What a Day!

16 Aug

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

Baseball is a marathon, not a sprint. It is important for the players and the fans to abide by the whole “One Day at a Time” approach to the season. There are so many games. So many hits. So many runs. So many transactions. So many errors. They are called the Dog Days of August because this is the time when a team out of contention, like the Twins, and their fans, can find the season long.

But August 15th, 2011, was a big day for the Twins and their fans. It was one bit of news after the next. It was a day that signified change and turnover. It was a day to celebrate an historical event. It was a day to look ahead to a bright future. For a Twins fan, August 15th was pretty exciting.

It actually started very early in the morning, when I tweeted that the Twins had signed their 16th round pick, Austin Malinowski, a LHP from Centennial High School in Lino Lakes. He was the top player in the high school ranks in Minnesota in 2011, and he gave up a scholarship to the University of Arizona to sign with his hometown team.

Around 1:30 p.m. central time, we learned that the Twins had just traded Delmon Young to the Tigers. He had been claimed by the Tigers last week, and with their 48 hour window closing, they agreed to a deal that sent Edina native Cole Nelson to the Twins along with a Player To Be Named Later. The deal marked the end of a nearly four season relationship with the talented outfielder who just never met expectations and often rubbed fans and media the wrong way. After a 2010 season in which he hit .298 with 46 doubles, 21 homers and 112 RBI, Young was very disappointing in 2011 when he had just four home runs for the Twins.

Ironically, Young learned he was being traded when Bill Smith called his cell phone. Young was on the Twins team bus to Comerica Park, home of the Tigers. When he got off the bus, he said good bye to his teammates and instead of joining them in the visitor’s clubhouse, he went to the home clubhouse and put on the Tigers’ uniform.

In his first at bat against Francisco Liriano, batting third for the Tigers, Young took a 3-1 fastball and deposited it into the left field bleachers for a home run. He later made a terrific running catch in left field and singled solidly up the middle.

The Young trade signaled that the Twins are no longer competing for the 2011 AL Central title (something we’ve known for two weeks, or more). It shows they are looking to the future. Nelson, the Tigers 10th round pick in 2010 is a 22-year-old left-handed pitcher who went to Auburn for college. he has really struggled in the Florida State League and will report to the Ft. Myers Miracle for the remainder of the season. It will be very interesting to see who the Player To Be Named Later is. The assumption is the the player will be insignificant as is usually the case, but the more that the Twins could get for Young, the better.

The game was back and forth. In the 6th inning, Jim Thome came to the plate with a runner on base. He has been sitting on 598 home runs for since August 4th. The hope was he could hit his 600th home run in their six-game home stand last week. Then the goal became to hit two home runs in Cleveland where 55% of his career home runs have been hit. That didn’t happen.

In his first two at bats on Monday night, Thome drilled a line drive right at the shortstop (actually caught by the 3B who was essentially playing SS with the shift) and he drilled a line drive single to center. When he came up in the 6th inning, Bert Blyleven called a home run. A couple of pitches later, Thome hit an opposite field homer into the Twins bullpen in left center field. 599 home runs. He was close now! It took nearly two weeks to hit 599, how long would it take to hit 600?

One inning. That is all. In the top of the 7th, Thome came to the plate with two runners on to face southpaw Daniel Schlereth. A couple of hanging sliders later, and Thome deposited another home run into the Twins bullpen, caught by closer Joe Nathan. His teammates and coaches rushed to greet him at home plate. Michael Cuddyer was the first to hug him. Then Justin Morneau. Valencia. Mauer, and so on. Each of his teammates excitedly hugged the legendary slugger. Then his family was brought onto the field. His father, wife, and a couple of his kids. The Tigers fans stood and cheered the accomplishment. It was an incredible moment. I felt like it hasn’t been talked about enough in baseball circles, even in Twins circles. But when it happened, it was incredibly exciting and memorable, and Thome again showed over and over, in interview after interview, just how classy he is.

He became just the eighth player in Major League history to hit 600 home runs in this career. Think about that for just a few minutes! Jim Thome is a legend. His place in history has been set for a long time. His place in the hearts and minds of Twins fans continues to deepen.

As the game and the post-game interviews, which maybe Gardy forgot was live, the focus jumped to the MLB Draft. The deadline to sign players drafted in June was 11:00 central time. With 90 minutes before the deadline, the Twins had not yet signed any of their three first-round picks.

Just before 10:00, we learned that the Twins had signed the 55th overall pick, RHP from Biship Verot high school in Ft. Myers, Hudson Boyd, to a $1 million signing bonus, about $350,000 over slot. One down. Boyd is a big guy who already throws 92-95 mph and even touched 97.

At about 10:25, Josh Johnson tweeted that the Twins had come to terms with the 50th overall pick, high school 3B, Travis Harrison. He fell, in part, due to the fact that many teams heard he was very much committed to his scholarship to USC. Although the Twins wouldn’t likely draft him unless they felt strongly that they could sign him, there was a lot of concern that he would cause the Twins to go well over slot. And because of his power potential, I thought it was well worth doing just that. When it came out that the Twins had inked Harrison for “just” $1.05 million, I was shocked. When Baseball America’s Jim Callis tweeted that he signed for $1.5 million, that sounded much more likely. But minutes later, he retracted that comment and said that it was a $1.05 million signing bonus. Again, that is about $350,000 over MLB’s slot recommendation.

The only selection yet to sign was the team’s first round pick, 30th overall, infielder Levi Michael. At one point in the afternoon, it was reported that the two sides had reached a ‘snag.’ There were reports that he would sign as early as 45 minutes prior to the deadline, but it was finally announced, almost right at the deadline, that the Twins had signed Michael to a $1.175 million bonus, just $86,000 over slot. (was that really worth sitting out six weeks of development time? Maybe!)

So, the Twins signed all three of their first-round and compensation picks for $3.225 million. Of course, if the Twins draft in the Top 5 to 8 picks in 2012, that will be about half of what their first round pick next year will cost.

The draft is so important to a team’s minor league system. The fact that most of the first-round picks didn’t sign until minutes before the deadline is more than annoying, but you can’t fully blame a player for getting what he can because until they reach their arbitration years (3 years into a big league career), they make very little money. So I understand that they should get what they can. At the same time, many teams spend a ton of money on free agency. But spending a little extra on draft picks makes a ton of picks. Why? Because the Twins will now have control of those players for four more years before they would need to be added to the 40 man roster, six years of minor league time, and up to six years of big league time before they would become free agents. Draft picks are great investments.

The Twins did very well in the draft this year. They got a college hitter at a position of need. They took two compensatory picks and used them on high ceiling high school talents. They were able to sign their first fifteen draft picks and 33 of the 52 players they drafted. The lowest draft choice not to sign was 14th rounder Adam McCreery. I would say that is a terrific draft. In addition to the three first round picks, and Malinowski, the Twins also announced the signings of Jason Wheeler (8th round – LHP), Brett Lee (10th round – LHP), Tyler Jones (11th round – RHP… actually reported to Elizabethton ten days ago), Matthew Koch (12th round – Catcher – has played for Elizabethton the last week), Josh Burris (17th round – RHP), Trenton Higginbotham (26th round – RHP), and Chris Mazza (27th round – RHP). They got some strong arms such as Eden Prairie’s Madison Boer (2nd), LHP Corey Williams (3rd) and Matthew Summers (4th). They got two other shortstops in the top ten rounds in Tyler Grimes (5th) and Adam Bryant (9th).

It is a bright day for the future of the Twins… although we can’t really judge any draft for at least ten eight years after the draft, so we will find out in about 2018 or 2019 just how good this draft was.

We saw historical with Jim Thome’s 599th and 600th home runs. We saw his class. We saw an acknowledgement of looking to the future with the trade of Delmon Young, and we have to assume that Young could be the first of a few to be traded during this waiver period. And we got to see the Twins planning for the future with the signings of so many of their draft picks including high ceiling talents like Boyd and Harrison.

We, as Twins fans, have to look for the positives. With the season more that ¾ complete, this is kind of like the Twins are being blown out in the 7th inning of a game. The team isn’t going to come back and win. Those games are easy to get over, much easier to get over than a one-run loss most of the time. You have to find things that are positive. You have to look to the next game and start planning for it. Likewise, we are now in the 7th inning of a really long, ugly season for the Minnesota Twins. It’s been frustrating, and yet the Twins are out of contention. It’s at this point that it’s not hard to be a Twins fan. All we can do is enjoy the rest of the games, be positive and look ahead to better thing. In doing so, there will be some good days and some bad days.

August 15th was a good day. The Twins started looking to the future, Jim Thome let Twins fans be part of something pretty special, and the Twins completed a very excited draft by signing so many of their picks, and specifically all three first round picks. Oh, and the Twins also got a nice 9-6 win over the Tigers tonight.  Just a little frosting on the cake of a good day!

Be sure to listen to last night’s Twins Minor League Weekly. It was a fun show, and we updated news as we heard it throughout the live show.   

 

Any thoughts?? E-mail me, or leave some Comments.

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15 Responses to “What a Day!”

  1. mnpunditMNP August 16, 2011 at 3:03 am #

    Hey Seth, on Seth Speaks.net your recap doesn’t word wrap so it makes it hard to read. I’m using Firefox.

  2. roger August 16, 2011 at 6:52 am #

    Hey Seth, What a day, eh? Again came down to the wire with everything coming up roses. Great draft and great signings.

    Question, I know their signing/player salary funds are separate, do you think saving $1,300,000 on Young was a factor in spending a couple million to sign the two high school kids?

    Also, is it possible that the PTBNL in the Young trade is the better prospect, ie, someone on their 40-man roster who couldn’t clear waivers…thus, will be traded after the season is over? How about lefty Andrew Oliver? I know the Twins have loved him since they drafted him out of high school several years ago.

  3. Bill in Sarasota August 16, 2011 at 7:04 am #

    Bill Smith doesn’t have a long term plan.
    1. He trades for Hardy and one year later he trades him.
    2. Young has his best year in 2010 and he trades him six months later for nothing.

    The best organizations have long term plans. The Rays traded Kazmir and Garza before they got expensive and at the peak of their value.

    Smith seems to be using the band aid approach on an annual basis.

    • mike wants wins August 16, 2011 at 7:55 am #

      I completely disagree with your assessment of the Young part of your comments. The man was bad 3 of 4 years, and set to make $5-7MM next year. Trading him makes sense. He did not trade him for nothing, he freed up $5-7MM that can be used on other player(s) next year.

      Seth, agreed, yesterday was a very good day for the Twins. I have no idea if any of these guys are any good or not, but they really needed to sign all three. They really needed to deal Young. And then Thome, who everyone says is one of the nicest human beings ever, hits 600. Great day.

      • Kunza August 16, 2011 at 8:16 am #

        “He did not trade him for nothing, he freed up $5-7MM that can be used on other player(s) next year.”

        Yeah, to overpay mightily for Michael Cuddyer. I’d bet my house we give him a 3 year deal worth 10+ each year.

      • mike wants wins August 16, 2011 at 8:28 am #

        If he uses the money on Cuddy and Kubes, then I’ll rip him. But I’m not going to rip him for something he has not yet done. The money needs to be used on outside help, preferably LF, SS, 2B, RP, SP. combined with Capps and Nathan’s money, there is a lot of money to be used next year.

      • Bill in Sarasota August 16, 2011 at 9:18 am #

        Young was #10 in the MVP voting last year. That was the time to trade him. Smith knew he had a surplus of OF and did nothing about it.

        Again you need a long term plan, not seat of your pants decisions based only on the following year.

        Twins cannot compete with the Yanks, Red Sox, and Phils by trying to out draft them (forget about free agency). They need to make timely trades (see Rays).

      • mike wants wins August 16, 2011 at 9:33 am #

        I don’t know any team, other than the Rays, that would have traded Young last year. The Twins were in contention, Young “turned the corner”, and he was one of two RH hitters on the team. Only the Rays would have the guts and brains to deal him at that point. I have never been a Young believer, but I will not rip BS for not trading him this last offseason. As for no long term planning, he traded for Young in the first place, as part of a long term plan. He traded for Capps (mistakenly), as part of at least a two year plan. He signed Nishi to a three year deal, as part of long term plan to get faster and better defense (again, mistakenly). I don’t think it is lack of long term planning, I think it is bad decision making (and probably less effective coaching in the minors than they need). I’m no BS fan, but we may just disagree on this particular aspect of his work.

      • Bill in Sarasota August 16, 2011 at 9:50 am #

        “The man was bad 3 of 4 years”
        Either you agree with the above and trade him at high value or you keep him next year at $6-7 mil because you believe in 2010 DY.

        Long term is 3-5 years. The Twins are basing decisions on 1-2 years.

        Hardy and Capps are great examples of short term planning.

        In addition, resigning Pavano to two years was short sighted. Again, his value was never higher and he would brought back a pick. The Rays had 8 extra picks in the past draft. You need top picks to get impact players and the success rate is low so you need as many as possible.

      • USAFChief August 16, 2011 at 1:07 pm #

        I completely agree with the idea that either: 1) If you think 2010 Delmon was a fluke, you trade him last offseason, or 2) if you think 2011 Delmon is the fluke, you don’t dump him now for nothing.

        Bill Smith is a disaster. He has a knack for buying high and selling low. As of today, he has traded Johan Santana, Matt Garza, Jason Bartlett, JJ Hardy, Carlos Gomez, Wilson Ramos, and Delmon Young…and he has Matt Capps on the big league roster to show for it. By next April, he won’t even have that. It’s possible Guerra or Hoey will be in the bullpen next year, and that might not even be a good thing.

        Think about that.

  4. gobbledy August 16, 2011 at 9:43 am #

    one thing i am certain of this is the best thing that could happen for delmon. now if it ends up being a good thing for the twins time will tell. 2 players the twins gave up on in recent years garrett jones and david ortiz when they were 26 turned out ok. recently guys like jason werth and jose bautista were let go at 27 and turned out very good. when you consider that young was the second youngest player (position) on the twins only to revere this could be giving up to soon or he could also struggle and never get back to what he had last yr.

    i agree with mike that the win-loss depends a lot on how they spend the saved money, if they spend it at all. i have a feeling that next year the payroll will drop below 100m.

    this could really end up being and strong indictment on the twins coaching staff if another player gets booted out of here, most likely on gardy’s accord, and then turns things around. interesting to see how it turns but no matter what happens gardy and billy will keep their jobs.

  5. mike wants wins August 16, 2011 at 1:30 pm #

    What if you thought 2010 was real, but now that you have another 4/5 of a year of data, you don’t think that anymore? That is certainly possible. I CANNOT BELIEVE I AM DEFENDING THIS GUY! I really don’t think he’s good at this job….

  6. Bill in Sarasota August 16, 2011 at 4:49 pm #

    Lester Oliveros is PTBNL.

    Another trade of a MLB position starter for two minor league relievers.

    Maybe Smith can get three minor league relievers for Mauer (he’s having a down year – time to pull the trigger).

    OMG

  7. tcsteve August 16, 2011 at 10:00 pm #

    Seth, any more Kool-Aid left?

  8. Greg August 17, 2011 at 1:19 am #

    Seth, great article again. Would be cool to understand how trades go on from the team perspective. I am sure they give a list of players who a team can pick from. Be interesting to see how it is happens.. I luike the draft picks as you highlighted. I almost want tosee the Twins be in the top 5 for pics (bottom 5 finish) to get some higher profile propsects for 2012.

    lastly, be cool to see thome get 609 at Target field.

    Win Twins!

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