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When the MN weather is nice, this column isn't so much. So, yeah.[/caption]
Monday Miscellany is a weekly-ish column with no real focus or direction. A mix of news, politics, sports, culture, media, reviews, trivia, local events, puppy GIFs, stuff I saw on Reddit/Wikipedia & some other items perhaps only tangentially related to Minnesota. If this column has a purpose, it would be to provide you, my dear reader, with (A) a brief escape from the monotony of your Monday morning/afternoon chores and duties, and (B) some topics to talk about should you encounter an awkward silence during an upcoming first...
Last season, the Minnesota Twins had a major turnaround following the worst season in Twins history in 2016. They finished last season with a record of 85-77 and made it to the American League Wild Card game in which they were defeated by the New York Yankees.
This year’s team is somewhat different from last season with several players leaving due to free agency or retirement. Some of the key departures from last year’s team include: backup catcher Chris Gimenez, starting pitchers Hector Santiago and Bartolo Colon and reliever Matt Belisle. Also, reliever Glen Perkins retired.
In the offseason, the Twins upgraded their bullpen....!--more-->
The Minnesota Twins have had a roller coaster of a season thus far. The Twins will resume play Friday after the All-Star break with a record of 45-43, 2.5 games behind the American League Central Division leading Cleveland Indians. They are one game back in a crowded American League Wild Card race.
Yet, the Twins have over achieved given circumstances. To start with, they’re on pace to use a record number of pitchers again this year. Last season, they used 29 pitchers including one appearance from backup infielder Eduardo Escobar.
So far, they’ve had used 27 pitchers including having six relief appearances from backup catcher Chris Gimenez....!--more-->
The Minnesota Twins had an awful season last year -- they finished with a record of 59-103 -- the worst in Twins franchise history and the worst record in the majors last year. This performance by the club prompted a front office overhaul with Derek Falvey hired from the Cleveland Indians as the Chief Baseball Officer and Phad Levine hired from the Texas Rangers as General Manager.
Yet, most of the players that were here this past season still remain. Catcher Kurt Suzuki was not re-signed, but was replaced by Jason Castro, a free agent signing to be the Twins starting catcher. Matt Belisle and former Twin Craig Breslow were signed to add depth...!--more-->
Rewind time 17 months. End of March. 2015.
It'd been a rough four year stretch at 1 Twins Way entering the 2015 campaign. Since finishing 94-68 and making the playoffs in 2010, the Twins had lost 90+ games in each of the next four years, becoming all too familiar with the cellar in the AL Central Division — they finished in last three out of those four seasons.
Hall of Famer (and former Twin/Gopher great) Paul Molitor, who took over as the Twins' manager...
As unbelievable as it sounds, our hometown ball club has proven the so-called experts wrong thus far in the 2015 season.
Many of those experts believe the Twins are going to have another bad season and finish in last place in the American League Central Division. And many of those experts believe this was the most competitive division in baseball given the fact that all five teams made various moves to improve their clubs this past offseason.
And now, here we are at the end of May, 46 games into the season and the Twins and Kansas City Royals are tied for first place with a record of 28-18....!--more-->
One of the big storylines of the season so far for the Minnesota Twins has been the offense. Ranked near the bottom in the American League in almost every category, the offense has sputtered like a motor running out of gas for the duration of this short season. There have been signs of the offense waking up, but then when you think that it was going to last, the offense then seemingly takes a step back.
Manager Paul Molitor has tried various lineups in hopes of getting the offense jump started. However, none seems to do the trick. Molitor has even admitted this past weekend to writing a lineup with Joe Mauer leading...!--more-->
This is how it should be for a big league club in the month of June -- a big road series against the division leader in June and a young pitcher on the mound for the Minnesota Twins. This describes the setting the Minnesota Twins found themselves on Friday the 13th. After three years and nearly 300 losses, Friday’s Twins game was noteworthy simply because it mattered.
Kyle Gibson threw seven exceptional innings at Comerica Park in Detroit. Not a single Tiger was allowed to score and fellow hurlers Casey Fien and Glen Perkins put the final touches on a masterful 2-0 shutout.
Joe Mauer isn't playing well. There I said it and it's permissible to say so. Joe Mauer should not be beyond reproach, but some fans and members of the media would disagree -- now there is a heated debate whether Joe Mauer can be criticized.
You have the sabermetric fans who point to his high batting average, high on base percentage and past accolades. The other side sees Joe Mauer as the monotone All-Star with a vanilla personality who has never delivered a game-winning hit.
You don't have to take either side because there is the reality of the situation. Joe Mauer hasn't hit well with runners...!--more-->
When Joe Mauer was declared the starting first baseman this offseason, the next step seemed to be inserting Josmil Pinto into the starting catcher role. That notion took a serious hit when the Twins signed
veteran free agent catcher Kurt Suzuki lauding his experience behind the plate. Now Josmil Pinto and the phrase "He's a work in progress" are mentioned together by the Twins. This is disappointing since in 2013 the Twins averaged 3.8 runs a game, second worst in the American League (White Sox were at 3.7), and Pinto's potent bat would be a welcome addition in 2014.
Kurt Suzuki is an above average catcher, but a middling hitter. His average OPS+ over the past three years was 76 (100 is league average), making him 24% below the average hitter during those seasons. Surprisingly, Suzuki does have value at the plate. He rarely strikes out, in fact Suzuki's K% over his career is 11.9%. Compare that to Joe Mauer's 11.1% and you can see he makes...!--more-->