I miss the old days

The Minnesota Twins have announced that all their arbitration eligible players have been signed for 2017. All five pocketed some nice change but starting pitcher Kyle Gibson increased his pay by 394% from $587,500 in 2016 to $2.9 million in 2017.

Bob Gibson

For that kind of increase I would have expected a “Cy Young” award season but I don’t remember that being the case. Lets see, I remember a real good pitcher named Gibson, oh, that was a guy named Bob Gibson and he is in the Hall of Fame. He last pitched in 1975 and his salary peaked out at $175,000.

Our Gibson, Kyle was 6-11 last season with a 5.07 ERA and a 1.56 WHIP. In his 25 starts he pitched 147.1 innings and allowed 175 hits including 20 home runs. The man deserved a pay cut and not a pay increase of 394%, he should be pitching for the major league minimum this year of $535,000. But the MLB arbitration rules prohibit common sense like that.

In the old days they could give a player a maximum pay cut of 20%, that rule should still be in place. It is BS that baseball players get increases year after year no matter how bad a season they have. But that is the world we live in today. No one said that life is fair but things like this are just plain wrong.

Hey Kyle, don’t forget to increase your charitable contributions by 394% this year too. If you start 30 games in 2017 that comes out to almost $100,000 a start, you can afford it.

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Time for Falvey and Levine to make a decision

Brian Dozier

The rumors of the Minnesota Twins trading their 29 year-old power hitting second baseman have been flying this entire off-season but here it is mid-January and Brian Dozier is still part of the Twins organization. Don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining that he has not been traded, right now Dozier is the heart and soul of the Minnesota Twins and I would hate to see him go unless the Twins can get major league ready players in return. I am getting real tired of all the talk about the future, I want to see some players that can play today. Prospects are nice but why trade an All-Star power hitting second baseman for more prospects. There is no guarantee with prospects, with Dozier you have a known commodity.

The problem I see here now is that the Twins have gone so far down the road with all this trade talk is the possible repercussions that may occur in not trading Dozier. No one likes to hear their name bandied about in trade talks and all this chatter about being traded may have negative impacts on Dozier’s play this season even if he tries to make it a non-issue. Dozier is no different from the rest of us, the more comfortable and happy you are in your work environment the better work you will perform.

Miguel Sano

I blame the Twins for Miguel Sano‘s poor season in 2016 by sending him to the outfield with little or no experience. Sano with just 80 games of big league experience all at third base or DH was forced to try to learn how to play the outfield while learning how to play in the big leagues. Sano did his best but the pressure of learning the outfield and playing in the big leagues was just too much for the then 22 year-old. 

I know that Dozier is more experienced but I can see a similar scenario playing out with Dozier. Starting the season with Minnesota but waiting for the hammer to drop in a trade deadline deal might just cause him to struggle and the more he struggles the worse it would get and then his value plummets. Will Brian Dozier hit 42 home runs again? No one knows the answer to that but he is at peak value now, either trade him or just say he will not be traded and move on. End this thing with the Dodgers once and for all, either they give us what we want or we move on, this limbo business helps no one. Personally I am not a fan of Jose De Leon so a deal for De Leon and another prospect doesn’t spin my wheels so moving on from the Dodgers would be a blessing in my eyes. Whats wrong with keeping Dozier and building around him?

The time has come for Derek Falvey and Thad Levine to make a decision, so let’s move on boys, spring training is just around the corner.

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Baseball Cards

I started collecting baseball cards back in the late 1950’s. I didn’t collect cards because I thought they would be worth some money some day, I collected them because I loved baseball and we had no TV so the only way I had to see what these players looked like was through baseball cards or a picture in the paper now and then. I also collected baseball cards because they showed all the stats that a player had accumulated as he worked his way up from the “D” leagues to the big leagues. Today’s cards don’t have that, a damn shame I say.

On top of all that, if you happened to get a star player you had bragging rights with your friends. A favorite card could be anyone, it could be a star player, a player from your favorite team, or in some cases a player became a favorite of mine just because I liked how he looked on his baseball card. Oh the trades, we used to trade baseball cards every day during baseball season. Today fans follow MLB Rumors on the internet to hear about a big signing or a big trade, we made our own big trades day after day. I remember how tough it was to trade a favorite card even if it was for a card you really wanted. There was a life lesson to be learned when we traded those cards, you never get something for nothing.  If you want something bad enough you have to be willing to give up something valuable to get it. Later on in life I learned it was called “opportunity cost”, any time you want something or want to do something there is an opportunity cost, you have to give up something to get something else. A valuable life lesson learned by trading baseball cards.

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Know your Minnesota Twins closers

The folks at Baseball-Reference.com describe a save as follows: 

A save (abbreviated SV or S) is a statistic awarded to a relief pitcher, often called a closer, who enters the game under certain conditions and maintains his team’s lead until the end of the game. The save rule was first adopted for the 1969 season and amended for the 1974 and 1975 seasons. Baseball researchers have worked through the official statistics retroactively to calculate saves for all major league seasons prior to 1969.

The first save credited to a Minnesota Twins pitcher occurred on April 16, 1961 long before the save rule was actually in existence in 1969. Continue reading

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Another bad move at the U of M – Tracy Claeys fired

Minnesota acting head coach Tracy Claeys calls out to players during the fourth quarter against Nebraska in Minneapolis Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013. (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt)

I have to rant this morning and it has nothing to do about baseball or the Minnesota Twins. It has to do with the Minnesota Gophers football team that I have followed since I was a kid living on a farm in the 1950’s. Back then we lived in a small farm-house and our only source of heat was the wood stove that sat in our living room. If you wanted to get up to warm house (we considered low 60’s warm) in the morning you had better get up during the night and put more wood on the fire. It takes a lot of wood to last through those long cold winters in Taylors Falls, Minnesota.

Which takes me back to my rant, I used to spend many a Fall Saturday afternoon listening to Minnesota Gopher football games as I chopped, split and piled the wood in the shed for the long winter ahead. I chopped a lot of wood growing up and listened to the Gophers win a lot of football games. I still remember how disappointed I was when the Gophers lost 17-7 to Washington in the Rose Bowl after the 1960 season. My biggest Gopher disappointment was probably their 14-9 loss to those hated Badgers and QB Ron VanderKelen in 1962 due to some questionable calls by the ref’s.

I have followed Minnesota golden Gopher football ever since….. now we have AD Mark Coyle firing coach Tracy Claeys. I have seen all that has gone with the program this year and the challenges that the team and coaching staff have endured on their way to a nine win season.

For the life of me I don’t see how Tracy Claeys can be blamed and fired after this season. Claeys is a good man who ran a good program and yet the University and Coyle see fit to fire him. On of the stated reasons was low season ticket sales and low attendance at the games, maybe the U of M should look at their own Marketing department for some answers. I guess I didn’t know that the head football coach was also responsible for attendance numbers. You think you saw low attendance numbers this past year? Wait and see what you get in 2017.

This firing is totally unfair and unjust to Tracy Claeys and his staff and the University of Minnesota leadership should be embarrassed to have something like this happen on their watch. I am not a Gopher season ticket holder but the U of M leadership team has chased off yet another Minnesota Gopher football fan.

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How have teams fared with their first round picks in the June Amateur Draft

The 2017 MLB June Amateur  Draft is still a long ways off but since my home town Minnesota Twins have the first overall pick in the draft it got me to thinking. I spent some time recently researching how MLB teams have fared with their first round picks in the June Amateur draft that first started in 1965. The very first pick in the very first draft was made by the Kansas City Athletics and they chose Arizona State University outfielder Rick Monday who went on to a nice 19 year career with three teams with two All-Star selection and a career WAR of 33.1 but he was not HOF worthy. Drafting back in 1965 was an inexact science just like it is today, HOF pitcher Nolan Ryan was drafted in round 12 and ended up with a career war of 81.8 and HOF catcher Johnny Bench who ended up with a 75.0 WAR was selected in round two. Other first round picks that year that you might remember were RHP Joe Coleman, catcher Ray Fosse and third baseman Bernie Carbo.

The question becomes how to rank the teams and I decided to rank them in order of career WAR as determined by Baseball-Reference. I looked at how many players were drafted and signed by each team and then totaled the career WAR numbers and then determined an average WAR for each drafted/signed player.

It was a fun exercise looking at the list of players that were drafted and signed as first round picks. Did they deliver on the promise you thought they had when your team announced that they had drafted and signed them? In baseball there are no guarantees that a first round pick from high school or college will make it to the big leagues and wear your teams colors.

The thing to remember here is that I only looked at first round picks. There are many great players drafted in later rounds but the round one picks get all the ink, most of the money and they wear that “first round pick” label for ever. 

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Happy New Year

Happy New Year to all. We thank you very much for stopping by our site regardless if you are a first time visitor or a regular at Twinstrivia.com. We hope that 2017 will be the best year of your life and that the Minnesota Twins can put things back together again and show us some winning baseball.

The beginning of a new year is always a fresh start and filled with hopes and dreams. The sun is shining on the white snow today with the temperature pushing the 30 degree mark, it is one of those Minnesota “Top Ten Weather Days as those weather forecasters like to say. But I still can’t help thinking about the green grass, the home-plate umpire yelling “play ball”, the ball hitting the catchers glove, and the crack of the bat when it meets the baseball and sends it flying out towards the scoreboard in deep center.

Maybe the Minnesota Twins can turn things around give us a reason to cheer for the “winning” Twins. Baseball Opening Day is just 93 days away folks!

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Just because I liked it

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I wonder why the Twins are doing nothing

Christmas 2016 has come and gone and Minnesota Twins fans found nothing under the Christmas tree but a Jason Castro and a wheelbarrow full of coal. 

As I sit here in the Plymouth, Minnesota with the ground covered with snow in spite of all the recent rain on Christmas Day I wonder why the team with the worst record in baseball in 2016 is doing nothing. It would be fun to write something positive about the home town ball club that I have followed for 56 years but how can you do that with a straight face?

Since the World Series ended when the Chicago Cubs finally won it all, the Twins organization has hired Derek Falvey to be there Chief of Baseball Operations and he in turn hired Thad Levine to be the team’s new GM. The team did sign free agent catcher Jason Castro on November 30 but other than that signing they have done nothing but sign minor league free agents that will not and should not play at Target Field in 2017. Oh yes, they did hire three new coaches to replace two that they fired.

I wonder what strategy the team is trying to employ to sell season tickets? Maybe the strategy is to keep mum and hope the fans forget about 2016 and have their season tickets on auto-renewal?  There seem to be no promotions, no marketing, no nothing. Every now and then a rumor pops up that the team “is in” on some free agent but that player signs somewhere else and nothing changes.

It makes me think that the Twins haven’t changed a bit, they remain bottom feeders waiting to scoop up what ever drops down to the bottom that no one else wants. It’s not like the team doesn’t have holes to fill, make some deals, sign a free agent even if you have to over pay the guy to have him come to play at Target Field. Show some sign of life over there at 1 Twins Way. I don’t buy that Falvey and Levine are still in learning mode, those gentlemen aren’t stupid, they have watched the Twins for years.

It makes me wonder if the Twins approach is to try to not upset the fans even more than they already are. The hottest rumor surrounding the Twins is trading second baseman Brian Dozier. Dozier is the face of the Twins and the team leader and Dozier might not ever again hit 42 home runs like he did last year and he might be at the peak of his value but do you trade him for more prospects? Let’s be honest here, the Twins have sucked since 2011, we shouldn’t have to start the rebuild process again and wait until the 20’s to field a competitive team. If you trade Dozier you had better get some players in return that can play in the major leagues now, not in a few years. If you trade him for prospects you might as well put up a sign at Target Field like this:

Twins ownership and the organization need to realize they have a serious issue here, the Twins are not the lovable losing Chicago Cubs. That game won’t play here, we need to see some positive changes coming out of 1 Twins Way. If you think I’m getting inpatient then you are correct, times have changed, teams can show dramatic improvement from year to year just like they can tank from year to year. Patience isn’t a virtue if you own and or run a baseball team, you either put a winning team on the field or you better start to hire more workers to dust off those empty seats at Target Field.

Here are some reminders for you, the Minnesota Twins last appeared in the World Series over 26 years ago, they haven’t even won a playoff game in 13 years, enough already.

Show us something, at least throw us a bone!

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Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas everyone!

We hope you are all able to spend this wonderful holiday with your family and friends and that you all find peace, health and happiness. Don’t forget those service men and women who are protecting you in all corners of this world and can’t be home to spend time with their family and friends.

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The Twins trials and tribulations with finding starting pitching

The Minnesota Twins have a long history of problems developing starting pitching. Using 100 starts as a barometer, since 1961 the Twins have signed and developed just 11 pitchers in their system that have gone on to get 100 or more starts in a Twins uniform. The only first round pick in the bunch is Pete Redfern, three round tw0 picks, two round three picks, one fourth round pick, one fifth round pick, Brad Radke was an eighth round pick, one 29th round pick and an amateur free agent (Dave Boswell).

Since the June amateur free agent draft started in 1965 the Twins have drafted 31 pitchers in round 1 or as round 1 supplementary/compensation picks. Actually part of the Twins issues with starting pitching relates to spending money or the lack there of. The first two right-handed pitchers drafted by the Twins in round 1 were Dick Ruthven in 1972 and Tim Belcher (first overall pick) in 1983 who both refused to sign with Minnesota and went on to have long careers in MLB. The first left-handed pitcher drafted in round 1 to start any games was Eddie Bane and his Twins career lasted 25 starts. As I mentioned earlier, the draft started in 1965 but the Twins only drafted starting pitching in round 1 twice (Ruthven in 1972 and Bane in 1973) between 1965-1981. The first RHP that they drafted in round 1 that actually started a number of games (45 in Twins career) was Willie Banks who the team drafted in 1987. Since 2000 they have drafted a pitcher in round 1 a total of 17 times.

Starting pitching signed and developed by the Twins since 1961

Rk Player GS From To Age G W L IP ERA
1. Brad Radke 377 1995 2006 22-33 378 148 139 2451.0 4.22
2. Bert Blyleven 345 1970 1988 19-37 348 149 138 2566.2 3.28
3. Frank Viola 259 1982 1989 22-29 260 112 93 1772.2 3.86
4. Dave Goltz 215 1972 1979 23-30 247 96 79 1638.0 3.48
5. Scott Baker 159 2005 2011 23-29 163 63 48 958.0 4.15
6. Scott Erickson 153 1990 1995 22-27 155 61 60 979.1 4.22
7. Dave Boswell 150 1964 1970 19-25 187 67 54 1036.1 3.49
8. Nick Blackburn 137 2007 2012 25-30 145 43 55 818.2 4.85
9. Allan Anderson 128 1986 1991 22-27 148 49 54 818.2 4.11
10. Pete Redfern 111 1976 1982 21-27 170 42 48 714.0 4.54
11. Roger Erickson 106 1978 1982 21-25 114 31 47 712.0 4.10
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 12/20/2016.

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If you can’t find, sign, and develop your starting pitching, you only have a few options at your disposal, you could make a trade, you can sign a free agent, or you can find one on the waiver wire (ha, ha, ha). 

The option I want to write about here is the Twins attempts to trade for starting pitching since the turn of the century, a total of 17 years. Trading for starters hasn’t exactly gone as planned either. Continue reading

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Twins sign J.B. Shuck to minor league deal

Are you serious? The Twins coming off a a 59-103 season sign free agent J.B. Shuck to a minor league deal? Why? The guy is 29 years old and has played all or parts of five season with the Astros, Angels, Indians and White Sox. Shuck has eight career home runs, a .251 career average with a .299 OBP. He is weak defensively but he can play all three outfield positions……

The Twins already have Eddie Rosario, Byron Buxton, Max Kepler, Danny Santana, and Robbie Grossman on the major league club with Daniel Palka and Zach Granite also on the 40-man roster.

I know he won’t make the trip to Minnesota in April but why burn a roster spot and any time Shuck plays some younger player with a chance to get better will not. Just seems silly to me.

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Frankie Sands never played for the Twins but he might have, had it not been for a crazy bounce

(Photo by: Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

The most famous eye issue in Minnesota Twins history has to be the Kirby Puckett glaucoma issue that led to the future Hall of Famer’s premature retirement. In a meaningless fall game against the Indians at the Metrodome on September 28, 1995 with the Twins in last place and 42 games out of first place, Puckett was hit in the face by a fastball from Dennis Martinez in the bottom of the first inning. When Puckett who was the DH that afternoon and in the third spot in the batting order stepped to the plate, Chuck Knoblauch was on third base after he too was hit by a Martinez pitch leading off the game. Knobby stole second and advanced to third on a fly ball to center by Matt Lawton. On a 0-2 count Martinez hit Puckett in the face and blow shattered his jaw and put him out of play for the rest of the season. My wife and I were at that game along with just 9,440 others and when Puckett fell to the ground the silence was amazing, you could have heard a pin drop before Indians catcher Tony Pena and the Twins medical staff rushed to Puckett’s aid.

At spring training camp the following March he was batting well, but on March 28 he woke up unable to see out of his right eye. Doctors discovered he had glaucoma. The problem could not be corrected, even after four surgeries, and on July 12, 1996, he announced his retirement as a player.

This past summer Philadelphia Phillies pitching prospect Matt Imhof was injured in a freak accident when he was struck in the face by a resistance band that was anchored to a wall following a minor league game in Florida. The mounted base broke off the wall and damaged Imhof’s right eye. Doctor’s were unable to save the eye. At last report Imhof had not decided if he would continue his professional baseball career as a pitcher. Imhof, a left-hander was a Phillies second round selection in the June 2014 draft.

Phillies prospect Matt Imhof loses his right eye

Almost 50 years ago back in the fall of 1968 a freak injury caused a Minnesota Twins minor league catching prospect to also lose an eye playing the game he loved.

Many players can say that they played ball in the Minnesota Twins minor league system but few can say that they were good enough and fortunate enough to wear a MLB Minnesota Twins uniform. Because of a tragic accident nearly fifty years ago on October 6, 1968 catcher Franklyn Sands big league dreams took a sharp detour and his dreams of becoming a big leaguer would never happen and his life was forever chnaged.

The Bahamas are not exactly a hot-bed for major league talent but at last count six players born in the Bahamas have worn a big league uniform. According to some, Frank Sands was one of the best catchers to ever come out of the Bahamas when the Houston Astros signed Sands to a contract to play pro ball as a 17-year old and sent him to play class A ball in Bismarck-Mandan in the Northern league in 1966.  After the 1966 season the Astros chose not to protect Sands and the Minnesota Twins drafted him and assigned him to AAA Denver in 1967 where he appeared in just 46 games. The following season the Twins organization decided to send Sands to play class A ball for the Wilson Tobs. Sands caught 116 of the teams 139 games and gained a reputation as a good receiver with a whip like arm but his hitting remained a work in progress.

Then on October 6, 1968 while taking part in the Twins Florida Instructional League tragedy struck, here is how B-R Bullpen describes the incident.

“Sands was warming up pitcher Tom Hall. Hall bounced a breaking ball in the dirt, and it caromed up and off Sands’ mitt into his cheekbone. A sliver of bone punctured his eye from the inside. Sands knew immediately that he had lost the eye. Scipio Spinks observed, “After his accident, it was mandatory for catchers to wear a mask while warming up pitchers.”

Frank spent four weeks in the hospital, and as soon as he got out, the first thing he wanted to do was put on his uniform and get out for batting practice. He was determined to come back, despite the obstacle he faced in batting with impaired depth perception. Twins owner Calvin Griffith liked the young man very much and gave him every opportunity. In fact, Griffith said that Sands would have a job for life with the organization if he wanted it.”

Sands reported for spring training in 1969, this time as a pitcher but was farmed out early in training camp to the class A Orlando Twins where he appeared in just three games pitching just four innings before breaking his arm throwing a pitch. Frank Sands professional baseball career was over but he still caught in the Bahamas Baseball Association for several years playing a game he loved.

Scipio Spinks was a pitcher and a teammate of Sands in the Northern League in 1966 and today is a scout for the Arizona Diamondbacks. Here is what Scipio wrote in a e-mail to me about Frankie Sands.

“It’s been a long time, he mostly hung out with Roy Bethel and other Bahamian players. He was a very good catcher and had a cannon for an arm, very friendly and sure of himself, I threw to him some as he was a very good catcher. He wasn’t a good hitter though and he struggled at the plate. We only played together for a few years as he was ruled 5 by the Twins, I believe he could have become a decent hitter and I do believe he would have made it to the Big Leagues.”

Franklyn Sands (Sporting News March 29, 1969 P7)

There have been some serious eye injuries in American Sports history and each of them ended up changing the way the game was played in some fashion. 

The Worst & Most Infamous Eye Injuries in American Sports History

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Yorman Landa killed in auto accident in Venezuela

Mar 1, 2016; Ft. Myers, FL, USA; Minnesota Twins relief pitcher Yorman Landa (81) poses for a portrait on photo day at Hammond Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota Twins minor league pitcher Yorman Landa was killed in a car crash on December 9, 2016 in his native Venezuela.

His agent, Daniel Szew, said Landa was in the passenger seat of a car with his father driving in heavy rain with minimal lighting when a tree fell and struck Landa in the head. Landa was the only passenger among the four or five in the vehicle to suffer major injuries, and it took a long time before an ambulance arrived.

Landa, only 22, who had been with the organization since signing for $220,000 as a 16-year-old in 2010 and was a two-time Minor League All-Star, had just agreed to re-sign a Minor League deal with the Twins this week after being taken off the 40-man roster on December 2.

Twins chief baseball officer Derek Falvey released the following statement on behalf of the organization.

“The Minnesota Twins are deeply saddened by the heartbreaking loss of Yorman Landa early this morning in Venezuela,” the statement read. “On behalf of the entire baseball community, we send our sincerest condolences to the Landa family as well as Yorman’s many friends, coaches and teammates.”

“He was one of those guys that really did everything we asked of him,” Jake Mauer, who managed Landa for two seasons (2014-15) at Class A Cedar Rapids,” told the Pioneer Press. “He always had a quiet confidence about himself. He would go out and get the job done. His future was pretty bright.”

During the 2016 Florida State League All-Star Game, Landa’s fastball sat at 98-99 mph, and one was measured at 102. However, he didn’t pitch after July 24 because of a lat strain, finishing 2-2 with a 3.24 ERA in 31 games with Class A Fort Myers.

It is a sad time for the Minnesota Twins organization, Yorman Landa will be missed more as a person and friend than the pitcher he was striving to become. We at Twins Trivia would like to send our condolences to all of Yorman Landa’s family and friends.

RIP Yorman Landa

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Who is this guy and why is he the last of his kind?

Question mark 2I was the Boston Red Sox 18th round selection in 1991 as an outfielder. In the spring of 1995 circumstances dictated that I become a replacement player. I made my major league debut as the Red Sox starting center-fielder on May 21, 1995 in Fenway Park and I had two hits, a run scored and an RBI. Just two years later I was a relief pitcher and appeared in 28 games for the Red Sox and posted a 3-0 record. After leaving Boston I pitched for the A’s, Marlins, Cubs, Rangers, Braves, Royals and finally for the Twins where my 14 year big league career ended. I once spent the off-season working as an extra on “All my Children”. My legacy, right or wrong, is that I am the last replacement player to retire from major league baseball. Who is this guy?

If you have no clue who it is but what to know, you can read the article below.

The last replacement player

 

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Dozier, Falvey and Levine need to talk

falvey-and-levine-11072016The new Minnesota Twins brain trust got some Twins fans a bit riled up when Brian Dozier was on the WCCO radio Sports Huddle show this past Sunday with Sid Hartman and Dave Mona. Mona asked Dozier if he has been in communication with Derek Falvey and Thad Levine and Dozier’s response was that he has not talked with either one since they were hired but he did his best to sugar-coat the fact that he was disappointed it hasn’t happened so far.

Dozier

Dozier

The rumors since the season ended have been that Brian Dozier will be traded. When I first heard the rumor I thought, that is a bunch of crap, why would they want to trade one of their best players? 

But let’s get back to Falvey and Levine not communicating with Dozier, to me that is just plain wrong. Here is my thinking, when new management takes over the first thing they should do is listen, listen to what your players and staff have to say. Management needs to get buy-in from everyone, I know it is a new regime but why create problems when you don’t have too. Dozier is a leader on this team and one of its best players, not to mention he still has a very reasonable contract for two more years. Why leave him in the dark even if you are looking to trade him? If a trade doesn’t happen then you have a player that was wronged and that doesn’t help anyone. This isn’t strike one on Falvey and Levine but it is a rookie mistake that they should rectify as soon as possible.

Brian Dozier is one of my favorite players to watch, he hustles and he wants to win, what more can you ask? The team needs a leader and Brian Dozier is the guy that fits that mold the best. I would hate to see Dozier traded but having said that, there is some logic in trading Dozier.

The team lost a team record 103 games and won only 59 times this past season after winning 83 games in 2015. That means they were 24 games worse in 2016 than they were in 2015. I think if you look over history in MLB you will see that it is not all that unusual for young teams to take a dive after taking a big leap forward before resuming their climb upwards. This Twins team still has a lot of holes, don’t get me wrong, but it is not a team that you totally dismantle and rebuild. Yes, the Twins organization is rebuilding the front office but that doesn’t mean a total rebuild is necessary on the field. This is a young team that I expect to be much better in 2017 even if there are no major changes made. They got sand kicked in their face and trampled on in 2016 and they will be out to prove they are not as bad as they appeared to be in 2016.

Since the Twins are really not rebuilding in the normal sense of the word, it is important to add quality players to the mix versus quantity that you might normally look for when trading for youngsters in a rebuilding mode. In rebuilding you want to get as many potential players you can in the hope that one or two hit it big but they are all a gamble for the future. In the current Twins situation if the Twins trade Dozier they are trading a relatively young proven power hitting second baseman who can handle a glove and still has two years left on a good contract and you must get proven big league talent in return. The Twins need players that can play at Target Field in 2017 and not potential players that might play in 2019 or 2020 or beyond. If the Twins trade Dozier for young talent 2 or 3 or more years away you might as will pack it in right now, Target Field will be a ghost town. The Twins have good young talent on the roster, they just haven’t figured out where they need to play to have a chance to be successful.

I know this team lost 103 games this past year but Derek Falvey and Thad Levine are in a good spot, they need to fine tune things, not blow things up.

If you want to listen to the Justin  Morneau and Brian Dozier interviews on Sports Huddle you can listen by going here. Listen to the 10 AM portion of the interview.

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Couldn’t steal a base if their life depended on it

In 1,013 games Twins second baseman Chuck Knoblauch stole a total of 276 bases and Rod Carew stole 271 bases in 1,635 games. On the other end of the spectrum we have the following heavy-footed plodding group who had no chance to steal a base although a few of them attempted to do so.

lecroy-matt-3

 Twins leaders in games played with zero stolen bases

Rk Player G ? SB PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI CS BA OBP Pos
1 Matt LeCroy 437 0 1459 1321 141 345 65 1 58 209 4 .261 .324 D2/3H
2 Jerry Zimmerman 407 0 897 790 52 161 17 2 3 62 1 .204 .273 *2/H
3 Kurt Suzuki 368 0 1355 1230 107 323 75 1 16 160 1 .263 .316 *2/HD
4 Jose Morales 290 0 756 674 79 200 35 4 12 101 1 .297 .350 *DH/327
5 Rick Renick 276 0 626 553 71 122 20 2 20 71 4 .221 .302 H/57639
6 Phil Roof 264 0 684 619 61 141 25 2 13 71 2 .228 .282 *2/HD
7 Mike Redmond 257 0 931 863 83 256 46 1 2 106 0 .297 .339 *2/DH
8 Sal Butera 201 0 553 489 33 114 15 1 1 40 0 .233 .303 *2/HD3
9 Drew Butera 186 0 534 490 38 89 21 2 5 41 0 .182 .230 *2/H1D
10 Jim Thome 179 0 582 482 69 128 28 2 37 99 0 .266 .387 *D/H
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 11/13/2016.

Even catcher Earl Battey who was as slow as they come and once was thrown out at first base on what appeared to be a clean single to right field had 13 career stolen bases.

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Twins Turkey of the Year for 2016

Turkey Cartoon

First of all I would like to wish you and your families and friends a very happy, healthy, and safe Thanksgiving. Without further ado let’s cut to the meat of things.

There were so many options for the 2016 Twins Turkey of the Year that the following didn’t even make the final five this Thanksgiving. Players like Glen PerkinsTrevor Plouffe, Joe MauerJohn Ryan MurphyByron BuxtonMiguel SanoByung Ho ParkTyler DuffeyPhil HughesKevin Jepsen, and Trevor May all deserve to be on the list but this years field is just so packed with worthy candidates that all these guys can muster is an honorable mention.

Jim Pohlad

Jim Pohlad

Let’s cut to the chase and get right to it with our fourth runner-up, The Pohlad family, the 75th richest family in the US of A and Jim Pohlad serves as their spokesman. Mr. Pohlad watched this team deteriorate for six seasons before he finally realized that what we have here is a “total systems failure” when his team set a new record with 103 losses. Finally he told his GM Terry Ryan that his services were no longer needed as of the end of the season and Terry Ryan said OK and walked away in July. The team didn’t put a permanent replacement in place until after the World Series was over in early November although Rob Antony served as the interim GM. According to the new Chief of Baseball Operations for the Twins, he interviewed with brothers Jim, Bill, and Bob Pohlad and a host of other Twins organization members before getting offered the job. The one stipulation that Jim Pohlad put on the new CBO was that Paul Molitor manages the Twins in 2017. Why would you do that to a manager who is in the final year of his contract and why would Molitor stay on the job? Sounds like Pohlad doesn’t want to do the dirty work in dumping Molitor, that’s why he has employees like Derek Falvey.

Twins General Manager Terry Ryan (Pioneer Press: John Autey)

Twins General Manager Terry Ryan (Pioneer Press: John Autey)

Our third runner-up is former GM Terry Ryan. Terry Ryan was always one of my favorite people in the Twins organization. A very good down to earth baseball man who has watched how baseball has changed over the years but unfortunately I think that the pace of change within baseball caught up with him and made him one of baseball’s dinosaurs and you all know what happened to the dinosaurs. I think that there should always be a place in baseball for people like Terry Ryan. Ryan had either bad luck or bad input on many of his free agent signings over the last few years and his trades have not panned out either. One of his biggest mistakes was his decision this past season to try to make Miguel Sano an outfielder when he had never played there before, not only was Sano not able to play the outfield he was so confused and stressed by the position change that he was no longer the power hitter the Twins have been waiting for.

Neil Allen

Neil Allen

Second runner-up is our pitching coach Neil Allen. Allen talks a story about how he wants to change the pitching staff and make them better but so far we have not seen zilch. After two seasons at least show me a couple of pitchers that have improved under the tutelage of Allen because I sure have not seen them. Who really hired Neil Allen to be the pitching coach any way because Paul Molitor said that he never met Allen before Twins Fest in 2015. Add in the fact that Allen has been a recovering alcoholic since 1994 but fell off the wagon and was charged with a DWI and suspended by Minnesota on May 26 and you have a recipe for disaster. Allen was reinstated on July.

Paul Molitor

Paul Molitor

Our runner-up this year is Twins skipper Paul Molitor who will start year three of his three-year contract. I am still amazed that Molitor has hung on as the Twins manager going into the final year of his contract. Players in 2017 have no reason to buy into Molitor’s ideas and plans because the players will be here longer than Molitor will. What faith does management have in you when they force you to manage in this situation, they might as well tell him don’t buy any green banana’s and to go month to month on his rent payments. Molitor took over 70 win team and managed them to 83 win in his first year, then in year two he managed them to 59 wins. The honeymoon has worn off quickly and the sooner Derek Falvey gives Molitor the pink slip the better it will be for all concerned including Paul Molitor who looks like he has aged 20 years in his two season at the helm of the Minnesota Twins. For his own health and well being Paul Molitor should walk away sooner than later.

That of course bring us to this years winner of the Twins Turkey of the Year award. The 2016 Minnesota Twins season was so outrageously bad that it would not be fair to award this years honor to just one individual. Instead this years award goes to all the players, field staff, and front office personnel who made up the 2016 Minnesota Twins team. The team finished with the worst record in baseball at 59-103, a drop from 83 wins in 2015, a drop of 24 games in the win column. Yikes! The team was out scored 722 to 889, only the 1996 Twins gave up more runs. Twins hitters did hit 200 home runs led by Brain Dozier’s 42 but the pitching staff gave up 221 round-trippers. The Twins used 11 starting pitchers and the starter with the most wins had nine victories. Miguel Sano led the team in strikeouts with 178, oh wait, he is a hitter, on the pitching staff Ervin Santana had 149 K’s. The good news? The Minnesota Twins say they will not raise ticket prices in 2017, a good idea after going 407-565 (.418%) during the last six seasons. I know this is really a radical idea but maybe you should consider lowering ticket prices….. but then again that is not how you earned the 2016 Twins Turkey of the Year award.

2016 Twins Turkey of the Year award winners - the 2016 Minnesota Twins

2016 Twins Turkey of the Year award winners – the 2016 Minnesota Twins

 

Previous Twins Turkey of Year award winners

2015 – Pitcher Ricky Nolasco

2014 – Outfielder Aaron Hicks

2013 – Presdident Dave St. Peter

2012 – Owner Jim Pohlad

2011 – Catcher Joe Mauer

2010 – 3B Brendan Harris

2009 – Glen Perkins

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Jason Castro coming to Minnesota

Jason Castro

Jason Castro

The Minnesota Twins and catcher Jason Castro have apparently reached agreement on a 3-year $24.5 deal. The 29-year-old catcher was a first round selection (10th) overall of the Houston Astros in 2008. That same year the Twins selected outfielder Aaron Hicks as the 14th pick and the San Francisco Giants selected catcher Buster Posey with the fifth pick in round one. After being selected in 2008 Castro made his major league debut on June 22, 2010 and he has been in the big leagues ever since. Castro missed the entire 2011 season due to knee surgery and showed up on the Astros’s DL in 2012, 2013, and 2015. Castro was an All-Star in 2013, the first year Houston was in the American league and he has some playoff experience on his resume.

Castro is not known for his hitting skills but is deemed to be very good behind the plate in calling games and framing pitches. Castro has thrown out 26% of base thieves while with Houston and his mark in 2016 was 24%. His best season throwing out runners was in 2015 when he threw out 36%.

Castro has some pop with his bat having hit 62 career home runs over six seasons but you have to remember that Houston is not exactly Yellowstone Park so I would expect his home run count to drop slightly at Target Field. Prone to strike out (between 115-151 times the last four seasons), Castro, a left-handed hitter has career average of .232 but he has hit .210 and .211 the last two years. Castro had a .307 OBP in 2016, the first time it has been north of .300 in the last three years.

I like the addition of Jason Castro and I think he and John Ryan Murphy will make a nice platoon catching tandem for the 2017 Minnesota Twins.

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Twins starting pitchers that never finished what they started

Do you know what pitcher has started the most games for the Minnesota Twins and hasn’t completed a single one of his starts?

Mike Pelfrey

Mike Pelfrey

The Minnesota Twins franchise leader in starts without a single complete game on his resume is Mike Pelfrey but Pelfrey does have a couple of complete games with the New York Mets. Ironically former Senators and Twins pitcher Jim Kaat holds the Washington Senators franchise record for most starts with 11 and zero complete games and he did that between 1959-1960. Oddly enough three of the ten pitchers on the list below pitched for the Twins in 2016.

Twins leaders in starts with zero complete games

Rk Player GS ? G GF W L W-L% SV IP SO ERA BF
1 Mike Pelfrey 64 64 0 11 27 .289 0 341.0 197 4.94 1513
2 Boof Bonser 60 96 9 18 25 .419 0 391.2 317 5.12 1723
3 Kevin Correia 54 54 0 14 26 .350 0 314.2 162 4.49 1364
4 Pat Mahomes 51 114 26 18 28 .391 3 366.2 217 5.82 1635
5 Willie Banks 45 52 5 16 17 .485 0 259.2 191 4.61 1163
6 Glen Perkins 44 401 225 35 25 .583 120 618.2 502 3.83 2601
7 Sam Deduno 41 63 8 16 18 .471 0 279.0 198 4.26 1216
8 Tommy Milone 40 49 5 12 11 .522 1 219.2 154 4.79 968
9 Mike Trombley 36 365 132 30 34 .469 34 645.2 528 4.53 2815
10 Tyler Duffey 36 36 0 14 13 .519 0 191.0 167 5.42 838
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 11/20/2016.

The MLB record holder in this category is still active and he is Bud Norris (a free agent I believe) with 185 starts and zero complete games in the books between 2009-2016 while pitching for five different teams.

The MLB leader by the way, in complete games is Cy Young with 749 and Bert Blyleven leads the Twins in complete games with 141 which comes out to 41% of his starts. 

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1960’s Minnesota Twins crossword puzzle

crossword imageIt has been awhile since I did a crossword puzzle and there has been no Twins news lately so I have put together this puzzle for you Twins old-timers that remember fondly the Minnesota Twins from the 1960’s. 

The Twins had some wonderful players back then and one World Series appearance in 1965 when they came up on the short end of a seven game series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. The 1969 Twins under manager Billy Martin played the Baltimore Orioles in the first ever ALCS but there too they came up short getting swept in three games.

The puzzle is not easy but I hope you enjoy it and that it brings back some wonderful memories and gets you to thinking about baseball on this wet and dreary Minnesota November day.

Because of the size of this puzzle, you might want to consider using legal size paper if you have it. 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. If you have done your best and still come up short, then you can print out the answers.

Good luck and have fun!

1960s-minnesota-twins-puzzle-grid

1960s-minnesota-twins-puzzle-answers

 By the way, additional Twins puzzles can be found on the Twins Trivia Questions page.

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Former Twins catcher Russ Nixon passes at 81

nixon-russ-2

For some reason this was one of my favorite Twins baseball cards back when I was a kid collecting baseball cards for a nickel a pack.

Russ Nixon was born in Cleves, Ohio on February 19, 1935 and passed away on November 9*, 2016 at the age of 81 in the same city that he was born. Nixon, a left-handed hitting catcher played in the big leagues for all or part of 12 seasons between 1957-1968 with the Indians, Red Sox, and the Minnesota Twins.

Russ Nixon attended Western Hills High School in Cleves and went on to attend the University of Cincinnati where he studied mechanical engineering. In 1952 Russ Nixon was selected as the American Legion ball “Player of the Year. Russ Nixon had a twin brother, Roy, a first baseman and each signed with the Cleveland Indians in 1953. Roy however; never played above class A ball and did not get to wear a major league uniform.

Russ Nixon in 1957

Russ Nixon in 1957

Russ Nixon made his major league debut with the Indians on April 20, 1957 at Briggs Stadium when he replaced starting catcher Hal Naragon in the seventh inning with the tribe trailing the Tigers 6-0. Nixon had one at bat in that game and he singled to right field off Tiger hurler Frank Lary and then was lifted for a pinch-runner. Russ was a good hitter and had a .268 average in 906 games but most of his career was spent as a back-up catcher and he only appeared on 100 or more games in 1958 and 1960 and never reached 400 at bats in any season.

The Minnesota Twins and Russ Nixon crossed paths when the Twins acquired Nixon and second baseman Chuck Schilling from the Boston Red Sox in exchange for pitcher Dick Stigman and minor league infielder Jose Calero on April 6, 1966. Calvin Griffith was hoping to strengthen his team by acquiring Schilling and Nixon but many wondered how acquiring two players from the ninth place Red Sox was going to help the defending American League champions. Both Nixon and Schilling were excited about being acquired by a club as good as Minnesota and looked forward to the 1966 season. Schilling was one of the final cuts before the 1966 final 25 man squad was finalized and refused his assignment to the minors and decided to quit pro ball at the age of 28 with five seasons in the big leagues under his belt rather than play in the minor leagues. Nixon, now at the tail end of his career played for the Twins in 1966 and 1967 and hit .244 in 125 games with one home run and that ironically was at Fenway Park off Red Sox starter Billy Rohr in a Twins 4-0 win. The Twins released Russ Nixon in April of 1968 and he signed with the Red Sox again and played one final season in the big leagues before hanging up his catching gear for the final time.  But Russ Nixon couldn’t leave baseball, he went on to scout, coach and manage both in the minor leagues and the major leagues through 2008. Russ Nixon had a 231-347 record as a manager in the major leagues with the Cincinnati Reds in 1982-1983 and the Atlanta Braves from 1988-1990. Nixon called it quits after the 2008 season which was year number 56 in pro ball. Russ Nixon has the distinction of being active in Major League Baseball for 56 consecutive years in various roles. 

Away from baseball in the off-season Nixon bred Arabian horses on his ranch. Here is a bit of baseball trivia that involves Russ Nixon that you may not know. Russ Nixon played in more (906) major leagues games than any other player and yet was never able to steal a single base, he did get caught stealing seven times.

Glancing back, and remembering Russ Nixon from 1960s baseball

Russ Nixon  Obituary

The photo’s below are provided courtesy of Western Hills High School in Cincinnati, Ohio. You can click on the pictures to make them larger.

nixon-russ-7 nixon-russ-8

Russ Nixon high school photo

Not sure who is Russ and who is Ray in this photo

Russ Nixon

Russ Nixon

We at Twins Trivia would like to pass on our condolences to Russ Nixon’s family and friends and to thank them all for the great memories.

* = Some sources and obituary’s list date of death as 11/9/2016 while others had 11/8/2016, still doing some checking as I want to get it correct. UPDATE – I have confirmation from the family that Russ Nixon passed away on 11/9/2016.

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Minnesota Twins who have served in the Military

veterans-day-thank-you-picturesEveryday is a good day to thank a Veteran for his service but Veterans Day is even more meaningful. With the national election behind us and a new President waiting his turn to sit in the Oval office we should all be thankful to the Veterans who have made this possible. It makes no difference if you voted for the President-elect or not, it is now time to respect the wishes of the people and the laws of this country and to roll up our sleeves and move on to make it even better than what is already is.

Here is a list of former Minnesota Twins players that have served their country. Please take a few moments to thank them for their service.

 

Courtesy of Hans Van Slooten and B-R.

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Veterans Day 2016

veterans-day-pictures-1

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The Nats are the first team since the ’06 Twins to do what?

There is a nice piece over at MLB.com that you might enjoy taking a look at called “The Nats are the first team since the ’06 Twins to have a finalist for all four major BBWAA awards“. If you have a few minutes, check it out. The Twins traded or fired all four.

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This Day in Twins History – Forty years ago baseball changed forever

Bill Campbell (courtesy of the Minnesota Twins)

Bill Campbell (courtesy of the Minnesota Twins)

After having a career year with the 1976 Minnesota Twins, reliever Bill Campbell becomes one of the first players to cash in on the new free-agent system. The reliever signs a big money (a four-year one-million dollar deal) contract with the Boston Red Sox after making just $23,000 this past season in Minnesota. I did a blog on this back on November 6, 2012 that you can read here. I also did an interview with Bill that you can listen to here.

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Happy Halloween from owner Jim Pohlad and the Minnesota Twins

HAPPY HALLOWEEN

HAPPY HALLOWEEN

Halloween 2016 finds the Minnesota Twins in a waiting mode. After firing long-time GM Terry Ryan back in July and putting Rob Antony at the helm as the interim GM with his hands tied behind his back the good ship “Thelosingtwins” has been DIW and drifting aimlessly while they try to locate and bring on board the new captain they hired from the Cleveland Indians who are still playing baseball while many Twins players have already notched a couple dozen rounds of golf after putting their gloves and bats away for the winter.

Derek Falvey

Derek Falvey

The Minnesota Twins new Superman PBO is going to be Derek Falvey who will report to Minnesota as soon as The Indians beat the Cubbies in  the 2016 World Series which could be as early as Tuesday night or the next day if they need game seven. There are probably going to be a lot of changes in the Twins front office prior to the MLB Winter Meetings in National Harbor, Maryland on December 4-6. The current rumor is that the Twins new GM will be Thad Levine for the Texas Ranger organization. After that hire who knows whats next but the Twins field staff should not get too comfortable or buy any green banana’s.

The Minnesota Twins went heavy on the tricks versus treats in 2016. The Twins treated their fans to only 59 wins this season while playing nasty tricks on their fans on 103 occasions. Some of the bad plays that Twins players made this season surely must have been on purpose by bad actors because major league players shouldn’t play that bad.

Who knows what the Minnesota Twins have in store for 2017 and beyond but we can only hope to see more treats and fewer tricks. I was lucky enough to get in touch with Jim Pohlad recently to discuss the current state of the Minnesota Twins organization and here is our conversation.

Well there you have it, your Halloween message from the Minnesota Twins.

 

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These Twins pitchers were born in the 1920’s

My previous post was about Twins position players that were born in the 1920’s and played for the home town team, today’s post will cover the pitchers.

Rk Player G From To GS W L W-L% SV IP SO ERA
1 Al Worthington 327 1964 1969 0 37 31 .544 88 473.1 399 2.62
2 Ray Moore 126 1961 1963 1 13 10 .565 25 159.2 141 4.90
3 Johnny Klippstein 115 1964 1966 0 10 8 .556 10 161.2 124 2.45
4 Chuck Stobbs 24 1961 1961 3 2 3 .400 2 44.2 17 7.46
5 Jackie Collum 8 1962 1962 3 0 2 .000 0 15.1 5 11.15
6 Ruben Gomez 6 1962 1962 2 1 1 .500 0 19.1 8 4.66
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 10/25/2016.

Al WorthingtonAl Worthington, nicknamed “Red”, was a right-hander who is credited with being baseball’s first born-again Christian. Worthington started his big league career by pitching complete game shutouts in his first two games in 1953 for the New York Giants. However; it turned out that starting was not his forte and he eventually migrated to the bullpen where he earned 111 career saves. Worthington pitched for the Twins between 1964-1969 notching 37 wins and 88 saves with a 2.62 ERA before hanging up his spikes for good. Al Worthington SABR Bio.

Ray Moore

Ray Moore

Ray Moore was a right hander who started his major league career in 1952 with the Brooklyn Dodgers. “Farmer” or “Old Blue” as he was called had an 11 year big league career that started as a starter and ended as a reliever. Credited with the Twins first ever save. Ray Moore SABR Bio.

klippstein-john-2Johnny Klippstein pitched in Minnesota from 1964-1966. Klippstein had an 18 year big league career in which he was used as a starter for the first eight years and as a reliever for the last 10 years and he earned 101 wins and 65 saves. Hung up his player cleats after five games for the Tigers in 1967. Johnny Klippstein SABR Bio.

stobbs-chuck-2Chuck Stobbs was a lefty that received a $50,000 bonus to sign from the Boston Red Sox prior to the 1947 season Stobbs won over 100 big league games and is probably best noted for giving up “that 565 foot home run to Mickey Mantle that left Griffith Stadium” in 1953. Stobbs played in Minnesota in 1961, his 15th and final season as a player. Chuck Stobbs SABR Bio.

Jackie CollumJackie Collum was height challenged standing only 5’7″ but yet he pitched in the big leagues for nine season between 1951-1962. The Iowa lefty pitched briefly for the Twins in 8 games going 0-2 and posting a 11.15 ERA before the Twins traded him to the Indians along with a PTBNL for pitcher Ruben Gomez.

gomez-ruben-as-a-giantRubén Gómez pitched for the Twins very briefly in 1962 getting two starts and pitching one complete game in his only win for Minnesota. Gomez pitched in the big leagues on and off for 10 years but he pitched an amazing 29 seasons in the Puerto Rican Winter League from 1947 to 1977 and by the time he hung it up he had over 400 wins. Gomez got his nickname of “El Divino Loco” from friends and Santurce teammates for two reasons: his highway speeding habits and crazy driving off the field; and, he could not be intimidated on the mound.  Ruben Gomez SABR Bio.

 

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These players were born in the 1920’s and yet played for the Twins

Elmer Valo

Elmer Valo

The Minnesota Twins started play in 1961 after leaving Washington D.C. where they were known as the Washington Senators. Even though Calvin Griffith’s team started playing in Met Stadium in 1961 the team had a player on the roster that made his major league debut in game one of a doubleheader on September 22, 1940 in Shibe Park as the starting left fielder for the Philadelphia Athletics in a 5-4 loss to the Washington Senators. Valo went on to play for the Kansas City A’s, the Philadelphia Phillies, the Brooklyn Dodgers, the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Cleveland Indians, New York Yankees, and the Washington Senators in 1960 before playing for the Twins. When Valo appeared in his first game in a Twins uniform on April 21, 1961 at Met Stadium against who else but the Washington Senators he was playing in his 1,724th game. Elmer Valo appeared in just 33 games for Minnesota and only had 36 plate appearances. Valo was used strictly as a pinch-hitter except for one blow out game in which he pinch-hit and then stayed in the game as a left fielder and had four PA’s. The Twins released Valo on June 17, 1961 and he signed on with the Phillies again where he played out the 1961 season and then retired from baseball. An oddity about Elmer Valo is that he played for Philly when the Athletics moved to Kansas City, he was a Brooklyn Dodger when they moved to Los Angeles and he was with the Washington Senators when they moved to Minnesota to become our Twins. Elmer Valo SABR Bio.

"Harmon Killebrew joins the 200 Home Run club on Sept. 15, 1963. He is joined by teammates Wally Post, left and Vic Wertz. (Pioneer Press file)"

“Harmon Killebrew joins the 200 Home Run club on Sept. 15, 1963. He is joined by teammates Wally Post, left and Vic Wertz. (Pioneer Press file)”

Vic Wertz who debuted for the Detroit Tigers on April 15, 1947 against the St. Louis Browns played 35 games for the Twins in 1963 before retiring from the game. Vic Wertz SABR Bio.

Wally Post also played briefly for Minnesota in 1963 appearing in just 21 games after being purchased by the Twins from the Cincinnati Reds. The Twins released Post after the 1963 season and Post went on to play one more year, this time in Cleveland. Wally Post SABR Bio.

Rk Player Year From ? From To Age G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BA Pos
1 Elmer Valo 1961 1940 1961 1961 40-40 33 36 32 0 5 2 0 0 4 .156 /*H7
2 Vic Wertz 1963 1947 1963 1963 38-38 35 50 44 3 6 0 0 3 7 .136 /*H3
3 Wally Post 1963 1949 1963 1963 33-33 21 49 47 6 9 0 1 2 6 .191 /9H7
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 10/23/2016.

All three of these players were born in the 1920’s which is just around the corner. It is hard to believe that in the next few years we will have future Twins players born 100 or more years after the “old time” Twins were born. Elmer Valo, Vic Wertz and Wally Post are all deceased and though they were not All-Stars in Minnesota they each had long baseball careers and played a part in the history of the Minnesota Twins and deserve to be remembered for their contributions to Twins lore.

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They weren’t what we expected them to be

With no outs in the bottom of the seventh, coach brings in a new pitcher.

The June amateur draft started in 1965 and the Minnesota Twins have had 72 first round selections including supplemental/compensation picks. Nine of those first round picks have been left-handed pitchers (eight were collegiate picks and one was from high school) with Tyler Jay being the most recent lefty being selected in the first round in 2015. So how have these pitchers fared for the Twins?

1973Eddie Bane – Drafted in round 1, 11th over-all out of Arizona State University and went straight to the big leagues making his debut on July 4, 1973 at Met Stadium in a start against the Kansas City Royals. The 5’9″ Bane didn’t figure in the decision but pitched well in a 5-4 loss to the Royals. Injuries hindered Bane’s career but Bane himself said that he just wasn’t good enough to be a big league pitcher. Bane’s big league career consisted of 44 games for the Twins with a 7-13 record and 4.66 ERA. Bane became a free agent in October 1977 but never saw big league action again. WAR with the Twins was a -1.0.

1982Bryan Oelkers – Drafted in round 1, 4th over-all (selected one pick earlier than the Mets selection of Dwight Gooden) out of Wichita State University. Oelkers was a 20th round pick of the Chicago Cubs in 1979 but he chose not to sign.  Oelkers was only the second player born in Spain to reach the major leagues. Oelkers debuted in the big leagues with only 8 minor league games in his resume the following season on April 9, 1983 at the Kingdome in a start against the Mariners. Oelkers had a good start going 6.2 innings giving up only 3 hits and 2 earned runs but he came away with his first big league loss. Oelkers ended his first and only season with the Twins with an 0-5 record and a 8.65 while allowing 56 hits in 34.1 innings. In January of 1986 the Twins traded Bryan Oelkers and Ken Schrom to the Cleveland Indians for Ramon Romero and Roy Smith. Oelkers pitched for Cleveland in 1983 going 3-3 with a 4.70 ERA in 35 games. Oelkers pitched in the Expos, Cubs and Cardinals minor league systems  but never reached the big leagues again. WAR with the Twins was -1.3.

1992Dan Serafini – Was the Twins round 1 selection and 26th over-all out of Serra High School in San Mateo, California. In 1996 Baseball America had him rated as the 76th best prospect and the Twins called Dan Serafini up to pitch a game against the New York Yankees on June 25 at the Metrodome. Here is what Serafini had to say about that experience in a 2013 interview –

“It was not an easy team to pitch against for my first time playing in the big leagues, but it was a great memory. It was kind of funny. The Twins wouldn’t let me into the locker room before the game. They didn’t want any animosity in the locker room because they hadn’t sent anyone down (to Triple-A) yet. I had to stay in a hotel and then on game day I got to show up right before the game started so that I could get ready to play. It wasn’t the greatest experience, but it was still a good experience. I got to the big leagues!”

 You can see the entire interview here. Serafini’s start lasted 4.1 innings and he gave up 7 hits and 5 earned runs and was saddled with the loss in a Yankees 6-2 over Minnesota. That was the only game that Serafini pitched in a Twins uniform in 1996. Serafini spent portions of 1997 and 1998 in Minnesota but as spring training ended in 1999 the Twins sold Dan Serafini to the Chicago Cubs. Serafini career numbers with the Twins were  9-6 in 35 games with a 5.88 ERA. Serafini went on to pitch for the Cubs, Pirates, Reds and eventually the Rockies not to mention pitching in Japan, Mexico and Independent ball. Appears to have hung up his jock strap after the 2013 season. His WAR with Twins was a -0.6.

1994Travis Miller – Was a supplementary 1st round selection and 34th pick over-all from Kent State University for the Twins not being able to sign 1993 first round pick catcher Jason Varitek. Miller’s debut at the Metrodome on August 25, 1996 against the Rangers was one he would like to forget, one inning pitched with five hits and two walks including two home runs allowed and seven earned runs and he took the defeat in a 13-2 Twins loss. Miller however continued to pitch for the Twins albeit primarily in relief from 1996-2002 until the Twins released him in June of 2002 and he never pitched in the big leagues again. His Twins career lasted all or parts of seven seasons in which he appeared in 203 games winning 7 and losing 18 with a 5.05 ERA and a Twins WAR of 1.2.

1995Mark Redman – Was a Tigers 42 round pick in 1992 but did not sign and he went on to be the Twins first round selection in 1995 and 13th pick over-all. Debuted in a start against the Mariners at the Metrodome on July 24, 1999 and got a no decision for his efforts in which he lasted 4.2 innings and gave up 3 earned run on 4 hits and three walks. The Twins won the game 10-3. Redman was primarily a starter for Minnesota from 1999-2001 going 15-13 with a 4.86 ERA before being traded to the Tigers for closer Todd Jones. Redman was an All-Star with the Royals in 2006. Redman who pitched in the big leagues for 10 seasons with eight different teams posted a 3.6 WAR with the Twins.

 1998Ryan Mills – Was originally drafted in 1995 by the Yankees in round 13 but didn’t sign and the Twins scooped him up in round 1 with the 6th over-all pick out of Arizona State University and signed for a $2 million bonus. After seven seasons Mills had a 17-40 minor league record with a 5.79 ERA and a 1.73 WHIP before the Twins told him to look for other employment. Mills never put on a Twins uniform.

Glen Perkins 20152004Glen Perkins – Perkins was selected by the Minnesota Twins in the first round and 22nd over-all of the 2004 amateur draft out of the University of Minnesota as compensation for losing Eddie Guardado and signed for a $1.425 million bonus. His big league debut took place September 21, 2006 at Fenway Park as a reliever in a Twins 6-0 loss and he pitched 1.1 innings without allowing a hit. Perkins was originally a starter but after putting up an ERA of 5.89 in 2009 and 5.82 in 2010 the Twins put him in the bullpen where he has flourished as a closer when he is not injured. Perkins has been a Minnesota Twin for all or parts of 11 seasons and has a Twins WAR of 8.8 and has made the All-Star team three times.

2009 – Matt Bashore – Bashore was a first round and 46th over-all supplemental pick for the loss of Dennys Reyes. Injuries kept Bashore from achieving his dream and the Twins let him go after the 2011 season when he pitched in Elizabethton for the second time after sitting out 2010 due to injury. Never wore a Twins uniform and walked away with a $751,550 Twins signing bonus.

2015 – Tyler Jay – Twins first round selection and sixth player taken over-all from Illinois when he was the highest ever MLB draft choice and signed by Minnesota for $3.8 million. Jay was a reliever in college but the Twins are transitioning him to a starting role. Jay was promoted to Chattanooga (AA) in July but only appeared in 5 games there pitching 14 innings before being placed on the DL in early August with a neck/shoulder injury. Additional info on his injury can be found here, not exactly promising news.

So there you are, 57 years worth of LHP drafted in the first round by the Minnesota Twins, nine left-handed pitchers, eight out of college and one out of high school drafted by the Twins and what have we had to show for it? Glen Perkins has been the only one to really pan out and he didn’t come into his own until he was moved to the bullpen. You expect your first round picks to be All-Star caliber players and the Twins have had just two. You have to wonder, with their dismal track record why do the Twins even bother drafting LHP in round one? Why waste a first round pick on LHP?

Let’s look at the rest of the league

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