Sunday, August 3, 2008

Insights and Thoughts

Here are some recent insights and thoughts about the Twins as they head into August:

  • Though I hoped it would happen, releasing both Livan Hernandez and Craig Monroe came as a bit of a surprise to me. There was no reason to hang on to these two any longer and it creates space for both Michael Cuddyer (when he gets off the DL) and Francisco Liriano to get on the roster.

  • This move also places the season and future directly in the hands of the young team and provides them with a catalyst of a team that should be together (ala the 1987 team).

  • While milling about in the stands during the 5-1 loss to Cleveland Saturday I spoke to a scout about the current state of the team. I asked him if he thought the Twins would give in and make the 6-foot-5 (or taller) Joe Mauer a third baseman any time soon. He said at Mauer's height he's better suited to play first base, where Justin Morneau is likely to play for the next decade. That being said, Mauer may not be able to play third base -- something this particular scout emphasized strongly -- and another position may be needed for him. He said it's more likely the Twins would make Mauer an outfielder and backup first baseman than to have him play third. When pressed, he thought two years more of Mauer catching would be about all that we could expect, unless Wonderboy suffers another knee, ankle or other leg injury that precipitates a move quicker. If Mauer is moved to the outfield in the future, look for the Twins to trade one of their now young outfielders for whatever help is needed to fill out the roster (ie. third base).

  • Oddest moment Saturday: Three straight bunts by the Twins in the thrid inning (Gomez, Span and Punto), showing Scott Ullger to be the greatest small ball (acting) manager since Phil Garner's Milwaukee Brewers of the mid-to-late-1990s.

  • Coolest moment Saturday: In the middle of one of the most boring games in recent Twins history, the scoreboard had a sing-along with TC, the mascot. The song? "Sweet Caroline" by Neil Diamond. That's not unusual. What was unique were the 40,000 in attendance continuing to sing the song a capella for an extra few minutes, including the chorus and the "ba ba bum" and "so good, so good, so good" parts. Classic en masse self-entertainment.

  • Hey, that guy in the TC bear suit hitting softballs into the upper deck before Saturday games needs to get paid more. He's the only entertaining thing leading up to the Saturday games and one has to wonder how he can hit so well with that big foam head on. Sign him up. Maybe that's Kent Hrbek under there.

  • All the buzz around the Dome is about Sunday's start by Liriano. Even the scouts sitting among the players' wives are excited to see what the lefty can do in the series finale.

  • The Twins continue the mantra that no deal was a good deal at the trade deadline because they didn't want to hurt the chemistry in the clubhouse. Odd that finding good fits in a clubhouse is suddenly an excuse after the Twins latched on to former Devil Rays bellyacher Delmon Young in the offseason. If his offense upside was more important than a bad attitude (remember, this is the guy who hit an ump with a bat in the minors), then why are the Twins suddenly so worried a good setup man in the bullpen would send the team downspiraling?

  • Just to be fair, shouldn't Mike Lamb be released right now, too?

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