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Twins Top Moments of 2011

27 Dec

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

99 losses. Confusing injuries and rehabilitation stories. Players traded, and players lost via free agency. 2011 was a really tough season for the Twins organization. However, there were a few positive moments during the season as well.

Blyleven to the Hall of Fame

  • Early in January, the Baseball Hall of Fame announced that Bert Blyleven was finally to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame. The Twins had some special nights for him, and in August he was inducted.

20 Year Anniversary of the 1991 World Series

  • Also in August, the Twins celebrated the 20th Anniversary of the greatest World Series of all-time, that 1991 thriller against the Atlanta Braves. Many of the Twins players from that roster were in attendance for the reunion. It’s always great to see so many of those players coming back.

No-Hitters

  • On May 4 in Chicago, Francisco Liriano was wild, and yet he completed a no-hitter against the White Sox. The final out came on a line drive to Matt Tolbert off the bat of Adam Dunn. Liriano was pitching to stay in the rotation at the time, and despite all the walks, the no-hitter continued to show how good his stuff can be.
  • On July 6, Jeff Manship made his first start for the Rochester Red Wings. Due to injury, it was his first appearance in seven weeks. Manship threw four no-hit innings. He was followed by Jake Stevens who threw three no-hit innings. Kyle Waldrop gave up no hits in the 8th innings, and Jim Hoey finished the job with no hits in the 9th inning.
  • On July 16, Tim Shibuya, the Twins 23rd round pick a month earlier, started for the Elizabethton Twins. The right-hander threw seven no-hit innings. He was followed by 31st round pick, RHP Garrett Jewell, who threw a no-hit 8th inning. 7th round pick, lefty Steven Gruver, struck out two in a scoreless ninth inning to preserve the no-hitter.
  • September 3, Alex Wimmers tossed a seven-inning no hitter for the Ft. Myers Miracle. His season started with a six batter faced, six walk outing. He was shut down for a couple of months and brought back slowly. But to end the season in such fashion was a nice way to end a rough season.

Major League Debuts

  • April 1 – Tsuyoshi Nishioka went 1-4 on Opening Day against the Blue Jays.
  • April 28 – Rene Tosoni went 2-4 with an RBI in his debut against the Rays.
  • June 4 – Brian Dinkelman went 1-3 with a walk. In his first plate appearance, he was hit by a pitch. His walk was intentional. The Twins beat the Royals 7-2.
  • July 18 – Scott Diamond was called up for a spot start in the second game of a double header against Cleveland. He gave up four runs (3 earned) on seven hits and two walks in 6.1 innings.
  • September 5 – Kyle Waldrop gave up two runs on three hits and a walk in 1.2 innings against the White Sox. The first inning he pitched was scoreless.
  • September 6 – Joe Benson led off for the Twins and went 0-3 after walking in his first plate appearance in a 3-0 loss to the White Sox.
  • September 6 – Chris Parmelee batted fifth and went 2-4 in the same game.
  • September 6 – Liam Hendriks made the start for the Twins in this game. He gave up three runs on four hits and three walks in seven innings.

The Killebrew Tribute

  • Obviously one of the saddest moments during the 2011 season was the death of legendary Twins great Harmon Killebrew. However, listening and reading the stories of what a great man he was made us almost forget what a great baseball player he was. The Twins had a tribute for Killebrew on May 26. It was great to see so many former players there. Mudcat Grant was again amazing with his rendition of What a Wonderful World. However, the highlight had to be the speech of Nita Killebrew. Her poise and strength in that moment were amazing. Her words were inspirational. It was a great tribute to a great man.

Nathan Sets Twins Saves Mark

  • On August 10, Joe Nathan set the Twins all-time saves record by recording his 255th save. He surpassed Rick Aguilera’s mark of 254.

Thome Hits 600th Home Run

  • On August 15, the Twins traded Delmon Young to the Tigers in the afternoon. That was fairly big news that day, but fortunately, there was much bigger news coming later that night. Through his first two at bats, Jim Thome was 1-2 with a single. In the 6th inning, he hit home run #599 against the Tigers in Detroit. For many, it takes awhile to hit that 600th home run. Thome’s came just one inning later with two runners on against lefty Daniel Schlereth.

Draft Picks Sign

  • Within the final hour before the deadline for teams to sign their draft picks, the Twins signed all three of their first round picks. Levi Michael was the 30th overall pick and signed for $1.175 million (about $86,000 over slot). Supplemental first-rounder, Hudson Boyd, the 55th overall pick, signed for a $1 million bonus (about $350,000 over slot). Travis Harrison, the 50th overall pick in the draft, signed for $1.05 million (about $350,000 over slot). The Twins signed several other players with big potential on that final day, including Minnesota’s top high school player in 2011, LHP Austin Malinowski (the team’s 16th round pick).

Award Winners

  • Brian Dozier and Liam Hendriks were named the Twins minor league hitter and pitcher of the year, respectively.
  • Eddie Rosario was named the player of the year in the Appalachian League after putting up monstrous numbers including 21 home runs, one better than teammate Miguel Sano. Teammate Tim Shibuya was the pitcher of the year in the Appalachian League.

Terry Ryan Reclaims the GM Role

  • On November 7, the Twins announced the Bill Smith was being relieved of his duties as GM of the Twins and that former GM Terry Ryan would resume the duties in an interim role. The question is how long “interim” might be.

It was a tough year, and when trying to come up with positives from 2011, it was quite difficult to make it even this lengthy. I’m certain I missed some things. Were there any other positives from the 2011 Twins season that you can think of? Help me out here!!

TwinsCentric Notes

Thome Traded to Cleveland

25 Aug

There is no surprise in the move, and yet, it still doesn’t feel right. Placed on waivers yesterday, Jim Thome was claimed by the Cleveland Indians, and today, he is going to be a member of that team. At this time, we do not know who the Twins acquired in the trade.

Thome gave Twins fans nearly two seasons of terrific memories, and he did so with nothing but class. As I’ve said before, there are great players, there are heroes, but Jim Thome fits into the classification of “Legend.”

He hit that incredible home run last August to walk off against his old Chicago White Sox teammates. He had the two home run game to pass Harmon Killebrew on the home run list. And just over a week ago, he hit two home runs to join the very elite 600 home run club.

I know to some of his teammates, he was about so much more than just his prowess on the field. He was a mentor. He is as legit a person as their is. Remember earlier this year when Killebrew passed away, there was so much talk about what a great person he was that it almost minimized how great of a baseball player he was. It’s the same with Thome. Amazing man! Amazing ball player! There is no question that this move will sting the Twins clubhouse for awhile!

I know this year has been frustrating to be a Twins fan. I do think that trading Thome and other pieces that won’t be back next year is the right thing to do. But I for one am thrilled that, as a Twins fan, I got to see someone of the magnitude of Jim Thome, even if just for a short time! In a way, if this were to be the end of his illustrious career, it is fitting that it be in Cleveland, the team for which over 55% of his career home runs have been hit.

I don’t know if I can muster the energy to cheer for Cleveland, but I will always be cheering for Jim Thome!

Plouffe, Revere Promoted

4 May

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

Following last night’s game, the Twins surprised no one by calling up Trevor Plouffe. They put Jim Thome on the Disabled List with the oblique injury.

They also mentioned that Jason Repko would be put on the Disabled List with his quad injury. They didn’t announce a corresponding move, but via Twitter, Red Wings catcher Rene Rivera commented, “Congrats to my roommate @BenRevere9 he going to the big leagues good luck my friend.”

I learned that Ray Chang was being promoted from New Britain up to Rochester as well.

Following a game on April 26th in which he went 0-3, Revere was hitting .194. He went 9-11 over next three games, and in the six games since that 0-3, he is 14-25 (.560), and he is now hitting .293 (I won’t mention the .330 OBP and .315 SLG, or the .645 OPS). It will be interesting to see what happens in the Twins outfield. I assume that if Revere is up, he will play. Could Rene Tosoni move to the bench? And if Delmon Young is back on Friday, who will be sent back to Rochester? I assume Tosoni which would make Revere the fourth outfielder until Jim Thome comes back. Or, does this tell us that Young may not be back as soon as we had hoped?

As for Plouffe, we have been clamoring for him to be called up for some time now. He had a bad spring training, with a bunch of errors. He was sent back to minor league camp early. He has played good defense for the Red Wings. He started the season on fire, particularly with extra base hits. On the season, he is hitting .282/.344/.590 (.934 OPS) with four doubles, a triple and six home runs. However, in his last nine games, he is 7-34 (.206). He went 4-5 with a double and a home run on Sunday. Take that one game out, and he has 3 hits in his last 29 at bats. However, getting Plouffe to the big leagues should help the Twins.

Alexi Casilla was already moved over to 2B last night. Plouffe has played 2B eight of the 21 games he has played at Rochester. Michael Cuddyer, Luke Hughes and Matt Tolbert can all play 2B. So, right now, the Twins have three options at SS, five options at 2B, and several options at 3B .With Revere and Tosoni still both in the big leagues, there is now enough outfield depth.

Ray Chang was promoted from New Britain to Rochester. The infielder was hitting .270/.320/.404 with nine doubles, a home run and 22 RBI so far this season. It is again inexplicable to me why it wasn’t Steve Singleton promoted, but it is possible that an infielder could be sent down when Young comes off the Disabled List. That’s all I can think of. I have to assume that an outfielder will be promoted from New Britain to Rochester, although that isn’t absolutely necessary as the Red Wings still have Jeff Bailey, Brandon Roberts, Dustin Martin and Brian Dinkelman who can play in the outfield.

What affect do you think that Plouffe will have on the Twins? I know he struggled in the big leagues last year when he was promoted to the Twins four times. He struckout quite a bit. He also hit two home runs. Hitting in the bottom of the order, he could be alright with the bat, but the bigger concern is what he can do with the glove. I will say this. It would be hard to believe that he could be worse than Casilla was. What affect will playing 2B have on Casilla, and what do you think the playing time will be at SS, 2B and in the OF? I assume that when he plays, Revere will bat second which should strengthen that spot in the lineup. He can bunt and run, which should be exciting. As always, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below.

2011 Twins Predictions

1 Apr

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

Thursday was officially Opening Day, and I have to admit, it was a strange day for me. First, it was on a Thursday for the first time. I had enough troubles with ESPN getting a Sunday night season opener, after Opening Day had always just been a Monday thing. MLB decided to start the season three or four days earlier in an attempt to keep the World Series out of November. Second, the Twins didn’t play on Opening Day. Only 12 teams did. So, I guess all I can say is:

Happy Minnesota Twins Opening Day to you!

Predictions are always fun because at the end of the year, I can pick and choose which ones I will remind you that I made. Or, if they’re that far off, I can forget to remind you about my picks and hopefully you won’t remind me too often. Below are some predictions, some more bold than others, for the 2011 Minnesota Twins season with some other predictions randomly thrown in.

2011 MINNESOTA TWINS PROJECTIONS

  • Matt Capps will record twice as many saves as Joe Nathan.
  • Joe Mauer will hit less than .320, but he will hit more than 40 doubles and more than 16 home runs. He will win his fourth straight, and fifth total, Silver Slugger Award.
  • Justin Morneau will post an OPS of just over .880.
  • Delmon Young will:
    • Hit over .300.
    • Hit more than 28 home runs
    • Drive in more than 120 runs
    • Post an OPS of less than .900.
  • Tsuyoshi Nishioka will post an OPS of over .720 and steal more than 25 bases. He will also deserve to win the AL Gold Glove, but he won’t because Robinson Cano is a really good hitter.
  • Alexi Casilla’s OPS will be within .030 of JJ Hardy’s. He will also be within 2.0 UZR of the former Twins shortstop.
  • The date that I will stop watching the Twins on FSN with the volume on will be April 6th.
  • Denard Span will post an OBP over .370. He will steal more than 30 bases.
  • Michael Cuddyer will lead the Twins with more than 40 doubles. He will also top 20 home runs.
  • Danny Valencia will post an OPS greater than .820 with more than 32 doubles and more than 15 home runs.
  • Jim Thome will NOT post an OPS of over 1.000 again in 2011. In fact, he won’t post a .900 OPS. He will hit less than 15 home runs but more than the 11 home runs he needs to reach career home runs number 600.
    • Let’s go on a limb and say that he will his Home Run #600 on August 24th at Target Field in the 2nd inning off of Jake Arrieta.
  • Carl Pavano will throw 200 innings, but his ERA will be over 4.40.
  • Francisco Liriano will throw less than 190 innings with an ERA over 3.50 and a K-rate less than 8.5 per nine innings.
  • Brian Duensing will throw 175+ innings with an ERA of under 4.25.
  • Nick Blackburn will throw more than 210 innings with an ERA just under 4.00.
  • Scott Baker will throw 190+ innings with an ERA under 4.20.
  • Kevin Slowey will not make a start for the Twins in 2011, and he will average more than a strikeout per inning
  • I will be wrong about one of the five starters pitching well, Kyle Gibson will make his Twins debut on June 18 at Target Field against the Padres.
  • Joe Mauer and Delmon Young will represent the Twins at the All-Star game.
  • The Twins will open their 2011 home schedule with a 3-4 record, including a split against the Yankees at Yankees Stadium.
  • Ron Gardenhire will be ejected eight times in 2011.
  • No Twins hitter will top 30 home runs, however, Justin Morneau and Delmon Young will come close, while Michael Cuddyer, Jason Kubel will hit over 22 each.

AL CENTRAL STANDINGS (Projected)

Minnesota Twins        93-69

Chicago White Sox      91-71

Detroit Tigers              80-82

Cleveland Indians        72-90

Kansas City Royals     63-99

AMERICAN LEAGUE PLAYOFF TEAMS

AL Central – Minnesota Twins (2)

AL East – Boston Red Sox (1)

AL West – Oakland A’s (3)

Wild Card – Chicago White Sox (4)

ALDS: Boston over Chicago in 4 games, Oakland over Minnesota (in 5 games, the A’s rotation contains lefties Gio Gonzalez, Brett Anderson and Dallas Braden, and the bullpen has Brian Fuentes, Craig Breslow and Bobby Cramer. The Twins have not addressed their need for a right-handed bat. Unless they do, it could be another one and done.)

ALCS – Boston over Oakland in 5 games.

NATIONAL LEAGUE PLAYOFF TEAMS

NL Central – Milwaukee Brewers (3)

NL East – Atlanta Braves (2)

NL West – Los Angeles Dodgers (1)

NL East – Philadelphia Phillies

NLDS: Braves over Brewers in 4 games. Phillies over Dodgers in 4 games.

NLCS: Braves over Phillies in 7 games.

WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONS

                Braves over Red Sox in 6 games.

 What are your predictions for the 2011 season, for the Twins or the league. If you have any thoughts or questions, please feel free to comment or ask.

——————————————————–

  • TWINS MINOR LEAGUE WEEKLY PODCAST LAST NIGHTNIGHT – If you are interested in the Twins minor league system, check out Twins Minor League Weekly podcast from last night. Travis Aune and I will host the 10:00 p.m. podcast each Thursday throughout the season. Last night, we discussed the projected rosters and picks to click for the Rochester Red Wings and New Britain Rockcats. We started talking about the Ft. Myers Miracle when the 45 minute podcast abruptly came to an end. Next Thursday, we’ll discuss minor league opening night and continue to look at the Miracle and Snappers rosters.

Thome Stays with Twins

14 Jan

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

Jim Thome signed a one year, $3 million contract with the Minnesota Twins for the 2011 season. He can also reach more incentives. After making $1.5 million plus incentives last year, and he hit 25 homers is an OPS over 1.000. In reality, the Twins hope that Thome does not have to play such an important role in 2011, but he showed that given proper playing time, and more important, proper time off, he still can have a huge impact on the lineup.

However, if all goes well, Justin Morneau will remain in the lineup, and Jason Kubel will return to his 2009 form, and Thome will fill a role. Hopefully he will be able to get his 600th career home run in a Twins uniform.

I know that many think I am not happy with Jim Thome coming back. I am very happy that Thome is coming back. I really am, especially because I think that the dollars are very, very fair. He’s a terrific person and an important role model in that clubhouse, but he can also impact a baseball game in a very positive way. Because of the role that he should play in 2011, this is not a Brett Favre like return in that, if he struggles, it won’t have devastating.

Do I think that this team needs right-handed hitting? Absolutely and I can’t back away from that. It’s great having Thome sitting on the Twins bench, but he is still sitting there with Matt Tolbert, Jason Repko and Drew Butera. I do think that a right-handed backup that can hit would be great. Maybe it can be Luke Hughes.

In all, this is a positive for the Twins on many levels. It is a good deal for the Twins. Next up, I’m pretty sure Carl Pavano will be brought back… sometime… one of these days… or weeks… right?

Feel free to e-mail me or leave your comments here.

One Bench Bat?

11 Jan

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net (and www.StarTribune.com) -

At least out loud, the Twins have stressed their offseason needs as adding speed and adding right-handed hitting. Hence you can fully understand why the team is still at least mildly interested in 40 year old left-handed bench bat Jim Thome. Right?

There is no question that Jim Thome played a very important role for the Twins in 2010. At $1.5 million, he was the best bargain free agent on the season. This offseason, people in the Thome camp have said that he would like to make up for making so little in 2010. He is apparently garnering interest from the Rangers and the Rays, among other teams. He posted one of his best seasons of the decade in 2010 when he hit .283/.412/.627 with 16 doubles and 25 home runs. He has 589 career home runs so the 600 milestone is certainly in his sites. Thome is certainly worth thinking about bringing back. If he is willing to play for $4 million or less, the Twins are likely happy to bring him back. That said, the other teams might be willing to pay more. If the Twins do not bring back Thome, what are their options? We shall discuss here today, and feel free to comment on who you think the best choices are.

In-House

If the Twins choose not to add a free agent bench bat, the top prospect to consider for the role would be Luke Hughes. He is a right-handed, and although he is not a great defender, he can play three outfield positions, 3B, 2B and 1B. He could get at bats as the right-handed DH and pinch-hitter as well. We had the opportunity to see a little bit of his power when, in his first major league at bat, he homered off of the Tigers’ Max Scherzer. Of course, hitting has not been his problem in recent years. Staying healthy is his problem. But if he is a role player, maybe that will help his durability.

Other options for a bench bat include Trevor Plouffe, Steve Singleton, Dustin Martin, Jeff Bailey and Chase Lambin.

Free Agents

There are several free agent bats that are still available as of right now. Here are nine options, each of which is a right-handed bat, for you to consider. Who makes the most sense?

Mike Sweeney – the long-time Royals 1B/DH has been a bit of a nomad the last few years. He split to the 2010 season between the Mariners and the Phillies. In 56 games, he hit .252/.321/.444 with five doubles and eight home runs. He could play some 1B if absolutely necessary. Likelihood – Likely would only need a minor league deal with big league invite, but odds are very low.

Manny Ramirez – Manny Being Manny was traded from the Dodgers to the White Sox near the deadline. In just 90 games in 2010, he hit .298/.409/.460 with 16 doubles and nine home runs. The 38 year old is very unlikely to sign with the Twins for many reasons, the most important being that he could very well be done.

Jermaine Dye – Dye missed the entire 2010 season. He had some offers but felt they were too low, so he sat out the whole year. In 2009, he hit 29 home runs but played really bad right field. After missing the season, will he come down on his salary expectations, or is a one year, $2 million enough to sign up the36 year old?

Vlad Guerrero – The 35 year old hit .300/.345/.496 with 27 doubles and 29 home runs in 152 games. His OPS was very similar to Delmon Young’s in 2010. In his career, he has hit .325/.406/.588 against left-handers. But Guerrero is likely looking for more than $6 million so don’t expect the Twins to sign him. 

Andruw Jones – The Yankeees allegedly want the 33 year old from Curacao as a backup outfielder. With the White Sox in 2010, he hit .230/.341/.486 with 19 homers. Against lefties in his career, he has hit .261/.361/.401 against lefties. He can play some outfield still, but he’s mainly a pinch-hitter and DH. 

Marcus Thames – The 33 year old played in 82 games in 2010 with the Yankees. He hit .288/.350/.491 with seven doubles and 12 homers. In his career against lefties, he has hit .264/.333/.505. He can play the corner outfield positions and even got a game at 3B in 2010. 

Troy Glaus – The 34 year old played in 128 games for the Braves a year ago, and it was a roller coaster. After a bad April, he was the NL’s player of the month in May. By mid August, the Braves traded for the struggling Derrick Lee, and Glaus became a pinch hitter and bench bat. He can play a little at 1B and even played some 3B for Atlanta in the playoffs. Overall, he hit .240/.344/.400 with 18 doubles and 16 home runs. 

Scott Hairston – The 30 year old played in 104 games for the Padres in 2010. He hit just .210/.295/.346. He played primarily left field, but he played CF and RF as well. in 2008 and 2009, he hit 17 home runs each year. Against lefties, he has hit .278/.331/.498.

Jorge Cantu – Cantu is the youngest player on this list. He has been around for awhile yet won’t turn 27 until the end of January. Between the Marlins and Rangers in 2010, he hit a combined .256/.304/.392. Cantu can play 1B and 3B, and also spot-start 2B. Against lefties, he has hit .272/.323/.451 over his caeer;

Do any of those names interest you? So, who should the Twins choose? What factors should go into such a decision What do you think? Jim Thome? Luke Hughes? Or a free agent? What do you think? 

Check it out if you are able to. Feel free to e-mail me or leave your comments here.

Friday Links and Thinks

7 Jan

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

I have not blogged too much this week, or really the last couple of weeks. There are a couple of reasons for that. First, there simply is not a lot going on with the Twins, or hasn’t been. Second, I am working with a couple of other Twins bloggers to finish up the Minnesota Twins 2011 Prospect Handbook. It’s getting close. Obviously my hope is for it to get better and better each year. I don’t know if it will be quite the same as last year’s version, but I think that the content will be terrific. Again, the meat and potatoes will be the profiles. There will be over 150 prospect profiles on players throughout the Twins farm system. Josh Johnson is helping me with some of those. There will again be several articles by myself, but also articles from Josh, Travis Aune and a couple of others. Anyway, hopefully I will have a lot more information on the book in a week or so. Finally, John Bonnes and the TwinsCentric guys, with the help of several terrific writers, are putting the final touches on the Twins 2011 Annual with the Maple Street Press. It will again be available on news stands around the Upper Midwest, but you will also be able to order online a little earlier. Like last year, it will be about 120 pages of ad-free Twins content. What’s not to like about that!? I’ve written a few Twins player profiles, a big article on the top Twins prospects by position, and a fun article on Elizabethton’s success and specifically on manager Ray Smith who is a very interesting person. I’m really happy with that project.

So I do apologize for lack of content here. It hasn’t been due to laziness! Believe me! Today, here are a few thoughts and links for you to read and consider:

Carl Pavano Situation

On Wednesday early evening, I was sitting around when an idea popped into my head. I should have blogged it to prove its true, but there are a few Twins bloggers that I talked to about it. I said that Carl Pavano would have an agreement with the Twins by Friday. I actually spelled it out like this. First, the Twins would let absolutely nothing leak on the day that Bert Blyleven got into the Hall of Fame, and they wouldn’t let anything leak on Thursday when the Baseball Hall of Fame was hosting Blyleven and Roberto Alomar in Cooperstown. I said, that I bet that later in the day on Thursday, someone would tweet that the Twins and Carl Pavano are close on a two year deal. I said that it would not be made official then until an announcement on Friday. Well, at about 8:00 on Thursday night, FoxSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal tweeted, “Sources: #Twins closing in on Pavano. Deal expected to be for two years.” I guess we shall see what happens tomorrow, but it all does make sense.

What is the reasoning for my gut feeling on the situation? Well, there were several things really. The first was simply that Pavano and his agent overplayed their hand. At this point, they had really no options. Bill Smith played it perfectly again. The only teams interested in Pavano seem to be the Twins, the Pirates and the Royals. If Pavano is the competitor that we saw in 2010, then it should be easy to determine which of those teams he would sign with. And at this point, why not just sign? What is the value of waiting any longer. He isn’t getting that third year that he so desperately wanted. Pavano’s birthday is Saturday. Suddenly he will go from a 34 year old free agent pitcher to a 35 year old starting pitcher. Obviously teams aren’t dumb enough to alter their thinking based on one day, but it also is a milestone that Pavano would likely want to sign before. It just makes sense for Pavano, and for the Twins, it will just be nice to have it done, and have that piece in place in the starting rotation.

Starting last July, I started getting the question about whether or not I would bring back Pavano. I answered several times in this blog, and it came up a lot on podcasts. I said I would offer Pavano two years and $18 million and leave it up to him. If he signed for that, it would be a fair deal. Anything more than that, I’d happily take the draft picks. Well, it is now starting to look like that would be a good place to put the Over/Under for a Pavano deal. According to Jon Heyman, the Twins increased their offer to Pavano to two years just yesterday. He made $7 million in 2010. He earned a raise, but I can’t imagine that he will get to the $10 million range that we all thought was a given at the start of the offseason. I think that 2 years and $18 million is pretty realistic. In fact, I think it could be as low as two years and $16 million. For financial reasons, I would not be surprised if he makes less money in 2011 and more in 2012.

No, the deal is not done. Nothing has been confirmed, but there is little reason to think that it won’t happen, that it isn’t imminent.

Jim Thome Situation

Does signing Pavano affect the Twins decision to bring back Jim Thome? It could. However, if Thome is truly looking to make $8 million in 2011, then the Pavano decision has nothing to do with not bringing Thome back. The Twins have made a concerted effort to add speed to the lineup, and they need a right-handed bat to counter all of their left-handed batters, and because they traded one of their right-handed hitters. So, really… how much sense does it really make to bring Thome back anyway? That’s not to say bringing him back would be bad. Not at all. I mean, the bench needs some pop, and Thome provided that. There are so many intangible reasons to bring him back. But a right-handed, power bat who could actually play some defense, would be a much better fit. Man, Matt Diaz would have been perfect!

Twins Fest – Sold Out

I got a press release yesterday morning saying that Twins Fest was sold out. I knew that the Twins were encouraging people to order in advance, something I’ve typically done, but I was surprised to see that announcement. The National Sports Complex in Blaine is huge, but it isn’t quite as convenient as the Metrodome would be. I still plan on going. I just don’t know if I’ll be able to get into the event. I’ll find a way!

Blog Spotting

As mentioned many times, there are a lot of terrific Twins blogs out there. So even if I don’t blog, you can still get plenty of great Twins content, and more. Be sure to check back here throughout the weekend for more and more blogs worth reading.

NFL “Expert” Picks Champion, LaVelle E. Neal!

Well, the NFL “Expert” Picks finished up last weekend after Week 17. I want to thank those who participated. With over 30 people making picks each week, it became too much work, so it likely will be the final year of the contest. Below are the final results and standings. Congratulations to the Star Tribune’s LaVelle E. Neal for dominating the competition this year! He had five more games right than any other person and was correct nearly 67% of the time. Chris Parmelee led all Twins players by accurately predicting almost 65% of the games in 2010. Andrew Bryz-Gornia led Twins bloggers with 164 correct picks. Last year’s champion, Dan Slowey, finished in fourth place, tied with Doogie Wolfson. Again, thanks to all of the below for participating. Please take a minute and visit some of the blogs listed below.

    Overall
    Wins Losses Percent
LaVelle Neal Star Tribune 171 85 66.80%
Chris Parmelee Twins 1B Prospect 166 90 64.84%
Andrew Bryz-Gornia Off the Mark 164 92 64.06%
Dan Slowey Blogonoscopy 163 93 63.67%
Darren Wolfson Twins Wrap 163 93 63.67%
Missy Lien   163 93 63.67%
Cody Christie NoDak Twins Fan 161 95 62.89%
Jack Michaels ESPN 710am, Bismarck 161 95 62.89%
Jeff Manship Twins Pitcher 161 95 62.89%
Summary   161 95 62.89%
BJ Hermsen Twins SP Prospect 159 97 62.11%
Kyle Waldrop Twins RP Prospect 158 82 65.83%
Mike Brasel   158 98 61.72%
Cory Hepola WROC-TV, Rochester, NY 157 99 61.33%
Blake Meyer Twins Cards 156 100 60.94%
Andrew Kneeland Twins Target 155 101 60.55%
Emily Jipp Cheap Seats Chatter 155 101 60.55%
Seth Stohs SethSpeaks.net 155 101 60.55%
Travis Aune Travis Twins Talk 153 103 59.77%
Anthony Maggio FSNorth.com 152 90 62.81%
Kirsten Brown K-Bro Baseball 152 104 59.38%
Roger Dehring Twinkie Town 146 110 57.03%
Judd Spicer City Pages 145 111 56.64%
Vic Quick KOTA-TV Rapid City, SD 139 101 57.92%
Topper Anton Curve for a Strike 136 104 56.67%
Steve Blevins Twins RP Prospect 135 82 62.21%
Phil Mackey 1500ESPN.com 131 77 62.98%
Seth Kaplan Fox 9 – TV (Twin Cities) 131 43 75.29%
Shawn Berg On the Road with Shawn 126 86 59.43%
Kyle Gibson Twins SP Prospect 117 91 56.25%
Josh Johnson Josh’s Thoughts 114 66 63.33%
Dan Osterbrock Twins SP Prospect 106 78 57.61%
John Meyer Twins MVB 106 59 64.24%
Matt Fox Red Sox Pitcher 98 52 65.33%
Dan Wade BB Daily Digest 96 52 64.86%
Alex Burnett Twins Pitcher 95 59 61.69%
Nate Hanson Twins IF Prospect 94 73 56.29%
Matt Schuld Twins P Prospect 85 63 57.43%
Kevin Slowey Twins Pitcher 73 48 60.33%

Any thoughts? Feel free to e-mail me or leave your comments here.

Still Building from Within

21 Dec

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net and www.startribune.com/blogs/twinscentric.

Look back a decade: Torii Hunter spent a couple of seasons making people wonder about his skills before becoming a star. Look back a generation: Frank Viola spent two seasons with a five-plus ERA before blossoming. Tell me why Casilla is utterly hopeless?

Howard Sinker in his A Fan’s View blog yesterday made a tremendous point. It is important to remain patient. Of course, in Viola’s third year, he posted a 3.21 ERA over 257.2 innings. I think Alexi Casilla will be fine. I think that Tsuyoshi Nishioka will be just fine. Will either post a .730 OPS? Probably not, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t fill their roles adequately. I just don’t think that offense will be the biggest issue for the Twins in 2011. Pitching, both starting and bullpen, is where there are question marks, but the cupboard is not empty.

What I would like to see is if 29-year-old Scott Baker, in his seventh season with the Twins, can hit 200 innings (or post a sub-4.20 ERA) for just the second time, and earn his $5 million salary. I’d like to see Kevin Slowey, in his fifth big league season, be 100% healthy, and see what he can do. He threw 199 innings in 2007 between Rochester and Minnesota. I’d like to see Nick Blackburn get back to going 11-11 with an ERA between 4.03 and 4.05 like he did in 2008 and 2009. As bad as portions of their 2010 seasons were, none of this is unrealistic. They have done it before. Along with that, maybe Brian Duensing can prove a lot of us wrong and put together another strong season in 2011, hopefully the full season as a starter. And, Francisco Liriano put himself back in discussion for best pitchers in the league (which is also helped by Cliff Lee moving to the NL). If healthy, he can still continue to improve.

So, if Carl Pavano leaves for greener pastures in places like Washington, D.C., or Pittsburgh, it really is not the end of the world. What are the odds that he could post a 3.75 ERA again or throw another 221 innings in a season? Not terribly good.

The Twins have a history of building from within, or giving opportunities to players who have come up through their system, and to stand behind them through struggles. We have seen it time and again. And for the most part over the last decade, it has paid off. The Twins have used free agents to complement their core of home-grown players. Last year, there wasn’t a solid internal option at second base, so they signed Orlando Hudson.

Last week, the Twins lost Jesse Crain and Matt Guerrier to free agency. It is likely that they will not bring back Brian Fuentes, Jon Rauch or Ron Mahay either. Fans, understandably, are up in arms about the lack of certainty in the Twins bullpen. There is no certainty that Joe Nathan will return to form in 2011. Jose Mijares is immensely talented, but he was up and down in 2010. Matt Capps is the given in the Twins bullpen, and he is what he is (a solid reliever). Beyond that, there are a lot of question marks.

Twins fans don’t want to hear about someone like Glen Perkins being a bullpen option in 2011. There are also a lot of guys with little or no big league experience being mentioned as options. I understand that is scary. We want certainty in the bullpen, right? Certainty, in this case, would have been retaining Jesse Crain and Matt Guerrier because they are veterans, right? But if I read the comments here at the StarTribune.com blogs or many Twins blogs, most blog commenters were not big fans of Jesse Crain. Most blog commenters were not exactly confident when Matt Guerrier would come into games. But aside from Rafael Soriano, Brian Fuentes and Type A free agent and former Twins pitcher Grant Balfour, few relievers have been more reliable than Crain and Guerrier. And you didn’t want them back. So, who would be out there at this stage that could be counted on more? I am a proponent of signing RHP Jose Veras and LHP Hideki Okajima, but in each case, there are reasons that their 2010 team non-tendered them. Certainly not guarantees.

Simply stated, there are very few reliable relief pitchers from year to year. Most (or at least many) relief pitchers are failed starters. There are a lot of injuries. It is in the bullpen where you can find diamonds in the rough. It’s where guys (like Guerrier) who are out of options to get an opportunity, and a few take advantage of it. Look at the Yankees’ David Robertson. In 2009, he was a question mark. In 2010, he was getting put into some pretty big situations for the pinstripes.

With that said, there are a lot of options for breakout types in the Twins bullpen. Remember that they only need three or four of these guys to produce for the Twins in 2011:

  • Anthony Slama - It amazes me that many Twins fans seem to think he can’t contribute to the team. Are people really willing to say that a poor 4.2 inning debut in the big leagues tells us that he can’t pitch up there? Really? His 1.95 ERA over four minor league seasons mean nothing? His 12.5 K/9 means nothing? His 1.06 WHIP? His 2.44 ERA in one-plus seasons at AAA mean nothing? Bloggers and blog commenters have been clamoring for Slama for a few years, and now they’ll give up on him? Because of 4.2 bad innings? I think Slama can be a solid 7th inning guy.
  • Alex Burnett - he has a chance to be really good. He came up as a starter, a successful starter, but in 2009, he moved to the bullpen. Despite not pitching in AAA, and only a short time in AA, he was on teh Twins Opening Day roster and spent most of the first half with the Twins. He struggled as the season went along, but he has great stuff and will definitely be back with the Twins, eventually pitching late innings.
  • Pat Neshek - It amazes me how quickly some Twins fans turned on the sind-winding reliever. Yes, his velocity was down. I get that. But this year, he will get an actual offseason of working out and preparing, not an offseason of rehabilitation. Will he come back and be as incredible as he was in 2006 and 2007? Maybe, maybe not, but I’m willing to give him that opportunity.
  • James Hoey - Similarly, there was a lot of excitement about Hoey with the Orioles in 2006 and 2007. The righty throws hard and was generally thought to be the closer of the future with Baltimore. And then he had shoulder surgery, and he worked his way back up the ladder. His velocity is back. The strikeouts are back. He will need to cut down walks, but he is a power arm that the Twins bullpen needs.
  • Rob Delaney - Delaney was undrafted in 2006 and dominated the lower levels of the minor leagues, including AA. AAA has been more of a struggle, but consider that in 80 AAA innings, he walked just 23 and struck out 92. Sure, his one inning in the big leagues last September wasn’t pretty. He looked nervous and gave up a homer, a single and a walk before getting the three outs. But again, I’ve heard some say that he can’t handle the big leagues because of that one outing.
  • Kyle Waldrop - It surprised a lot of people that the Twins didn’t protece Waldrop after a terrific 2010 season with the Rochester Red Wings. Since returning from his shoulder surgery, he has been incredible out of the bullpen. After 20 games in Ft. Myers, he posted a 1.46 ERA in 31 New Britain games. He posted a 2.57 ERA in 2010 in Rochester, but his ERA was at ONE halfway through the 2010 season. Yes, he was not good in the Arizona Fall League, but he still has a chance to be a very good, groundball reliever.
  • Glen Perkins - A left-hander who did succeed a few years ago as a starter, he looks to be a lefty reliever in 2010. Of course, he doesn’t get left-handed batters out, so I just don’t know how he can contribute, but stranger things have happened when players get opportunities.
  • Eric Hacker, Yorman Bazardo, Jeff Manship, Anthony Swarzak, Chuck James - These guys could all get an opportunity for a long relief role. Manship filled the role toward the end of 2010 and could do so again, but the others are options.
  • Carlos Gutierrez - In a podcast just last week, Gutierrez informed me that he wants to pitch out of the bullpen, that it is where he is ‘at home.’ However, he acknowledged that spending the last couple of years as a starter has been valuable in helping him develop secondary pitches. I’m frequently asked who could be the 2011 version of Danny Valencia. Kyle Gibson certainly could come up in June and contributed as a starter. Carlos Gutierrez could come up in June and really help out the Twins bullpen.

Are any of those big name acquisitions? No. They are internal options. Can any of them contribute to the Twins in 2011? Absolutely. Can three of four of them join Nathan, Capps and Mijares to form a solid bullpen? Defintely. Am I just trying to be positive here? Probably. But can the internal choices be equal or better than the external, high-cost free agents? Absolutely.

The Twins historically have relied upon their own players, on building from within. It’s been a philosophy that has worked well for them. Even if their payroll has gone from $65 million to $100 million to $115 million, there is no reason to start spending foolishly on free agents or giving up the farm for players who might help. Can the Twins win the division with their current roster? I think so. It’d be tough, but I would not put it against them.

To be fair (and honest), I have been immensely frustrated with the Twins offseason. I expected them to wisely stay away from high-dollar free agents. I thought we might hear more about trades than we have. The Twins might soon spend a lot of money for two or three years on a guy who is already 35 years old. They could also give two years to a 40 year old one-dimensional player. I’m sure those moves will make a lot of fans happy. Maybe I’m strange. I figure there are six or seven weeks until pitchers and catchers report, so I still hold out that the team will add an impact player, the type of player who can make a difference without breaking the bank. But I don’t know that the team is better. I also don’t know what the Twins plans are, or their contingency plans are (if Pavano and/or Thome were to sign elsewhere). No one does because the Twins front office is great at not letting information leak We can’t all be Jim Breen!

Finally, Twins fans need to remember one important thing… at least the Twins and their stability is a lot better than following the Vikings and their chaos this year!

MORE TO READ TODAY:

Here are a few more articles for you to peruse throughout the day:

·         JJ Stankevitz has been a frequent guest of the SethSpeaks.net Weekly Minnesota Twins podcast. He does a great job as the blogger for the White Sox site on Examiner.com. He is also a student at the University of Missouri where he writes for KBIA Sports Extra as well. He recently had the opportunity to meet fellow Missouri student/alumni and current Twins prospect Kyle Gibson. The results were a terrific article on Gibson.

·         Parker from Over the Baggy posted an article on the blueprint for a bullpen.

·         Needless to say, Fanatic Jack is Dazed and Confused about what is going on with the Twins offseason. It is really hard to disagree with him.

·         Twinkie Town has now completed its Top Ten Twins Prospects and you can now vote for Twins Prospect #11. Roger Dehring is going a great job of running the polls, and the discussion is terrific for anyone interested in Twins prospects.

Be sure to tune in to tonight’s SethSpeaks.net Weekly Minnesota Twins podcast, live at 9:00.

Carlos Gutierrez Discusses Bullpen

15 Dec

Good morning, Twins Fans! I was up early this morning and finished up the first draft of my Twins Prospect article that will be in the Twins 2011 Annual, by the Maple Street Press and TwinsCentric, which will be available in newstands and online in February. Today, I just want to post some Twins notes that I’ve got running through my head. What Twins topics are on your mind. Feel free to discuss our favorite team here.

SethSpeaks.net Weekly Minnesota Twins Podcast

On last night’s Twins podcast, I was joined by two Twins minor league pitching prospects. Right-hander Carlos Gutierrez and left-hander Tony Davis joined the podcast, and it was fun to talk to them. Gutierrez talked about his season, starting and pitching out of the bullpen, the Arizona Fall League, his pitches and much more. Davis told us about his high school and college career, getting drafted by the Twins and his development over his two seasons with the Twins. In the final ten or fifteen minutes, we talked with Fanatic Jack about some Twins offseason topics. It was a fun show, so hopefully you will listen and enjoy it. Please also note that I have changed the time of the show to Tuesday nights at 9:00 central time (instead of 10), so hopefully more people will be able to listen live and comment or call in.

GUTIERREZ ON BULLPEN

On the podcast last night, Carlos Gutierrez and I spent quite a bit of time discussing his thoughts on pitching in the bullpen, as opposed to starting. The discussion was really interesting and I would encourage people to listen to it, in full, as there were several other topics discussed as well.

At the Winter Meetings, the Star Tribune’s LaVelle E. Neal asked Twins GM Bill Smith if Gutierrez would stay in the bullpen or still might start, and of course, Smith said nothing, stating that it was up to the coaches to determine.  I thought it would be interesting to get the opinions of Gutierrez himself on what he would like to do. Here are some excerpts from the discussion:

Gutierrez: “after the All Star break, I got moved to the bullpen, and that’s where I felt at home.”

Gutierrez: “the stuff I was working on as a starter was good, working on secondary pitches. It’s all going to help me while in the bullpen.”

Gutierrez: “Nobody has actually come out and told me straight to my face that ‘you’re going to the bullpen for good,” but that’s what’s going around.”

Gutierrez: “ever since I’ve been drafted, the final product everybody wanted was in the bullpen.”

Gutierrez: “The bullpen’s worked out pretty good and that’s the way we’re going now.”

Gutierrez: “Definitely. I’d do anything they want me to do, but that’s (bullpen) where I had my success in the past and where I had my success this year. So we’ll see where that takes us.”

Gutierrez: “(as a) reliever, you’ve got to be ready to go out every day. I kind of like that better. You can get roughed up one day and you get put out there the next day and put the past behind you faster, so in that sense, I like relieving better, as opposed to starting.”

Gutierrez: “I do like coming into an inning and getting out of somebody else’s mess.”

Gutierrez: “being a ground ball pitcher, <…>getting a DP (double play) and getting out of an inning is great.”

Sounds like a guy who knows what he would like to do, but is willing to continue starting if that’s what the organization deems appropriate for his development. However, his future definitely appears to be in the bullpen. These quotes were a small piece of the interview. We also talked a lot about what he throws, pitching in the Arizona Fall League, his brother being drafted (twice) and signing with the Twins, and his plan for getting ready for the 2011 season. To listen to the whole show, click here.

TWINS SIGN MORE MINOR LEAGUE VETERANS

On Monday, the Twins and Rochester Red Wings announced six more minor league signings. I actually tweeted this on Monday afternoon. (For those of you who aren’t following me on Twitter, consider it. I post there more often just because it’s easy. News like this is easy to tweet in 15 seconds and then blog when I have time. To follow me on Twitter, click here.) This has definitely been a theme this offseason. The Twins are trying to give the fans in Rochester a winning product, something that they didn’t do last year. They previously had signed the likes of Jeff Bailey, Chase Lambin and Yorman Bazardo. Here are some quick blurbs on the six guys that the Twins signed (or at least announced signing) this week:

  • Infielder Ray Chang – 27 year old who spent 2010 primarily playing 3B for the Red Sox AA affliate.
  • Infielder Matt Brown – 28 year old who played 15 games for the Angels in 2007 and 2008. He went 1-24 in the big leagues. He hit .249 wit h18 doubles, five triples and ten home runs in 79 games with Oklahoma City, AAA affiliate of the Rangers.
  • Catcher Rene Rivera – In 2004, Rivera was 20 years old and called up to the Mariners and held his own. In 2005, he was supposed to be their heir apparent. It didn’t go well. He got another small chance in 2006. In 53 total big league games over those three years, he played 54 big league games. He was a backup catcher for the Yankees AA and AAA affliates in 2010. Now 27, Rivera hopes to compete for playing time in the Twins minor leagues.
  • Catcher Steve Holm – The 31 year old has spent the last decade in the Giants system. He played in 53 games for them in 2008 and 2009. In 2010, he hit .246 with their AAA affliates.
  • LHP Chuck James – The 29 year old went 24-19 with a 4.48 ERA with the Braves between 2005 and 2008. Injuries cost him some time. In 2010, he split time between the Nationals AA affiliate and made five AAA starts. He combined to go 10-1.
  • RHP Andy Baldwin – The 28 year old Minnesota native has pitched for Tacoma, the Mariners’ AAA affiliate, the last three years. He has pitched as a starter and out of the bullpen. Aaron Gleeman tweeted this signing a month ago.

Rochester and New Britain were really bad last year. The Twins clearly have made an attempt to improve those rosters. I also think it is an indictment on some of the Twins prospects at those levels. Maybe they didn’t advance as quickly or as well as the Twins had hoped. Signing veterans is a good way to keep your prospects from being pushed too quickly as well. Guys like Kyle Gibson and David Bromberg and Ben Revere’s careers and path won’t be affected by these signings. Last year, Deolis Guerra was pitching really well for the New Britain Rockcats. Unfortunately, he needed to be promoted to Rochester for a few starts. It went poorly and when he returned to Double-A, he never regained his stuff. Signing veterans keeps that from happening. None of these six players will likely contribute much to the Twins, if anything at all, but they can help the affiliates and help the prospects from moving too quickly.

PAVANO WATCH

Now that Cliff Lee is signed, I would imagine that Carl Pavano will want to sign relatively quickly. Obviously a team like the Rangers who went all-in on Lee and lost could now turn to Pavano. My guess is that Pavano will have some official offers within the next two or three days, and hopefully he will make a decision by the end of the week, or at least before Christmas.

Pavano was held up by Cliff Lee’s decision. The Twins have been held up to some degree by Carl Pavano’s decision. I sense, maybe fear, that the Twins will be the team that Pavano signs with in the end. That isn’t to say that I think signing Pavano is a bad thing. I’ve said since the middle of the summer that I would offer him a 2 year, $18 million contract, and include an option if needed. My fear is that what he did in 2010 is his peak. He had a great year. It would be hard to replace his 221 innings last year. I’d love to get draft picks, but if Pavano is brought back at a reasonable contract (length and years), I won’t be upset.

THOME TALK

There are some rumors that Thome is looking for a two-year contract, as he should be. And the Twins have given no doubt that they would love to have him back. I know some people want to combine the two topics and say that the Twins and Thome are close to a two-year deal. I have not heard that at all. As for my thoughts on Thome, sure, I’d like to see him come back (for one year). Great guy. Great clubhouse presence. Great power hitter. Approaching 600 home runs. I would be concerned if the dollars are too high though. If Justin Morneau is back and healthy, and Jason Kubel and Michael Cuddyer play like they can, Thome will be on the bench, in the role he was signed for last year. If that’s the case, I think a right-handed bat might make more sense. Of course, the Twins could trade someone like Kubel if they decide to bring back Thome, I guess. I wouldn’t. The Twins bench right now would be Drew Butera, Jason Repko, Matt Tolbert and one more spot. I like Thome, but the bench has not improved.

TWINS TALK

And that’s my biggest point on resigning Pavano and/or Thome. We want the team to be better, and signing them does not make them better. It makes them the same, assuming they play like they did last year, which I think is a stretch. To this point, the Twins have added Nishioka and a bunch of minor league veterans while losing JJ Hardy, Orlando Hudson and most of their bullpen.

My biggest point is that there are still two months until pitchers and catchers report, and we don’t know how all of this will play out. Pavano’s decision is really the first step to all of that. What will happen after that decision, none of us know. But as of right now, it’s hard for the most optimistic of Twins bloggers to be to excited about the Twins offseason. If the Twins sign Jose Veras and Hideki Okajima in the next week, maybe they are able to bring back Matt Guerrier, I’ll be happy. I would never advocate making a move just to make a move. That’s worse than not making a move at all. The Twins have a very good team as is, but there are areas that can certainly be improved.

Finally, I really believe it is a matter of when the Twins sign Tsuyoshi Nishioka. They have until December 26 and negotiations hardly seem contentious.

So there you have it, a lot of Twins information and thoughts. I’d be happy to hear your thoughts, opinions or ideas for the Twins. Thanks for reading!

Hamilton, Votto Win Stan Musial Awards

29 Oct

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

Press Release

Contact: Daniel Shoptaw                                                               FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
E-mail: baseballbloggersalliance@gmail.com                                  

3 P.M. EDT, October 28, 2010

HAMILTON, VOTTO TAKE HOME STAN MUSIAL AWARD

The Baseball Bloggers Alliance concluded their award season today by naming the best player in each league for 2010.  When all the votes were tallied, two men were comfortably ahead.

Texas outfielder Josh Hamilton, who hit 32 home runs and fashioned an OPS of 1.044 while leading the Rangers into the playoffs, won the award in the American League.  Hamilton received sixteen first place votes and 261 points overall, which put him ahead of his nearest competitor, Detroit first baseman Miguel Cabrera, by roughly 70 points.

In the National League, helping Cincinnati to an unexpected divisional title paid off for first baseman Joey Votto.  After a season where he cracked 37 home runs and posted a 1.024 OPS, Votto also received sixteen first-place votes toward his total of 252 points.  He also denied St. Louis first baseman Albert Pujols the chance to win back-to-back BBA awards.  Pujols was selected as MVP by the BBA in 2009, but placed second with 197 points in this year’s voting.

Winners of other Alliance awards also received votes in the Musial balloting.  In the American League, Walter Johnson winner Felix Hernandez received 21 points, while Goose Gossage selection Rafael Soriano had a single mention.  On the senior circuit, Walter Johnson winner Roy Halladay placed fourth in the voting with 101 points.

The complete voting results are as follows (first place votes in parenthesis):
American League
Josh Hamilton, Texas (16) 261
Miguel Cabrera, Detroit (4) 188
Robinson Cano, New York 158
Jose Bautista, Toronto (1) 146
Adrian Beltre, Boston 107
Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay (1) 102
Paul Konerko, Chicago 65
Carl Crawford, Tampa Bay 56
Joe Mauer, Minnesota 50
Shin-Soo Choo, Cleveland 44
Felix Hernandez, Seattle 21
Vladimir Guerrero, Texas 13
Justin Morneau, Minnesota 12
Delmon Young, Minnesota 10
Cliff Lee, Seattle/Texas 8
CC Sabathia, New York 8
Alex Rodriguez, New York 7
Clay Buchholz, Boston 4
Mark Teixeria, New York 3
Jon Lester, Boston 2
Ichiro Suzuki, Seattle 2
Nick Swisher, New York 2
Jim Thome, Minnesota 2
Kevin Youkilis, Boston 2
Brett Gardner, New York 1
David Ortiz, Boston 1
Rafael Soriano, Tampa Bay 1

National League
Joey Votto, Cincinnati (16) 252
Albert Pujols, St. Louis (3) 197
Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado (1) 118
Roy Halladay, Philadelphia (1) 101
Adrian Gonzalez, San Diego 98
Troy Tulowitski, Colorado 98
Ryan Zimmerman, Washington 93
Matt Holliday, St. Louis 84
Aubrey Huff, San Francisco 32
Adam Wainwright, St. Louis 17
Ubaldo Jimenez, Colorado 16
Josh Johnson, Florida 16
Dan Uggla, Florida 16
Jayson Werth, Philadelphia 16
Ryan Braun, Milwaukee 13
Prince Fielder, Milwaukee 10
Ryan Howard, Philadelphia 9
Martin Prado, Atlanta 7
Jason Heyward, Atlanta 6
Rickie Weeks, Milwaukee 5
David Wright, New York 5
Adam Dunn, Washington 4
Kelly Johnson, Arizona 4
Andres Torres, San Francisco 1
The Baseball Bloggers Alliance was formed in the fall of 2009 to encourage cooperation and collaboration between baseball bloggers of all major league teams as well as those that follow baseball more generally. As of this writing, the organization consists of 233 blogs spanning all 30 major league squads as well as general baseball writing.

The BBA is organized under a similar structure as the Baseball Writers of America, where blogs that follow the same team are combined into “chapters” and only two votes from the chapter on an award are counted. The blog chapters that are focused on general baseball were allowed two votes as well, which they could use both on the same league or split between the two leagues.

Chapters generally followed one of two methods when casting their ballot.  Either representatives of the chapter were given the ballots for voting or a “group ballot” was posted, accounting for both of their votes.

Ballots are posted on the respective blogs and for this award, were tabulated on a 13-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 point scale for first through tenth place. In the interest of transparency, links are given below for the ballots. Chapter affiliation is in parenthesis.  Those chapters that decided on the group method are noted with an asterisk.

American League
Camden Crazies (Baltimore)*
The Bottom Line (Boston)*
The Tribe Daily (Cleveland)*
Motor City Bengals (Detroit)
Switch Hitting Pitchers (Detroit)
One Royal Way (Kansas City)*
Twinkie Talk (Minnesota)
Seth Speaks (Minnesota)
Bronx Baseball Daily (New York)*
Contract Year (Oakland)
Rise of the Rays (Tampa Bay)
Infield Fly (Toronto)
The Blue Jay Hunter (Toronto)
Advanced Fantasy Baseball (Fantasy)*
Victoria Seals Baseball Blog (Other)*
Misc. Baseball (History)*
Blogging From The Bleachers (General)*

National League
Blog Red Machine (Cincinnati)
Marlin Maniac (Florida)
Marlins Diehards (Florida)
Feeling Dodger Blue (Los Angeles)
The Eddie Kranepool Society (New York)*
Dugger’s Corner (Philadelphia)
Where Have You Gone, Andy Van Slyke? (Pittsburgh)*
The Outfield Ivy (St. Louis)
Pitchers Hit Eighth (St. Louis)
Friar Forecast (San Diego)*
22gigantes (San Francisco)*
Advanced Fantasy Baseball (Fantasy)*
Victoria Seals Baseball Blog (Other)*
Misc. Baseball (History)*
Ron Kaplan’s Baseball Bookshelf (Miscellaneous)*
Blogging From The Bleachers (General)*

Prior Winners:  2009: Joe Mauer, Minnesota; Albert Pujols, St. Louis

The official website of the BBA is located at www.baseballbloggersalliance.com.  The BBA can be found on Twitter by the handle @baseballblogs and by the hashmark #bbba.  Members of the BBA may be heard at Blog Talk Radio every Tuesday night with their call-in show, BBA Baseball Talk, which may also be downloaded as a podcast from iTunes.  For more information, contact Daniel Shoptaw at founder@baseballbloggersalliance.com.

Any thoughts, please feel free to Comment Here.

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