Sunday, June 27, 2010

Classic Twins On Possible Cliff Lee Trade...DO IT!

Anybody with at least a fleeting interest in the Minnesota Twins is eying the news reports for updates about a possible trade for All Star pitcher and Cy Young Award Winner Cliff Lee of the Seattle Mariners.   "Prickly," "curmudgeonly," "biggest-horses-pa-toot-who-ever-stabbed-a-cactus" are just a few of the phrases used to describe Clifton Phifer Lee (yes, you read that correctly).  He's 6 Wins against 3 losses on the year, has one shutout, and has already thrown 4 complete games, causing Twins fans to be chock full of anticipation and opinions about what this fellow could do on the mound at Target Field.  He rather wears on the teams he's been on, perhaps accounting for why Philadelphia elected not to sign him this past winter, instead opting to recruit another thoroughbread hurler, Roy Halliday.

Were it not for the fact that the current Twins starting rotation may have as many as 3 shaky hurlers (now appearing on your town's post office wall are convicts Nick Blackburn, Kevin Slowey, and possibly Scott Baker), this wouldn't even be in the discussion.

These poor devils may be in line for standing boos the next time they take the hump at Target Field in Minneapolis. Even our notoriously patient, inattentive fans will pick up on how lousy these guys are flingin at some point.

Catcher Wilson Ramos, outfielder Ben Revere, and Aaron Hicks (all making the Baseball America 2010 Top 100 Prospects list) are the Twins minor leaguers frequently mentioned as possible trade bait. Slowey and/or Mr. Ratburn sorry, Blackburn, have also been thrown in the pot. Hmmmnnnn....

That last bit makes me laugh - um, doesn't Seattle have scouts taking notes on how rotten Blackburn (stellar 12.05 June ERA) and Slowey (current 4.79 ERA) have been? Or clubhouse boys who could at least read the boxscores and notify the Mariner front office? What makes anybody think adding them to the trade block makes the hairs on the Seattle GM Jack Zduriencik's arms stand up in excitement? He'd get nausea and abdominal cramps, more likely.

The conservative opinion is that bargaining chips like Ramos and Revere are too valuable! to the Twins long term future to sacrifice them for what may turn out to be one season of Lee's services, after which he may very likely elect to sign with another team as a free agent.  That's even if the Twins receive 2 compensatory picks in the 2011 draft of college and high school players from the Mariners.

My thought: the muscly Ramos showed he can hit big league's when the breaking stuff came his way during his short stay earlier this season that he went from terrific to tortuous after his first two games. He went 7 hits in 9 at bats before falling on his...backside ("Mom, I'll be home soon in Rochester [AAA league], they're throwing me the curve..."). We have no way of knowing if he'll ever pan out. He surely hasn't set the minors on fire since his return, currently sporting an oblique muscle injury. What, we're going to take Mauer, who could well end up the greatest catcher in history, and tell him he's being replaced next year by some raw rookie who should still be playing AA ball?

Obviously, the Minnesota Twins won't turn into the New York Yankees of the 1990's, throwing money willy nilly at free agent players and the latest ice cream flavor of the month (see "Seinfeld" episode, George Costanza purchasing tasty treats for "The Boss"). They're generally going to take the safe route, put a toe in the water, see how the other players feel, if they'll need fluffy pillows to buffer them against an outburst or sullen glare from that mean, ol' veteran pitcher. Thing is, they've pledged to be more than just competitive this year.  They need to demonstrate to their stars Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau (not to mention Hennepin County taxpayers footing the bill for Target Field) that they're aiming  for a World Series berth. This is precisely the move they should make!

Furthermore, my reservation with outfielder Ben Revere is this: succinctly, I don't care if he singles and bingles the opposition to death in the minors, we've already got an outfielder with very little power (Denard Span), and we don't need two. Add to that, Revere has such a weak throwing arm, and couldn't hit the barn side of a broad if his life depended on it (I might be exaggerating Hall of Fame Twins Coach Paul Molitor's comments to that effect). Would you want to be the coach or manager who has to tell new and improved Delmon Young he's not good enough for our starting nine because we've got cool, new Ben Revere to play left field? Or tell Jason Kubel (Mr. Double Play) to go and work on his hitting since Aaron Hicks...on second thought, that might not be such a, you know what I mean...

AGAIN, trade for him. NOW!

Historically, the Twins have gambled on getting big name pitchers on their roster, at least once: Dean Chance, in 1967. All Mr. Chance did was throw two no-hitters (OK, one official 9-inning one), and nearly lead the Twins into the Series that year against the Cardinals. Um, that's a LONG time ago, boys and's 43 years ago, and I think maybe, just maybe, that we can take the plunge again! Especially with a new park, a new era, a revitalized roster, and a fired-up fan base ready to make the Twins THE ruling sports team in the Twin Cities!


May Your Taters Fly Far
(unless your name happens to

 be Lee, Slowey or Blackburn)
Twinkler Out

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Classic Twins Book List - See Sidebar Link!

Featuring some of my Twins favorites from way back to present.  Some choices for great summer reading?  Just a thought.  The sidebar link to the right offers capsule commentary, or at least what I remember of these tomes (or is that Thome?).

May Your Taters Fly Far!
Twinkler Out!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Twins Memorabilia Gone Wild - Lock Up Your Trophy Cases, Clyde Doepner Might Be Lurking...

Clyde Doepner truly deserves the status as "Number 1 Twins Fan." Really, who else has been around since day one in 1961, who possesses such a grasp of Twins history and its personalities? Huh? Sure wouldn't be me, I'm too gold dang young!

Incredible collection, incredibly nice, normal-seeming guy, incredibly wonderful and understanding wife to let him go totally hog/Twins wild with all those collectibles. Faced with the same dilemna, I wouldn't blame my bride for shipping me out on the next train to Rochester*, New York, if I were...uh, that may still happen, never mind. Forget I brought it up...

Here's a Twin Cities Live Video, with a more animated Clyde, if that's possible!

*Home of Twins minor league affiliate team, the Rochester Red Wings.

May your taters fly far,
Twinkler Out!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Classic Twins Game of the Week: 5 Homeruns in 7th Inning, June 9, 1966!

                                       Eau Claire Daily Telegram (June 10, 1966)

During the decade of the 1960's, the Minnesota Twins were among the most prodigious power-hitting teams in baseball. They left their stamp on the era with a gargantuan five homer outburst in the seventh inning on June 9, 1966 at Metropolitan Stadium, in a 9-4 win. At the time, they were joining three other clubs who had accomplished this feat in one inning:
 ...and, as you will read, the Twins nearly became the first to connect for SIX!

Max Nichols of the Minneapolis Star was one of the Twins beat writers in the 60's contributing to The Sporting News. He apparently was big on "Batman," the campy 1960's television series. For some reason, I was the show's biggest fan, as a preschooler. I swear, it had nothing to do with the Catwoman Julie Newmar (I couldn't have been less interested!). I doubt that the Athletics were thinking about Julie, in any event what with the daunting Twins lumber company confronting them (or maybe they were - the "ball girl" idea had to originate somewhere, as they were the first club to implement that invention!)  Here's Nichol's sound-errific description of that 7th inning from June 25, 1966:

(If you please, there's also this alternate, even more over-the-top version)

Jim Hunter, in the Athletic's green
Holy Homerun Orgy!  In the Twins half of the 7th inning at Metropolitan Stadium against the Kansas City (pre-Oakland Mustache Gang) Athletics, Rich Rollins and Zoilo Versalles homered off Catfish Hunter.  Then, Tony Oliva and Don Mincher took [BAM!] rookie Paul Lindblad deep [OUCH!].  And, to rub salt, avacado & guacamoli dip with a hint of tobasco sauce [UGH!] into the wound, Harmon Killebrew finished things off with one off John Wyatt (BOO-YAH!)  They almost got another tater from Jimmie Hall, whose shot off Wyatt struck high off the wall in right center for a double.  [WOOF!]. The Twins had thus made out like a fat man feasting on a bowl of K.C. dip-(Okay, so maybe a dose of moderation would have left this section out completely!)

                                                   Is it any wonder why people believed 
                                                   MLB chose Killebrew's silhouette as it's 
                                                   trademark logo(Lebanon Daily News)

Jimmie Hall described his thoughts as he came to bat in that inning...

Indeed, Mele's attitude was understandable, as the Twins were in sixth place (10-team league), 3 games under .500, and 9 games back league-leading Baltimore after day's end. Here's the  boxscore and play by play of that 1966 game from Baseball Reference and the Muscatine (Iowa) Journal, June 10, 1966.

  Adam West (aka: "Batman") landing
 righteous  fist, circa 1966. Take that,
 Mr. Catfish Hunter.

As broadcasting professional Herb Carneal would put it -  
                                                    "So long everybody."

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Classic Twins Game of the Week: Killebrew Homers To Upper Deck, June 3, 1967

On this day in 1967, the Killer took California Angel pitcher Lew Burdette deep on a fluttering knuckle ball.  Burdette had been the World Series hero for the former Milwaukee Braves of 1957, winning 3 games all by himself [pretty selfish, I know].  But by now, he was very much on the way out, and would pitch in only a few more games before hanging up his jockstrap.

It was the first time a player had reached the Met Stadium upper deck (other than Rich Reese and a few usherettes), constructed in 1965.  It scored Rich Rollins (hit by pitch) and Rod Carew (who had singled) before Harmon's at bat. 

Casual estimates with sliderules and long division showed the ball had traveled over 520 feet, and would have reached Earth orbit sans the bleacher section.  By the way: Twins won, 8-6.The seat was painted the next day, and now is hung on the wall at the Mall of America amusement park now occupying the former stadium site.  The seat is reserved for loud, unruly children.

May YOUR taters fly far too!
Twinkler Out!