Very Well Then

Contradicting myself, always contradicting myself

Archive for April, 2011

Twins Keep Spinning Wheel of Fortune

Posted by verywellthen on April 19, 2011

The Twins are off to a poor start.   The A Team is suffering from unilateral fibula weakness, bilateral leg weakness, multilaterial stomach sickness.

To address ever-changing conditions and just to shake things up, Gardy has been announcing daily role changes with the Twins, sometimes many changes in a day.

  • Joe Nathan is no longer the closer — Matt Capps takes over that job.
  • Cuddyer is wearing all sorts of Twins caps — taking on additional roles of first base and second base, in addition to his usual right field.
  • Jim Hoey is the new right-handed setup guy.
  • Eric Hacker is in as the new long-relief guy.
  • Steve Holm is the new catcher guy.
  • Tolbert plays first, as in the position where you usually put your most feared hitter.

Over on the internet, the public is demanding that when Joe Mauer comes back he should play first base, third base and center field.  And if I understand the Tweets correctly — all at the same time.

So a little shaking-things-up and the Twins rolled off a season high two (Yes, TWO!!!!!) game winning streak and then got rolled 11-0.

So shaking up led to a couple of wins and has proved to be inadequate, all at the same time.    The Twins are thrashing about right now, both literally (as in Delmon’s and Alexi’s hitting approach) and figuratively.   And this is major league baseball — you might get by hacking at everything for a little bit, but it won’t bring good things for long.

But what the heck.  The Twins are either tossing up the post-game spread and/or causing nausea amongst the fan base.  So let’s just keep the wheel of Fortuna in spin and see what happens.  Here is some fictional changes, mostly which won’t be tried by the Twins any time soon.  Except in the case of emergencies.   Feel free to suggest others:

  • Carl Pavano and Drew Butera will remain battery mates, but Butera will now pitch and Pavano catch.
  • Jason Repko will go from fourth outfielder to fourth second baseman.
  • It is said that all relief pitchers are frustrated closers.  And after enough lost-wins all starting pitchers must be frustrated with the relievers.  So in a move designed for everybody to understand each other better, Twins relievers will all become starters and the starters become relievers, for one turn through the rotation.
  • Francisco Liriano will switch from a left-handed pitcher to a right-handed pitcher.    Bert Blyleven, Twins announcer, applauds the switch, saying “That’s how I pitched in my day.”
  • Alexi Casilla will move to “rover” and bat tenth.
  • Superblogger Aaron Gleeman will replace Bill Smith as general manager on an interim basis.   According to Smith, “things aren’t working out right now, and I take full responsibility for the results.  So I am going to see if I can contribute more effectively as a blogger and critiquer and let Aaron take on the day-to-day franchise management, at least on a temporary basis.”     Smith has indicated that he will move into Aaron’s mother’s basement.  It is unclear at this time if Bill’s mother will displace Aaron’s mother from the upstairs or if Mrs. Gleeman will move into the upper concourse of Target Field above Aaron’s new office.
  • Twins engineers are exploring whether they can get Minnie and Paul to switch sides of the Mississippi River in the Target Field sign.
  • Gardy announced that he will fill in for Wally the Beer Man, who himself has changed roles to become a celebrity bartender at nearby Sneaky Petes.  Gardy will continue to manage while selling beer, except during pitching changes when Rick Anderson will pick up the beer sales.  Given the crappy start of the Twins, underage fans with fake IDs should really not challenge Gardy, I’m just saying.
In the meantime, the AL Central standings are in complete role-reversal.

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2011 (Bobby) Darwin Award — for Best Start to Twins Season

Posted by verywellthen on April 10, 2011

As I write this, the Twins stand 3-6.   The team is hitting horribly (team OPS = 0.527 — dead last in the majors, including those teams that have pitchers hit.)   No one is off to a blinding start with the bat.

That wasn’t the case in 1972.

One of my earliest baseball memories was the red-hot start from the Twins 29 year old rookie center fielder Bobby Darwin.    Fresh on arrival from the Los Angeles Dodgers, Darwin began his Twins days on a tear – hitting 5 home runs in the first 8 games to start the 1972 season and his career as a starting center fielder.

That spring, I was a fledgling little Twins fan.  My Twins Cities relatives had come for a visit to Interior Dakota and in that group was my cousin Bobby – the first real die-hard Twins fan I had ever met.     Bobby loved to talk about the Twins and that spring we were both sharing our enthusiasm for the new rookie who shared his first name.  My untempered enthusiasm was that of an innocent 7 year old.  Cousin Bobby, being 3 years older and a bit more jaded told me, “yeah, every year some Twin starts off really hot, but then they cool off.”

He was teaching me an important baseball lesson – what the statheads would later inform me is called “regression to the mean.”

I didn’t believe it.  Bobby Darwin was going to keep hitting home runs all year I figured.  But sure enough, just as cousin Bobby predicted – Bobby Darwin cooled off.  He hit his sixth one in the 12th game of the season, but didn’t hit his 7th one until the 45th game.    By then he fell off the league leader charts that occasionally provided filler in the local newspaper’s sports page.

In the end, it was a nice little debut season by Darwin.  He ended up tied for ninth in the league with 22 home runs (those were tough days for hitters)  and posted an OPS+ of 123.    Darwin lasted 3+ years with the Twins, when he was shipped off to Milwaukee, perhaps because the Twins tired of his high strike out totals.

So now its 2011.  And I  had planned on giving some Twin a Darwin Award — as in Bobby Darwin — this Spring for the best start in the first week to ten days of the season.

Then the Twins go and put up offensive offensive numbers.    But I was so clever in thinking up this award that I have to pick someone, I guess.

Well, it’s not going to come from the offense — Span leads the team with a 742 OPS.    It’s Ruthesque in comparison to the rest of the Twins offense, but not league-leading and even below Denard’s career OPS.

So I’ll look over to the pitching side.

Joe Nathan has three saves in three attempts.  One was shaky, but he’s done everything asked of him.   All three team victories nailed down by Joe.  He’s even on ESPN’s top-5 in saves.

But I like Nick Blackburn’s start a bit better.   He’s on the AL leader board with an 0.77 ERA for qualified pitchers.   Two starts, both winnable.    Nothing dominating in his appearances (only 11.2 innings and 4 Ks), but Nick’s not a dominating-type pitcher.

The Twins are not off to an inspirational start.  And it was exactly an inspirational start I was looking for in giving out this prestigious self-invented award.    I don’t imagine any young Twins fans dreaming about these stats when they fall asleep in their Twins pajamas.   But I’ll remind them of the lesson I learned years ago — that there is “regression to the mean.”    The Twins hitters will get better this season.  They have to.

Hopefully before they are naturally-selected out of the AL pennant race.

So, I present the inaugural 2011 VeryWellThen.Com (Bobby) Darwin Award for the best start of the season for a Twins player to… Nick Blackburn.

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