SethSpeaks to Twins Daily

19 Feb

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”

I’ve Got Good News and I’ve Got Bad News

I alluded to it late last week in a blog post, and a couple of people caught it. I wrote something about how SethSpeaks.net is winding down, and today is that day. This blog entry will be the final blog entry at SethSpeaks.net.

But before I wax poetic about the nearly nine years of blogging on the Twins at SethSpeaks.net, I am excited to tell you that I’m not really going anywhere. I am not done blogging about the Twins. Just a new start, fresh with a new look. I am really excited to announce that as of today, the TwinsCentric guys are starting a new Twins website called Twins Daily. Nick Nelson, Parker Hageman, John Bonnes and I are consolidating efforts. You will be able to find our writings in one spot, at www.TwinsDaily.com. So, be sure to check out that site and bookmark it! 

What is Twins Daily?

TwinsCentric is kicking off TwinsDaily.com as part of a continuing effort to bring together a community of Twins fans and bloggers. We believe it will be a great location for terrific independent Twins coverage on the internet.

If you go to TwinsDaily’s Home Page, you will see a lot of information. You will find several Twins articles from the TwinsCentric guys as well as their Twitter feeds and links to comments, blogs and other Twins blogs around the Twins blogosphere. There will be anywhere from one to three new articles each day.

Come for the Content. Stay for the Conversation.

We are excited about the Forums as well. You will be able to comment on our articles, but you will also be able to comment on any Twins topics, minor league discussion (On the Farm), More Baseball topics, Game Threads and more. Hopefully the comments sections will maintain civility while not being afraid to have a good, quality, educated discussion. We hope it will create a fun and interesting discussion on these topics.

Blogs – If you sign up as a member of the site (which is free to do!), you can comment, but you can also create your own blog. You can customize your own blog on the site and develop your own content. Readers can view all blogs, and TwinsCentric will “promote” the best blogs to the front page for greater exposure.

There is much more to the Twins Daily site that we are still learning about each day. So, I really hope that you will become a daily reader and contributor at www.TwinsDaily.com. Hopefully you will Register and participate.

Gone, but not Gone

In May of 2003, urged on by some friends, I decided to start a blog. The story I have told all along was that I did an internet search for “Twins Dork.” I was bored one day and wondered what kind of information I could find on my favorite baseball team. The link took me to a new blog called The Twins Geek. From there, I learned about Aaron’s Baseball Blog. I figured I had some knowledge on baseball and the Twins and could write a little bit, why not try this “Blog” thing! Of course, back then, not many even knew what a blog was. That’s when SethSpeaks.net was born. At the time, it wasn’t just a Twins blog. I wrote about all Minnesota sports, and TV shows and movies, and pretty much everything I wanted. However, the best feedback and the largest readership came when I wrote about the Twins.

Back then, I was happy to get 20-25 hits a day. That number gradually increased over time. SethSpeaks.net has opened up so many opportunities for me, as well as helped me meet so many great people. It was pretty cool when the site got mentioned in Sports Illustrated a few years ago. It has allowed me to gain some readership and an audience that has bought some of my Prospect Handbooks. I have gained friendships with so many Twins fans, bloggers, writers, media types and many players as well.

But as life gets more and more busy, it has become more and more difficult to maintain SethSpeaks.net. Believe me, when I went a day without writing, I truly felt guilty. Part of the site was that it wasn’t a ‘pretty’ site. It was rough. Most probably don’t know that I had to write each day’s blog in one document, then post it into an Archive page and then onto the main SethSpeaks.net page. Then I started up the WordPress site (talkintwinsbb.blogspot.com) a few years ago because it gave me an RSS feed and allowed for comments. So, once it was entered into SethSpeaks.net, I also had to enter it onto the WordPress site, then grab that link to post back to the other pages to link for comments. In other words, it was a mess and by myself I just did not have the time to find a better way.

So, I am sure that some might be disappointed that SethSpeaks.net will no longer be my primary site. That said, I wouldn’t be moving to this other site (TwinsDaily.com) if I didn’t believe in it 100% All four TwinsCentric writers are a little different but provide  really good Twins content. What will my role be on the new site? I’ll have some administrative duties throughout a week, but in terms of content, what you found at SethSpeaks.net, you will continue to find at TwinsDaily.com. That includes a ton of minor league information. In fact, if you click here, you can see that there is a SethSpeaks.net page and you can set up an RSS Feed so that any time I post a blog, you will see it.

I am also really excited to let you know that some Twins minor leaguers will be blogging at TwinsDaily.com. Minnesotan and former Gophers SS and Twins 25th round pick last year, AJ Pettersen, will be writing. Left-handed reliever Tony Davis will also be writing about once a week. Last year’s Appalachian League Pitcher of the Year, Tim Shibuya, will also be writing from time to time. I’m still hoping that several more players will write as well. (Note that you can get RSS Feeds for their blogs as well. And secondary note, to all Twins players and minor league players, if you would like to blog, please feel free to do so!)

SUMMARY

It has been incredibly cool, and life-altering (to some degree) to write almost daily at SethSpeaks.net for almost nine years. It is a huge part of my life. I really hope that those of you who have read SethSpeaks.net will start heading to TwinsDaily.com, become members and participate to whatever degree you are comfortable. 

Thank you for all of your support throughout the years, and I hope that will continue! I welcome any feedback you may have, so please feel free to e-mail me or use the Comments Section!

Four Words That Make Me Smile: Pitchers and Catchers Report!

17 Feb

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

We’ve been patient, at least as patient as we can. But it is really difficult. I mean, the last time we saw the Minnesota Twins play was September 28, 2011. What a game it was. Twins starter Carl Pavano threw nine shutout innings against the Kansas City Royals. Bruce Chen tossed eight scoreless at the Twins. Thankfully, the Royals brought reliever Blake Wood into the game, and you all remember, Trevor Plouffe lined a single that scored Denard Span and gave the Twins the win. That win came 143 days ago! 143 days! That’s almost five full months. Simply… that’s far too long to go without watching or favorite team. Since that day, the Twins lost several players including Michael Cuddyer, Jason Kubel, Joe Nathan, Jason Repko, Matt Tolbert and more. Jim Pohlad also decided to relieve Bill Smith of his GM duties and replace him with an old friend, Terry Ryan. Ryan has added free agents Josh Willingham, Jamey Carroll, Ryan Doumit, Jason Marquis, Joel Zumaya and a boat load of strong-armed minor league free agents. We have celebrated Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years. Many of us had the opportunity to start getting prepped for the 2012 season by attending a Twins Caravan. Then many of us met at the Metrodome for Twins Fest. The last three weeks have been difficult. We’re all ready for things to get started.

And this morning, we can finally say the four words that mean so much to baseball fans. Sure, many in the world want to talk about the Three Little Words that get uttered on Valentine’s Day. But for a baseball fan, no four words are more exciting than “Pitchers and Catchers Report.” This morning in Ft. Myers, Twins pitchers and catchers will report to Hammond Stadium in Ft. Myers. They won’t hold a full workout. That will happen on Sunday. Last night, Twins Director of Communications tweeted that “33 pitchers and catchers are ready to report in Ft. Myers tomorrow. (This) includes 11 non-roster pitchers and 5 non-roster catchers.” The other 25 position players will report in just a few days. Spring Training games begin in less than two weeks.

Spring Training is about a fresh start. The sounds of baseball. The pop of catchers’ mitts. The encouraging shouts of coaches. The opportunity for a new beginning. Hope. Joy. Optimism. All great words. All appropriate today because of those four special words that baseball fans wait for all winter: Pitchers and Catchers Report! 

Any thoughts? Please feel free to e-mail me or use the Comments Section!

Top 50 Twins Prospects; SethSpeaks vs. Twinkie Town

16 Feb

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

Our good friends over at Twinkie Town have spent the past couple of months working on their community Top 50 Twins Prospect list. Each day, those who went to their site were able to cast their vote for a player. The player with the most votes gets the spot, and the next day they would vote for the next spot. They started at #1 and worked all the way to #50 and the best part was community discussion each round.

I thought it would be fun to compare and contrast my Top 50 Twins Prospect list to the Twinkie Town list. The top five on each list are the exact same, but after that, there are some significant differences, and by the time it reaches the end of the list, there are several names that don’t appear on both lists. So, as pitchers and catchers are set to report to Ft. Myers on Saturday and SethSpeaks.net is winding down, discuss these lists and feel free to post your own rankings. 

Rank

SethSpeaks Top 50 Twinkie Town Top 50

1

Miguel Sano Miguel Sano

2

Eddie Rosario Eddie Rosario

3

Oswaldo Arcia Oswaldo Arcia

4

Aaron Hicks Aaron Hicks

5

Joe Benson Joe Benson

6

Liam Hendriks Kyle Gibson

7

Kyle Gibson Chris Parmelee

8

Adrian Salcedo Liam Hendriks

9

Alex Wimmers Brian Dozier

10

Chris Parmelee Chris Herrmann

11

Brian Dozier Max Kepler

12

Travis Harrison Levi Michael

13

Tom Stuifbergen Adrian Salcedo

14

Angel Morales Alex Wimmers

15

Chris Herrmann Angel Morales

16

Manuel Soliman Carlos Gutierrez

17

Levi Michael Tom Stuifbergen

18

Max Kepler Travis Harrison

19

Niko Goodrum Niko Goodrum

20

Hudson Boyd Hudson Boyd

21

BJ Hermsen Logan Darnell

22

Danny Santana Madison Boer

23

Madison Boer Manuel Soliman

24

Terry Doyle David Bromberg

25

Logan Darnell BJ Hermsen

26

David Bromberg Lester Oliveros

27

JD Williams Matt Hauser

28

Matt Hauser Deolis Guerra

29

Jairo Perez Tyler Robertson

30

Pat Dean Scott Diamond

31

Matt Summers Terry Doyle

32

Danny Rams Nate Roberts

33

Scott Diamond Matt Summers

34

Angel Mata Cole DeVries

35

Corey Williams Corey Williams

36

Danny Ortiz Matt Bashore

37

Carlos Gutierrez JD Williams

38

Nate Roberts Danny Rams

39

Lance Ray Pat Dean

40

Deolis Guerra Andrew Albers

41

Michael Gonzales Dakota Watts

42

Lester Oliveros Tim Shibuya

43

Ryan O’Rourke Lance Ray

44

Hung-yi Chen Evan Bigley

45

James Beresford James Beresford

46

Bobby Lanigan Tony Davis

47

Tyler Grimes Danny Lehmann

48

Anderson Hidalgo Jorge Polanco

49

Tim Shibuya Angel Mata

50

Luis Nunez Jairo Perez

Any thoughts? Please feel free to e-mail me or  use the Comments Section!

Terry Doyle Stars on SethSpeaks.net Twins Podcast

14 Feb

Twins Rule 5 draft pick Terry Doyle was the star guest on last night’s SethSpeaks.net Weekly Minnesota Twins Podcast. The right-hander comes to the Twins organization after spending the past few seasons in the Chicago White Sox organization. The New Hampshire native went to Boston College where he went four years, was drafted twice and graduated with a math major. He teamed with the Twins prospects on the Mesa Solar Sox roster in the Arizona Fall League where he went 4-0. All told, last season, he passed the 200 innings pitched count. He is certainly excited about his opportunity with the Twins.

Twins pitchers and catchers will report to Ft. Myers (officially) on Saturday and their first workout is on Sunday. Of course, as is always the case, most of the Twins roster, including many minor leaguers, are already working out in Ft. Myers.

Following the 20+ minute interview with the talented right-hander, Fanatic Jack and I discussed/argued several Twins related topics. I also gave a minute or two rant about why I chose to be optimistic and positive despite my ability to be realistic as well. I actually think it went pretty well as it wasn’t an interview session, it was just back and forth Twins banter on a smorgasbord of Twins topics.

If you missed the live show on Tuesday night, be sure to listen to the podcast by clicking here.

Any thoughts? Please feel free to use the Comments Section!

Aces of Baseball

14 Feb

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

Throughout the past few offseasons, the comments I hear most regarding the Twins needs involve the need to acquire an Ace. In fact, I’ve said it a few times myself. Of course, that isn’t completely true and it is never the full story. You see, for the mid-90s, the Twins had not only an Ace, but the best pitcher in baseball, and that didn’t get them to the second round of the playoffs. The 2011 Phillies boasted a starting rotation of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt and didn’t get to the World Series. That rotation has two definite Aces, a borderline ace and a former ace.

I’d also caution that many people, one year ago, felt that Francisco Liriano fell into the borderline ace category. That is just one example of why I believe that to be a true ace, there has to be greatness over several seasons. Another example would be Ubaldo Jimenez who was dominant for half of the 2010 season but hasn’t been great since. Like Liriano, Jimenez has a chance to return to ace-like status, but we shall see. 

With that, I took to Twitter yesterday where I asked my ‘followers’ which current major league pitchers would or should be classified as True Aces. The response was great, and I will break this into the true aces (my opinion), and those on the borderline (my opinion).

True Aces:

  • Justin Verlander (Year 3 of five year, $80 million contract – $20M)
  • Clayton Kershaw (Year 1 of two year, $19 million contract – $7.5M)
  • Tim Lincecum (Year 1 of two year, $40.5 million contract – $18M)
  • CC Sabathia (Year 1 of five year, $122 million contract – $23M)
  • Felix Hernandez (Year 3 of five year, $78 million contract – $18.5M)
  • Cliff Lee (Year 2 of five year, $120 million contract – $21.5M)
  • Roy Halladay (Year 2 of three year, $60 million contract – $20M)
  • Jared Weaver (Year 1 of five year, $85 million contract – $14M)
  • Dan Haren (Year 4 of four year, $44.75 million contract – $12.75M – $15.5M club option for 2013)
  • Yovani Gallardo (Year 3 of five year, $30.1 million contract, $5.5M)
  • Matt Cain (Year 3 of three year, $27.25 million contract, $15M)
  • Chris Carpenter (Year 1 of two year, $21 million contract – $10.5M)

Borderline Aces:

  • Josh Johnson (Year 3 of four year, $39 million contract – $13.75M)
  • Cole Hamels (avoided arbitration, $15M)
  • Adam Wainright (Year 5 of four year, $15 million contract – Cardinals picked up $9M option for 2012 despite Tommy John surgery)
  • Zach Greinke (Year 4 of four year, $38 million contract – $13.5M)
  • Matt Garza (avoided arbitration, $9.5 M)
  • Jon Lester (Year 4 of five year, $30 million contract, $7.625M)
  • Josh Beckett (Year 2 of four year, $68 million contract – $15.75M)
  • David Price (avoided arbitration, $4.25M)
  • Ricky Romero (Year 2 of five year, $30.1 million contract, $5M)
  • Anibal Sanchez (won arbitration, 1 year, $8M)

Could be an Ace quickly: Matt Moore, Stephen Strasburg, Mat Latos, Yu Darvish, Michael Pineda, Jeremy Hellickson, Tommy Hanson, Julio Teheran, Gerrit Cole, Dylan Bundy.

So, when I hear Twins fans say, “We (meaning, the Twins) need an Ace,” I will frequently say, “I agree. How are the Twins going to get one?”

Not one pitcher in that top list is available. Part of the reason they are in that top list is that, so far, they have been able to stay healthy. Johan Santana used to be in that category, but now that he hasn’t pitched for over 18 months, I’m not so sure he should be there any further. In the “Borderline” category, there are some guys who have been really good for a short period of time, or there is some injury concern or some inconsistency.

We can argue what an Ace is, who is or who isn’t. That’s not really the point here. The point is that they are not easy to come by. These guys are not available, and after the Mat Latos trade earlier this offseason, it’s understandable to see why. Latos was traded to the Reds from the Padres in exchange for Edinson Volquez, Yonder Alonso, Yasmani Grandal and Brad Boxberger. Part of that is because Latos is not even arbitration-eligible for another year. However, the Cubs have been trying to trade Matt Garza much of the offseason and either are not getting any interest or the asking price is beyond what anyone is willing to pay. Santana is probably a big reason why. When the Twins traded the two-time Cy Young winner to the Mets, he was baseball’s best pitcher. He was good for another year and a half and then he did what most pitchers do, he got hurt. Of course, he could still come back. We shall see. But will he ever be what he was again? Probably not.

More than half of the players listed above were drafted in the first half of the first round. The Twins have had one pick in the first half of the first round since 2002. The Twins have a big opportunity in the June draft when they have the 2nd overall pick. Mark Appel’s name is frequently mentioned as a possible choice. The Stanford right hander doesn’t really profile as an Ace, more like a 2 or 3 starter (like Kyle Gibson, Alex Wimmers or Liam Hendriks). Not that there is anything wrong with a 2 or 3 starter. Those are very good pitchers who will make a lot of money when they hit free agency. Lucas Giolito is another pitcher, a high school pitcher, who gets mentioned as a possible #2 pick. He profiles much more like a future Ace, but there is much more risk with a high school pitcher than with a college pitcher. Of course, by the time of the draft in June, there may be another name (pitcher or hitter) who is the best available player at that #2 spot and that’s who the Twins should take. The Twins have five picks in the top 100 picks this June.

Along with signing Miguel Sano, Jorge Polanco, Javier Pimentel and other talented Dominican hitters, the Twins have also done a good job signing several top Dominican pitchers in recent years. They have signed two top young pitchers from Taiwan.

I completely agree with people who say that the Twins need an Ace. Frankly, the best way for that to happen is for Francisco Liriano to gain a little self-confidence, trust his stuff and become that pitcher again. He was there in 2010. It’s a contract-year for him, so it would be to his benefit if he did regain that form this year. Scott Baker was pitching as well as anyone last year before his elbow injuries. He really needs to step up too.

And then they just have to find a way to sign the right draft picks and international players and develop them. Frankly, I’m not as worried about getting a True Ace. That doesn’t guarantee anything. But I do think that pitching does win, and if they had more #2s and #3s that were consistent, they would be just fine.

Any thoughts? Please feel free to use the Comments Section!

—–

Should Twins Acquire AJ?

12 Feb

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

No, I do not think that the Twins should consider a trade to bring back former catcher AJ Pierzynski. I’m talking about whether or not the Twins should consider working on a trade with the Yankees to acquire RHP AJ Burnett.

When asked about that idea weeks ago, my immediate response was “No, thank you!”

But upon further review, I think it’s a valid question to ask. Burnett has been pretty bad the last two seasons. In 2010, he was 10-15 with a 5.26 ERA and a 1.51 WHIP. In 2011, he was 11-11 with a 5.15 ERA and a 1.43 WHIP. He is also owed $33 million over the next two seasons. He turned 35 years old in January.

All those reasons mean that the answer probably should be “No, thank you!” But maybe it isn’t and shouldn’t be that simple. It appears that a deal between the Yankees and the Pittsburgh Pirates is likely, but here are a few reasons that the Twins should at least make a quick phone call to Brian Cashman: 

  • The first assumption would have to be that the Yankees will cover $20-25 million of the $33 million remaining on Burnett’s contract. If that can’t be agreed upon, then there is zero reason to continue discussion.
  • The second assumption is that the Yankees are not looking for a top prospect in return. Of course, if they’re going to hand over that much money, they will want something of quality too. If they think they’re going to get Miguel Sano, then the discussion can end too.
  • He has made 32 or more starts each of the past four seasons. He has thrown more than 186 innings each of those seasons.
  • Getting out of New York can be a good thing for many pitchers, especially after a bad year or two. Think anyone understands that better than Carl Pavano. The two were teammates with the Marlins from 2002 through 2004. Could playing in Minnesota and with an old teammate help Burnett reach his potential again?
  • Burnett may be a big of an enigma, but he’s an enigma who throws really hard and has a really nasty slider and as recently as three years ago, he struck out more than a batter per inning.
  • A rotation of Burnett, Liriano, Baker and Pavano is a pretty good start. Burnett has the stuff, like Liriano, to be a top of the rotation guy. Baker is a very good #2. Burnett has playoff experience and success.

The case can also be made that he, like Liriano, may be a bit of a head case. We don’t know if he will improve by being out of New York. We don’t know that he will continue to be healthy. We don’t know what the Twins advanced scouts think of what he has left.

It won’t happen, and it probably shouldn’t happen. At the end of the day, I probably would still say “No, Thank you!” The discussion is certainly worthwhile, and I have to assume that it was discussed at least to some level in the Twins front offices.

Any thoughts? Please feel free to use the Comments Section!

Alexi and Arbitration

11 Feb

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

In the next couple of days, the Alexi Casilla arbitration situation will be over. Arbitration hearings are to be complete by February 15th. The sides are not to discuss when a hearing is scheduled, so we don’t know when the Twins and Casilla would have a hearing in front of an arbiter. Of course, it is also possible that the two sides will come to an agreement before going to arbitration.

This is Casilla’s second year of arbitration. Last year, he signed before a hearing and played the 2011 season making $865,000. 2011 was a strange season for Casilla. He began the season as the Twins starting shortstop. In April, he hit .167/.227/.200 in 22 games. Trevor Plouffe was called up and got almost a dozen games at shortstop. Tsuyoshi Nishioka, who was rehabbing his broken leg, was being moved to shortstop. Casilla was really bad. However, once you get past April, Casilla had a very solid season. Check out his monthly splits:

  • April – .167/.227/.200
  • May – .288/.351/.424
  • June – .274/.349/.400
  • July – .283/.333/.404
  • Season – .260/.322/.368 in 97 games.

Unfortunately, he played just one game in August and September combined due to an injury. If you recall, he came back for one game and was immediately placed on the disabled list again afterward.

Casilla’s 97 games played in 2011 was on less than his career-high of 98 games played as a 23 year old in 2008. He will go into the 2012 season as the Twins starting second baseman, but frankly, many question if he isn’t best as a utility middle infielder.

Casilla and his representation is asking for $1.75 million. The Twins offer was $1.065 million. The midpoint is $1.407 million. Here are some comparables:

  • Robert Andino (Orioles) – Settled for $1.3 million
  • Mike Aviles (Red Sox) – Settled for $1.2 million
  • Jeff Baker (Cubs) – Settled for $1.375 million
  • Emilio Bonifacio (Marlins) – WON at $2.2 million
  • Mike Fontenot (Giants) – Settled at $1.05 million
  • Chris Getz (Royals) – Settled for $968,000
  • Jed Lowrie (Astros) – Settled for $1.15 million

After reviewing this list and doing some comparison, I don’t think that Casilla is wrong in asking for $1.7 million. I personally think that the midpoint of $1.407 million seems fair. Obviously the Twins biggest case is that he hasn’t ever played in 100 games, so I don’t blame them for coming in low.

My guess: Right before it would go to an arbitration hearing, they’ll agree to a one year, $1.4 million salary. I think that if it does go to arbitration, Casilla would likely win.

Did You Know?

It was on this day (February 11) in 1974 that this whole arbitration system was established? According to JJ Swol of Twins Trivia, 48 players invoked their new arbitration rights including Twins pitcher Dick Woodson. Woodson was seeking $30,000 and the Twins were offering $23,000. My how things have changed in nearly 40 years. Woodson won, by the way. 

Any thoughts? Please feel free to use the Comments Section!

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