Thursday, December 9, 2010

Nishioka soon to sign; Hardy deal to follow

Twins 2011 Lineup Taking Shape
By Bullpen Catcher

The Twins need to get Tsuyoshi Nishioka signed and my guess is it will happen very soon. Nishioka is a great gamble and could really become an integral part of the lineup and infield. Even if he hits .270 and bats in the No. 1 or 2 spot, he'll be a huge part of the team simply because I suspect he'll be in the lineup every day and remain consistent as many of the Nippon League players have been.

I personally think the Twins will sign Nishioka in the next few days. They have until Dec. 26 to get him under contract and I'll guess it'll happen at the winter meetings or soon thereafter. The agents are at the meetings and that's a good time for P.R. to get that done. It also is a good time to start shopping JJ Hardy for a trade if they suddenly have a new SS. I think if he's half as good as Ichiro it makes the Twins very good. He's a middle infielder who can run and hits for a bit of power. I heard Bill Smith compare him to former Twin Greg Gagne in terms of fielding ability, baserunning prowess and occasional power. I'd take that any day.

I will bet that the Twins trade Hardy to Baltimore for minor league pitchers.

The Twins will make zero changes in the outfield for next season. It will be Span, Cuddyer, Young, Kubel and Repko (who recently signed). Bank on no changes in the outfield.

Here's my opening day lineup:
1. Denard Span (L), CF
2. Nishioka (S), SS
3. Mauer (L), C
4. Morneau (L), 1B
5. Cuddyer (R), RF
6. Kubel (L), DH
7. Young (R), LF
8. Valencia (R), 3B
9. Casilla (S) 2B

I can envision a situation where Casilla and Nishioka trade their spots in the lineup, especially at the beginning of the season.

For further fun, here's the bench:
10. Repko (R), OF
11. Plouffe (R), MIF
12. Tolbert (S), MIF
13. Butera (R), C
14. Morales (S), C/1B/DH

Here's the pitching (subject to change very soon depending on Hardy returns and Pavano situation):

1. Liriano (L)
2. Baker (R)
3. Slowey (R)
4. Duensing (L)
5. Blackburn (R)

Middle Relief
6. Manship (R)
7. Slama (R), Neshek (R) or Burnett (R)
8. Perkins (L) or trade return
9. Mijares (L)
10. Capps (R)
11. Nathan (R)

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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Possible New Twins Shortstop

Tsuyoshi Nishioka looks outstanding in this highlight reel. He's a switch-hitter and has earned top fielding honors at both second base and shortstop. Enjoy ...

December 1, 2010 Twins Lineup

Let's update as we go, but here's the Twins 25-man active roster as it appears it would be if season started next week:

Pitchers (11)
P Francisco Liriano (L)
P Scott Baker (R)
P Brian Duensing (L)
P Kevin Slowey (R)
P Nick Blackburn (R)
MR Jeff Manship (R)
MR Anthony Slama (R), Pat Neshek (R) or Alex Burnett (R)
MR Glen Perkins (L)
MR Jose Mijares (L)
SU Matt Capps (R)
CL Joe Nathan (R)

Position players (14)
C Joe Mauer (L)
C Drew Butera (R)
C/DH/1B Jose Morales (S)
1B Justin Morneau (L)
2B Alexi Casilla (S)
SS Tsuyoshi Nishioka (S)
3B Danny Valencia (R)
LF Delmon Young (R)
CF Denard Span (L)
RF Michael Cuddyer (R)
OF/DH Jason Kubel (L)
OF Jason Repko (R)
UT Trevor Plouffe (R)
UT Matt Tolbert (S)

As you can see, this means DH Jim Thome would be out of the picture. Ozzie Guillen was right when he let Thome go to the Dodgers in 2009--the big homerun hitter is just too one-dimensional to keep on a roster. I love the guy. He's a great hitter. He was great for the Twins, but they just can't afford to have him DH three out of every four games and have a personal pinch-running on the roster.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Friggin' Blogging Challenge Du Jour

I entered a blogging challenge. All I need to do is spout off about stuff I normally blog, tweet, FaceplateTM or otherwise kick out on the Interent non-stop for my classes at the U. Maybe I'll pop off some Twins stuff, too. You can access it on my normal homepage at my homepage.
Thanks to Word Savvy hot mama for pushing me to do it. You'll want to read my blog-du-jour about Thanksgiving -- no guess on what it's about, but a full day with the Bullpen Catcher's family is enough fodder for a full week of this challenge.

Hey, did you hear the one about Brad Childress getting fired ...

Seriously folks, did you notice that Chilly started the season with this headset:

And was fired after switching to this headset:

 So it's obvious ... Motorola is to blame for the Vikings' shitty season via altering the brain waves and football smarts of Brad Childress.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Once more: Joe Mauer could be a werewolf

Comparison photos. Separated at birth?

Top: actor Taylor Lautner. Bottom: Twins catcher Joe Mauer (in high school at Cretin-Derham Hall).

Friday, July 2, 2010

Time for Twins to show fans they're serious

The Twins head into the final few games before the All-Star Game break with the sixth best record in the American League. Granted, they lead the Tigers by one game, but teetering on the verge of being ousted from consideration of a Wild-Care berth if Detroit overtakes them is unsettling.

Twins management have built a darn good team for the inaugural season of Target Field.   And inordinate amount injuries to key players Joe Nathan, J.J. Hardy, Pat Neshek, Jose Mijares, Nick Punto, Alexi Casilla, and Orlando Hudson haven't helped.

No matter. It's time for the team to step up and show that challenging for a World Series berth is the goal rather than another showdown for the title in the weakest division of both leagues, the AL Central.

With Michael Cuddyer filling in well enough at third base, the Twins lineup seems strong as ever (especially since they are apparently following the Bullpen Catcher's assertion they should get Jim Thome's bat in the lineup more often). It's the pitching that's causing the trouble right now.

It's time for the Twins to pop off a good, strong, message-sending trade to players, fans and the league. Sources claim the Twins had a deal in place with Seattle to pick up Mariners ace Cliff Lee for a package of catcher Wilson Ramos, left-handed pitcher Brian Duensing and a low-level minor leaguer. The deal was delayed or nixed due to Ramos landing on the disabled list (players on the DL cannot be traded).

I'm going to guess the Twins will try again on that trade. Ramos is again trade-eligible (he's played the past two days for the Rochester Red Wings). According to former Twins Cy Young Award winner Frank Viola, Minnesota is best to do this sooner rather than later for the simple reason that the six other teams interested in Lee may up the ante quickly the longer negotiations go on (teams interested: Rangers, Cincy Reds, LA Dodgers, NY Mets, NY Yankees and his former team, the Philadephia Phillies).

Also available: Houston Astros starter Roy Oswalt and Arizona Diamondbacks starter Dan Haren. The Twins have the prospects and a few guys on the MLB team right now that would make a nice package to any team in trade.

Here are the numbers:
Cliff Lee (7-3, 2.45 ERA, 95.2 IP, 78 SO, 5 BB)
Roy Oswalt (5-10, 3.55 ERA, 104 IP, 97 SO, 29 BB)
Dan Haren (7-6, 4.56 ERA, 116.1 IP, 115 SO, 22 BB)

Lee would be most team's top pick given he's the lone left-hander in this list. Lee turns 32 in August. He signed a $9 million one-year contract for just this season.

Oswalt, 33 in August, is at the tail end of a massive five-year contract which pays him $15 million this year and around $14 million in 2011.

Haren, 30 in September, is making $8.25 million this year -- the second year of a four-year, $44.75 million contract. He will make similar money in 2011 and 2012 and then his contract has a $15.5 million club option for 2013.

While helpful, it's unlikely the Twins would pick up a closer and are more likely to make a minor deal for a middle reliever or setup man to strengthen the top bullpen in the American League.

I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest/implore the Twins to re-sign whomever they trade for and keep them for longer than the "rent-a-player" duration.

If nothing else, the Twins can appease 2001 MLB entry draft naysayers and pick up this guy. [That was indeed sarcasm, FYI]

Cliff Lee photo by

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Morneau Missing In Triple Crown Talk

Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton and Tigers first baseman/DH Miguel Cabrera are all the talk in American League circles as potential Triple Crown (and assumable MVP) candidates this year.  The latest comes from Yahoo! Sports writer Tim Brown who claims Hamilton has the most probability of the two to win the first Triple Crown (lead league in batting average, home runs and RBI) since Carl Yastrzemski accomplished the feat in 1968.

Morneau and another strong possibility, Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano, are seemingly invisible to those talking Triple Crown.  While I don't think anyone will be winning a Triple Crown this season, I believe all four have equal chances at it. [Then again, who ever thought we'd see two perfect games within 20 days of each other and another that should have been a few days later?]

Here are the numbers:

Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano leads the AL in batting with a .358 average.
Cabrera is tied for first in home runs with White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko with 20 HR.
Cabrera leads the AL in RBI with 67.

Hamilton -- .343 (4th in AL), 18 HR (5th), 58 RBI (3rd) in 73 games played.
Cabrera -- .338 (5th), 20 HR (T-1st), 67 RBI (1st) in 74 games.
Morneau -- .347 (3rd), 15 HR (T-9th), 50 RBI (T-11th) in 74 games.
Cano -- .358 (1st), 15 HR (T-9th), 53 RBI (T-6th) in 76 games.

Any of these guys is a longshot. First, this is a league that has Seattle hitting machine Ichiro Suzuki (currently 6th in BA at .335). Secondly, these stats: Morneau is a career .285 hitter. Cano is .311 for his career. Cabrera has hit .313 for his career and Hamilton is a career .302 hitter. Lastly, Hamilton and Cabrera have both endured difficult battles with injuries and drug and/or alcohol addiction and relapses in past seasons. Morneau has slumped in the last month of recent years and Cano has a career-best 20 home runs and 97 RBI (not in the same season).

Triple Crown talk before July 4th? I'd bet heavily against any of them attaining it by the end of the season. No matter what, there are too many variables left in over one-half the season to even consider such discussion.