also available at www.SethSpeaks.net –
- Be sure to check out the Nine to Noon Show with Paul Allen today on KFAN, its affiliates and KFAN.com. I will be joining the show at 9:20 to talk Twins. With the start of the Vikings season tonight, PA will be live from New Orleans preparing for the Vikings/Saints game, but we will be talking about the Twins.
TWINS ON FIRE, Sweep Royals
The Twins just finished a series at home in which they won eight out of nine games. The only loss on the home stand was the horrible 13 inning loss to the Detroit Tigers where many Twins fans thought the sky was falling down. Many thought that it would be the beginning of the end for the Twins and yet, as they have every other time they met adversity, they have gone on to sweep the Texas Rangers and the Kansas City Royals. I don’t care if the Royals have a lineup that could make the Eden Prairie American Legion team look big league caliber, it is still huge to get the sweep. There is a reason such teams are called “spoilers” at this time of year… because they have the ability to spoil playoff runs. The Twins have to bear down against the Royals, or in the upcoming series against Cleveland, in an attempt to not let down. Because if they continue to play good baseball, it’s hard to envision the team not making the playoffs.
Consider this: The Twins have 22 games remaining in their season. The White Sox have 23 games remaining. If the Twins continue on their current pace, they should go 13-9 the rest of the way. If they do that, the White Sox would have to go 19-4 the rest of the way in order to force a third straight Game 163 for the Twins. If the Twins play .500 ball (11-11), the White Sox would have to go 17-6. With a Magic Number of 18, it’s hard to imagine the Twins not winning the AL Central. Is it over yet? Of course not, but like I wrote, if the team just plays well down the stretch, it will be really hard for them not to.
The Twins are on pace to finish the season with a 96-66 record. It would mark the 14th time in the team’s 50 years in Minnesota that they had over 90 wins:
|1962, 1967, 1988||91-71||0.562|
And five of those 90 win seasons have come during the Ron Gardenhire tenure. And yet there are still Twins fans out there that question every single move the manager makes. No, I don’t say that I agree with everything Gardy does either, and that’s OK, but sometimes I do think it is wise to step back and appreciate what Gardy has done.
And I will argue that 2010 is his best work yet. I have never seen so many injuries in a season. Yes, other teams have injuries too, but not like this team has gone through. 2006 was an incredible year with a most unlikely second half. I think that this year’s team has more talent all-around, but that team had the AL MVP (Justin Morneau), the stat-heads’ MVP (Joe Mauer), the Cy Young Award winner (Johan Santana), a should-have-been Rookie of the Year despite his season coming to an early end (Francisco Liriano), and Torii Hunter talking away in centerfield.
One other thing to note about Ron Gardenhire and Rick Anderson… Baseball Prospectus has put together a statistic on Pitcher Abuse Points. It looks at the number of pitches that each pitcher has thrown. Considers how many pitches they average per start. It looks at the maximum number of pitches that starters have thrown in a game and other things. To no one’s surprise, Edwin Jackson is #1 in pitcher abuse points. Francisco Liriano is the first Twins pitcher to show on the list, at #63. Next on the list for the Twins? Carl Pavano at #118. The others are Kevin Slowey at #130, Nick Blackburn at #157, Scott Baker at #167, and Brian Duensing at #187.
It would sure be nice to get Danny Valencia back into the lineup. Matt Tolbert has done a nice job in his place the last five games. Valencia has put himself into contention for AL Rookie of the Year, but behind Neftali Feliz of the Rangers and Austin Jackson of the Tigers, so it would be great to get him back. That said, Tolbert has done well, and consider this: In 2009, he was the Twins starting 3B in September. In 78 September plate appearances, Tolbert hit .333/.365/.464 and played great defense. It was such a surprise last year because coming into September, he had hit just .178 with the Twins in 129 at bats. His 23 September hits equaled his total for the previous five months put together.
Speaking of Baseball Prospectus and some of their cool stats, they also look at the odds of teams winning their division, the wild card or advancing to the playoffs. Before last night’s win and White Sox loss, it listed the Twins as having a 89.6% chance of winning the division, and having a 90.1% chance of making the playoffs. I imagine that those numbers will be significantly higher when updated this morning.
The Twins should enjoy their off day today before heading back on the road. Hopefully Valencia, Jim Thome and Brian Fuentes will be able to get back on the field this weekend!
NFL “Expert” Picks – Week 1
Before getting to the picks, I would like to introduce this year’s panel (Please note that others have been invited and could be joining the weekly panel):
Jeff Manship – Jeff is in his fourth year on this panel. He was the Twins 14th round draft pick in 2006 out of Notre Dame. He has been promoted to the Twins five times this year, making one spot start and otherwise pitching in long relief.
Alex Burnett – Alex joins the panel for the second time. The Twins 12th round pick in 2005 out of his California high school, Burnett surprisingly was on the Twins Opening Day roster. He showed his promise throughout the first half of the season before being sent back to Rochester. He recently returned to the Twins for September.
Matt Fox – Matt is on this panel for the second year. He was a supplemental first round pick of the Twins in 2004 out of Central Florida. His story has been well documented in the last week, since I was able to break the news that he would be making his major league debut last Friday. He pitched great against the Rangers.
Dan Osterbrock – Osterbrock was the Twins 7th round pick in 2008 out of the University of Cincinnati. He was named the Appalachian League Pitcher of the Year in 2009. After a difficult 2009, Osterbrock was as good as any pitcher in the Twins farm system in 2010. He returned to Beloit and made five starts. He was twice Midwest League Pitcher of the week and threw a no-hitter. He was just as good the rest of the season with the Ft. Myers Miracle. This is his second year on this panel.
Steve Blevins – Blevins is also on the panel for the second year. The Snappers’ reliever was the Twins 21st round pick in 2008 out of Marshall. He returned to Beloit to start the season but throughout the course of the 2010 season, he was promoted to Ft. Myers and then to New Britain.
Kyle Gibson – Kyle was the Twins 1st round pick in 2009 out of the University of Missouri. He made his professional debut in 2010 with the Ft. Myers Miracle, but he also made starts in Double-A New Britain and Triple-A Rochester. It is likely Gibson will debut with the Twins in 2011. Gibson is on the panel for the second year.
Chris Parmelee – Chris is competing in this panel for the first time this year. He was the Twins 1st round pick in 2010. He began the 2010 season at New Britain but was sent back to Ft. Myers in mid-May. He quickly returned to New Britain where he played some of the best ball of his career. He will also be headed to the Arizona Fall League for the second straight season
Nate Hanson – He is from Chanhassen, went to Eden Prairie high school, moved on to the University of Minnesota before being drafted by the Minnesota Twins. After spending 2008 in Elizabethton and 2009 in Beloit, he moved up to Ft. Myers in 2010. He was one of the team’s top hitters and hit 11 home runs. This is his first year on the panel.
BJ Hermsen – Another first-timer on this panel, Hermsen had a very solid 2010 season. He began the year at Extended Spring Training, but advanced to Beloit where he made several starts. He eventually was moved back to Elizabethton where he pitched really well.
Dan Slowey –Dan is the man behind a very interesting website called Blogonoscopy. This is his third year in the panel. He will be working hard to defend his 2010 championship.
Anthony Maggio – Anthony joins the panel for the first time. He writes on the Twins for Fox Sports North and does a terrific job.
John Bonnes – John has been involved in the world of Twins blogging longer than anyone else. He is The Twins Geek,. He is also one of the TwinsCentric group.
Josh Johnson – Josh has been writing at Josh’s Thoughts, an excellent Twins blog. He is on the panel for the fourth year.
Andrew Kneeland –Andrew is in his third year on the panel. He writes about the Twins blog where you can get your Twins Target.
Travis Aune – Travis writes the Twins blog Travis Talks. He focuses a lot on the minor league system. He and I co-hosted Twins Minor League Weekly throughout the 2010 season. This will be his second year on the panel.
John Meyer – John is another very busy individual. His business is going strong into its second year and he does a great job as the Twins Most Valuable Blogger. This is his second year on the panel.
LaVelle E. Neal III – LaVelle has been on this panel for several years now. He is a Twins beat writer for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune which includes the blog Twins Insider. He also frequently appears on KFAN radio. He’s always a strong competitor in this competition.
Phil Mackey – P-Mac is on the Reusse and Mackey Show from noon to 2 weekdays on 1500espn. He frequently writes on the Twins at 1500espn.com. He is also co-owner of the MNPokerMag.com. He is one of the busiest sports media types in the Twin Cities, and this is his second year on the panel.
Darren “Doogie” Wolfson – Speaking of busy Twin Cities media types, Doogie can be found everywhere. He now works for KSTP-TV in the Twin Cities, and is the host of Twins Wrap on 1500espn. He is joining the panel for the second year.
Seth Kaplan – Seth is the sports director for Fox 9 in the Twin Cities. He often is on Sports on Demand, a weekly Monday afternoon sports talk show on MyFox9.com.
Jack Michaels – Jack competes in this panel for the third straight year. He is the host of The Jack Michaels Show on ESPN 710 The Fan in Bismarck, ND, and has been kind enough to let me be on his show from time to time. He was the original radio play-by-play guy of the Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks where he teamed with former Dodgers great Maury Wills.
Cory Hepola – Cory is currently a sports anchor for WROC-TV in Rochester, New York. You can find much more about him on his personal blog that includes postings and videos and much more.
Vic Quick – Vic has been on this panel for a long time. He is currently a sports reporter/anchor for KOTA-TV in Rapid City, South Dakota, and proclaims himself the biggest Texas Rangers fan in South Dakota. The Dallas native is also likely the biggest Cowboys fan in the state too! My former college roommate definitely knows his football, at least anything about Emmitt Smith or Troy Aikman, well, and the Concordia Cobbers!
Cody Christie – Cody writes the North Dakota Twins Fan blog, and is competing in the panel for the first year.
Kirsten Brown – Kirsten will be making her debut on the panel this year. She writes the K-Bro Baseball blog and makes the best brownies ever!
Shawn Berg – On the Road with Shawn is the name of his blog. The Minnesota native lives out in New York and frequently gets to Twins minor league games in Rochester and New Britain.
Emily Jipp – Emily joins the panel this year for the first time. She writes Cheap Seats Chatter. She’s also in charge of our Twoggers League, a fantasy football league with 14 Twins bloggers.
Andrew Bryz-Gornia – You may have met Andrew at Target Field this year where he enjoyed watching games while being an usher. He writes Off the Mark and is competing in the panel for the first time.
Blake Meyer – Blake is the originator of an incredible Twins website, Twins Cards. If you go there, you can see Twins baseball cards back to the team’s inception. You can find autographs and memorabilia and much more. Blake provides us an international flavor to the panel!
Michael Brasel – Long time friend (well over 30 years now), Mike was listed among the best players I have played ball with. He was one of the original panelists.
The Week 1 Picks
Alright, to see this week’s picks, go to www.SethSpeaks.net.