We continue the 2015 Team Previews today with the lovable basement-dwelling Minnesota Twins. Since he lives right down the street from them and was nice enough to write about the Twins for us (we wanted no part of the Twins), Corey is back at it again with another season preview. If you enjoy his preview and you’re a baseball fan, give him a follow on twitter.
Living in Minneapolis, I was lucky enough to enjoy some of the All Star festivities and I snapped this shot at the HR Derby. Unfortunately for Twins fans, there wasn’t much excitement at Target field outside of the All Star break. The Twins finished in the cellar of the AL Central with a 70-92 record and they appear to be in a waiting mode for some of the young players that make up one of the best farm systems in all of baseball. Will 2015 bring more hope to the Twin Cities or will it be another rebuild season with a dash of top prospects getting their cup of coffee late in the season?
Mike Trout hit his 17th home run of the season, and the Angels beat Kyle Gibson and the Twins 8-6 to move to 42-33 on the season in winning their fourth straight game. The nine games over .500 represents their high-water mark on the season.
While Trout was the main story as he so often is, he wasn’t the only story. Josh Hamilton, Kole Calhoun, and Howie Kendrick also logged solid nights at the plate and the Angels overcame a tumultuous start by C.J. Wilson.
Another story that emerged was Ernesto Freri throwing a scoreless frame in the 8th inning for the hold and Joe Smith earned his sixth save. After the game Mike Scioscia (it’s so hard to spell without checking) said that Smith would “remain in the back end for now”.
The Angels are a fun team and they’re going to continue to hang around, we believe.
We first became interested in Sano after seeing the documentary Pelotero.
Sano has been bothered by arm troubles dating back to last minor league season. He elected to rest and strengthen at that time, but now there’s no avoiding the surgery and dreaded long recovery time.
Here’s to a quick recovery for Sano. We are hopeful to someday see a lineup that contains both Byron Buxton and Sano at the same time in Minneapolis. The jury is very much out right now as to if we will ever see that – or if either guy will ever fully develop.
To pass a week of time in the dullest and most hideous month of them all, we bring you Hideous Ballplayer Week, a time-honored tradition at Diamond Hoggers. We’ll bring to you your middling player who hung around long outliving his sill set, or something brutal that occurred on the baseball diamond. We’ll pass the time swapping stories of yesteryear, sitting around the fire talking about the players we’ve seen that made us want to gouge our eyes out with their mediocrity. Today, it’s Jeff Reboulet’s turn.
Why he’s here: Career .240 hitter whose unheralded career spanned 1018 games and 12 seasons. Sported a .649 career OPS, which is better than you would expect. Posted seasons of .190, .162, .222, and .208 batting averages. Never had more than 261 at-bats in a season, which came in his final season at age 39 with who else; the 2003 Pirates. A ho-hum 1 for 7 in the postseason (he would say “but that one hit was a home run). He’s got us there.
Notoriety: Was the guy you never really heard of on the Puckett/Knoblauch era Twins teams, but had a great mustache. Is now a financial advisor. Reboulet was probably definitely a guy who managed his ‘wealth’ carefully for good reason. If you want to lie and act like you have a few extra bucks in the bank, you can actually probably exchange e-mails with the real Jeff Reboulet. I don’t know which would be worse; lying about how much money you have or doing it in order to attract attention from Jeff Reboulet.
Career Year: One must spend some time to decipher the finest of Reboulet seasons. They really all run together. Flip a coin between 1995 in Minnesota or 2001 with the Dodgers. We’ll say ’95. This was the year that Reboulet-mania ran wild. The groupies were abundant. He was over the .300 mark as late as September 23rd that year, but then ended the year with a 1 for 11 slide. And when you’re only coming to the plate some 200-plus times in a year like an extended high school season, you better not pull too many 1 for 11’s.
“If I demanded a trade with just 40 at-bats, it would be nothing more than a note.”It was just one of many times in his career that Reboulet has laughed at himself and his role as a utility infielder.But once Reboulet steps on the field, all the jokes stop.”I told Syd Thrift [director of player development] last year, they ought to put a camera on Jeff every time he walks on the field and show it to all the minor-leaguers,”
Yeah – if you wanted all of your minor leaguers to hit like shit and be completely ordinary in every way imaginable – you should definitely show them some Jeff Reboulet highlight footage. In fact, just hold a week of camp in the spring, lock them in a room with the Reboulet tape and let them learn. This brilliant idea was given life by short-lived big league manager Ray Miller.
Also to correct the Baltimore Sun writer – who obviously did not watch much baseball – the jokes certainly did not stop when Reboulet stepped on the field.
Best Pitcher he Homered off of: Without a doubt, Randy Johnson in 1997. Also Trevor Hoffman and Goose Gossage. He also caught that inconsistent shithead Chuck Finley for one, and the only guy he homered multiple times off of was that poor enigma disguised as a pitcher, Ricky Bones. I think Ricky Bones just earned himself a future spot in this feature for this merit alone.
Avid Fan of ‘Fashion Police':
Ok, I admit it. Fashion Police is one of my favorite shows!
Teammates of Note: Carlos Beltran, Cal Ripken, Paul Molitor, Aramis Ramirez, Terry Mulholland, Jason Bay, Roberto Alomar, Kirby Puckett, Dave Winfield, Eric Karros, Lenny Webster, Gary Sheffield, Hideo Nomo.
Why: This is how our infamous Reboulet illustrator got his photo signed.
Not sure what picture I’m showing you above, but it appears to be friendly Minnesotans(?) – possibly twins, smiling and giving each other a hand hug. Bad news guys, the Twins are not going to give you much to smile about, except the overwhelming flavor bomb you’ll get when you shove a jucy lucy in your cold weather thickened body. Outside of Joe Mauer and (maybe) Josh Willingham, this team is void of any star power. It feels like the Twins were on the verge several years and were trying to hang on too long in hopes of making a run. It’s hard when a seriously tradeable chip is a homegrown hero who is impossible to trade. This team is a long way away from the team that stole won the 1991 World Series.
Let’s take a closer look at the Twins.
Major Off-Season Moves:
Acquired Vance Worley
The Twins traded their highest WAR player player in Denard Span and another talented OF in Ben Revere for what they hope will be a deep starting rotation of the future. The only SP of note for this season is Vance Worley, who has been the “other” pitcher in Philadelphia behind Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Cole Hamels. Worley is no doubt talented and we’ll touch on the other pitchers later. All small market teams will go through this rebuilding process, but it’s unfortunate when their “up” cycle doesn’t produce more than a spattering of playoff appearances.
So much can change with one moment. An entire season’s emotion can be directed in just one week. With Josh Willingham’s soul-crushing bomb off Aroldis Chapman yesterday (a 4-3 loss), the Reds dropped five of six contests this past week. I think for the first time I’ve started to question my beliefs in the 2012 Reds, if only just a little bit.
Baseball really has a way of sobering you. This was supposed to be a series that really got the Reds back on track. I saw the club exploding for offense at home against the patchwork Twins pitching staff. A sweep could easily have been hoped for but at worst I saw the Reds taking two of three and heading into another home series against the Brewers beginning today.
The Baseball Gods had other ideas.
What seems to be both funny and ironic about Willingham destroying a Chapman pitch into the seats is there’s probably no other guy around baseball that should be wearing a Reds uniform than Willingham. The Reds bypassed him in the off-season, allowing him to sign with a non-contender in Minnesota. He and Jay Bruce share the same agent, Sosnick & Cobbe. Tell me right now that Josh Willingham couldn’t have fit in beautifully in this current Reds lineup playing the outfield.
Instead, he stepped to the plate on Sunday to play the part of Darth Vader in baseball cleats. No one should have been shocked. And perhaps my cocky and invincible feelings about this Reds team were based too much off high-running emotions when things were going well.
A Major League baseball season is so much like life. While there are both high and low moments it’s important to never feel too comfortable. You never want to feel like too much is guaranteed or certain until you’re sure you’ve reached the end. Right now, I’ll admit that I don’t know what is going to happen with these Reds and while all along I’ve promised anyone who will listen that the Reds are going to the postseason, the truth is right now I really don’t know.
Dusty Baker is making managerial moves like he would like to be terminated. I walked into my house Friday night just in time to see Scott Rolen held at third base rather than scoring. I quickly received a barrage of text messages from friends watching the game berating Dusty’s lack of forethought to pinch run for the aging Rolen. That move cost us that game.
Don’t be surprised if the Reds get back on track tonight with a big win. It’s the way things go. But if they don’t, more doubt starts to creep in. If the Reds don’t deliver this season, they’ll waste the finest season of Joey Votto’s career just as they wasted an incredibly clutch two-run home run that should have went down as the game winner yesterday.
We can’t make time speed up so we can know how each chapter end. We just have to patiently see how it all plays out, with the characters taking on a different role in the novel each week and each night. As we ride along with them, it’s important to never allow ourselves to get too high. We can’t control anything, despite what outcomes we wish for.
The Minnesota Twins have a bright spot right now, sort of.
Trevor Plouffe, the 26 year-old renaissance man who entered this season with 10 career home runs went deep again last night off Cole Hamels. It was his 11th of the season and 10th in the last calendar month.
Plouffe has fantasy owners excited because he has played every position on the diamond except center field. Despite the .232 batting average at the press time of this post, he boasts a nice .829 OPS that plays well at shorstop and a few other spots.
April 2006 Chris Shelton says hello. Plus he’s a Minnesota Twin. You would probably have a better chance of scoring some fruit on the vine if you got involved in a pull of the date Ron Gardenhire will be fired.
There’s nothing else noteworthy in the Minnesota box scores this season (yes, even Scott Diamond hasn’t reached that yet). Congrats and all to Plouffe on his month of big league fame, but we don’t expect it to continue much longer. Still, there are players every year that jump off the page in terms of what Zips, Bill James, Marcel and other projection systems thought they would offer. It’s entirely possible that this is Trevor Plouffe’s dream season and he hits 30 long ones at a .230 clip while wowing those northerners up at Target Field until the Vikings return. What do we really know anyways?
The most amazing part of it as I watched it unfold was that one of my best buddies and resident Angels fan MJ Lloyd (of Halo Hangout and Off-Base Percentage) called it earlier in the day. Above are the text messages to prove it.
I got a text today asking me if I thought that Jim Thome was a Hall of Famer.
Are you kidding me? Of course he is. First ballot. He was a Hall of Famer 100 home runs ago. He’s dropped 600 bombs over the course of 20 years. His first homer came over 20 years ago, off Steve Farr at old Yankee Stadium.
His career has stretched across time. Across the first baseball work stoppage in 1994. Across the ’95 Indians. Across rebuilds, managers, and GM’s. Most importantly, he’s kept on homering throughout the steroid era and from one clean era of baseball (Early 90’s) into the next (the present).
The guy is an anomaly. I remember seeing him hit a couple of bombs in the summer of 2001 back at Jacobs Field. That was his team. He left Cleveland–and we’ve since learned that it was to appease the player’s union–he never wanted to leave. He meant it, unlike LeBron James. He wanted to be in Cleveland for life. They were going to build a statue of the guy. Hell, they still might.
Last night he found a way to give he Indians a gift from afar, going deep twice in a crucial game against the team who holds the lead in the AL Central, the Detroit Tigers. The Twins won the game 9-6.
I don’t know if this is the last year that Jim Thome is a big leaguer. I would say it’s likely. But if it isn’t, how about one more ride in Cleveland to call it a career? I know that the town would welcome him back, and he could add to his budding legend with a few more blasts into the picnic area in center at Progressive Field.
Jim Thome has had a wonderful career. Last night was one of the last chapters, I’m just glad that I got to see this bunyan-esque figure play live a few times and say that I was a Jim Thome fan.
He might no longer be known only as ‘Lights Out’, but he’s now an immortal piece of baseball history. Last night, Francisco Liriano no-hit the Chicago White Sox. He did this against a team I told you would be one of the biggest offensive forces in the entire sport this year.
Liriano did it with the opposing pitcher on the mound being Edwin Jackson, a pitcher who joined the no-hit club last season. He threw 123 pitches, 66 for strikes, and walked six. The final out of the game was a liner from Adam Dunn into shortstop Matt Tolbert’s glove.
A few years back, Liriano looked like he was going to become one of the most dominating pitchers in the sport for a better part of a decade. As they so often do, dreams got derailed. But for one night Liriano was everything he’s ever been and then some, and he’s now part of history.
Leading up to the start of the 2011 Regular Season, Diamond Hoggers will preview each of MLB’s 30 teams. Today’s preview features the Chicago White Sox. Stay tuned as Diamond Hoggers previews every team division by division until the start of the regular season. We’re running out of time, so here is a preview of the American League Central. You’ll get the American League East tomorrow, so be ready on the fly. Continue reading →
When I was a kid and I saw the name ‘Larkin’ in the Minnesota Twins box score on some mornings, I thought that maybe Barry Larkin had a long lost brother out there playing for the Minnesota Twins. When you’re a kid, you think dumb things like that. I had these fantasies of the Reds trading for this other Larkin in this other league, re-uniting the Larkin brothers for some dominance in Cincinnati. Continue reading →
Target Field makes it’s long awaited debut today and the Twins will host their first outdoor ballgame in more then 50 years. Have you done your learning on Target Field yet?
For so many years this Twins team was built on hitting the ball on the ground in the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome and stealing bases. It will be interesting to see how this new era of Twins baseball goes.
Acclimating to the quirks and tendencies of this field will be a process for the Twins, so it’s unclear how much of an advantage they will hold in their new outdoor stadium, especially in the earlier games when cool weather might suppress the power that is shaping up to be this team’s hallmark.
It’s always fun to see how a new park plays and get that first glimpse of it. It’s good for baseball that the Twins have their new palace and the prince to run rampant in the place for the next several years in the form of Joe Mauer. It’s an exciting time to be a Twins fan.
And it’s even better to be Aaron Gleeman today, who is in the brand new press boxes at Target. Aaron is always a strong read on the Twinkies.
The Twins are set to open Target Field on this Opening Day 2010, and this is just good mojo for the fans who will come out in the freezing temperatures and risk frost-bite to watch some baseball.
Aaron Gleeman has written about the Twins for a long time, and he re-iterates:
Target Field was built to give Minnesotans the pleasure of outdoor baseball after decades in the Metrodome, but also to increase revenue enough to support a competitive payroll capable of retaining star players nearing free agency. As a 27-year-old homegrown former No. 1 overall pick coming off an MVP season Mauer fits that bill as well as any player ever will, which is why the decision was a no-brainer for the Twins despite the incredible amount of risk involved.
Mauer leaves a possible $70 million on the table that he could have gotten from the Yankees, but I like this. I like it because sometimes the villans can’t buy the assets no matter the price. I like it because should a superstar like Mauer pop up in cities like Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, or Kansas City; maybe they won’t take the first ticket out of town.
That’s what this move means to me. Good for Mauer and good for the Twins. The little organization that could.