Thursday, July 01, 2010

Cheap Seat Chronicles at Wordpress...

Hey y'all-

Just a heads up that as of July 1, 2010, I've decided to stop double-posting all of my stuff, it's just become too much of a pain and it splinters my readership.

As such, my material will no longer be appearing here on Blogger, but rather only on Wordpress.

So if you'd like to continue reading my stuff, please switch any bookmarks you have so that they head to "Cheap Seat Chronicles" on Wordpress.



Monday, June 07, 2010

2010 MLB Draft: Minnesota Twins Select Alex Wimmers with First-Round Pick

The Minnesota Twins drafted Ohio State pitcher Alex Wimmers with the 21st overall pick in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft.

This is the second-year in a row that the Twins have used their first-round selection on a highly-touted collegiate hurler.

A year ago the club took a gamble on injured Missouri starter Kyle Gibson with the 22nd pick. Gibson is now healthy and rapidly working his way through the minor leagues.

Keith Law of described Wimmers as “one of the most Major League-ready prospects in the draft.” This evaluation—from one of the top player evaluators in the business—indicates that Wimmers could be on a fast track similar to that of Gibson.

Wimmers was described by Baseball America as having “the best changeup in the 2010 draft crop” and that “few pitchers in this draft can match the depth of his repertoire.”

That repertoire includes the aforementioned changeup, a good curveball that he can throw for strikes, and a solid—if not unspectacular—low-to-mid ‘90s fastball.

His fastball currently sits right around 90-92 mph and touches 94 mph when he really dials it up. It is believed that he could add a little more velocity if he builds arm strength by using it more in pro ball.

He was described by John Manuel of Baseball America as “the closest thing to Brad Radke in this draft” and the Twins had some pretty good success with that Radke guy once upon a time. He is a reliable starter who throws strikes and likes to challenge hitters.

His three-pitch mix, solid command, and excellent presence on the mound should all help him move quickly through the system as he has been very successful throughout his collegiate career.

Wimmers won back-to-back Big Ten pitcher of the year awards after going 9-2 with a 3.27 ERA in 2009 and following it up this year by going 9-0 with a 1.60 ERA for the Buckeyes this season. He struck out 86 and walked 23 in 73 innings pitched this year.

The Twins have had a lot of success with players cut from the same cloth as Wimmers.

He is a strike-thrower who doesn’t have any overpowering raw stuff, but he possesses a very good total package that figures to project out well as a middle-of-the-rotation starter in the big leagues.

If his fastball can catch up to his other pitches in a hurry, it’s entirely possible that Wimmers could make his big league debut by late 2011.

Bookmark and Share

2010 MLB Draft: Fifteen Targets for the Minnesota Twins

The Minnesota Twins are often praised for doing things “the right way.”

This sentiment—although cliché and not entirely accurate—generally defines the organizational importance placed on pitching, defense, small ball tactics, and player development.

Although the Twins have seemingly eschewed the small ball tactics in recent seasons, the club still believes heavily in defense and pitching.

It would seem that the club has an abundance of outfielders already in the system with top prospects Aaron Hicks, Ben Revere, Max Kepler, and Angel Morales all seemingly within a few years of reaching the big leagues.

As such, the Twins could logically be expected to abandon the usual philosophy of drafting the best available player—no matter what position he plays—and instead opt to improve by adding a big-armed pitcher or another infielder to the farm system.

Minnesota possesses the twenty-first overall pick in tonight’s First-Year Player Draft and could use that pick on any of a number of players.

This year’s draft—after the projected top three picks of catcher Bryce Harper, shortstop Manny Machado, and right-hander Jameson Taillon—has been deemed “wide-open” by many experts.

In fact, in describing the quality of the draft pool after those three, one unidentified NL general manager said, “there’s virtually no difference between the fourth and 44th picks.”

With that thought in mind let’s take a look at fifteen players that could join the Minnesota Twins organization tonight during the opening-round of the First-Year Player Draft.

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

You’re Doing It Wrong: New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox Loyalty

There is no rivalry in sports more storied than the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox—or so ESPN tells me, constantly—and with that type of long-term, history-laden rivalry comes some serious battle lines, right?

Literally hundreds of books have been written on the subject.

More ink (or is it pixels) have been spilled over this rivalry in newspapers and online than any other in all of sports. In fact, it’s pretty safe to say that this rivalry alone has kept some sportswriters employed.

The rivalry has its own freakin’ Wikipedia entry and a YouTube search for “Yankees vs Red Sox” yields nearly 10,000 results.

Heck, there’s an entire television network dedicated to preaching the prominence of this rivalry.

We’re talking about the type of rivalry that divides families and tears friendships apart.

People have legitimately been beaten and killed as a result of their respective allegiances in this century-old rivalry.

With that in mind you’ve got to think that there is absolutely no reason for something like this to happen:

As much as I hate to give either the Yankees or Red Sox any more press, I can’t help but ask myself, what the heck is going on here??

Like seriously, how is something like this allowed to happen?

I’ve been in those bleachers at Fenway, I’ve been booed unmercifully by an entire section on more than one occasion for wearing Minnesota Twins gear and—on one fateful day—a vintage Tampa Bay Devil Rays t-shirt.

I’ve been to a Sox/Yankees game and seen fight after fight breakout over nothing more than someone doffing the cap of the visiting team.

So explain to me, how is it that this gal’s transgressions are allowed to pass unscathed, by either party.

I would be content if a band of rogue New York fans rose up in arms to slay her with weapons they’d fashioned from those miniature souvenir baseball bats.

I’d be equally approving if the usual Fenway bleacher creatures were to use her as a ritual sacrifice to Jon Papelbon before the ninth (they do that you know).

What I can’t stand is for this to pass, seemingly without any sort of repercussion. She’s just enjoying a beer and watching the game. What the heck is that?

I had a beer vendor refuse to serve me the day I wore the Devil Rays shirt and this is all peachy?

Let’s hear it folks, what’s your take on the situation?

Is she part of some sort of government test study to determine how long a cute gal can survive in hostile conditions?

Has she had too many of those $8 Budweisers and accidentally grabbed the wrong hat (or shirt) on her way out of the powder room?

Or does she simply work for ESPN?

Hat Tip – [Total Pro Sports]

Bookmark and Share

J.J. Hardy Injury: Minnesota Twins Shortstop Lands on DL with Wrist Injury

The injuries just keep on coming for the Minnesota Twins.

In March, the club lost All-Star closer Joe Nathan for the year after he underwent Tommy John surgery.

Last week, reigning American League MVP Joe Mauer sat out with a heel injury that threatened to land him on the disabled list.

And just today, the Twins placed shortstop J.J. Hardy on the 15-day disabled list with a left wrist contusion. Hardy initially sustained the injury sliding into third base on a triple a week ago.

The move is retroactive to May 4, meaning that Hardy can be rejoin the big league club next Thursday in Boston for the finale of a two-game set against the Red Sox.

Hardy was acquired from the Milwaukee Brewers last fall for outfielder Carlos Gomez who—ironically enough—also landed on the disabled list today with a with a left rotator cuff strain.

Prior to the injury Hardy—a notoriously streaky hitter—was off to a less than impressive start at the plate. Through the season’s first 25 games Hardy posted an uninspiring .250/.299/.400 batting line to go with three home runs, eleven RBI, and four doubles.

In essence, the time off could do Hardy some good as it largely believed he’s been pressing at the plate in an effort to prove that his dreadful 2009 was an aberration.

To fill in for the injured Hardy, the club recalled infielder Matt Tolbert from Triple-A Rochester.

Aaron Gleeman of Hardball Talk said it best…

“…the Twins have added to their amazing collection of banjo-hitting utility infielders by calling up Matt Tolbert from Triple-A. Tolbert is anything but deserving after hitting .232 with a .632 OPS and six errors in 27 games at Triple-A, but he's a poor man's Nick Punto and so naturally Ron Gardenhire loves him.”

The move is nothing if not disconcerting.

As Gleeman mentions, the club is already stock-piled with prototypical “small ball” style players in Nick Punto, Brendan Harris, and Alexi Casilla.

The club could have used this opportunity to call up the supposed third baseman of the future, Danny Valencia or bring Luke Hughes back for a second go-around with the big club, but neither is doing anything overly inspiring at Rochester.

Additionally, Valencia and Hughes are both third basemen by trade, although Hughes has spent plenty of time at second base as of late, but neither of those positions appear to be open with the big club.

The Twins appear content to leave Nick Punto at third base—his best defensive position, according to UZR—and Orlando Hudson isn’t going to suit up anywhere but second base.

That leaves current Rochester shortstop Trevor Plouffe as the most logical player to call up in this situation.

Plouffe, 24, is off to a solid start with the Red Wings hitting .278/.344/.452 with two home runs, thirteen RBI, and eight doubles through 29 games.

The Twins, however, appear to be playing favorites and going with one of manager Ron Gardenhire’s favorites, the “scrappy” Matt Tolbert.

Tolbert will likely split time with Alexi Casilla who isn’t exactly lighting the world on fire with his paltry .261/.292/.304 batting line.

To their credit, UZR rates both Casilla and Tolbert are above average defenders at shortstop, albeit in very small sample sizes.

The Casilla/Tolbert combo isn’t an ideal solution for the Twins, especially with the division rival Chicago White Sox in town and a weekend series with the world champion New York Yankees looming on the horizon, but the duo should serve as an adequate defensive stopgap until Hardy returns next week.

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Philadelphia Phillies Fan Gets Tasered

When the action on the field grows tiresome too many fans decide to create their own entertainment.

That was the case last night in Philadelphia where a 17-year-old Phillies fan hopped the fence and ran onto the field during the eighth inning.

At the time the Phillies were down 6-2 after giving up a five-run inning to the St. Louis Cardinals. This apparently was enough to encourage the young fan—whose name has yet to be released because he is a minor—to make his own entertainment.

The fan jumped the fence and led two officers on a chase around the outfield at Citizens Bank Park in front of a reported 44,817 screaming fans.

The security officers eventually ended the chase when one of the men pulled out a Taser and "subdued" the 17-year-old.

According to both teams, this is the first time a Taser has ever been used to apprehend a trespasser during a game.

Phillies spokeswomen Bonnie Clark said the police department is investigating the matter and discussing with the team whether using the stun gun was appropriate.

Police spokesman Lt. Frank Vanore told The Philadelphia Inquirer police internal affairs will open an investigation to determine if the firing "was proper use of the equipment."

The 17-year-old will be charged with trespassing and likely suffering years of public humiliation amongst his friends.

After an incident like this, one can’t help but wonder if this is taking things too far.

In the past, officers would make a half-hearted attempt to catch the trespasser and more or less wait until they would run themselves out of energy.

At which point they'd simply escort them off the field and off to spend the evening in jail. Who knew that those were simpler times?

I’m all about keeping people off the field, but the Taser seems just a bit extreme given that this guy was clearly not a threat to anyone on the field.

Let’s hear it in the comments folks, what do you think?

Was the use of a Taser too much or is it a sufficient means of crowd control in this type of situation?
Bookmark and Share

Monday, April 26, 2010

Do the Minnesota Twins Lack a Killer Instinct?

The Minnesota Twins are living the high life.

The club left behind the antiquated Metrodome and moved into their brand-new, state of the art ballpark, Target Field.

The club has an increased payroll and is coming off one of the most productive offseasons in franchise history.

The club is 13-6—second-best in all of Major League Baseball—despite the fact that much of the lineup sits mired in early season slumps.

The Twins have won six straight series to start the season for the first-time in franchise history. All the while outscoring opponents 101-70 and looking far more polished than their counterparts.

Three weeks into the season, there is very little to worry about in Minnesota, or is there?

The club has dropped the last game of a three-game series four times, seemingly phoning it in after winning the series.

This is one thing that should have the club worried.

The Twins cannot afford to let off the gas early in the season, especially against weaker competition like Kansas City and Cleveland.

If we’ve learned anything about the American League Central in recent years, it’s that every single game matters.

Two years in a row the Twins have been forced to play a 163rd game with the division pennant on the line.

A few extra wins over lesser opponents in April are just as important as dramatic September wins over Detroit or Chicago.

All 162 games count exactly the same and the Twins appear to be treating every third game as a throw-away and not a must-win situation.

Anything can happen in baseball. Much of the offense could stay locked in neutral and not overcome their early struggles. The pitching rotation could struggle as the season stretches on. The currently untouchable bullpen could breakdown at any point.

Every game is important because of those unknown factors that creep up every season.

Right now the Twins are riding high, but so were the Indians in 2002 and the Royals were looking like world beaters a year later. Neither of those teams took home the pennant.

The Twins need to establish a killer instinct and finish out some of these early season series if they want to avoid another late season pennant push that leaves the roster exhausted for the playoffs.

It may be early, but the games are important. It’s time for the Twins to start acting like it.
Bookmark and Share

WWE Extreme Rules: Ten Things We Learned

After every WWE pay-per-view event, we’re supposed to be left with a feeling of satisfaction; as if all of our questions and concerns have been answered by the events that unfolded at the pay-per-view.

Unfortunately, this is rarely the case. All-too-often we are left with more new questions than answers.

Sunday night’s Extreme Rules was no exception. Following the event there are plenty of important questions to be asked, but there is no doubt we learned plenty of things at the event as well.

Without any further ado, here are the ten things we learned at WWE’s Extreme Rules pay-per-view.

Check out the slide-show at
Bookmark and Share

Sunday, April 25, 2010

2010 MLB Predictions: Better Late Than Never

It’s pretty obvious that the posts haven’t exactly been coming hot and heavy in the past month or so. Things have been very busy at work and there was a fair amount of travel in the mix as well, but rest assured I’m neither dead nor done writing.

I do want to make one thing clear, these predictions were compiled before the season started, I just never got around to posting them, so anyone who wants to get up in my grill for not giving the currently-surging Rays or Athletics enough love, my apologies.

With that in mind, here are my preseason early season predictions for how things are going to shake out in 2010.




Philadelphia Phillies
Atlanta Braves
Florida Marlins
Washington Nationals
New York Mets


New York Yankees
Boston Red Sox
Tampa Bay Rays
Toronto Blue Jays
Baltimore Orioles


St. Louis Cardinals
Milwaukee Brewers
Chicago Cubs
Cincinnati Reds
Pittsburgh Pirates
Houston Astros


Minnesota Twins
Detroit Tigers
Chicago White Sox
Cleveland Indians
Kansas City Royals


Colorado Rockies
San Francisco Giants
Los Angeles Dodgers
San Diego Padres
Arizona Diamondbacks


Los Angeles Angels
Seattle Mariners
Oakland Athletics
Texas Rangers

NLDS: Philadelphia over San Francisco (3-1)  
NLDS: Colorado over St. Louis (3-2)  

ALDS: Minnesota over Boston (3-2)  
ALDS: New York over Los Angeles (3-0)  

NLCS: Colorado over Philadelphia (4-3)  
ALCS: Minnesota over New York (4-3)  

WORLD SERIES: Minnesota over Colorado (4-2) 

There you have it, folks…the Twins are going to top the Rockies in what will undoubtedly be the least-watched World Series of all-time. ESPN will ignore it entirely, choosing instead to focus on whether Tim Tebow’s new haircut implies he can handle the complexities of an NFL offense.

Feel free to head over to your nearest bookie and put some serious cash on these predictions.
Bookmark and Share

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Joe Mauer, Minnesota Twins Agree on Massive Eight-Year Contract Extension

Minnesota Twins fans can now breathe a collective sigh of relief.

The biggest drama of the offseason—Joe Mauer’s contract status (or lack thereof)—has finally come to an end.

The Minnesota Twins have officially inked Mauer to an eight-year, $184 million deal that will keep the reigning American League Most Valuable Player in the Twin Cities through the 2018 season.

The deal reportedly includes a full no-trade clause and will pay the All-Star backstop $23 million per season from 2011-2018.

This is undoubtedly the largest contract in franchise history, but also one of the most important.

Mauer, 26, was born and raised in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

In high school, he was a multi-sport star at Saint Paul’s Cretin-Derham Hall. During his senior year Mauer became the first—and only—athlete to be selected as the USA Today High School Player of the Year in two sports (football and baseball).

Mauer’s multi-sport prowess led him to make an important decision in 2001 when he turned down a football scholarship to Florida State University to enter the Major League Baseball amateur draft.

The Twins selected the hometown boy with the first-overall pick in the 2001 draft and the club was widely-criticized for taking the “easy pick” over the supposedly more talented Mark Prior, who had pitched at the University of Southern California.

Less than a decade later, Prior is a footnote in baseball history and serves as one of the ultimate “what might have been” cases of the generation.

Mauer, on the other hand, has blossomed into one of baseball’s brightest stars. In the process, he has more than shown he was the right choice and not the easy choice in the 2001 draft.

The hefty payday comes as no surprise on the heels of Mauer’s MVP campaign in 2009 in which he set career-highs with 28 home runs, 96 RBI, 191 hits, and 307 total bases despite missing the entire month of April with a back injury.

He made an immediate impact upon returning to the lineup by crushing a home run in his very first at-bat and never looked back.

Additionally, he led the AL in the new age Triple Crown categories of batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage by posting a very impressive .365/.444/.587 cumulative batting line.

After his extraordinary return to the lineup, Mauer played in 138 of the team's remaining 141 games.

Despite missing a month, and starting 28 games at designated hitter, Mauer managed to catch 939 innings, ranking fifth in the American League.

The MVP is just one of many awards that currently adorn Mauer’s mantle as he also won his third Silver Slugger, his third batting title, his second Gold Glove, and was voted the winner of the 2009 Players Choice Award for AL Outstanding Player, an award voted on by his peers.

Additionally, Mauer made his third All-Star team and lead the Minnesota Twins back to the playoffs for the first time since 2006.

The Twins were 11-11 while Mauer was out in April, but went 76-65 after he rejoined the club. In September, Mauer played a big role as the Twins overcome a seven-game deficit to win the AL Central.

His importance to the ballclub is undeniable, but it could be argued that it was even more important for the state of Minnesota that Mauer sign an extension rather than land in Boston or New York before Opening Day 2011.

There was speculation more than a month ago that a deal was imminent—if not completed—but that turned out to be false. Lingering negotiations led fans and media members to wonder if the deal had hit a snag or, perhaps, if Mauer had become trade bait.

Luckily, we now know those fears were unfounded. Although given the club’s history, one can’t fault anyone for being concerned.

The Twins have long-been a small-budget operation. In recent years many fan favorites such as Torii Hunter and Johan Santana exited via free agency or trade as a result of the team’s unwillingness to match the big money offers those players could garner on the open market.

This offseason, however, there were signs of change with the opening of Target Field and an anticipated increase in revenue the club has already increased payroll by roughly $30 million from Opening Day last season.

Signing Mauer to a deal of this magnitude shows that the Twins are not only committed to winning, but to pleasing the fans as well. Losing Mauer would have been devastating to the Twins fan-base and—subsequently—the franchise’s bottom line.

That situation has been avoided on what must be considered a major gamble for the organization.

Mauer is, after all, a catcher.

He plays the most demanding position in the game and has a track record of injuries to his knees and back. At 6’5” and 225 pounds, he is very large for the position and could conceivably have a limited shelf life behind the plate.

Additionally, the Twins are banking on last year’s sudden power surge becoming a trend rather than an aberration.

In the end, I think all parties involved come out okay in the deal.

The Twins have avoided any chance of a being run out of town by an angry, pitch-fork wielding mob of dejected Minnesotans and ensured themselves a pretty solid number three hitter for the better part of the next decade.

Mauer has long-term security and more money than Minnesota has lakes.

This would be a good time to make a comment about how Twins fans are the real winners in this deal, but let’s be honest, Joe Mauer just signed a deal for $184 million.

The fans come in second on this one, but I think we’re all a-okay with that.

Bookmark and Share

Joe Nathan Injury: Minnesota’s All-Star Closer Opts for Tommy John Surgery

It’s official, the Minnesota Twins will be without All-Star closer Joe Nathan for the 2010 campaign.

Nathan elected to undergo Tommy John ligament replacement surgery today after feeling continued pain and discomfort following a bullpen session with pitching coach Rick Anderson.

"Didn’t go like we hoped," Nathan said. "We knew it was a long shot, but what this did do is clear my head.”

Nathan was originally diagnosed with a “significant tear” of his ulnar collateral ligament two weeks ago after he abruptly left an exhibition game against the Boston Red Sox after just 20 pitches.

At the time he decided to rest the injury and then test it one more time before deciding whether or not to undergo the procedure.

It is believed that Nathan will undergo the surgery as soon as possible in an attempt to rejoin the club by Opening Day next season.

"Any time you’re going to be out for the season—but especially the timing of this, with this ballclub, this new stadium, the excitement—it’s definitely tough," Nathan said. "But right now I’ve got to take care of myself and get myself ready for next year."

Nathan, 35, is coming off a year in which he set the franchise record for saves with 47 and posted a 2.10 ERA, a .932 WHIP and earned a trip to his fourth All-Star Game.

Needless to say, the club will have a hard time finding anyone to legitimately fill Nathan’s shoes.

The club has, however, been exploring potential replacement options for Nathan since the initial word broke two weeks ago.

In that time the Twins have been linked to the like of Heath Bell and Kerry Wood as potential trade candidates.

The more likely option, however, is that Nathan’s replacement will come from within the organization.

Right-handers Jon Rauch and Matt Guerrier are largely believed to be the front-runners with lefty Jose Mijares a distant third.

Rauch has some experience—albeit limited—in the role from his time in Washington and figures to get the first crack at the job.

Mijares has long been touted as having “closer stuff” on the mound, but many—seemingly including manager Ron Gardenhire—question whether he has the mental makeup to handle the role.

Guerrier has good stuff and a cool head to pitch late in important, high-pressure situations. He is also, however, very valuable as a setup man and Gardenhire loves to use him in multiple-inning situations.

It’s entirely possible that Guerrier’s success in his current role will prevent him from taking over as the club’s closer.

A popular dark horse candidate is current Twins farmhand Anthony Slama.

Slama has looked good in Spring Training, posting eight strikeouts, one walk, one win and a 0.00 ERA in four innings pitched.

He has a proven track record a closer in the minor leagues and appears to have all the intangibles it takes to be a big league closer.

With Opening Day just two weeks away, the race for the closer role is now officially up for grabs and—for all intents and purposes—wide open.

If nothing else, today’s unfortunate news should make for a compelling final two weeks of Spring Training.
Bookmark and Share

Monday, March 15, 2010

Minnesota Twins: Six Things Fans Will Miss About the Metrodome

After 28 long seasons spent cooped up inside a big Teflon bubble the Minnesota Twins will be moving to an exquisite new ballpark for the 2010 season.

Target Field figures to provide the Twins with not only a much better playing environment, but also much larger revenue streams.

The club has already made the most of the revenue increase by bumping the payroll nearly $40 million over last year’s Opening Day payroll. The on-field results, however, are a wait in progress.

The move will obviously have a large impact on the ballclub, but also on the fans that have trekked to the Metrodome for the better part of three decades.

With that in mind, here are six things that fans won’t miss about the Metrodome.

Also available in slide-show format at

Minnesota Twins: Six Things Fans Won't Miss About the Metrodome

After 28 long seasons spent cooped up inside a big Teflon bubble the Minnesota Twins will be moving to an exquisite new ballpark for the 2010 season.

Target Field figures to provide the Twins with not only a much better playing environment, but also much larger revenue streams.

The club has already made the most of the revenue increase by bumping the payroll nearly $40 million over last year’s Opening Day payroll. The on-field results, however, are a wait in progress.

The move will obviously have a large impact on the ballclub, but also on the fans that have trekked to the Metrodome for the better part of three decades.

With that in mind, here are six things that fans won’t miss about the Metrodome.

Also available in slide-show format at

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Denard Span, Minnesota Twins Agree to Five-Year, $16.5 Million Deal

 The Minnesota Twins locked up a talented 26-year-old today, but not the one that fans have been expecting.

While the club still hasn’t finalized a deal with Joe Mauer, they have ensured consistency in the outfield for the foreseeable future.

Joe Christensen of The Star Tribune tweeted today that the Twins and center fielder Denard Span have agreed to a five-year, $16.5 million contract.

The contract buys out the rest of Span’s team controlled seasons, but no free agent years. There is, however, a $9 million club option for a sixth year.

According to Kelsie Smith of The Pioneer Press, Span will earn $750,000 in 2010, $1 million in 2011, $3 million in 2012, $4.75 million in 2013, and $6.5 million in 2014. The club can also reportedly buy out Span’s $9 million option for 2015 for $500,000.

Span has been a revelation in the Minnesota lineup since joining the club as a replacement for an injured Michael Cuddyer in 2008.

In 2009, Span hit .311/.392/.415 with eight home runs, ten triples, 68 RBI, and 23 stolen bases as Minnesota’s primary leadoff hitter.

When he was selected in the first round of the 2002 amateur draft it was obvious the club envisioned him as the eventually successor to Torii Hunter in center field.

Unfortunately, Span’s success in the minor leagues wasn’t immediate. He posted solid—but not spectacular—numbers for five years between rookie ball and Triple A.

In fact, from 2003 to 2007, Span had posted a batting line of .281/.352/.341 while totally just seven home runs and never stealing more than 25 bases in a single season.

After the 2007 season, however, Span underwent LASIK eye surgery and immediately noticed a difference. Most notably that he felt he was able to tell which pitches not to chase.

In addition to increased vision heading into the 2008 campaign, Span also had increased motivation.

Torii Hunter, the man he’d be drafted to replace, had departed via free agency and the job—in theory—should have been Span's lose.

The front office, however, felt otherwise.

The dynamic—if not erratic—Carlos Gomez had been acquired as the key component of the Johan Santana trade with the New York Mets. Gomez was a superior defender to Span and much faster.

He did, however, have one small weakness; a complete and utter inability to get on-base.

His ability to reach base notwithstanding, the Twins—who otherwise had nothing at the big league level to show for the Santana trade—tossed Gomez into the mix for the starting center field job, despite his obvious need for more time in the minors.

Span showed up to Spring Training claiming he was ready to “battle” and had no intentions of being a forgotten outfielder. He lived up to his hype that spring and completely outplayed Gomez.

That fact made it all that much harder on Span when the club chose Gomez to be the club’s starting center fielder and sent Span back to Triple A.

Span responded by tearing the cover off the ball in Triple A. He posted an eye-popping .340/.434/.481 batting line with fifteen stolen bases in just 40 games.

Denard Span was proving the Twins had made the wrong choice.

When Cuddyer went down with an injury and Span was called up he continued doing his best to prove the doubters wrong.

He went on to hit .294/.387/.432 with six home runs, seven triples, 47 RBI, and eighteen stolen bases in 93 games whilst playing all over the outfield.

Span finished sixth in the rookie of the year voting and by season’s end had established himself as a cornerstone of the Twins outfield and one of the most dynamic leadoff hitters in the big leagues.

The five-year pact proves that the club is now well-aware of what they have in Denard Span. The offseason trade of Gomez didn’t hurt matters either.

Span’s defensive range and arm may not matchup to Gomez’s and, in all actuality, may be better suited for left field than center fielder, but he figures to hold down the position for the foreseeable future.

In all likelihood, Span will be a left fielder by the end of the deal with Aaron Hicks or Ben Revere taking his role in center field, but for the time being the job is all his.

Just the way it was meant to be.
Bookmark and Share