting in 2011 with the Phillies and was last year’s Opening Day starter for the Twins. Was does that tell you about the 26 year-old Worley if no team in baseball is willing to take a chance on the guy that was 3rd in ROY voting just a couple of years earlier when pitchers are in such demand? Are the Twins wasting a AAA roster spot and possibly delaying some others pitchers development by having Worley there? If I was the Twins I would have the “Vanimal” on a very short and tight leash.

Twins GM Bill Smith traded outfielder Ben Revere to the Phillies in order to acquire Worley and minor league pitcher Trevor May in December 2012. The only saving grace from this trade is if May becomes a decent starting pitcher for Minnesota in the near future.

We were at Tuesday’s game when Worley had his last start this spring for the Twins and it was a pitiful performance as the Tampa Rays pounded the Twins to a tune of 11-3. Worley lasted just 2 and 2/3 innings and gave up 11 hits (including 6 doubles) and walked 2 while giving up 7 earned runs. If I remember correctly there was not a blooper in the bunch, the Rays were crushing the ball. As I said earlier, the Twins lost that game 11-3 and we left after 7 innings with the Twins trailing 8-1 and we hardly ever leave games early. The Twins had 8 hits and 9 walks in that game and could only muster 3 runs, that is some bad baseball. When we attended a rained out game against the Cardinals earlier this month we were able to send in our $10 parking ticket for a refund, I wonder if I should send in my parking ticket for this game to Dave St. Peter and see if I can get a refund because of the Twins poor play that night? Maybe I will.

Rob Antony

Rob Antony

The other day acting GM Rob Antony made some strong comments about outfielders Aaron Hicks and Alex Presley not stepping up this spring to earn the centerfield starting job and the lack of hitting by free agent signees Jason Kubel and Jason Bartlett. I applaud Mr. Antony for saying what is on his mind and being honest about the state of this ballclub and I wish more of the Twins organization were as honest. I really expected this team to play close to .500 ball this year (and I still think they can) but based on what I have seen todate the team and its fans could be in for a long season. We all know that spring training means next to nothing as far as team regular season wins are concerned but the Twins play does send a message to Twins fans on what they should expect this season. Spring training is winding down and has about a week to go, the Twins had better start playing some better baseball soon if they want to see fans butts in the Target field seats this year.

The team started off spring training full of optimism in spite of GM Terry Ryan’s cancer diagnosis but the Miguel Sano injury seemed to drain the life right out of this team and its staff. Now is the time for manager Ron Gardenhire to step up and show his stuff by playing what he thinks is his best line-up and getting this team ready for some real baseball. The Twins strategy should be simple, the best players get the jobs and if they don’t cut the mustard then it should be “next man up” until this team starts to show some life and energy. Twins fans deserve to watch a team that wants to play and to win!

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Learn a bit about prospect Lewis Thorpe

Lewis Thorpe

Lewis Thorpe

Jake Seiner did a nice piece on MiLB.com a few days ago about Twins pitching prospect Lewis Thorpe that I thought you might enjoy reading and you can check out here. Thorpe pitched for the GLC Twins at the age of 17 last season and was 4-1 with a 2.05 ERA and a 0.864 WHIP. In 44 innings he allowed only 32 hits while striking out 64 batters. It will be interesting to see how Thorpe does as he moves up the Twins minor league ladder. Thorpe who was given $500,000 to sign is expected to start the season with the Cedar Rapids Kernels.

 

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Top Twins rookie starting pitchers

The Twins have a reputation now days of bringing their young players, particularly their young pitchers along very slowly but that has not always been the case. In today’s game pitches are counted and innings are watched from year to year to make sure that pitchers do not have a huge jump in innings pitched from one year to the next. We fans sometimes complain about how long it takes a player to reach the majors but think what its like for the team itself. They draft the guy and then they have to pay him as he develops his skills, they get no return on their investment unless the player reaches the major leagues and becomes a successful player. The temptation must be huge to push the guy along to get a quick return on the money spent, but if you push him too quickly all kinds of bad things can happen.

Let’s take a look at the case of RHP Roger Erickson who the Twins drafted in round 3 of the 1977 June amateur draft. Erickson signed and was sent to “AA” Orlando where he pitched 109 innings in 16 games (14 starts) with 10 complete games. This is all after he pitched in college that spring. I was not able to locate any of Erickson’s college stats. The next year Erickson gets a spring training invite and makes the 1978 Twins starting rotation. The 21-year-old rookie makes his major league debut when he starts the second game of the season for the Twins and beats the Seattle Mariners 5-4 at the Kingdome. Erickson goes on to start a club leading 37 games for the Twins with 14 complete games and an amazing 265.2 innings pitched. Erickson finished the 1878 season with a 14-13 record with a 3.96 ERA , a WHIP of 1.306 and 121 strikeouts. Erickson was not a strikeout pitcher but more in the mold of a Brad Radke type of pitcher.  In 1979 Erickson went 3-10 with a 5.63 ERA in 21 starts (zero complete games) and 123 innings, in 1980 his record was 7-13 with a 3.25 ERA in 191.1 innings and in 1981 Erickson went 3-8 with a 3.84 ERA in 91.1 innings. In May of 1982 after a 4-3 start the Twins had seen enough and traded Erickson and catcher Butch Wynegar to the New York Yankees for pitchers Pete Filson and John Pacella and infielder Larry Milbourne and a suitcase full of cash. Roger Erickson pitched in a total of 21 games for the Yankees in 1982 and 1983 and at the age of 27 his big league playing days were behind him. Erickson tried to come back in 1984, again in 1987 and still again in 1989 in the minors with the Tigers and the Cardinals but he never again put on a big league uniform.

This is one of baseball classic cases of pitcher abuse, a situation where Twins manager Gene Mauch and pitching coach Camilo Pascual could not see the forest for the trees and killed a promising career before it really had a chance to get started. Erickson’s career ended prematurely at the age of 27 primarily because he pitched too many innings at too young an age. When he last pitched in the big leagues he was just 27 but he had already been in the majors for 6 seasons and he had already logged almost 800 innings with 265 of those in his first season. In the end the Twins lost a promising pitcher and Roger Erickson was robbed of his career. A loss-loss for both sides. Just a sad story all around.

Almost every day you hear about another big league pitcher having forearm or elbow tightness and the next thing you know they are off to see Dr. Andrews or someone like him to get a second opinion before undergoing “Tommy John” surgery. Are there more problems of this type now even with all the attention given to limiting innings and pitch counts. What are today’s pitchers doing differently that is causing these problems? Is it all about the fact that the pitchers today seem to throw harder than the pitchers of the past did? Are pitchers just not getting enough rest between seasons end and the start of the next season? Or maybe it is just the opposite, maybe the pitchers are not throwing enough? Is specialization of the athletes at much younger ages adding to the pitching arm woes? Or have these problems always been there and we just called it elbow tendonitis or a sore arm in the past and prescribed rest and/or retirement?

 

Roger Erickson

Roger Erickson

Here is a list of Twins pitchers who have thrown at least 100 innings in their rookie seasons. *

Rk Player IP GS Year Age G CG SHO W L W-L% SV H BB SO ERA BA
1 Roger Erickson 265.2 37 1978 21 37 14 0 14 13 .519 0 268 79 121 3.96 .263
2 Jim Hughes 249.2 34 1975 23 37 12 2 16 14 .533 0 241 127 130 3.82 .255
3 Paul Thormodsgard 218.0 37 1977 23 37 8 1 11 15 .423 0 236 65 94 4.62 .280
4 Ken Schrom 196.1 28 1983 28 33 6 1 15 8 .652 0 196 80 80 3.71 .266
5 Nick Blackburn (RoY-8th) 193.1 33 2008 26 33 0 0 11 11 .500 0 224 39 96 4.05 .292
6 Gary Serum 184.1 23 1978 21 34 6 1 9 9 .500 1 188 44 80 4.10 .266
7 Brad Radke (RoY-9th) 181.0 28 1995 22 29 2 1 11 14 .440 0 195 47 75 5.32 .275
8 Scott Diamond 173.0 27 2012 25 27 1 1 12 9 .571 0 184 31 90 3.54 .274
9 Eric Milton 172.1 32 1998 22 32 1 0 8 14 .364 0 195 70 107 5.64 .282
10 Joe Mays 171.0 20 1999 23 49 2 1 6 11 .353 0 179 67 115 4.37 .270
11 Vic Albury 164.0 22 1974 27 32 4 1 8 9 .471 0 159 80 85 4.12 .259
12 Bert Blyleven 164.0 25 1970 19 27 5 1 10 9 .526 0 143 47 135 3.18 .232
13 Kevin Tapani (RoY-5th) 159.1 28 1990 26 28 1 1 12 8 .600 0 164 29 101 4.07 .264
14 Les Straker 154.1 26 1987 27 31 1 0 8 10 .444 0 150 59 76 4.37 .257
15 Mark Redman (RoY-6th) 151.1 24 2000 26 32 0 0 12 9 .571 0 168 45 117 4.76 .281
16 Glen Perkins 151.0 26 2008 25 26 0 0 12 4 .750 0 183 39 74 4.41 .301
17 Bill Zepp 151.0 20 1970 23 43 1 1 9 4 .692 2 154 51 64 3.22 .266
18 Frank Viola 126.0 22 1982 22 22 3 1 4 10 .286 0 152 38 84 5.21 .302
19 Pete Redfern 118.0 23 1976 21 23 1 1 8 8 .500 0 105 63 74 3.51 .241
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 3/12/2014.

* = From 1947 through 1956, each BBWAA voter used discretion as to who qualified as a rookie. In 1957, the term was first defined as someone with fewer than 75 at bats or 45 innings pitched in any previous Major League season. This guideline was later amended to 90 at bats, 45 innings pitched, or 45 days on a Major League roster before September 1 of the previous year. The current standard of 130 at bats, 50 innings pitched or 45 days on the active roster of a Major League club (excluding time in military service or on the disabled list) before September 1 was adopted in 1971.

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Nice way to spend a Saturday afternoon

I spent Saturday afternoon at Hammond Stadium going back and forth between fields 2 and 3 where I watched the Twins Ft. Myers Miracle and Cedar Rapids Kernels take on the Orioles Frederick and Delmarva teams. I focused mainly on the Ft. Myers and Frederick game but I was also able to watch the other game because the fields are so close together.

Jose Berrios started for the Miracle and pitched 3 scoreless innings and was followed on the mound by Tyler Duffey and David Hurlbut. Duffey pitched well but Hurlbut got knocked around pretty good in his couple innings of work.  The Twins however; were up big by the time Hurlbut took the mound and the Twins ended up winning 7-3.  The starting line-up for the Miracle had Mitch Garver catching, Dalton Hicks at first, Logan Wade at second, Ryan Walker at short, Travis Harrison at third, Max Kepler in left, Zack Granite in center and Adam Walker in right. Catcher Bryan Santy hit the games only home run, a long blast well over the left field fence.

A couple of observations from the game. Right fielder Adam Walker is a big guy and he hit 27 home runs for Cedar Rapids last season but today his play in RF left something to be desired. There were several balls hit to right that he seemed to pull up on and let the ball drop in front of him for singles that could have been caught with a better jump on the ball. First baseman Dalton Hicks is listed at 6’5″ and 228 and I am not sure when they last had Hicks step on a scale because the man has to be at least 250 and a case could be made that he could have easily stretched his long single into a double had he hustled down the line a little more. Later in the game manager Doug Mientkiewicz moved Travis Harrison from 3B to left field and Joel Licon came in to play third. Harrison continues to struggle in the field (although not in this game) and the Twins are trying to find a position for Harrison because he has some pop in his bat. I think you will see more and more of Harrison playing a corner outfield spot rather than the “hot corner”.

Joel Licon being helped off the field

Joel Licon being helped off the field

I mentioned Joel Licon because an inning or so later he ended up getting beaned but fortunately the ball seemed to catch mostly helmet. Licon started heading to first base but stopped about half way there and dropped to one knee. After a couple of minutes Licon left the game but he looked dazed as he sat on the bench. Hopefully Licon will be OK and not suffer any concussion symptoms but when that ball hit his helmet the loud bang got everyone’s attention from both fields.

I took a number of pictures during the game and will try to get them posted on Monday.

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This Day in Twins History – March 11, 1961

The Twins play their first ever exhibition game and lose 4-1 to the Detroit Tigers at Tinker Field. Paul Giel was the starting pitcher for Minnesota and Zoilo Versalles was the first Twins batter.

Twins first ST game boxscore 3-11-1961 (Word document)

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Twins rookies with 100 or more hits

A quick look at Twins rookies over the years and how many hits they had in their rookie season. To make the list they had to have 100 or more hits in their first season in the big leagues.

Oliva, Tony 6

Rk Player H Year Age G AB R 2B 3B HR RBI SB BA
1 Tony Oliva (RoY-1st) 217 1964 25 161 672 109 43 9 32 94 12 .323
2 Rich Rollins 186 1962 24 159 624 96 23 5 16 96 3 .298
3 Lew Ford 170 2004 27 154 569 89 31 4 15 72 20 .299
4 Kirby Puckett (RoY-3rd) 165 1984 24 128 557 63 12 5 0 31 14 .296
5 Kent Hrbek (RoY-2nd) 160 1982 22 140 532 82 21 4 23 92 3 .301
6 Chuck Knoblauch (RoY-1st) 159 1991 22 151 565 78 24 6 1 50 25 .281
7 Bernie Allen (RoY-3rd) 154 1962 23 159 573 79 27 7 12 64 0 .269
8 Luis Rivas 150 2001 21 153 563 70 21 6 7 47 31 .266
9 Rod Carew (RoY-1st) 150 1967 21 137 514 66 22 7 8 51 5 .292
10 Carlos Gomez 149 2008 22 153 577 79 24 7 7 59 33 .258
11 Tim Teufel (RoY-4th) 149 1984 25 157 568 76 30 3 14 61 1 .262
12 Joe Mauer 144 2005 22 131 489 61 26 2 9 55 13 .294
13 Zoilo Versalles 143 1961 21 129 510 65 25 5 7 53 16 .280
14 Marty Cordova (RoY-1st) 142 1995 25 137 512 81 27 4 24 84 20 .277
15 Butch Wynegar (RoY-2nd) 139 1976 20 149 534 58 21 2 10 69 0 .260
16 Bobby Darwin 137 1972 29 145 513 48 20 2 22 80 2 .267
17 Chad Allen 133 1999 24 137 481 69 21 3 10 46 14 .277
18 Jimmie Hall (RoY-3rd) 129 1963 25 156 497 88 21 5 33 80 3 .260
19 Bob Randall 127 1976 28 153 475 55 18 4 1 34 3 .267
20 Tom Brunansky 126 1982 21 127 463 77 30 1 20 46 1 .272
21 Dan Ford 123 1975 23 130 440 72 21 1 15 59 6 .280
22 Ron Washington 122 1982 30 119 451 48 17 6 5 39 3 .271
23 Cesar Tovar 121 1966 25 134 465 57 19 5 2 41 16 .260
24 Ben Revere 120 2011 23 117 450 56 9 5 0 30 34 .267
25 Gary Gaetti (RoY-5th) 117 1982 23 145 508 59 25 4 25 84 0 .230
26 Jerry Terrell 116 1973 26 124 438 43 15 2 1 32 13 .265
27 Bobby Mitchell 113 1982 27 124 454 48 11 6 2 28 8 .249
28 John Castino (RoY-1st) 112 1979 24 148 393 49 13 8 5 52 5 .285
29 A.J. Pierzynski 110 2001 24 114 381 51 33 2 7 55 1 .289
30 Willie Norwood 109 1978 27 125 428 56 22 3 8 46 25 .255
31 Mark Salas (RoY-8th) 108 1985 24 120 360 51 20 5 9 41 0 .300
32 Corey Koskie 106 1999 26 117 342 42 21 0 11 58 4 .310
33 Lyman Bostock 104 1975 24 98 369 52 21 5 0 29 2 .282
34 Dustan Mohr (RoY-8th) 103 2002 26 120 383 55 23 2 12 45 6 .269
35 Steve Lombardozzi 103 1986 26 156 453 53 20 5 8 33 3 .227
36 Rick Sofield 103 1980 23 131 417 52 18 4 9 49 4 .247
37 Denard Span (RoY-6th) 102 2008 24 93 347 70 16 7 6 47 18 .294
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 3/10/2014.

Who will be the next Twins rookie to join this list?

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Checking in again from Fort Myers

Max Kepler in 2014 STI know I have not written much lately but sometimes I just don’t feel like rehashing all the same stuff that all the other Twins blogs and writers are writing about day in and day out. It is still too early in spring training for me to get a good feel for what this years Twins team will be like but there is certainly more to like this year then what I have seen in the past. I am out at the ballpark about twice a week but I have not actually seen a Twins spring training game as yet. We went to Thursday’s game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Hammond Stadium in spite of rains that had been forecast for darn near a week and who would have guessed that the weather guesser’s would be right this time. Shortly after we arrived at the ballpark it started sprinkling and before long the rain came down and the winds started to howl. There isn’t much cover at Hammond Stadium when the wind is blowing the rain sideways and after almost two hours the game was postponed. Normally a long rain delay like this would not be much fun but in this case it was just the opposite because my wife and I got to spend the entire rain delay chatting with Max Kepler‘s mother Kathy. What a charming and gracious lady she is and Jackie and I had a wonderful time waiting out the rain with her even if we didn’t get to watch a baseball game. Max must enjoy his mothers cooking because in his first spring training with the big club he is 6 for 12 with 4 runs scored and 2 RBI. Max will get sent down soon but he is leaving a nice memory with Rob Antony, Ron Gardenhire and the rest of the Twins coaching staff. The day after the postponement I noticed in the local paper that I can even get my $10 parking pass refunded if I mail it back in to the Twins. That is kind of nice surprise because back at Target Field that does not happen.

Click on the image to make it larger

Click on the image to make it larger

During one of my visits to Hammond Stadium I ran across this sign in front of the Twins ticket offices. Before the rains started this past Thursday I saw this same sign on the field next to the batting cage although I did not see any actual fans taking batting practice. I am not sure how many swings you get or anything else about this promotion but I think it is kind of a cool idea. I know that $40 is kind of steep for the average person but the money does go to the Boys and Girls clubs of Lee County. I will have to check back with the Twins to see how this promotion is being received. They should take this promotion back to Target Field and give away a Twins season ticket to each fan that can hit a home run in his first swing.  I think there is at least one big league team with a promotion something like this.

Dr. Frank Jobe, a pioneering orthopedic surgeon who was the first to perform an elbow procedure that became known as Tommy John surgery and saved the careers of countless major league pitchers, died this past Thursday at the age of 88.

Tommy John and Dr. Frank Jobe in 1974

Tommy John and Dr. Frank Jobe in 1974

Jobe performed groundbreaking elbow surgery on Tommy John, a Dodgers pitcher who had a ruptured medial collateral ligament in his left elbow. The injury previously had no solution until Jobe removed a tendon from John’s forearm and repaired his elbow. John went on to pitch 14 years after the operation on Sept. 25, 1974, compiling 164 more victories without ever missing a start because of an elbow problem.

‘‘When he did come back, I thought maybe we could do it on somebody else,’’ Jobe told The Associated Press in 2010. ‘‘I waited two years to try it on somebody else, but we had no idea we could do it again.’’ Jobe initially estimated John’s chances of returning to the majors at less than 5 percent. He later said 92 to 95 percent of patients return as good, if not better, than before the surgery. The surgery has since become common practice for pitchers and players at every level of baseball. I wonder how many career’s this man saved?

It is already March 9th and the Twins play their first game that counts on March 31st, that is not very far away and no one has a clue as to what the Twins outfield will look like. The fifth spot in the starting rotation is still up for grabs and the entire bench is in the TBD category. Cuts will begin shortly and the position battles will heat up, it will be fun to see who can stand the heat and who folds under the pressure. Even if Gardy tells you that you are going north, you should not get too comfortable, I have a hunch that flights between New Britain, Rochester and Minneapolis this year are going to be pretty busy.

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Tough break for Sano and Twins fans

Acting GM Rob Antony verified this morning that Miguel Sano, one of the Twins top prospects is out for the 2014 season and will be under-going “Tommy John” surgery sometime next week. Sano has had elbow issues off and on since late last season and had been shut down this past winter but was given the green light in late January to resume baseball activities. Sano made a strong throw on a slow roller during an inter-squad game on Thursday and felt something in his elbow. Sano was removed from the game shortly thereafter and had an MRI on Friday afternoon. This morning Sano learned the results and nows faces surgery and a long and difficult recovery.

 

Miguel Sano

Miguel Sano

This is such a tough break in so many ways for both Sano and the Twins but at least it is a definitive diagnosis and steps can now be taken to get the issue remedied. The moaning has already started among some Twins fans that surgery should have been done right away last fall and that rest seldom corrects these kinds of issues but to me it just makes no sense to have any kind of surgery unless there are no alternatives. All lesser invasive options needs to be exhausted before surgery is selected and I think that the Twins and Sano went about this the right way. For a player that loves playing baseball as much as Sano does, this has to be heart breaking and particularly disheartening when this was probably going to be the year that he first put on a big league uniform. For the Twins who come off three consecutive 90+ losing seasons it hurts when a young up and coming slugger has to lose a year of development. I know I was expecting to see Miguel Sano playing 3B for the Twins at Target Field at some point this season and it just seems like another kick in the gut to many Twins fans that were hoping to see one of the Twins prospects arrive in Minnesota. But many times what appears to be a door closing may actually lead to another opening so now we just have to wait and see what is behind door number two. Good luck Miguel and here is to a swift recovery.

Most of the Twins players had already left for JetBlue to play the Red Sox in the first exhibition game of the season by the time I arrived at Hammond Stadium yesterday so it was a relatively quiet day. I watched players like Aaron Hicks, Josh Willingham, Joe Mauer and numerous others taking batting practice. It was interesting watching BP as Rod Carew and other coaches looked on and gave the hitters situations such as “bases loaded” and then told the hitters where they wanted them to hit the ball. I was amazed at how often these guys put the ball exactly where they were asked to hit it. But thn again this was BP and not a game situation. Later I watched Rod Carew as he had a number of players work on their bunting skills. Some of these hitters looked like they had never been asked to bunt in their life. I can’t help but wonder how players in a big league ST camp can be such poor bunters.

Bill SpringmanI had a chace to spend a few minutes talking with Bill Springman the Twins minor league hitting coordinator who has had the job since 2007. Springman was fun to talk with about his job, travel and all the former Twins players that he has tutored over the years. Springman loves the Twins organization for many reasons and feels it is one of the best organizations that you can possible work for. One of those reasons is GM Terry Ryan and Springman has great respect for Ryan and how he runs his operation. I am hoping to hook up with Bill again this summer and get his view-point on how the future Twins are doing in the system.

There was just a few players on one of the minor league fields getting in some early workouts but the entire minor league contingent will be arriving in the next few days and soon those fields will be buzzing with activity. It is always fun watching those groups when they start playing games in the next week or so.

The Twins have 64 players in camp, 29 pitchers, 8 catchers, 15 infielders and 12 outfielders. It won’t be long before those numbers start to dwindle.

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Looking at Twins 2014 ticket prices

2013 Twins ticket imagesThe Minnesota Twins  have lost 90 or more games for three consecutive years and although individual game ticket prices were not lowered for the 2014 season, ticket prices at least remained flat from the previous season for the first time since the 1997 and 1998 seasons.

The variable ticket pricing plan that was instituted in 2006 with 2 tiers jumped to 3 tiers in 2009 and 5 tiers in 2013 remains unchanged in 2014.  The tiers are still called “extra value”, “value”, “select”, “premium” and “elite” and the number of games in each of the categories did change slightly from 2013. The “extra value” games are the cheapest priced games and there are 12 of them this year versus 8 last year but all of these games fall in the colder months of April and September. The next step up is the “value” plan and the number of games in this category dropped from 16 last season to just 8 in 2014. The “select” category is pretty much the middle of the line and this is pretty much the Twins baseline for ticket prices. The number of games in this category increased this year to 40 games from 32 last year. The next step up is the “premium” games and the Twins decreased the number of games in this category from 16 to 9. The top of the line category is the “Elite” games and this category of games jumped from 9 to 12 games. It would be interesting to find out how the Twins determine for example what games fall into the “Elite” category. The world champion Boston Red Sox are in town in May but those mid-week games are only classified as “select” games probably because school is still in session. The four Yankee games are of course “Elite” as are two games against the Detroit Tigers on a late August week-end but 6 of the 12 “Elite” games are against the mighty Chicago White Sox although each 3-game series falls on a week-end in June and July. The Twins strategy this years seems to be to put half the games in the middle “select” tier and then split the other 41 games fairly evenly between the lower tiers and upper tiers.

Individual tickets went on sale February 22 but those prices were only in effect for one day because as of February 23 demand-based pricing kicked in for the rest of the year and the Twins will determine ticket prices on a daily basis based on demand, weather and market conditions.

There are 12 (15% of games but all in April and September) “extra value” games, 8 (10% of games) “value” games, 40 (49% of the games) “select” games, 9 (11% of games) “premium” games, and 12 (15%) “elite” games.

The Twins did tinker with ticket prices within the various tiers but in the end it comes out to basically a wash although the lower classified tiers dropped a bit in average price and the high-end went up a bit. The average ticket price for a “extra value” game in 2013 was $16.68 and this year it dropped to $15.68. The average ticket price for a “value” game in 2013 was $23.47 and this year it dropped to $23.37.The average ticket price for a “select” game in 2013 was $30.68 and this year it remains at $30.68.The average ticket price for a “premium” game in 2013 was $37.89 and this year it goes up to $38.00.The average ticket price for an “elite” game in 2013 was $44.68 and this year it went up to $45.68. If you attend an “elite” game you will pay about three times as much for your seat as you would if you attended an “extra value” game. Same seat, same game of baseball but the tier designation determines how much money stays in your wallet.

Club president Dave St. Peter stated just prior to TwinsFest that he hoped that the Twins can hit the 2.5 milion mark in attendance in 2014, a slight increase over their attendance in 2013. Their 2013 average of 30,588 ranked the Twins 17th among 30 teams in major league baseball. The club’s full season-ticket equivalent base has dropped steadily from 25,000 in 2010 their first season at Target Field to last year’s 19,000 and is only projected to reach 17,000 by Opening Day 2014.

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Who took the money?

Joe MauerLet’s take a quick look and see how much money the Minnesota Twins highest paid players over the years have taken to the bank. Strikes me as kind of odd that six names on this list are pitchers.

1. Joe Mauer has been making $23,000,000 a year from 2011-current. Joe also cashed in for $12,500,000 in 2010 and $10,500,000 in 2009.

2. Justin Morneau was paid at the rate of $15,000,000 per season from 2010-2013 but he also made $11,600,000 in 2009 and $8,400,000 in 2008.

3. Johan Santana made $13,000,000 in his final season in a Twins uniform in 2007.

4. Torii Hunter pocketed a cool $12,000,000 in his last year in a Twins uni in 2007.

4. Ricky Nolasco will make $12,000,000 this season.

6. Joe Nathan took $11,250,000 to the bank from 2009-2011 even though was injured all of 2010.

7. Brad Radke cashed for $10,750,000 in 2004.

8. Michael Cuddyer took $10,500,000 home in 2011 in his final season in Minny.

9. Carl Pavano was paid $9,000,000 in 2012 and he went 2-5 with a 6.00 ERA in the 11 games he started.

10. Rick Reed might not have liked pitching for the Twins but he had no problem taking the $8,000,000 the Twins paid him in 2003.

There were several players that had big buck contracts but their time in Minnesota was so limited they are not on this list. Phil Nevin was making $10,472,409 in 2006 when he played in 16 games as a Twin. Bret Boone was making $9,000,000 in 2005 and he appeared in just 14 Twins games. Brian Fuentes was making $9,000,000 in 2010 but he only appeared in 9 games.

 

Harmon Killebrew

Harmon Killebrew

Harmon Killebrew was probably the greatest Minnesota Twins player of them all and here is what Harmon earned over the years that he played. The MLB minimum salary in 1970 was $12,000 and in 2014 it is $500,000. Not a bad job if you can get it.

1954 – $6,000 plus $4,000 bonus
1955 – $6,000 plus $4,000 bonus
1956 – $6,000 plus $4,000 bonus
1957 – $7,000
1958 – $8,000
1959 – $9,000
1960 -  $20,000
1961 – $27,000
1962 – $33,000
1963 – $46,000
1964 – $48,000
1965 – $54,000
1966 – $61,000
1967 – $66,000
1968 – $70,000
1969 – $80,000
1970 – $90,000
1971 – $110,000
1972 – $125,000
1973 – $105,000
1974 – $90,000
 
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Twins sign 18-year-old Aussie 1B

Jack Barrie - Photo: Kangaroo Photos

Jack Barrie – Photo: Kangaroo Photos

The Minnesota Twins gave first baseman Jack Barrie from Queensland, Australia a great birthday gift when they signed him to a $200,000 bonus on his 18th birthday. The right-handed power hitting Barrie was a standout for Queensland’s gold medal-winning Bandits in last month’s under-18 national championships in Canberra, Australia where he was awarded the tournament’s Golden Bat. Barrie’s Mom is obviously very excited about the signing and said the “Jack has practiced and practiced and practiced; he eats, sleeps and breathes baseball”. Barrie will be reporting to Spring Training in Ft. Myers next month.

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This, that, and the other thing

IMGP7217When I visited Hammond Stadium on Friday it was position player reporting day but a large contingent of the Twins position players were already on hand and going through some early work on their own. The real work started this morning. I took a number of pictures as I do every time I visit and posted them in my 2014 Spring Training link. I didn’t really see anything unusual and the highlight of my day was spending a few minutes after practice talking with Twins Hall of Fame member Eddie Guardado. Eddie looks the same as I remember him as an active player when he charged out to the mound and slammed the rosin bag to the turf before he took the mound to close out another Twins win. After spending some time talking with Eddie, I don’t know if there is a more humble former Twins player out there. I really enjoyed my short chat with “Every Day Eddie” and I hope I can set up a longer interview with him down the line.

 

Glen Perkins

Glen Perkins

After practice was over I wandered back to the minor league fields and complex to see what was happening back there. Some of the Twins major league players also spend time in the minor league complex working out or doing what ever they have to do back there. It was about 11:30 A.M. and most of the autograph seekers were gone and there was just two guys standing there waiting for autographs. I asked them who they were waiting for and they said they were waiting for closer Glen Perkins. I kind of laughed and wished them luck because Perkins has a reputation as one of the toughest Twins to get an autograph from. They were well aware of that since they had a couple of balls with all the others Twins autographs and they were just missing Perkins. We chatted for a while and I left to walk back over to the big league side. About 15 minutes later I saw both of the autograph seekers walking in my direction so I walked up to them and asked them if they finally got Perkins signature. “Hell no”, they said, the p&%k peeked out the door a couple of times to see if we were still there and then finally left quickly with a towel over his head. These guys were not happy and I don’t know if Perkins had seen them out there getting autographs day after day or what but these two guys were pretty disgusted. I know that players get mad when the same people get autographs day after day and sell them and make a few bucks but what is the big deal? If somebody makes a few dollars off a players signature is that really such a bad thing? Players like Perkins make plenty of money so why should they begrudge if someone sells his autograph for a few dollars. No one gets hurt and the economy keeps chugging along, it’s the American way. Here we have two guys that are upset because they didn’t get an autograph and Perkins further cements his reputation with some Twins fans as a greedy and sometimes surly egomaniac. I sure wish I would have been around to get a picture of Glen Perkins sneaking out with a towel over his head, I could have had some real fun with that.

Everybody is bemoaning the lack of strikeouts by the Twins starting pitchers. The last Twins pitcher to strike out at least 200 batters in a season was in 2010 when Francisco Liriano struck out 201 batters and since then no Twins starter has struck out more than 123 (Scott Baker in 2011) batters. In 2013 Kevin Correia and Mike Pelfrey tied for the strikeout lead on the club with 101. Those are pathetic numbers indeed. In the Minnesota Twins 53 year history there have been only seven Twins pitchers that have struck out 200 or more batters in a single season and between them they have done it a total of 20 times. Can you name those seven pitchers? I already told you who four of them are.

But here is an interesting “did you know that?” fact. Did you know that the 1967 Minnesota Twins were the first team in major league history to have three pitchers on their staff to record 200 or more strikeouts in a single season. In 1967 Dean Chance had 220, Jim Kaat had 211 and Dave Boswell had 204? Since then it was matched by the National League 1969 Houston Astros Don Wilson with 235, Larry Dierker with 222, and Tom Griffin with 200. The 2013 Detroit Tigers joined this list when Max Scherzer had 240, Justin Verlander had 217, and Anibal Sanchez had 202. I wonder if the Tigers can be the first team to do it in back-to-back seasons? It is tough to do once much less twice.

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Get to know President Ken Schrom

Ken SchromKenneth Marvin Schrom was born in Grangeville, Indiana on November 23, 1954 and attended Grangeville High School where he earned 11 athletic letters and all-state honors in baseball, basketball and all-american honors in football. The Minnesota Twins drafted Schrom in 1973 in the 10th round but Ken passed on the offer and instead accepted a scholarship from the University of Idaho to play football and baseball. Schrom was a two-year letter winner in both football and baseball for the Idaho Vandals from 1973-76. Schrom had dreams of playing QB in the NFL one day but a couple of injuries on the football field caused him to pass on football and focus on his baseball career.

Ken SchromThe California Angels drafted Schrom in 1976 in the 17th round and after signing his first pro contract Ken began his climb to the major leagues. Schrom worked his way through the minors quickly and by 1979 was already pitching in AAA Salt Lake City. Schrom was again in Salt Lake City when the 1980 season opened and he was hoping for a call from the Angels but when that call came on June 10, 1980 he found out that the Angels had dealt him to the Toronto Blue Jays as the PTBNL from an earlier Angels-Blue Jays deal.

It wasn’t long before the Blue Jays called Schrom up to the big leagues and on August 8th, 1980 Ken appeared in his first big league game against the Kansas City Royals at Exhibition Stadium in the second game of a double-header as a reliever pitching the final 2/3 of an inning in a 7-4 losing cause to the Royals. Schrom spent the rest of 1980 with Toronto pitching in relief but the following season he found himself in AAA Syracuse. Schrom started 1982 in Syracuse again but in August the Blue Jays recalled Schrom and he appeared in 6 games before Toronto released him. Schrom signed with the Minnesota Twins as a free agent in December 1982.

In 1983 the Twins turned Schrom into a starter and after a quick 3-1 start in Toledo the Twins called Schrom to the majors. Schrom who threw the fastball, curve, slider and change-up seemed better suited to be a starter than a reliever and the Twins put Schrom in the starting rotation on May 20th and he rewarded them with a 15-8 record earning the Twins Pitcher of the Year award on a team that won only 70 games. Schrom posted a 5-11 record the following season primarily because he pitched most of the season with a strained rotator cuff. Schrom struggled again in 1985 going 9-12 and in January of 1986 the Twins traded pitchers Ken Schrom and Bryan Oelkers to the Cleveland Indians for pitchers Roy Smith and Ramon Romero.

Cleveland turned out to be a great fit for Schrom and in his first season there in 1986 he got off to a 10-2 start and was named to the 1986 American League All-Star team. Ken finished the season with a 14-7 record and a 4.54 ERA. The injury bugaboo struck Schrom again in 1987 when he went 6-13 with a 6.50 ERA but it was determined that he was pitching with a tear in his labrum that ended up needing surgery. Schrom sat out 1988 recovering from the surgery. Schrom appeared briefly for El Paso as part of the Milwaukee organization but after just a handful of games ended up getting released and at the age of 34 his playing career was over. You will have to listen to the interview to have Ken tell you himself why his release from El Paso was unique to say the least.

Though his active playing career was over, Ken Schrom was certainly not done with baseball. Schrom spent the next 16 seasons working in a variety of roles in the front office of the El Paso Diablos. The El Paso Diablos under the ownership of Jim Paul were named the Minor League Franchise of the Decade in the 1980′s by Baseball America.

Ken SchromIn 2003 Schrom left El Paso and joined the Corpus Christi Hooks, a “AA” team for the Houston Astros that was owned by Nolan Ryan at the time but was sold this past Fall to the Houston Astros as the club’s GM. In 2005 Ken Schrom was named the 2005 Texas League Executive of the Year. In May of 2009 Schrom was named President of the Hooks  and in 2014 Ken enters his sixth season as club president and 11th full year with the franchise. In September of 2007, the University of Idaho Vandals honored Ken with induction into their Athletics Hall of Fame. Others in his inaugural induction class included Jerry Kramer, a guard for the Green Bay Packers during their 1960s glory years, and Gus Johnson, a five-time All-Star during his 11-year NBA career. To this day Ken Schrom is a loyal Green Bay Packers fan.

With the Astros now being part of the AL Central, I think Ken will be making his way to Minnesota this summer and will get his first peek at Target Field and maybe get in a little fishing with long-time friend Kent Hrbek along the way. In his down time, Schrom loves a good game of golf and can be found playing chasing that little white ball around the course several times a week and when he is not golfing you might find a rod and reel in his hand. Ken and his wife Cindy, an interior designer, now live in Portland, Texas. They have two adult children, Kayla and Jared.

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