Friday, July 31, 2009

Arms Race: Minnesota Twins Still in the Mix for Relievers

The Twins are not giving up the American League Central without a fight.

The Twins made one move to shore up a weak spot earlier today by acquiring Gold Glove shortstop Orlando Cabrera from Oakland.

Ideally the Twins would have added another arm for the bullpen, especially with the news that both the Chicago White Sox and Detroit Tigers made big additions today.

The Tigers fired the first salvo of the day by trading two pitchers for Seattle Mariners’ lefty Jarrod Washburn to establish a top-flight trio of starters alongside Justin Verlander and Edwin Jackson.

The White Sox made arguably the biggest splash of the day just before the deadline when the club acquired right-hander Jake Peavy from the San Diego Padres in exchange for four pitching prospects.

Although the Trade Deadline has officially come and gone, the Twins still have options on the table.

None of the big names discussed prior to the Deadline such as Michael Wuertz, Heath Bell, Scott Downs or Jason Frasor figure to clear waivers to allow for a trade prior to the August 31 deadline for trades with waivers.

Prior to the Deadline multiple outlets reported that the Twins were making significant overtures for both Michael Wuertz of the Athletics and Heath Bell of the San Diego Padres.

Both relievers would have amounted to huge upgrades for a beleaguered bullpen that—prior to this week’s White Sox series—had looked overwhelmed and overmatched.

With those options essentially off the table, the Twins must now get creative.

Read the rest of the article at BleacherReport.

Minnesota Twins Acquire Orlando Cabrera

The Minnesota Twins’ search for an experienced middle infielder came to an end Friday.

Just hours before the MLB Trade Deadline, the Twins bolstered their lineup for a playoff push by acquiring 34-year-old shortstop Orlando Cabrera from the Oakland Athletics.

The Twins reportedly traded 21-year-old shortstop prospect Tyler Ladendorf to Oakland in the deal.

This is the first Trade Deadline acquisition by the Twins since 2003, when the club traded for Shannon Stewart, a move that propelled the Twins into the playoffs.

On the season Cabrera is hitting .280/.318/.365, but he has been hot in the month of July hitting an astounding .373/.400/.500.

Adding Cabrera gives Minnesota an aging, yet reliable glove at short and an upgrade at the plate over Nick Punto and Alexi Casilla.

Additionally, he provides a veteran presence with plenty of playoff experience, something very few members of the Twins current roster possess.

Cabrera figures to hit in the two-hole and take over at shortstop with Brendan Harris moving to second base.

Cabrera has roughly $1.75 million remaining on his contract. The Athletics have reportedly sent cash in the deal to offset part of his salary.

One downfall of this deal is that despite the fact that Cabrera currently profiles as a Type A free agent, the Twins will be unable to offer him arbitration after the season in hopes of gaining draft picks if Cabrera signs elsewhere for the 2010 season.

After struggling to find a taker last offseason, Cabrera and his agent negotiated a clause into his contract with the Athletics disallowing whichever club he finished the season with to offer him arbitration.

Ladendorf, a second-round pick of the Twins in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, gives the A's a productive, young, cheap shortstop who could be major league ready in two or three years. This season in Class-A he's hitting .322 with four homers, 21 RBI and three stolen bases.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Trio of Minnesota Twins All-Stars Urge Front Office to Pull the Trigger

As the clock continues ticking toward the Major League Baseball Trade Deadline, it is becoming apparent that fans of the Minnesota Twins aren’t alone in their desire to see the front office make a move.

Last weekend, in the midst of the club’s dreadful west coast road trip, a trio of Twins All-Stars expressed their desire for the club to acquire more talent for the stretch run.

Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau and Joe Nathan all said they’d really like to see the team make a move—any move—to help give the club a shot in the arm as they march toward the postseason.

Much of the players’ desire to make a deal is spurred by the memory of last season, when the Twins missed the playoffs by one game. A situation that Nathan believes could have been avoided if the Twins had been proactive at the deadline.

Read the rest of the article at BleacherReport

Monday, July 27, 2009

Minnesota Twins' Starter Kevin Slowey Lost for Season

The Minnesota Twins—already suffering through a second-half swoon—saw their postseason pursuits take another hit on Monday.

Prior to Monday’s game against the division-rival Chicago White Sox it was announced that right-handed starter Kevin Slowey will miss the rest of the season.

Slowey will undergo surgery to fix a bone chip in his right wrist. The operation will require two to four months of rehab and recovery.

Slowey initially aggravated the injury when he was hit by a line drive during a start last September.

He pitched through the pain until July 3, when he left a game after three innings. The next day he went on the disabled list and hasn’t pitched since.

Read the rest of the article at BleacherReport.

Twins Face a 'Make or Break' Series Against White Sox

The Minnesota Twins have struggled mightily following the All-Star break.

After taking the first two games of the second-half from the Texas Rangers, the Twins have won just two of seven and have fallen a game under .500 on the season.

The Oakland Athletics and Los Angeles Angels both took turns humiliating the Twins last week, leading to the four-game losing streak that has pushed the squad to the fringe of playoff contention in the American League Central.

During the four-game skid, the Twins were outscored 39-14.

Read the rest of the article at BleacherReport.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Deadline Dilemma: Los Angeles Angels Running Out of Time to Improve

With the trade deadline a mere week away and numerous teams scrambling to make moves, the Los Angeles Angels are flying high.

Prior to play on Friday night, the Angels have the third-best record in all of baseball at 56-38.

The Halos have won six games in a row and nine of their last 10; all the while building up a three and a half game lead over the Texas Rangers and a five and a half game lead over the Seattle Mariners.

The offense—despite missing outfielders Torii Hunter and Vladimir Guerrero—has been the best in the American League since the All-Star break and continues firing on all cylinders thanks to big contributions from first baseman Kendry Morales and shortstop Erick Aybar.

The pitching has been a different story altogether.

On the season, the Angels’ pitching staff ranks in the bottom three in both ERA and WHIP in the American League. Additionally, they rank in the bottom five in both hits allowed and strikeouts.

As such, the Angels approach the deadline looking to improve the team’s pitching, as opposed to engaging in the annual search for an impact bat.

This year’s deadline figures to be a major change of pace for the Angels.

Read the rest of the article at BleacherReport.

It's Holliday Season in St. Louis: Cardinals Acquire Slugger from Oakland

One of the biggest names on the trade market has officially found a new home.

The Oakland Athletics sent outfielder Matt Holliday to the St. Louis cardinals in exchange for a trio of prospects.

The Athletics obtained third baseman Brett Wallace, outfielder Shane Peterson and right-handed pitcher Clayton Mortensen.

The Cardinals willingness to move Wallace is what made the deal work.

Wallace, 22, is a left-handed-hitting third baseman who was the 13th overall pick in the 2008 draft and has been promoted by the Cardinals from A-ball to Class AAA in roughly a year.

He was coveted by the A's for his great on-base percentage skills and because he plays a position that the Athletics have struggled to fill with healthy, productive players for a long time.

Read the rest of the article at BleacherReport.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Twins Trade Targets: The Anti-Hype Edition

The trade deadline is right around the corner and with it comes a flurry of trade rumors and speculation about which clubs are sellers and which clubs are buyers.

Two things are for certain, the Toronto Blue Jays and Oakland Athletics are both out of their respective division races and figure to be sellers.

Secondly, both clubs possess a marquee name that many teams will be clamoring after: Roy Halladay of the Blue Jays and Matt Holliday of the Athletics.

The Minnesota Twins don’t figure to be major players for either Halladay or Holliday, but both clubs do have other players who figure to be of interest to the Twins.

Talk of these players getting traded may not cause the same hype and hysteria that Halladay or Holliday would, but a trade for any of the following anti-hype players would certainly put the Twins in a much better spot as the club continues to march toward the postseason.

Read the rest of the article at BleacherReport.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Minnesota’s Ten-Run Collapse Shows Vulnerability and Necessity

Monday night in Oakland, the Minnesota Twins seemed to have everything going their way, for awhile at least.

This year’s de facto ace, Nick Blackburn was on the hill and the offense was firing on all cylinders. Blackburn was given a ten run lead in the third inning and then—along with the bullpen—promptly coughed it up.

The Twins rallied to put more runs on the board, but no matter what they did, the Athletics—yes, those Athletics—answered with a run-scoring salvo of their own.

When the game went final—over 3 ½ hours later—the Twins had allowed the lowly Athletics to come back and win the game 14-13.

Admittedly, the game ended on a blown call at the plate as Michael Cuddyer was blatantly safe with what should have been the tying run.

The problem is that the blown call didn’t cost the Twins the game.

Yet again, awful pitching cost the Twins the game.

Read the rest of the article at BleacherReport.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Five Reasons the Minnesota Twins Will Not Make the Postseason

The Minnesota Twins have a legitimate shot at winning the American League Central this season. Going into play on Saturday they sit just two-and-a-half games behind the division leading Detroit Tigers and one-half game behind the Chicago White Sox.

The division is still wide-open and very winnable.

If the Twins can’t pull it off, the following will be the five biggest reasons why.

Read the rest of the article at BleacherReport.

Five Reasons the Minnesota Twins Will Make the Postseason

The Minnesota Twins have a legitimate shot at winning the American League Central this season. Going into play on Saturday they sit just two and a half games behind the division leading Detroit Tigers and one half game behind the Chicago White Sox.

The division is still wide-open and very winnable. If the Twins are able to rally and win the division, the following five reasons will no-doubt play a large part in their success.

Read the rest of the article at BleacherReport.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Albert Pujols: Finally Becoming the Face of MLB

Since entering the league in 2001, Albert Pujols has never been “the man” in Major League Baseball.

He has always played second-fiddle to the likes of Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, and Manny Ramirez.

Not in terms of talent, mind you. Pujols plays second-fiddle to nobody between the foul lines.

Talent-wise he has no equal.

Rather, Pujols always seemed to come up short in terms of marketability, Q-rating, jerseys sold, or whatever ridiculous non-baseball statistic Bud Selig’s band of merry men have been using for years when deciding which superstar to push as the “face” of Major League Baseball.

Albert Pujols is a once in a lifetime talent. Every single thing he does on the baseball field only adds to his rapidly expanding legacy.

Read the rest of the article at BleacherReport.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Ian Kinsler Still Not an All-Star

Major League Baseball announced Sunday that Boston Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia has withdrawn from Tuesday's All-Star Game to be with his wife who is in hospital.

This gave American League manager Joe Maddon of the Tampa Bay Rays the opportunity to right an egregious wrong.

Maddon was given a free pass to add Texas Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler to the All-Star Game.

In fact, adding Kinsler seemed liked the most logical option as well. Replace a second baseman with a second baseman, it just makes good sense.

Instead Maddon went a different route and added Tampa Bay first baseman Carlos Pena to the roster.

Read the rest of the article at BleacherReport.

30 Years Later: Disco Demolition Night

As the first-half winds to a close today, fans and players are looking forward to this week’s All-Star festivities. Fans in Chicago, however, have a reason to look back today.

It was 30 years ago today, July 12, 1979, that one of the most infamous ballpark promotions of all-time took place at Comiskey Park -- Disco Demolition Night.

The 1979 White Sox were a mediocre team that was, as always, playing second fiddle to the lovable losers across town, the Cubs, both in terms of record and especially in attendance.

The event was conceived by popular Chicago disc jockey, Steve Dahl and Mike Veeck, son of team owner, Bill Veeck.

Read the rest of the article BleacherReport.

Out of His Element? Mauer Enters Home Run Derby

It was announced Friday that Minnesota Twins catcher Joe Mauer will participate in the 2009 State Farm Home Run Derby.

Mauer, a two-time batting champion, would seem an unlikely choice for the Derby, but he has already set a career high in home runs this season with 15, surpassing his previous high of 13 set back in 2006.

Many of his teammates, including last year’s Derby champion Justin Morneau, believe that Mauer shouldn’t be overlooked as a potential winner in the competition.

"The last couple rounds we start hitting home runs in batting practice and he goes up in that upper deck here at the Metrodome pretty much whenever he wants," Morneau said. "Believe me, he'll surprise some people with how far he can hit the ball."

Read the rest of the article at BleacherReport.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Fixing the Twins Middle Infield: Internal Options

As baseball rolls through the final weekend before the All-Star break, it is easy to see that some changes are necessary if the Twins are serious about winning the division.

Heading into play on Saturday the Twins’ record is a pedestrian 44-43, one game over .500 and four back of the Tigers in the tough American League Central.

One of the biggest weaknesses for the Twins thus far has been the offensive production (or lack thereof) from the men manning the middle infield. The four men who have seen the most time at second base and shortstop are Brendan Harris, Nick Punto, Matt Tolbert and Alexi Casilla (currently in Triple A).

The four have combined to “hit” a cumulative average of .209 with five home runs, 56 runs batted in and 15 stolen bases. Harris has been, by far, the most productive of the quartet with a .269 average, four home runs and 23 RBI.

Unfortunately, Harris also leads the pack—and the entire team—in errors with six, which is one more than both Punto and Casilla. Tolbert adds two errors of his own, which leads to the middle infield accounting for 18 of the team’s 34 total errors on the season.

The only other regular with more than two errors is Michael Cuddyer who has four, three of which were committed playing out of position at first base. As such, it is pretty evident that the current middle infield options are hurting the team on both sides of the ball and a change needs to be made.

Internal options do exist, but may not be enough to get the job.

Read the rest of the article at BleacherReport.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Victor Martinez: Trade Winds are Blowing (from the East)

Bob Dylan’s classic ballad “The Times They Are A-Changin'” rings true for many people, especially Cleveland Indians fans.

In Cleveland, the times sure are a-changin’. Unfortunately, the changes are not for the better.

Two years ago, the Indians were one win away from the World Series. Today, they have the second-worst record in all of baseball.

In 2007, CC Sabathia and a surprisingly effective Fausto Carmona anchored the Indians rotation. Today, Sabathia pitches for the rival New York Yankees and Carmona is learning how to pitch again in the minors.

The present day staff is lead by Cliff Lee, a southpaw who returned from obscurity last season to win a Cy Young and has looked solid again in 2009. After Lee, the rotation is a hodge-podge of developing young arms and retreads playing for their next contract.

In 2007, the offense was electric with power and speed all over the diamond in the form of Grady Sizemore, Victor Martinez and Travis Hafner. All three are still with the team, but all of endured struggles.

Read the rest of the article at BleacherReport.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

B.J. Ryan: A Gamble Worth Taking

The Toronto Blue Jays released former closer B.J. Ryan prior to Wednesday’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays.

As a result, the two-time All-Star is now a free-agent and can be signed for a prorated portion of the league minimum salary. The Blue Jays are responsible for the roughly $15 million remaining on his contract. The contract—at one time the highest-ever given to a reliever—runs through next season.

Ryan has struggled mightily this season. He currently sits at 1-1 with a 6.53 ERA in 25 relief appearances. The left-hander has allowed 22 hits—five of them home runs—and 17 walks in just 20 2/3 innings.

His velocity has been down all-season and resulted in a stint on the disabled list in April. When Ryan returned he’d lost the closer’s role to Scott Downs and was used, sparingly, in middle relief.
His overall numbers aren’t pretty. In fact, they are downright ugly. Ryan is obviously walking way too many batters and has recorded a mere three strikeouts in his last fifteen appearances dating back to late May.

With all of that in mind, the Twins would still be wise to take a gamble on Ryan.

Read the rest of the article at BleacherReport.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Game On: The Roy Halladay Sweepstakes Has Officially Begun

Ladies and gentlemen. Boys and girls. Children of all ages. Step up, step right up!

The Roy Halladay Sweepstakes has officially begun!!

According to comments from Toronto Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi at CBS Sportsline, the team is officially open to the possibility of trading the long-time ace.

"We have to see what makes us better," Ricciardi said. "Obviously, if people have interest in Roy Halladay, they'd better realize there's a steep price that's going to come with it."

It is a steep price, but one that numerous teams should be willing to pay.

Unlike last year’s short-term rental of CC Sabathia, Halladay is under contract through 2010. He would only cost his new team a prorated portion of his $14.25 million and $15.75 million next season, a figure that is quite reasonable for a pitcher of Halladay’s pedigree.

Ricciardi had been reluctant to admit that the Blue Jays may be sellers this year, but economic woes combined with the club’s recent struggles have ultimately made the decision for him.

Read the rest of the article at BleacherReport.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Scott Hairston: Movin' on Up (the Coast)

In an attempt to add some power to an otherwise lackluster lineup, the Oakland Athletics traded two minor leaguers to acquire Scott Hairston from the San Diego Padres today.

Hairston was hitting .299 with 10 home runs and 29 RBI in 55 games. Those numbers make him an immediate upgrade to an Athletics lineup that has lacked a real power source this season despite bringing in sluggers Jason Giambi and Matt Holliday in the off-season.

In the trade the Padres receive a pair of minor league pitchers and a player to be named later. The two pitchers, Ryan Webb and Craig Italiano, figure to provide some future insurance for the Padres rotation if the team succeeds in trading Jake Peavy.

Read the rest at BleacherReport.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

The All-Snubbed Team

As is the case every season, the official announcement of the rosters for the All-Star game has created some controversy.

The fans and players votes have been tallied and some glaring omissions need to be mentioned.

So without further adieu, let's take a look at the five biggest All-Star game snubs of 2009.

See the five biggest snubs at BleacherReport.

Delmon Young: An Argument For Patience

Buy low and sell high.

This may be the oldest cliché when it comes to investments, but it is also one of the most accurate.

The Minnesota Twins missed that memo when they bought high by trading for Delmon Young following the 2007 season.

Young was the runner-up to Dustin Pedroia in the American League Rookie of the Year voting after hitting .288 with 13 homers and 93 runs batted in.

His attitude, however, didn’t fit with the “future vision” of the rechristened Rays and they were looking to swap the youngster. With Torii Hunter departing for Los Angeles, the Twins were looking to improve their suddenly depleted outfield and Young seemed to be the answer.

Read the rest of the article at BleacherReport.