Twins Minor League Player of the Week – Nick Gordon

Nick Gordon  2016Ft. Myers (High A) infielder Nick Gordon is the Twins minor league Player of the Week. Gordon played in six games for the Miracle, hitting .444 (12-for-27) with five doubles, one home run, four RBI, five runs scored, one walk and two stolen bases. Gordon spent 2015 with Cedar Rapids (Low A), hitting .277 (133-for-481) with 23 doubles, seven triples, one home run, 58 RBI, 79 runs scored and 25 stolen bases. The 20-year-old is the younger brother of Dee and the son of Tom “Flash” Gordon and was drafted by the Twins in the first round (5th overall) of the 2014 First-Year Player Draft out of Olympia (FL) High School and was signed by Minnesota for $3,851,000. Gordon entered the season as the Twins fourth best prospect by Baseball America.

Nick Gordon, son of Tom, brother of Dee, leads Fort Myers Miracle

Twins Minor League Report 4 17 16

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According to ELIAS

Twins and Braves rebound after 0-9 starts

The Braves and Twins both improved their records to 3-9 Sunday by completing three-game sweeps of the Marlins and Angels, respectively. Atlanta and Minnesota are the first teams in major-league history to win three straight games immediately after starting a season with nine or more consecutive losses.

 

Noonie is earning respect in Minneapolis

Eduardo Nunez  2016Eduardo Nunez continues to make it look easy, going 2-for-4 in the Twins’ 7-4 win over the Brewers. That dropped-yes dropped-Nunez’ batting average to .545 this season, with 12 hits in 22 at-bats. Over the last 25 years, only one other Twins player maintained a batting average above .500 at least 20 ABs into a season. Josmil Pinto was 13-for-25 to start his brief MLB career in 2013, Kirby Puckett did it twice in the 1980’s (a 14-for-27 start in 1984, and 13-for-25 in 1987).

 

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According to ELIAS

Nunez is 7 for 7 in his two starts this season

Eduardo Nunez 2016Eduardo Nunez contributed three hits to the Twins’ first win of the season yesterday and he is 7-for-7 over his two starts this season. Nunez is the first Twins player since David Ortiz in July 2000 to go 7-for-7 (or better) over a span of two starts.

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According to ELIAS

The Braves and Twins both lost Thursday, dropping their records to 0-9. It’s only the third time in major-league history that two teams started 0-9 or worse in the same season. It also happened in 1884 when Detroit of the National League and Altoona of the Union Association did it; and in 1988 when Baltimore and Atlanta did it.

The Twins scored only one run in their loss to the White Sox yesterday and have scored only 14 runs in nine games this season. That matches the fewest runs scored over the first nine games of a season in Twins franchise history. The 1949 Washington Senators also scored only nine runs over the first nine games of the season. That team finished with a 50-104 record. The last major-league team to have that offensive futility over its first nine games of a season was the 2004 Expos (10 runs), the last American League team was the 2003 Tigers (14).

The Twins are the second team in major-league history to lose each of their first nine games, and score three or fewer runs in each. The other was the 1988 Orioles, who lost a record 21-straight games to start the season. Baltimore failed to score as many as four runs in any of the first 12 games that season.

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According to ELIAS

helpThe Twins fell to 0-8 when they dropped a 3-0 decision to the White Sox yesterday in which he managed only four hits while striking out nine times. In fact, the Twins are the first major-league team to have more strikeouts than hits in each of their first eight games of a season since the pitching distance was established at 60 feet, 6 inches in 1893. Source ELIAS

But that is not all, the Twins losing streak stands at 8 games in 2016 but when you add-on three straight losses to the Kansas City Royals at the end of 2015 and you have a 11 game losing streak on your hands, tied for the third longest losing streak in Twins history. The longest losing streak of course belongs to the 1982 Twins that lost 14 in a row and finished the season with a 60-102 mark.

Minnesota Twins longest losing streaks

Rk Strk Start End Games W L AB R H HR RBI SO BA
1 1982-05-19 1982-06-02 14 0 14 458 33 99 8 32 89 .216
2 1961-05-26 1961-06-07 13 0 13 426 33 88 5 31 56 .207
3 2015-10-02 2016-04-13 11 0 11 359 16 74 4 16 118 .206
4 2011-09-09 2011-09-21 11 0 11 379 37 93 4 33 76 .245
5 2013-05-14 2013-05-24 10 0 10 347 28 76 7 27 83 .219
6 1999-09-25 2000-04-03 10 0 9 328 27 77 5 27 65 .235
7 1998-09-09 1998-09-19 10 0 10 366 49 92 10 48 72 .251
8 1997-08-09 1997-08-19 10 0 10 350 26 88 3 25 69 .251
9 1985-05-21 1985-06-01 10 0 10 341 31 77 9 29 43 .226
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/14/2016.

My patience with this team is starting to wear thin but there are too many players sleep-walking through the beginning of this season to change out a player or two to send a message. Where is that tirade of a veteran player to wake this team up? Yes, I am looking at you Joe Mauer, Trevor Plouffe and Brian Dozier.

Can horrendous starts two years in a row just be a coincidence? I have never believed in coincidences. It is time for Dave St. Peter, Terry Ryan, and Paul Molitor to show that they can turn a ball club around that is sinking faster than Justin Spieth did at the Masters this past Sunday.

Six games out with just eight games played? This can’t be real, what a nightmare!

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The Twins and their strikeouts – a look back

Twins K vs R charts

Twins strikeouts versus runs scored history. Feel free to click on the chart to make it larger and easier to see.


Our Minnesota Twins and the Atlanta Braves both stand at 0-7 and the race is on to see can win a game first. It is tough when you have just played seven games into a new season and find yourself five games out of the division lead. Never-the-less, Paul Molitor‘s gang will try again tonight.

The Twins might have to consider changing their name to the Minnesota Flailers. Joe Mauer is hitting .375 and Eduardo Escobar is hitting .370 but the rest of the line-up is hitting between .125 and .192 with a combined team OBP of .290. Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano and Byung-ho Park have each struck out in 50% of their plate appearances.

OH! but the strikeouts. Needless to say the team is on a record pace and after seven games, admittedly a small sample size, they have struck out once every 3.29 PA’s and 11.29 times a game. It is hard to miss the ball that often. Their previous worst for strike-outs per PA was 4.34 in 2013, that same Twins team struck out an all-time franchise high of 1,430 times. But if you use the current running rate of 11.29 strike outs per game the 2016 Twins will strike out a record-breaking 1,829 times. I know that is unlikely to happen but right now that is exactly what is happening.

Paul Molitor and Terry Ryan have a huge mess on their hands but things can’t stay this bad for ever. Can they? Everything levels out so we all need to be patient and ride this storm out.

Let’s talk about strikeouts, how bad are they really? We could discuss the pro’s and con’s of strikeouts forever and cases can be argued that a strikeout by a batter is terrible and you could argue that there are worse things than a strikeout. Teams usually tolerate high strikeout rates if power is also involved but what if a batter has mediocre power and still strikes out frequently? What impact do strikeout really have on runs scored? After all, that is the object of the game isn’t it? Score more runs than the opponent and you win the game assuming your pitchers do their jobs.

Let’s take a look at the previous 55 seasons of Twins play. If you look at the numbers nothing really jumps out at you to tell you that strikeout are OK or horrendous. The Twins had an OK season by some standards last year and yet they still struck out 1,264 times and in 2002 they won 94 games and still struck out 1,089 times. On the other side of the coin the Twins only struck out 684 times in 1978 and still only won 73 games. Strikeouts in themselves will not determine if your team will win or not.

The Twins have only scored more runs than they have had strikeouts on four occasions in 55 seasons, in 1976 when they finished 85-77, in 1977 when they finished 84-77, in 1979 when they finished 82-80 and in their 1995 championship season when they were 95-67. Twins history seems to indicate that if you score more often than you strike out than you will have a winning season.

I think it is interesting to note here that Gene Mauch managed the Twins from 1976-1980, none of his team struck out more that 754 times. Just a coincidence or was it his managing style? Yet only three of those five years that Mauch managed the Twins, did they have a winning record and they never won more than 85 games under his leadership.

Strikeouts are obviously up across the board for a variety of reasons, since 2000 the Twins have played 15 seasons, during 11 of those they struck out over 1,000 times, the only other season they struck out of 1,000 times was in 1964.

During the Twins AL championship season of 1965 they struck out 969 times, in 1987 they struck out 898 times, and in 1991 they struck out only 749 times. The Twins have made the playoffs 11 times and they averaged 944 strikeouts during those years. Keep in mind too that six of those 11 playoff years were on this side of 2000.

Twins PA's per K charts

If you added in the running rate of strikeouts in 2016 after just seven games you would see a sharp dive of that blue line to 3.29.

 

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Know your 2016 Minnesota Twins crossword

 

crossword image

The Twins have started their 2016 season with games in Baltimore and Kansas City and are coming home to play their home opener today at Target Field with a 0-6 record against those hated Chicago White Sox who are 4-2. The Twins are the only team in the American League that has yet to win a game in 2016. No Minnesota Twins team has started a new season this poorly.

Never-the-less it is good to see the Twins again and I think that the team will turn things around and play better than it has so far. The Twins have numerous returning players and they have some new players for you to get to know. Today it is time to see how well you know the 2016 team and the Twins organization as a whole with the attached crossword puzzle. Have fun!

Know your 2016 Twins crossword

Once you have brought the puzzle up and are ready to print the puzzle, do a right-click with your mouse and you might want to do a print preview first to get the puzzle the right size to fit on a single page. The clues for the puzzle will print on page 2.

Answers? You want answers? Probably just to double-check your work because if you are checking out this site you are probably a big Twins fan and will not need any research to complete the puzzle. If you do need help answering some, the answer might be found else where on this site. If you must see the answers, you can find them on the link below but only do so as a last resort. Thanks, I hope you enjoy it.

Know your 2016 Twins crossword answers

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What changes can you expect to find at Target Field

The Twins will open their seventh season in Target Field on Monday and the biggest changes are noted here.

Change coming large

Minnie & Paul’s

The newest renovation is the replacement of seating in the centerfield area, below the Minnie & Paul Celebration sign and above the “batters-eye”. The upper level (Club Level) will be named Minnie & Paul’s and will be open to all fans. Minnie & Paul’s, a Twins-themed pub will feature Minnesota-branded food options while serving as a stylish gathering space for fans of all ages.

CATCH

The lower tier (Mezzanine Level) will be known as CATCH, an intimate all-inclusive club with limited access for approximately 120 season ticket members. This new premium space will be all-inclusive with beverages and a variety of tapas-style foods included in the season ticket price.

Safety Netting

New safety netting to comply with Major League Baseball’s Fan Safety Recommendations. Target Field’s current backstop net is in compliance with the stated MLB recommendations, which call for netting to protect seats between the dugouts within 70-feet of home plate. In contrast to other MLB ballparks, Target Field’s dugouts are the closest to home plate of any in the league, because of the proximity of seats within the dugout box seating sections (sections 3 through 6 and sections 11 through 14), the Twins will add protective netting above the dugouts in advance of the 2016 season. This new safety netting will extend approximately seven-feet high and run the length of the first and third base dugouts.

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This Day in Twins History – April 8, 1969

MIN-TWINS-vs.-KC-ROYALSApril 8, 1969 – The Royals play their first game in the history of the franchise and joins the winner circle along with the other three new clubs making their debuts today. Reliever Moe Drabowsky picks up the win as Kansas City beat the Twins in 12 innings, 4-3 in Kansas City Municipal Stadium.Drabowsky, Moe

Losing to a lowly expansion team in the first game he ever managed must have really stuck in Twins skipper Billy Martin‘s craw. Who had the first ever Royals hit? That would be our old friend Lou Piniella, check out the boxscore for more interesting names that you might remember from that era. Boxscore

The Twins will play the World Champion Kansas City Royals later today at Kauffman Stadium looking for their first win of the season. Over the years the Twins and Royals have hooked-up 733 times and the Twins have beaten the Royals 380 times and lost 353 times for a .518 winning percentage. Even though the Twins have beaten KC 27 more times than they have lost the run differential favors the Twins by only 15 runs so many of the games over the past 47 years have been close ones. The Twins have a 199-166 record at home against the Royals and on the road they are 181-187.

If you want to see a history of all the Twins/Royals match-ups you can go here.

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Twins way-back machine looks at April 1963

1961 - 1969 primary logo

1961 – 1969 primary logo

It is fun to look back at the Sporting News and see what was up with the Minnesota Twins back in the day. The Twins started their 1963 season with a 9-10 record in April but went on to win 91 games. That however; only earned them third place (15 1/2 games back) in the AL standings behind the AL champ New York Yankees and 5 games behind the second place Chicago White Sox.

Kralick, Jack 2Jack Kralick had an “interesting” month of April, in his first three starts the Twins scored zero runs on his behalf but he also gave up 18 runs so he deserved his 0-3 start, but in his fourth start of the month he pitched a complete game 3-0 shutout of the Washington Senators. Little did he know but on May 2 the Twins would trade him to the Cleveland Indians for pitcher Jim Perry and the man that threw the Minnesota Twins first no-hitter was history.

1963 Twins roster

Sporting News April 13, 1963

By the way, there is a nice piece about Twins 2014 first round selection (and fifth over-all) shortstop Nick Gordon in the Ft. Meyers News-Press today that you should check out if you get a minute.

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How will the Twins fare in 2016

I know I am a bit late with my Minnesota Twins prediction this year and I blame it on the Panama Canal cruise that I returned from yesterday. In the 2016 Minnesota Twins I see a fun young team but a team that takes a small step back this season. The good news however; is that the lessons the younger players learn this year will help them to become solid contenders in 2017 and beyond.

einstein 2016

The most pleasant surprise this year will be the hitting of Eduardo Escobar who has finally taken over the shortstop role on a full-time basis and turns out to be a much better hitter than most expected. The biggest disappointment of the year will be the back-end of the Twins bullpen with Glen Perkins and Kevin Jepsen not performing up to their abilities, Jepsen due to injury and Perkins more due to attitude than anything else. What most had viewed as a strength going into 2016 turns out to actually be a weakness.

How about the AL Central Division? Here is how I see them in the standings come early October.

  1. Royals
  2. Tigers
  3. White Sox
  4. Twins
  5. Indians

GO TWINS!

 

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This Day in Twins History – April 3

April 3, 1982 – The Twins beat the Philadelphia Phillies 5-0 in an exhibition game, the first event ever held in the new Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. Pete Rose of the Phillies gets the first hit in the new stadium and Kent Hrbek hits the first two home runs in the Metrodome.

Key Dates in Metrodome History

TCBearApril 3, 2000 – TC Bear is introduced as the Twins new mascot. The TC stands for Twin Cities. A case could be made that TC Bear “bears” some resemblance to the Hamm’s Beer Bear, a mascot used in advertisements for Hamm’s Brewery, an early sponsor for the Twins dating back to the early 1960’s. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TC!

Ervin Santana 2015April 3, 2015 – The Office of the Commissioner of Baseball announced that Minnesota Twins right-handed pitcher Ervin Santana has received an 80-game suspension without pay after testing positive for Stanozolol, a performance-enhancing substance, in violation of Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. The suspension of Santana will be effective for the first 80 games of the 2015 regular season. Santana, who was to earn $55 million over the next four seasons, was suspended for 80 games for violating Major League Baseball’s drug prevention and treatment program. The earliest he can return to action is July 4, when the Twins visit the Kansas City Royals. Scheduled to earn $13.5 million this year as part of the richest free-agent deal in club history, Santana will not be paid during the suspension, costing him more than $6.6 million.

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Looking forward to Opening Day 2016

Play BallWhen the umpires call “Play Ball” for the Twins/Orioles game on Monday it will Twins opening day number 56. No I have not attended all the openers but I usually watch them on TV or listen to them on the radio, this time I will be listening or watching on my computer in Cape Coral, Florida.

So who will be in the Twins opening day line-up this year? You can never know for sure until they run on the field but I think that it is a safe assumption that only four players that were in the 2015 season opening loss in Detroit will be in Paul Molitor‘s starting line-up for the start the 2016 season for Minnesota in Baltimore. Those player’s being Kurt Suzuki catching, Joe Mauer at 1B, Brian Dozier at 2B and Trevor Plouffe at 3B. You probably can’t even remember the Twins 2015 opening day line-up, can you?

Here is a chance for you to look back to the last 10 years worth of Twins opening day line-ups. Some players are obviously familiar and others you probably have forgotten even played for Minnesota and some younger fans may have never even heard of some of these guys. For me it is interesting to see how much baseball teams turn-over from year to year and what positions the Twins seem to have trouble with.

 C1B2B3BSSLFCFRFDHSPYEAR
C!B2B3BSSLFCFRFDHSP
2015Kurt
Suzuki
Joe
Mauer
Brian
Dozier
Trevor
Plouffe
Danny
Santana
Oswaldo
Arcia
Jordan
Schafer
Torii
Hunter
Kennys
Vargas
Phil
Hughes
2015
2014Kurt
Suzuki
Joe
Mauer
Brian
Dozier
Trevor
Plouffe
Pedro
Florimon
Josh
Willingham
Aaron
Hicks
Oswaldo
Arcia
Chris
Colabello
Ricky
Nolasco
2014
2013Joe
Mauer
Justin
Morneau
Brian
Dozier
Trevor
Plouffe
Pedro
Florimon
Josh
Willingham
Aaron
Hicks
Chris
Parmelee
Ryan
Doumit
Vance
Worley
2013
2012Joe
Mauer
Chris
Parmelee
Alexi
Casilla
Danny
Valencia
Jamie
Carroll
Josh
Willingham
Denard
Span
Ryan
Doumit
Justin
Morneau
Carl
Pavano
2012
2011Joe
Mauer
Justin
Morneau
Tsuyoshi
Nishioka
Danny
Valencia
Alexi
Casilla
Delmon
Young
Denard
Span
Mike
Cuddyer
Jason
Kubel
Carl
Pavano
2011
2010Joe
Mauer
Justin
Morneau
Orlando
Hudson
Nick
Punto
J.J.
Hardy
Delmon
Young
Denard
Span
Mike
Cuddyer
Jason
Kubel
Scott
Baker
2010
2009Mike
Redmond
Justin
Morneau
Alexi
Casilla
Joe
Crede
Nick
Punto
Denard
Span
Carlos
Gomez
Mike
Cuddyer
Jason
Kubel
Francisco
Liriano
2009
2008Joe
Mauer
Justin
Morneau
Brendan
Harris
Mike
Lamb
Adam
Everett
Delmon
Young
Carlos
Gomez
Mike
Cuddyer
Craig
Monroe
Livan
Hernandez
2008
2007Joe
Mauer
Justin
Morneau
Luis
Castillo
Nick
Punto
Jason
Bartlett
Rondell
White
Torii
Hunter
Mike
Cuddyer
Jeff
Cirillo
Johan
Santana
2007
2006Joe
Mauer
Justin
Morneau
Luis
Castillo
Tony
Batista
Juan
Castro
Shannon
Stewart
Torii
Hunter
Jason
Kubel
Rondell
White
Johan
Santana
2006

I am writing this from the Norwegian Pearl as we cruise in the Caribbean Sea on our way to dock in Roatan, Honduras tomorrow morning after leaving Costa Rica last night. Then on to Belize City, Belize and Costa Maya, Mexico before returning to Miami and Cape Coral Florida on Monday. Hot and humid here, I hope you have the same where ever you are when you attend a 2016 baseball season opener. I can’t wait for REAL baseball again.

I almost forgot to mention that while I am in the Caribbean stopping in places like Columbia, Panama, Costa Rica, Honduras, Belize, and Mexico I have and will continue to be on the lookout for some potential ace pitchers that the Minnesota Twins can sign. But sadly, I must report that like most of the Twins scouts that have looked for good pitching for the last 56 years I too have struck out.

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Cuba Béisbol

CaribbeanThe Tampa Rays played (and defeated) the Cuban National team yesterday in Havana and President Barak Obama and his family were in attendance along with Raul Castro and a host of other dignitaries. The game marks the second time since 1959 that an American team has played in Cuba — the Baltimore Orioles defeated the national team, 3-2, in Havana in 1999. It will be interesting to see how the baseball relationship between these two baseball loving countries takes shape in the next few years.

The Minnesota Twins and the island of Cuba have a long history and it goes back to the 1960’s prior to the Washington Senators becoming the Minnesota Twins in 1961. The relationship between Calvin Griffith and Joe “Papa Joe” Cambria was an interesting one. The Senators/Twins had a nice Cuban pipeline going for a number of years.

Players born in Cuba that have pitched for the Twins

Rk Player Year From To Age G SHO W L SV IP SO ERA
1 Livan Hernandez 2008 2008 2008 33-33 23 0 10 8 0 139.2 54 5.48 Villa Clara, Cuba
2 Luis Tiant 1970 1970 1970 29-29 18 1 7 3 0 92.2 50 3.40 Marianao, Cuba
3 Camilo Pascual 1966 1961 1966 27-32 184 18 88 57 0 1284.2 994 3.31 La Habana, Cuba
4 Mike Fornieles 1963 1963 1963 31-31 11 0 1 1 0 22.2 7 4.76 La Habana, Cuba
5 Julio Becquer 1961 1961 1961 29-29 1 0 0 0 0 1.1 0 20.25 La Habana, Cuba
6 Bert Cueto 1961 1961 1961 23-23 7 0 1 3 0 21.1 5 7.17 San Luis, Cuba
7 Pedro Ramos 1961 1961 1961 26-26 42 3 11 20 2 264.1 174 3.95 Pinar del Rio, Cuba
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 3/23/2016.

Cuban players with at least on plate appearance for the Twins (includes pitchers)

Rk Player Year From To Age G PA R H HR RBI BA
1 Kendrys Morales 2014 2014 2014 31-31 39 162 12 36 1 18 .234 Fomento, Cuba
2 Livan Hernandez 2008 2008 2008 33-33 23 3 0 1 0 1 .500 Villa Clara, Cuba
3 Tony Oliva 1976 1962 1976 23-37 1676 6880 870 1917 220 947 .304 Pinar del Rio, Cuba
4 Leo Cardenas 1971 1969 1971 30-32 473 1938 193 453 39 210 .263 Matanzas, Cuba
5 Minnie Mendoza 1970 1970 1970 36-36 16 16 2 3 0 2 .188 Ceiba del Agua, Cuba
6 Luis Tiant 1970 1970 1970 29-29 18 36 7 13 0 4 .406 Marianao, Cuba
7 Jackie Hernandez 1968 1967 1968 26-27 112 247 14 39 2 20 .172 Central Tinguaro, Cuba
8 Hank Izquierdo 1967 1967 1967 36-36 16 28 4 7 0 2 .269 Matanzas, Cuba
9 Sandy Valdespino 1967 1965 1967 26-28 259 491 58 99 4 34 .220 San Jose de las Lajas, Cuba
10 Zoilo Versalles 1967 1961 1967 21-27 1065 4500 564 1046 86 401 .252 La Habana, Cuba
11 Camilo Pascual 1966 1961 1966 27-32 186 509 35 100 4 52 .215 La Habana, Cuba
12 Julio Becquer 1963 1961 1963 29-31 58 87 14 20 5 18 .238 La Habana, Cuba
13 Mike Fornieles 1963 1963 1963 31-31 11 6 1 1 0 1 .167 La Habana, Cuba
14 Marty Martinez 1962 1962 1962 20-20 37 24 13 3 0 3 .167 La Habana, Cuba
15 Bert Cueto 1961 1961 1961 23-23 7 8 1 0 0 0 .000 San Luis, Cuba
16 Pedro Ramos 1961 1961 1961 26-26 53 100 8 16 3 11 .172 Pinar del Rio, Cuba
17 Jose Valdivielso 1961 1961 1961 27-27 76 158 15 29 1 9 .195 Matanzas, Cuba
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 3/23/2016.

Tony OlivaI think it is interesting to note that in the 60’s the Twins had a rich pipeline to Cuban players but the last Cuban player to play in a Twins uniform that was actually signed as an amateur free agent by the club was Tony Oliva in 1976, that is a long dry spell.

Fidel Castro

Fidel Castro

Did Fidel Castro really have a big league tryout with the Washington Senators?

Cuba Baseball Hall of Fame

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This Day in Twins History – March 22, 2010 – you have to be careful what you wish for

Joe MauerCatcher Joe Mauer officially signed his eight-year, $184 million contract extension (2011 – 2018) in a press conference at the Lee County Sports Complex. The contract is the 4th highest contract ever signed in MLB as of that date.

Since his eight-year extension started in 2011 which is five years ago Mauer has the following stats (and look for the box that has Mauer’s batting stats for 2011-2015). Sometimes you have to be careful what you wish for but I also remember how upset I would have been had the Minnesota Twins not signed Joe Mauer to an extension.

The reality is that long-term deals seldom work out as planned and most of the time favor the player. But in spite of what appears to be a distinctive advantage in these long-term deals for the players, their agents still found a way to swing the advantage in their favor even more by inventing opt-outs in the contracts. What’s next? Doubling a players salary if he is injured and out for the season? Sometimes I wonder if baseball GM’s and their players aren’t in cahoots. Baseball owners are wealthy but you have to wonder how they got that way because they don’t seem to be the brightest bulb on the tree. Then I wonder what that says about me, the baseball fan lifer who keeps buying tickets and follows the game day in and day out.

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Why not bat Joe Mauer first?

The season opener is not far away and in my mind (such as it is) the Twins line-up is pretty well set short of any last-minute injuries. But before spring training ends I would like to see manager Paul Molitor tinker with a few different batting orders to see what might work best.

Mauer, Joe 2016Personally I would like to see the Twins move Joe Mauer to the lead-off spot in the batting order. Mauer has hit in the three hole 1,145 times during his career and he has knocked in less than 53 runs a year from that position if you average it out. You have to be honest, that is a pathetic number, some guys have the knack for getting the runners in, Mauer does not posses that skill. I know that the three hole is usually the teams best hitter but Mauer is not the teams best hitter at this point in his career. Mauer however; has shown a skill for getting on base although his OBP has been dropping the last few years, never the less at this time and with an inexperienced Byron Buxton the time has come to slip Mauer in to the lead-off position. Here is the line-up I would try if I was the Twins manager for a day, I know it is not perfect but I think it is worth a try.

  1. Joe Mauer (L) at 1B
  2. Brian Dozier (R) 2B
  3. Eddie Rosario (L) LF
  4. Miguel Sano (R) RF
  5. Trevor Plouffe (R) 3B
  6. Byung Ho Park (R) DH
  7. Eduardo Escobar (S) SS
  8. Kurt Suzuki (R) C
  9. Byron Buxton (R) CF

I know I am asking a lot of Eddie Rosario to hit third but I think he has the skills and the patience to hit there. You could swap Dozier and Rosario in the order and have Rosario bat second but the Twins are heavy from the right-side and I like to see the lefty-righty thing for at least the top of the order. Mauer is going to probably be around for several more years, the Twins have to find a way to maximize his skills.

Joe Mauer’s OBP has been dropping but it is still better than most of the Twins hitters so until someone better comes along, why not put Mauer at the top of the batting order? What have you got to lose by at least giving it a shot for a couple of weeks?

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Looking back to the spring of 1961

The-Sporting-News-The-Game-We-LoveWhen I was growing up on the Minnesota side of the St. Croix River about 70 miles north of the Twin Cities and just starting to follow baseball in the late 1950’s we had no TV at home so my sources of information about baseball were the radio, the Minneapolis and St. Paul newspapers and eventually The Sporting News. My parents were not sports fans and they pretty much felt that my interest in baseball was a waste of time that could be put to better use by doing more tasks around the dairy farm that we lived on.

For those of you that were raised on a dairy farm you know how hard the work can be. You started and finished each and every day in the barn milking the cows. You probably got up about 5 AM and went to bed between 10 PM and 11 PM before you started the process all over again the next day. There is no such thing as an eight-hour day, a sick day, a holiday or a week-end, every day is the same, work on a dairy farm is relentless.

We had a radio in the barn that was always tuned to just one station, 830 on the AM dial, the “Good Neighbor”, WCCO radio. Back  then WCCO was one of the premier and most powerful radio stations in the country and in 1961 it became the flag-ship station for the Minnesota Twins. There might as well have been no dial on that old tube radio because the station was never changed, it was our source for news, weather and of course the farm reports but my favorite things on the radio were the Twins games and school closings.

The Minneapolis and St. Paul papers were not delivered out to farm country and we couldn’t afford it even if they did, fortunately our school library subscribed to the morning papers and every chance I had I would go to the library and check out the sports pages. One day I ran across a Sporting News at our local dime store magazine rack, Ben Franklin if my memory serves me correctly and I thought I had died and gone to heaven, page after page of baseball news that was published weekly. It took some time but I finally saved up enough money to get a subscription and I was hooked. Out where we lived there was no mail delivery so we had a PO box in out local community and when my parents went grocery shopping on Saturday’s they would stop off at the post office and pick up the mail and hopefully my copy of the Sporting News, my reading material for the next few days. I would read every single article on every single page, sometimes more than once and during baseball season I would spend hours studying the box scores. I continued to get the Sporting News until I graduated from high school and joined the US Navy. The Navy of the mid 1960’s didn’t share my love of baseball and we had no such thing back then as the internet so baseball and I parted ways for the couple of years that I spent on board the USS Shangri-La (CVA-38).

After my naval career came to an end I returned to Minnesota and started to follow baseball once again but I found that the Sporting News was now writing about other sports than just baseball and I didn’t like that at all and I have not subscribed to the Sporting news since 1965 but I still have some great memories of what has often been described as the Baseball Bible.

Now as the Minnesota Twins prepare for their 56th season I thought it might be interesting to look back in the archives of the Sporting News and see what they had to say about the Minnesota Twins back in 1961 as the former Washington Senators prepared for their first season of baseball as the Minnesota Twins.

When you look back on baseball history some things never change, the players want to be rewarded for their efforts with more money and the owners want to put what they can in their pockets. The process has obviously changed with “holdouts” a term long forgotten and arbitration, free agency, long-term contracts, and opt-outs are the terms we hear and read about every day. The Sporting News page I have for you talks about Jim Lemon‘s holdout, a rhubarb between the Twins and Dodgers, the expansion and new features at Met Stadium and booming Twins ticket sales. I hope you enjoy this trip down memory lane.

Sporting News 03291961

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Twins bonus baseball – long extra inning games

extra inningsStarting with the 1961 season the Minnesota Twins have been scheduled to play about 8,912 games give or take a couple and only 33 of those games went 15 or more innings, a pretty small (less than 4 tenths of 1 percent) percentage. So if you attended one of these games you were a lucky son of gun. The Twins record in these games is 17-16 and as it turns out 17 games were at home and 16 on the road. Seven took place at Met Stadium, 9 took place at the Metrodome and 1 has taken place at Target Field. If you enjoy baseball you can’t help but enjoy bonus baseball, here is a chance to relive those games. Those pesky Cleveland Indians participated in their share of these games.

Rk Date Tm Opp Rslt IP H R SO HR Pit BF # Attendance GmLen
1 1993-08-31 MIN CLE W 5-4 22.0 16 4 8 0 288 85 7 17,968 377
2 1972-05-12 MIN MIL L 3-4 22.0 13 4 13 0 86 7 8,628 347
3 1967-08-09 MIN WSA L 7-9 20.0 14 9 16 2 79 5 16,901 340
4 1976-08-25 MIN NYY L 4-5 18.2 16 5 5 1 73 4 24,351 326
5 2004-08-08 MIN OAK L 5-6 18.0 16 6 13 0 251 71 7 25,976 297
6 1969-09-06 MIN OAK W 8-6 18.0 16 6 12 1 78 4 17,599 317
7 1969-07-19 MIN SEP W 11-7 18.0 20 7 9 1 82 5 12,069 341
8 1967-07-26 (2) MIN NYY W 3-2 18.0 10 2 7 0 65 4 21,927 264
9 1976-08-28 MIN CLE L 3-4 16.2 13 4 6 0 62 6 6,071 295
10 1969-04-09 MIN KCR L 3-4 16.2 11 4 8 0 64 5 13,731 272
11 1995-05-07 MIN CLE L 9-10 16.1 26 10 9 3 322 82 9 39,431 396
12 2009-07-03 MIN DET L 9-11 16.0 17 11 12 2 218 69 7 33,368 307
13 2005-08-16 MIN CHW W 9-4 16.0 12 4 12 1 204 63 6 34,533 309
14 1986-06-11 MIN TEX L 2-6 16.0 16 6 7 1 66 5 11,506 272
15 1977-09-17 MIN TEX L 4-5 16.0 12 5 10 2 65 5 13,163 312
16 1969-07-25 MIN CLE W 4-2 16.0 8 2 14 1 57 3 8,959 266
17 1982-04-20 MIN OAK L 3-4 15.2 14 4 10 0 66 3 12,488 303
18 1975-07-12 MIN NYY L 7-8 15.2 18 8 7 1 70 5 13,573 311
19 2012-06-17 MIN MIL W 5-4 15.0 15 4 7 1 250 66 7 39,206 290
20 2004-06-10 MIN NYM W 3-2 15.0 8 2 13 1 231 59 6 16,706 246
21 2004-05-04 MIN SEA L 3-4 15.0 13 4 14 1 245 65 8 32,727 288
22 2004-04-06 MIN CLE W 7-6 15.0 12 6 10 1 223 59 8 19,832 300
23 2002-06-10 MIN ATL W 6-5 15.0 11 5 6 1 209 58 5 24,534 263
24 1999-05-21 MIN OAK W 2-1 15.0 8 1 9 0 225 59 5 14,433 295
25 1992-07-04 MIN BAL W 3-2 15.0 12 2 8 0 250 64 6 48,028 280
26 1980-08-28 MIN TOR W 7-5 15.0 13 5 9 1 60 4 14,035 264
27 1980-06-20 MIN CLE L 3-4 15.0 14 4 6 1 63 6 7,668 268
28 1974-09-10 MIN CHW W 8-7 15.0 19 7 9 1 62 4 3,285 247
29 1973-06-06 (1) MIN CLE W 7-3 15.0 10 3 8 1 66 3 254
30 1972-06-06 MIN BAL W 5-4 15.0 11 4 14 0 63 4 6,203 265
31 1972-05-13 MIN MIL W 5-4 15.0 10 4 12 2 54 3 7,871 216
32 1964-09-29 MIN KCA L 6-7 15.0 10 7 13 3 61 8 2,999 290
33 1961-05-22 MIN CLE L 5-7 15.0 17 7 7 2 63 4 5,425 248
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 3/9/2016.

 

According to Wikipedia

The longest game by innings in Major League Baseball was a 1-1 tie in the National League between the Boston Braves and the Brooklyn Dodgers in 26 innings, at Braves Field in Boston on May 1, 1920. It had become too dark to see the ball (fields did not have lights yet and the sun was setting), and the game was considered a draw. Played rapidly by modern standards, those 26 innings were completed in 3 hours and 50 minutes.

The longest American League game, and tied for the longest major league game by innings which ended with one team winning, was a 7-6 victory by the Chicago White Sox over the Milwaukee Brewers in 25 innings, at Comiskey Park in Chicago in 1984. The game began at 7:30 p.m. on the evening of May 8, 1984, and after scoring early runs both teams scored twice in the 8th inning; but the game was suspended after 17 innings with the score tied 3-3 due to a league curfew rule prohibiting an inning from beginning after 12:59 a.m. The game was continued the following evening, May 9, 1984, and both teams scored three times in the 21st inning to make the score 6-6; finally, in the bottom of the 25th, the White Sox’ Harold Baines hit a home run to end the contest. Tom Seaver was the winning pitcher in relief.[5] A regularly scheduled game followed, meaning both nights saw 17 innings played; Seaver also started, and won, the second game. The official time of the entire 25-inning game was 8 hours, 6 minutes, also a major league record

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Twins have always been looking for pitching – even back in 1966

David Lowery - photo credit to Historic Images

David Lowery – photo credit to Historic Images

Some thing never change with the Minnesota Twins. Even back in 1966 the Twins were scouting all over the world and looking for baseball players and in this case they thought they had found a real diamond in the rough in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The 23 year-old David Lowery was 6’5″ and tipped the scales about 208 and signed a minor league deal with the Orlando Twins for a $1,000 bonus and round trip transportation for him and his family to give baseball in the United States a try as a right-handed pitcher.

Lowery started 31 games for the 1966 Orlando Twins (Class A) and was second on the team with 12 wins. Lowery only gave up 154 hits in 181 innings while striking out 88 and had a nice 1.20 WHIP with a very good 2.64 ERA. Those kind of numbers would have made Lowery a hot prospect now days but for reasons I have not been able to determine, Dave Lowery returned to South Africa after his one season in pro ball. The PDF below is an interesting read as he talks about how it was in South Africa in 1966.

Dave Lowery1

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Miguel Sano too big to fail

Miguel Sano

Miguel Sano

I have told you all before that my glass is half empty and it is leaking. You can say that it is a negative attitude or what ever you want but this type of thinking has served me well during my life time and it helped me immensely in my 38 year career in IT.

I hope like hell that Miguel Sano has finally found a position he can call home but I can’t help but wonder what would happen if for some reason it does not pan out. It is unlikely that a decision like that would be made quickly because the Twins want and need Miguel Sano to play right field, if Sano isn’t an outfielder all kinds of poop hits the fan.

Let’s look at worst case here for a moment and see what you do with Sano if that should happen. He was signed as a shortstop and the Twins said for several years that he might have to be moved to third base and eventually they did move him to the hot corner. Now with Trevor Plouffe finally playing well at 3B and hitting in the middle of the line-up the Twins aren’t excited about moving him to another position or trading him. Sano has shown (albeit in the minor leagues) he is far from a gold glover at 3B anyway so why take Plouffe off 3B? Last year Sano played a little 3B and DH but you really don’t want to waste an athletic young player like Sano at DH. If he is so athletic why can’t he play outfield or anywhere else for that matter? I think the answer is simply his size, the man is a brute, I didn’t say fat, he is huge for a baseball player. Maybe he eventually settles in at 1B but not for the time being, we have Joe Mauer there, Byung-ho Park was signed as a first baseman, and Kennys Vargas wants to play there too.

Norwood, WillieI have actually spent a lot of time thinking about this situation with Sano so that shows you how my mind works these days. With the way the Twins team is structured there is no way that Sano is not the right fielder for the Twins in 2016 short of a serious injury. Think about it, the Twins have used Harmon Killebrew as an outfielder and even Willie Norwood played outfield for the Twins and he couldn’t catch a cold at your local urgent care center filled with kindergartners.

I can live with Eddie Rosario and Byron Buxton covering left and center and Sano camping out in right field because I am not buying a ticket to watch Sano play in the outfield, I am there to watch Miguel Sano hit. Sano has more power that Harmon Killebrew and people will indeed stop whatever they are doing to watch Sano hit, just like they did for Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew. Say what you want, but Miguel Sano is indeed too big to fail no matter how you slice and dice it.

So now what do we do with Max Kepler and Adam Walker? An embarrassment of riches? OH BOY! This going to be fun.

 

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Back when players played 160 games or more

The players today seem to need more rest today than the players did years ago. Sure, they play eight more games then teams did in the past but still you have to wonder what the cause really is and does it pay off in the long run? The last Twins player to play in 160 or more games in a season was Justin Morneau in 2008. If you look at the list you can’t help but notice that three of the 10 names are shortstops, not exactly an easy position. Paul Molitor did it at the age of 39 but then again he was strictly a DH. Zoilo Versalles played 160 or more games four times and also had a season with 159 games and the man weighed 146 dripping wet with rocks in his pockets. You wonder how he did it.

Zoilo Versalles

Rk Name Yrs From To Age
1 Zoilo Versalles 4 1962 1967 22-27 Ind. Seasons
2 Kirby Puckett 3 1985 1992 25-32 Ind. Seasons
3 Harmon Killebrew 3 1966 1969 30-33 Ind. Seasons
4 Gary Gaetti 2 1984 1985 25-26 Ind. Seasons
5 Leo Cardenas 2 1969 1970 30-31 Ind. Seasons
6 Cesar Tovar 2 1967 1970 26-29 Ind. Seasons
7 Justin Morneau 1 2008 2008 27-27 Ind. Seasons
8 Torii Hunter 1 2007 2007 31-31 Ind. Seasons
9 Paul Molitor 1 1996 1996 39-39 Ind. Seasons
10 Roy Smalley 1 1979 1979 26-26 Ind. Seasons
11 Tony Oliva 1 1964 1964 25-25 Ind. Seasons
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 2/27/2016.

In the American League this past season Manny Machado played in a league leading 162 games and Kyle Seager and Elvis Andrus played in 160 or more. The only National Leaguer to play in 160 or more games was Anthony Rizzo.

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Are Daily Fantasy Sports Sites For You?

daily-fantasy-sportsI ran across this article not too long ago about Daily Fantasy Sports sites and found it interesting and thought that I would share it. I will state up front that I play fantasy sports (baseball and fottball) but not daily fantasy sports sites. Here is an article and Infographix that was posted on SeatSmart.com last November entitled the Daily Fantasy Sports Racket. Based on what these folks say it might just be a waste of your money. If you are DFS player, you might want to check it out.

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Just a single short of the cycle

Hitting for the cycle is a rare occurrence and only ten Twins players can say that they have one on their resume. The only Twin to hit for the so-called natural cycle (1B, 2B, 3B, and HR in that order) was Carlos Gomez in 2008. The first Twins cycle was hit by Rod Carew in 1970 and the Minnesota Twins as you know started play back in 1961. Two Twins players hit for the cycle at Met Stadium and two Twins players hit for the cycle at the Metrodome, so far the only cycle at Target Field is by Adrian Beltre of the Texas Rangers.

Eddie Rosario

Eddie Rosario

Many players came up just a hit short, 119 came up a home run short, 288 came up a triple short, 44 players came up a double short. Twelve different Twins players had the misfortune of just missing the cycle by coming up a single short, missed it by just this much…… Eddie Rosario is in this group and he missed his last year at Target Field.

 

Rk Player Date Rslt PA AB 1B R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB
1 Eddie Rosario 2015-07-30 W 9-5 5 5 0 3 3 1 1 1 3 0
2 Luis Rivas 2004-08-25 W 8-5 5 5 0 2 3 1 1 1 1 0
3 Corey Koskie 2001-07-05 W 12-2 5 5 0 2 3 1 1 1 5 0
4 Marty Cordova 1999-08-28 W 4-3 5 4 0 1 3 1 1 1 2 1
5 Javier Valentin 1999-06-06 W 13-6 5 5 0 2 3 1 1 1 2 0
6 Rich Becker 1996-07-13 L 11-19 6 6 0 3 4 1 1 2 6 0
7 Pat Meares 1996-04-02 L 6-10 5 5 0 1 3 1 1 1 4 0
8 Gary Gaetti 1983-07-27 L 9-13 5 5 0 3 3 1 1 1 4 0
9 Ken Landreaux 1979-08-20 W 10-5 5 5 0 3 3 1 1 1 6 0
10 Mike Cubbage 1977-08-07 W 11-1 5 5 0 2 3 1 1 1 5 0
11 George Mitterwald 1970-05-24 L 5-6 4 4 0 1 3 1 1 1 2 0
12 Bob Allison 1968-07-21 (2) W 10-0 3 3 0 3 3 1 1 1 3 0
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 2/26/2016.

 

 

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As the Twins rise in the standings so do the ticket prices

2010 - present Twins primary logoThe Minnesota Twins finally had a winning season (83-79) in 2015 after having lost 90 or more games for four consecutive years and watched as their attendance drop lower and lower each season. The team’s performance kept individual game ticket prices relatively flat during the losing stretch but after finishing just two games over the .500 mark Twins management has decided that it is time to raise the ticket prices, after all, the team hasn’t raised their ticket prices since 2012. I noticed this past off-season that the Twins didn’t brag about holding down ticket prices and they made no announcement that ticket prices would go up but you didn’t have to be a genius to assume that ticket prices would rise in 2016. So let’s dig in a bit and see what transpired this off-season.

Twins Raise Ticket Prices

Bottom line is that the Twins raised ticket prices $1-$3 for every seat in the Main Level of Target Field for every tier of games in 2016. The club pretty much left the Club level, Terrace Level, Outfield Mezzanine Level and Budweiser Roof Deck tickets at 2015 prices except for “The Field View” tickets in the Terrace level which were increased by a buck for each tier of games. These price changes increase the average 2016 Twins ticket price to $31.72 from an average of $31.25 in 2015.

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 2016. Last year the tiers were called “extra value”, “value”, “select”, “premium” and “elite” but this year the Twins have not yet announced the names for the tiers nor how many games fall into each tier but with a little digging I think we have gotten down to the bottom of it. The number of games in each of the tiers did change slightly once again from 2015. The “extra value” games are the cheapest priced games and all eight of these games fall in April and September when school is in session and the weather is expected to be cooler. The next step up is the “value” plan and the number of games in this category decreases from twelve last season to eight in 2016. The “select” category is the middle of the line category and this is pretty much the Twins baseline for ticket prices. The number of games in this category increases this year to 49 games from 41 last year. The next step up is the “premium” games and the Twins decreased the number of games in this category from nine to eight. The top of the line category is the “Elite” games and this category of games remained unchanged at eight games. The Twins strategy this season puts 60% of the games in the middle “select” tier and then splits the remaining 40% of the  games evenly between the lower tiers and upper tiers.

Individual game tickets went on sale February 20 but those prices are only in effect for one day because as of February 22 demand-based pricing kicks in for the rest of the season and the Twins and their demand-based pricing partner, Digonex Technologies, Inc. will monitor and change ticket prices based on a number of conditions.

Average ticket prices for the various tiers

An “extra value” game is $16.85, a “value” game is $24.40, a “select” game is $31.70, a “premium” game is $38.95, and an “elite” game is $46.70.  If you attend an “elite” game you will pay on average 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. By the way, if you are lucky enough to sit in the first row, you will have to pay a $5 or $10 premium depending on what section your seat is in.

2016 Twins single game ticket prices on February 20

(Main level)
Champion’s Club – Season Ticket only
Dugout Box – $51/$68/$84/$100/$117
Home Plate Box – $38/$51/$63/$75/$88
Diamond Box – $29/$39/$48/$57/$67
Field Box – $23/$30/$37/$44/$51
Left Field Bleachers – $10/$17/$24/$31/$38
The Pavilion – $12/$20/$27/$34/$43
Overlook – $12/$20/$27/$34/$43
Great Clips Great Seats – $29/$34/$42/$49/$56
 
(Club level)
Legend’s Club – Season Ticket only
The Deck – $19/$25/$31/$37/$43
 
(Terrace level)
Home Plate Terrace – $21/$28/$35/$42/$49
Field Terrace – $10/$18/$25/$32/$40
Home Plate View – $10/$18/$25/$32/$40
Skyline View – $6/$11/$16/$21/$26
Field View – $7/$11/$15/$19/$23
Family Section (Alcohol-free section includes a hotdog & a soda) – $10/$18/$25/$32/$40
 
(Outfield Mezzanine level)
U.S. Bank Home Run Porch Terrace – $10/$17/$24/$31/$38
U.S.  Bank Home Run Porch View – $7/$12/ $17/$22/$27
Grandstand –  $7/$12/$17/$22/$27
 
(Budweiser Roof Deck)
Fixed View Seat – $18/$27/$36/$45/$54
Standing Room ticket – $8/$12/$16/$20/$24

Season Ticket Prices

Although I did not spend a lot of time comparing 2016 season ticket prices to 2015 prices it appears that the season tickets jumped up in the same areas as did the single ticket prices. The Left Field Bleachers full season ticket for example went for $1,620 in 2015 and in 2016 it costs $1,701 which brought the ticket price up $1 a ticket from $20 to $21. If you yearned for the best of the best,  which is the Thomson Reuters Champions Club then you would need to fork over $24,705 this year, up $10 a ticket from $23,895 last year.

2016 Target Field Seating map

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Checking out the pitchers and catchers

When I left our Cape Coral condo yesterday morning it was overcast but no rain was predicted as I started the 12 mile drive to the CenturyLink Sports Complex but shortly after crossing over the bridge to Ft. Myers the sprinkles started and then it started to rain. By the the time I arrived it was raining pretty hard but not hard enough to stop the action on the practice fields. I could see some blue skies and before I knew it the rain had stopped and then it turned humid, Florida humid, perfect for baseball.

Tom KellyIt was the second day of pitchers and catchers working out so I didn’t expect to see a lot, and I didn’t. The pitchers did some throwing and some PFP and then the catchers took some BP and practiced some ball blocking drills. The one thing that stood out to me was that there was no TK to be seen. I think that is the first time in a long time that I have been to spring training and not seen Tom Kelly on the short infield running PFP. Kinda sad really, I was not a TK fan when he was the skipper because I thought he was just a grumpy know it all that was rude to fans. Over the years he mellowed or I did and I grew to appreciate his sense of humor and love of the game. I hope to see him later this spring. Former Twins pitcher and recently retired LaTroy Hawkins was out there as a Twins guest instructor.

The number of players on the back fields is growing in leaps and bounds as more position players and minor league players show up and wait the start of their spring training. I took a bunch of pictures that I have not yet labeled but you can see them on my 2016 Spring Training Pictures link. In a few days the position players will report and the battles for spots on the Twins roster will begin. I can’t wait to see how Miguel Sano will do out in right field.

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Twins roster make-up from 2006-2015

We are on the cusp of a new baseball season and that means that Spring Training is underway and players from all over the world including peach-fuzz faced rookies and grizzly old veterans are beginning their fight for a MLB roster spot, they want to be one of the 750 players on a 25-man roster participating in “The Show“. Some players are already guaranteed spots, others will win a job, and still others will get a job because someone else had the misfortune to get injured.

Baseball fans all over have been watching free agency, hot stove league action as well as play in the winter leagues and everyone has their own idea what each of the 30 GM’s should have done and what they can still do to improve the home team. One of the fun aspects of spring training is pretending to be the GM and manager and decide who gets to make the 25 man roster for the big trip up north when April rolls around.

Choosing who makes up the 25-man is no easy task because there is so much that goes into deciding who gets to wear a MLB uniform when the season-opener finally arrives. You obviously want to put your 25 best players on the roster but it is not that simple, sometimes money, politics, injuries, legal issues, MLB rules and options and just plain luck come into play. Say you have three players for a single position, one is a better hitter, one is better in the field and the third player isn’t the best hitter or fielder but can do an adequate job of both and is good in the club house, who gets the job?

Choosing a 25 man roster is important but not as big a deal as you may think. GM’s and managers have quite a bit of flexibility in changing the roster over the span of the 162 game schedule and the playoffs. If you want to be the team that wins the final baseball game of the season you need depth and 25 players doesn’t cut it. Having depth is more important than ever, the 1965 World Series team used 35 players, the 1987 team used 36 players and the 1991 Twins used 35 players. The 2015 champion Kansas City Royals needed 45 players to win it all. The number of players the Twins have used for the last 10 years has ranged from 39 to 48 players, last season the Twins used 44 players.

Today I am not going to try to guess at the 2016 Minnesota Twins 25-man roster but we are going to take a look at the number of players that the Twins have used each season for the last 10 years and determine where those players came from. Are the Twins players predominately home-grown via the draft and amateur free agent signings or did they become Minnesota Twins through the waiver wire, a trade, free agency or some other means. Every team, be it the Twins or anyone else is obviously a mix of home-grown and acquired players but some clubs like the Yankees or the Red Sox have reputations of trading their prospects for experienced players other teams can no longer afford and teams like the Twins, A’s and others believe the way to go is through growth from within. There is no right or wrong way to go, it all depends on your circumstances and your pocket-book.

The PDF shows that the Twins used 433 players during this time frame but not 433 unique players as many players were on the roster year after year. It shows the number of roster spots the Twins needed in each of those 10 seasons and how many pitchers and position players made up the roster and how the Twins got their rights.

The PDF covers the Twins rosters from 2006-2015. Keep in mind that the chart tracks where players originally came from, for example, if you look at the pitchers side of 2015 you see a two in the Rule 5 column. That doesn’t mean that they had two Rule 5 pick-ups in 2015, it means that two roster spots in 2015 were occupied by players that the Twins had picked up as Rule 5 selections over the years and they were on the 2015 roster at one time or another, in this case we are talking about J.R. Graham and Ryan Pressly.

"<strongAMA or amateur free agents are players that were not draft eligible and most of these players were signed by Minnesota out of Australia, Europe, or Caribbean countries. We are talking about players like Miguel Sano, Oswaldo Arcia, Danny Santana, Max Kepler and many others.

The bottom  line is that over this 10 year span, 44.80% of the roster spots were occupied by players either drafted by Minnesota or signed by Minnesota as AFA, the remaining 55.20% were acquired from other organizations in one way or another. Does this make the Twins a home grown team? I don’t know, you tell me.

Roster make-up

Fun Twins fact: Based on the Twins 40 man roster who is the oldest player that will be in camp this year? Turns out that the two grey beards in camp are Ervin Santana and Ricky Nolasco who were born just a day apart in December 1982.

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It’s starting to get exciting over at the ballpark

The weather has been cool, wet and windy here in SW Florida since the calendar rolled over to 2016 but the last few days have been sunny and in the mid 70’s here and the population of Twins players and Twins wannabees is growing by the day. I stopped by the  CenturyLink Sports Complex again yesterday and was surprised at how many players had already shown up and how many fans were out watching the players go through their paces.

 

Max Kepler

Max Kepler

The players that show up this early come and go, some show up every day and others show up now and then. Miguel Sano was out here on  my first visit but I have not seen him the last two times I have been out here. Yesterday I saw Max Kepler for the first time this spring and he said that he just arrived the day before. I was shocked when I first saw Max because he was not the baby-faced player I had gotten used to seeing, he was sporting a beard and mustache or maybe I should say he was trying to grow a beard.

Byung Ho Park

Byung Ho Park

Byung-ho Park is working out every day but he does not seem to have the same crowd of press members following him like Tsuyoshi Nishioka did when he first signed with Minnesota. Park and Nishioka appear to have taken totally different approaches to their integration into the Twins organization, when Nishioka was here and working out prior to spring training he worked out on his own with his interpreter and seldom if ever joined the rest of the players. Parker is just the opposite, he works out with the rest of the players and he is willing to spend time with the fans signing autographs, something Nishioka didn’t seem to be real excited about. I don’t know if Park will make the team but in my eyes he is already way ahead of Nishioka when he joined the Twins and spring training hasn’t even officially started.

I continue to be amazed at how many fans mention how great the CenturyLink Sports Complex and the Minnesota Twins organization is as compared to the Boston Red Sox and JetBlue Park, their spring training home. The Twins allow their fans to wander all over the grounds and inter-act with the players and the Red Sox are all about security and limit access to everything and everybody. It is not just the fans that have this opinion, it is members of the local press here also.

Pitchers and catchers report this week-end, I can’t wait. The Twins were much improved in 2015 so you would think that there would be fewer questions and fewer roster spots up for grabs this year but I don’t think that is the case and it all revolves around Miguel Sano. Can Sano play right field? If not, all kinds of options can come into play. I have all kinds of questions. Is Byung Ho Park ready for MLB? What if Byron Buxton does not win the CF spot? Do you buy he has to prove the job belongs to him or does he have to prove he can’t handle it? What about the bullpen? Are the Twins still looking for a proven left reliever? Is Glen Perkins healthy? Are Oswaldo Arcia, Danny Santana, and Kennys Vargas still in the Twins plans? Max Kepler and Adam Walker are coming fast, will they start to call Minneapolis home this summer? When will Jose Berrios join the Twins starting rotation? Did the Twins make a good move in giving up Aaron Hicks? So many questions and so little time to get them answered, you can bet that Twins spring training this year will be one of the most exiting ever.

When I was out at the ballpark I once again took some pictures that you view in the 2016 Spring Training pictures link on the right hand side of the page. I hope you enjoy them.

 

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Twins switch-hitters from 1961-2015

One of the more frequent questions I get pertains to switch-hitters that played for the Minnesota Twins so I thought I would put together the entire list of Twins players both position players and pitchers that swung from both sides of the plate. In this case I ranked then in order of home runs hit. The list includes Twins pitchers as well as position players.

Rk Player HR From To G PA AB H 2B 3B RBI BA OPS Pos
1 Roy Smalley 110 1976 1987 1148 4676 3997 1046 184 21 485 .262 .750 *6DH/53
2 Chili Davis 41 1991 1992 291 1163 978 276 61 3 159 .282 .862 *D/H793
3 Cristian Guzman 39 1999 2004 841 3538 3277 871 142 61 289 .266 .685 *6/HD
4 Butch Wynegar 37 1976 1982 794 3188 2746 697 112 9 325 .254 .682 *2/HD5
5 Gene Larkin 32 1987 1993 758 2670 2321 618 131 12 266 .266 .723 3D9H/754
6 Ryan Doumit 32 2012 2013 269 1066 969 253 62 2 130 .261 .745 2/D9H73
7 Denny Hocking 25 1993 2003 876 2455 2204 556 109 17 215 .252 .661 64H5/9738D
8 Bobby Kielty 23 2001 2003 224 750 631 170 35 3 92 .269 .818 9/8HD73
9 Eduardo Escobar 21 2012 2015 340 1139 1051 275 71 8 111 .262 .710 *6/574HD98
10 Aaron Hicks 20 2013 2015 247 928 819 184 30 6 78 .225 .655 *8/97HD
11 Kennys Vargas 14 2014 2015 111 418 390 101 14 1 55 .259 .707 /*D3H
12 Dave Hollins 13 1996 1996 121 503 422 102 26 0 53 .242 .760 *5/HD6
13 Nick Punto 12 2004 2010 747 2707 2365 587 102 21 194 .248 .648 564/HD879
14 Alexi Casilla 11 2006 2012 515 1764 1580 395 72 14 147 .250 .639 *4/6HD58
15 Pedro Florimon 10 2012 2014 210 682 616 126 23 3 55 .205 .567 *6/HD
16 Matt Walbeck 8 1994 1996 275 1008 946 218 40 1 103 .230 .571 *2/HD
17 Javier Valentin 8 1997 2002 141 435 391 90 19 2 46 .230 .638 *2/HD
18 Danny Santana 7 2014 2015 192 707 666 185 37 12 61 .278 .710 *6/8HD9
19 Brent Gates 6 1998 1999 217 723 639 161 28 2 80 .252 .656 *5/4H3D6
20 Luis Rodriguez 6 2005 2007 206 508 445 108 19 3 38 .243 .651 /54H6D3
21 Orlando Hudson 6 2010 2010 126 559 497 133 24 5 37 .268 .710 *4/D
22 Jim Perry 5 1963 1972 380 681 613 117 17 2 46 .191 .478 *1/H7
23 Terry Tiffee 5 2004 2006 91 256 239 54 13 1 29 .226 .625 /5H3D
24 Orlando Merced 5 1998 1998 63 223 204 59 12 0 33 .289 .767 /*39DH
25 John Moses 4 1988 1990 349 687 620 171 25 7 57 .276 .693 9H/78D31
26 Matt Tolbert 3 2008 2011 247 680 605 139 27 9 54 .230 .607 4/5H6D39
27 Luis Castillo 3 2006 2007 227 1036 933 279 33 9 67 .299 .720 *4
28 Pedro Ramos 3 1961 1961 53 100 93 16 1 0 11 .172 .484 /*1H
29 Marcus Jensen 3 2000 2000 52 164 139 29 7 1 14 .209 .663 /*2HD
30 Dave McKay 2 1975 1976 78 290 263 60 6 1 24 .228 .562 /*5H6D
31 Jose Offerman 2 2004 2004 77 202 172 44 14 2 22 .256 .759 /*DH34
32 Augie Ojeda 2 2004 2004 30 72 59 20 1 0 7 .339 .886 /*46H5
33 Darrell Brown 1 1983 1984 186 602 569 155 15 5 41 .272 .624 *8/H7D
34 Otis Nixon 1 1998 1998 110 500 448 133 6 6 20 .297 .705 *8/H
35 Wally Backman 1 1989 1989 87 337 299 69 9 2 26 .231 .591 /*4HD
36 Tom Herr 1 1988 1988 86 345 304 80 16 0 21 .263 .674 /*4HD6
37 Chris Latham 1 1997 1999 63 154 138 21 2 0 9 .152 .411 /8H79
38 Kendrys Morales 1 2014 2014 39 162 154 36 11 0 18 .234 .584 /*D3H
39 Rob Bowen 1 2003 2004 24 43 37 4 0 0 3 .108 .380 /*2HD
40 Al Newman 0 1987 1991 618 1876 1647 380 59 7 135 .231 .581 465H/D738
41 J.C. Romero 0 1999 2005 327 3 3 1 1 0 0 .333 1.000 *1
42 Joe Mays 0 1999 2005 193 21 15 4 1 0 0 .267 .722 *1
43 Pat Neshek 0 2006 2010 132 0 0 0 0 0 0 *1
44 Pete Filson 0 1982 1986 130 0 0 0 0 0 0 *1
45 Darrell Jackson 0 1978 1982 104 0 0 0 0 0 0 *1/HD
46 Jose Morales 0 2007 2010 74 181 158 47 9 0 14 .297 .725 /*2HD3
47 Tsuyoshi Nishioka 0 2011 2012 71 254 233 50 5 0 20 .215 .503 /*64HD
48 Doug Baker 0 1988 1990 57 100 86 23 5 1 9 .267 .696 /*46HD5
49 Sergio Ferrer 0 1974 1975 56 157 138 36 3 3 2 .261 .648 /*6H4D
50 Nelson Liriano 0 1990 1990 53 211 185 47 5 7 13 .254 .688 /*4HD6
51 Marty Martinez 0 1962 1962 37 24 18 3 0 1 3 .167 .563 /*H65
52 Dan Serafini 0 1996 1998 35 1 1 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 /*1
53 Larry Milbourne 0 1982 1982 29 106 98 23 1 1 1 .235 .548 /*4H
54 Donnie Hill 0 1992 1992 25 59 51 15 3 0 2 .294 .721 /6H459
55 Chris Pittaro 0 1986 1987 25 34 33 6 0 0 0 .182 .388 /*4H6D
56 Quinton McCracken 0 2001 2001 24 70 64 14 2 2 3 .219 .588 /DH798
57 Jason Ryan 0 1999 2000 24 0 0 0 0 0 0 /*1
58 Tom Lundstedt 0 1975 1975 18 32 28 3 0 0 1 .107 .326 /*2HD
59 Ruben Sierra 0 2006 2006 14 33 28 5 1 0 4 .179 .487 /*H*D
60 Glenn Williams 0 2005 2005 13 43 40 17 1 0 3 .425 .902 /*5H
61 Stan Perzanowski 0 1978 1978 13 0 0 0 0 0 0 /*1
62 Cleatus Davidson 0 1999 1999 12 24 22 3 0 0 3 .136 .273 /*46HD
63 Jorge Polanco 0 2014 2015 9 20 16 5 1 1 4 .313 .950 /*6H
64 David Lamb 0 2002 2002 7 10 10 1 0 0 0 .100 .200 /*6H45
65 Mark Brown 0 1985 1985 6 0 0 0 0 0 0 /*1
66 Luis Quinones 0 1992 1992 3 6 5 1 0 0 1 .200 .367 /*H6D5
67 Eric Hacker 0 2011 2011 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 /*1
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 2/10/2016.

You can make a strong case that Mickey Mantle was the best switch-hitter in the AL as he hit .300 (with 500 or more PA’s) or more nine time and Victor Martinez who remains active today has hit. 300 eight times as has Bernie Williams. Roberto Alomar did it seven times.

Guzman, Cristian 3The Twins have not had as much luck with their switch-hitters, the only Twin to hit .300 (.302) or better with at least 500 plate appearances was Cristian Guzman in 2001. It kind of makes you wonder if switch hitting is worth the effort. From 1901 to 1960 the Washington Senators never had a switch-hitter that hit .300 or better with at least 500 PA’s.

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Checking out to see who is at the ballpark

Last week I stopped off at the CenturyLink Sports Complex for a couple of hours to see what was going on if anything and to see what players may have already shown up to get a jump on spring training. I have not been out earlier this year because the weather here in SW Florida has been a bit strange this year. A couple of weeks ago we had a tornado about a mile from the condo in Cape Coral and a few days later they had another tornado touch down in Ft. Myers not too far from Page Field. Cape Coral which is just across the river from Ft. Myers has had almost 13″ of rain in January and they average under 2″ of rain, so it has been a wet January. February has started out cool and windy (for this area anyway) with temperatures in the low to mid 60’s and our average is 75 for this time of the year.

Adam Walker signs for a fan.

Adam Walker signs for a fan.

When I got to the ballpark there were a couple of people buying spring training game tickets as I headed towards the back fields where I would expect to find the action if there was going to be any. You couldn’t help but hear the music blaring from the minor league clubhouse and there was probably about a dozen players out on the fields, some running, some doing some infield and others were shagging some fly balls. I didn’t see any throwing but I heard that Glen Perkins had done some throwing before I arrived. As always it is hard for me to identify a lot of these guys because many are minor league players and others may be players from other organizations that live in the area and stop by  to work out. I did see Miguel Sano, Oswaldo Arcia, Adam Walker doing some outfield work but I saw no hitting. I met Buck Britton who is a 29-year-old free agent minor leaguer the Twins signed and plays the infield and some outfield and he has spent most of his career in the Orioles organization but played in AAA for the Dodgers in 2015. Britton has no big league experience.

There was a handful of fans getting autographs and pictures and the players were more than willing to spend time with everyone. Miguel Sano was more than just patient when a couple approached him for pictures and the gentleman stood next to Sano and his wife was supposed to take their picture but she had no idea how to use the cell phone camera. She tried and tried and about five minutes later her significant other had enough and he had her pose with Sano while he took her picture. The entire time Miguel just smiled and tried to be helpful, he was more patient than I would have been. Other than that there was not much else to write home about. I will be back again later this week and see what’s up now that TwinsFest is done and training camp is just a couple of weeks away.

I took a few pictures that you can check out on the right hand side of this page under the title of 2016 spring training pictures. As I said earlier, I did not identify all the players so if you can help out feel free to do so.

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Going to work or play every day

I seldom missed a day of school back in Taylors Falls and I continued that practice at work during my working career. The Navy of course reinforced the idea that going to work every day was the only way. I am old school and retired now but back in the day when I worked I took a lot of pride in the fact that I showed up for work day in and day out rain or shine.  I figured I was being paid to work so I showed up day after day. It used to drive me crazy when I knew that certain co-workers stayed home because they were hung-over or just plain didn’t feel like working. There were probably times when it would have been safer to stay home due to the snow or ice but not me, I was off to work.

Working every day carries over to my enjoyment of baseball, I like players that come to play ball each day and don’t take time off because they are tired or have a hang-nail. These players are being paid big bucks to play, not to sit on the bench and rest, they can rest on their own time like the rest of us.

"<strongSo where am I going with this? Today we are going to take a look at the Minnesota Twins players that came to play. Today’s players are playing fewer games then their compatriots did 50 or so years ago for a variety of reasons. The change however; is not as great as I expected to find. When was the last time that a Twins player played in every game that season? That would be Justin Morneau in 2008 when he appeared in all 163 regular season games. Since 1961 and 55 baseball seasons only six Twins players have played in every game and Harmon Killebrew is the only one to do it more than once.

 

Rk Player Year G Age PA AB H HR RBI SB BA OPS Pos
1 Justin Morneau 2008 163 27 712 623 187 23 129 0 .300 .873 *3/D
2 Gary Gaetti 1984 162 25 644 588 154 5 65 11 .262 .665 *5/76
3 Roy Smalley 1979 162 26 729 621 168 24 95 2 .271 .794 *6/3
4 Harmon Killebrew 1969 162 33 709 555 153 49 140 8 .276 1.011 *5*3
6 Cesar Tovar 1967 164 26 726 649 173 6 47 19 .267 .691 5847/69H
7 Harmon Killebrew 1966 162 30 677 569 160 39 110 0 .281 .929 *537/H
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 2/5/2016.

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Working or playing every day can be tough and everyone gets sick or hurt now and then Continue reading

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