It is 10:30 A.M. and the ole digital thermometer shows a -11.1 degrees but at least it is bright and sunny. I a trying to put a positive spin on the brutal winter we are having here in Minnesota this year, an “old school” winter just like I remember them as I was growing up in Taylors Falls. Back in the days when I had to ride a rickety old school bus seven miles each way to and from school and I don’t remember school being cancelled due to the cold. I am sitting about 10 miles west of Target Field and I can picture what the ballpark must look like as it sits there snow-covered and frozen over. But in just a few months the snow will be gone, the grass will be green and baseball will once again be played there. We just returned from a week-long Caribbean cruise where the temps were always in the 70’s and 80’s and the water was in liquid form, it is sooooo easy to forget that winter exists when you are relaxing on a cruise ship. But it won’t be long and I will be hanging out at Hammond Stadium and I am anxious to see the improvements that have been made there. Maybe the Minnesota Twins themselves will show improvement too, you never know, stranger things have happened.
I read today that the Twins and Fox Sports North will telecast all the Twins home spring training games. BRAVO! Smart move by the Twins to give fans back here in Minnesota that can’t take a Florida trip for what ever reason to see some of the Twins prospects playing ball this spring. You give someone a taste of something good and you can count on them coming back for more. As they have for the last few years the Twins will broadcast all the spring training games on KTWN radio. For an old guy like me, there is something very relaxing when you get to listen to a baseball game on the radio.
I have a ticket for TwinsFest on Saturday and I am excited about hanging out with some baseball crazy Twins fans and to see how the Twins will put on their first TwinsFest at Target Field, it will be interesting I think. The price for this event and the autographs keep climbing and I know it is a Twins Community Fund charity event but if the Twins are not careful they will price it out of reach for the average Twins fan. One of players I am most interested in seeing again is 1B/OF prospect Max Kepler who will be making his first trip to Minnesota and Target Field, hopefully he will be able to call this ballpark home in the not too distant future. Kepler has a busy off-season and one of those events had him participating in the Berlin Home Sweet Home baseball camp. It is always great to see Twins players giving their time to children and allowing them to get up close and personal with a baseball hero. Great job Max!
The Twins have agreed to transfer starter Andrew Albers to the Hanwha Eagles of the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO), reports MLBTR’s Steve Adams. Albers has agreed to terms with his new club as well, making the deal complete. The 28-year-old Albers was a great story for the Twins last year but with the Twins free agent starting pitcher signings this past off-season Albers had little chance of making the team this year much less joining the starting rotation. Albers was originally a 10th round selection by the San Diego Padres in 2008 but was released prior to the 2010 season. Albers then hooked up with Quebec, an independent team in the Canadian-American Association and he spent the 2010 season there. The Twins signed the left-handed Albers as a free agent in March of 2011 and he made his major league debut with the Twins as a starter on August 6, 2013 in a 7-0 trashing of the Kansas City Royals. Albers won his first two starts as a big leaguer by allowing no runs on just 6 hits in 17.1 innings. Albers finished the season with a 2-5 record and a 4.05 ERA. Albers was named the Minnesota Twins Minor League Pitcher of the Year for 2013. With a salary reportedly set to land in the “high six figures,” Albers stands to earn significantly more than he would have if he ended up in the minors. He also gets a chance to test the open market next year, as he will become a free agent after his season with Hanwha. Had he stayed with Minnesota, Albers would not have been able to become a free agent until 2019. Sounds like a win-win proposition for Albers and the Twins.
The big news in baseball yesterday was the New York Yankees announced signing of Masahiro Tanaka in a stupendous seven-year deal for $155 million. Tanaka is only 25 but if it was my money, I would have had a very difficult time spending it on a pitcher that has not thrown a single pitch in the major leagues. The Yankees were desperate for more young starting pitching and only time will tell if this was a smart move or not. This will be a fun story to follow in 2014. If I was going to spend that much money, I would have traded for David Price from Tampa and signed him to a long-term deal.
While I was out cruising the Caribbean MLB baseball announced that New York Yankees Alex Rodriguez‘s appeal was complete and that he had been suspended for the 2014 season. I have only one comment on A-Rod, this suspension is well deserved and I don’t plan to spend any more time writing about him in 2014.
Former Twins manager Sam Mele turned 92 just a couple of days ago (January 21). Mele took over as the Twins skipper from the fired Cookie Lavagetto during the 1961 season and led the team to the 1965 World Series which they ended up losing in seven games to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Mele remained the Twins manager until owner Calvin Griffith let him go during the 1967 season. Mele is now the oldest living person to wear a Minnesota Twins uniform. SABR bio. Happy Birthday Sam and many more!
I completed a fun interview with Ken Schrom, former Twins pitcher (1983-1985) and now president of the Corpus Christi Hooks (AA – Houston Astros) on Tuesday and I will post it here in the very near future so make sure you check that out. You can listen to Ken tell you how he was cut by a team that he was pitching for when he as actually part of the ownership group of the same team.
The Twins announced on January 17th that they have signed all three of their arbitration eligible players for the 2014 season when they agreed to terms with left-handed pitcher Brian Duensing, right-handed pitcher Anthony Swarzak and third baseman Trevor Plouffe on one-year contracts, avoiding arbitration. Duensing will earn $2 million in 2014, while Swarzak will earn $935,000 and Plouffe will earn $2.35 million. The last time the Twins went to arbitration was with Kyle Lohse in 2006 when Lohse was declared the winner when he asked for $3.95 million and the Twins countered with $3.4 million. The last time the Twins won an arbitration case was in 2004 when Johan Santana asked for $2.45 million and the Twins offered $1.6 million.
Earlier this month the team announced that single-game tickets for the 2014 season at Target Field go on sale to the general public at 10 a.m. on Saturday, February. 22. In addition, tickets for the 2014 Home Opener against the Oakland Athletics on Monday, April 7 will go on sale starting at 4 p.m. on Friday, January 24 in conjunction with the start of TwinsFest. As in previous seasons, the Twins will apply variable pricing to all tickets for the 2014 season. Per-game prices for both single-game and season tickets will be based on factors such as time of year, date and opponent. The five-tier variable pricing structure will apply to all single-game tickets sold on Saturday, February. 22. Beginning the next day, Sunday, February 23, the Twins will apply demand-based pricing to all seating sections of Target Field for the 2014 season. Demand-based pricing, which prices tickets according to fan demand, is a practice that has now become very common. The system, which was implemented at Target Field in 2011, applies only to single-game ticket sales and does not affect Season Ticket Holder pricing. As of today I still can’t find any single game ticket prices on the Twins web site.