Archive for January, 2011

TwinsFest, The Final Day

January 31, 2011

Don’t doubt my baseball knowledge of major league service time, especially if 0.000 is the amount of service time for a particular player.

While waiting in the minor league autograph line for Kyle Gibson, Alex Wimmers, Joe Benson, and Kyle Waldrop, I overheard a fellow fan behind me state that Waldrop had pitched in a few major league games in 2010. I turned around and corrected him, saying that Waldrop had never pitched in the majors, and then this fan argued back that not only had Waldrop been a September call-up, but he had also started a few games for the Twins.

Umm…. what?

Again, I disagreed, and the guy proceeded to say that he would pull up Waldrop’s stats to show me that he was right. It was probably a good thing I turned away when I muttered, “Well, I could pull them up and show you that I am right.” Funny thing is that Bill Smith was nearby and this other guy asked Smith if Waldrop had played for the Twins last year, and Smith settled our disagreement by stating (as I knew) that Waldrop had never pitched in the majors.

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TwinsFest, Day 2

January 30, 2011

Well, I have to admit that this day went much better than Day 1, but that was likely because I was stationed inside the Sports Hall at Autograph Station #2 instead of the Schwan’s Center with all the crazy fans that wanted to meet Joe Mauer and Jim Thome.

Today, although I was working almost nonstop from 9 am to 6 pm, I still was able to chat with Jason Repko and Jerry White a little bit. I don’t have the conversations verbatim, but I’ll still paraphrase what we said and what was going on. But first…

I found it surprising to see some girls get in line right as the doors opened to get Drew Butera’s autograph. Even more amazing was that he wasn’t going to start signing until 11 am, 2 hours after doors opened. I understand he’s good looking and all… but I don’t think I would wait 2 hours in line just to meet him. Besides, I learned from all the sessions at line #2 that you could wait until the current session was half over and still get an autograph. It appears as though Thome and Mauer were the only two players that you might have trouble getting signatures.

Now, onto the Repko and White conversations.

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TwinsFest, Day 1

January 29, 2011

Friday, I was working at TwinsFest, but I still managed to do more than just stand around and give directions to fans. I was stationed inside the Schwan Center where the biggest players were signing autographs, and here’s some of the more interesting things that happened:

- Jim Thome had to briefly leave his session so he could go to the bathroom. It was amusing looking at his sheepish grin as he said, “Don’t worry, I’m coming back!” to the crowd as he exited the room.

- Remember Pork Chop Guy? Well, he was at TwinsFest. I got to share with him my side of the story, and his friend took a picture of us. Too bad I didn’t think to have a picture taken with my phone so I could post it here…

- Very few people went through the Gardenhire/Nathan line for the last 20 minutes of their session, so I got to talk to them for a bit. I brought up Rob Delaney being designated for assignment and claimed by the Rays, and Gardy admitted that he knew Delaney would be claimed. He also mentioned that he hopes Pat Neshek can get his velocity back up to what it used to be (don’t we all). As for Nathan, he was a bit bored towards the end and Michael Cuddyer was signing next, so he left this drawing for Cuddy on the table:

- I finished early so I was able to watch a Q&A with Bill Smith, Dave St. Peter, and Jim Pohlad. Being off-duty, I felt I could ask a question to Smith, and so I asked why the Twins liked Dusty Hughes enough to claim him off waivers, and why they chose to designate Rob Delaney for assignment. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the answer I was hoping for, as Smith spent most of his time explaining the whole process of these two transactions. However, he did say basically the same thing that was reported in the Star Tribune (Hughes pitched well against the Twins last season in 10 games), and also that they felt Delaney could be passed through waivers. I wanted a better explanation why they felt they could risk losing Delaney, but I suppose this will have to do.

Finally, if you plan on getting autographs in the Schwan Center, I strongly urge you to get in line as soon as possible. People were waiting outside the building for over an hour (my estimate) and many of them still failed to get autographs of the players they wanted because the building filled up quickly and we had to halt fans at the doors to allow the people inside to clear out. If you do choose to brave the outdoors to get that single autograph, then make sure to bring a jacket or get there early.

TwinsFest

January 28, 2011

This is just a quick update because I completely forgot to mention it in my latest Notepad Scribbles. Being a Twins employee, I was given first dibs to volunteer at TwinsFest and I will be doing so on Friday and all day Saturday. If you want to say hi to me, I will be posting my location at 3 pm Friday and 8 am and 1 pm Saturday on my Twitter account (times are estimates but they’ll likely be the only tweets I’ll have between these two days). Additionally, I plan on going as a fan on Sunday, so you may be able to run into me then as well. In case you forgot, this is what I look like.

Note: Picture shown may not be an accurate depiction of Andrew. If you are skeptical that this is his actual appearance, please consult this instead.

Notepad Scribbles: 1/26/11

January 26, 2011

New Blog

In case you haven’t heard, I just started up a new blog titled Things I’ve Learned…. Think of it being like a NotGraphs to Off The Mark’s FanGraphs, except with even less sports.

Every year since my freshman year of college, I’ve written a Facebook note titled “Things I’ve Learned From My _____ Year At Gustavus” with the blank being the respective year in college. These notes always have focused on the things I’ve observed about life and my surroundings that is not taught in classes. With how popular these notes have been with my friends, I felt like it would be nice to expand on some of these musings every once in a while. I deem these writings would not be appropriate for this blog, such as my “retirement” from Guitar Hero. I hope you check it out and enjoy what I have to say.

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Playing Through Pain

January 24, 2011

If you’ve watched or heard about Sunday’s NFL playoff game between the Packers and Bears, you’ve heard about Bears QB Jay Cutler taking himself out of the game at halftime with a knee injury. Many Bears fans were taking it pretty hard, including the Star Tribune’s own La Velle E. Neal III. After the game, videos started sprouting up on YouTube showing angry Bears fans burning their Cutler jerseys (that woman’s cackling in the background makes it seem like she wished they were burning Cutler himself) as their own personal retaliation for his apparently unforgivable act.

Then after the game, reports were surfacing that Cutler had torn his ACL. I’m no doctor, but I’ve seen and heard about enough injuries in sports to know that tearing your ACL is not something you can shake off. Granted, standing on the sideline wasn’t helping Cutler’s case, but I doubt that he could have continued playing and have any success.

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Wild Card: Pat Neshek

January 21, 2011

A couple days ago, I wrote a post about the Twins bullpen and why I think it will be better than we anticipate for the 2011 season. I briefly talked about some players that could rebound this year, and one of those guys I mentioned was Pat Neshek.

Neshek broke into the major leagues in 2006 at 25 years old, and his quirky sidearm delivery helped him to a 2.19 ERA (2.88 FIP) with 53 strikeouts and 6 walks in 37 innings. The same dominance happened in 2007, as he had a 2.94 ERA (3.67 FIP) in over 70 innings, again striking out over a batter per inning. However, 2008 didn’t start as well as the previous two seasons, and he eventually was sidelined by a tear in his UCL which led to Tommy John surgery.

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The Kid vs. The MVP

January 19, 2011

Let the frustration start again.

With Carl Pavano re-signing with the Twins, we will likely be treated to a weekly and sometimes bi-weekly appearance of Drew Butera as Pavano’s personal catcher. While this will allow Joe Mauer more off-days during the season, it also takes a former MVP out of the lineup and replaces him with one of the worst hitters in the majors. I admit, I’m one of the many that is frustrated by this move, especially since we saw last season that Pavano had roughly the same ERA with Mauer (3.79) as he did with Butera (3.65). However, I feel that I’m ok with this more than most people.

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Committing To The In-House Options

January 18, 2011

Although he first mentioned it earlier in the offseason, recently Bill Smith reiterated that he is content with the in-house options the Twins currently possess for the bullpen. This has made many fans concerned, and to some extent rightly so. Going into the offseason, I was sure that the Twins would attempt to re-sign at least one reliever out of the quartet of Matt Guerrier, Jesse Crain, Brian Fuentes, and Jon Rauch. However, we’ve now seen all four of them find new homes in Los Angeles, Chicago, Oakland, and Toronto, respectively. Looking at their contracts, it’s possible the Twins made the right decision in letting them all walk, especially if you consider that signing any one of them may have prevented the Twins from bringing back Jim Thome, and they were already committing nearly $20 million just to Joe Nathan and Matt Capps. I’m going to explain why the bullpen could be better off than we may think.

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What To Say?

January 14, 2011

Earlier today, it was announced that the Twins re-signed DH Jim Thome to a 1-year, $3 million contract with plenty of incentives based on plate appearances. The news of this signing brings up many thoughts for me.

First, I looked back at my offseason blueprint and noticed that I had wanted to sign Thome to a 1-year, $4 million deal. I overestimated the contract just a bit, but the incentives in the real contract could push Thome’s pay up to the levels that I predicted back in November. I do admit to being a bit surprised by the low base salary after Thome reportedly wanted more money when he saw how much Lance Berkman received from the Cardinals ($8 million for one year), but I think his demands went down when he realized he wouldn’t get much playing time and the plate appearance incentives could end up pushing the total salary into a range he wanted in the first place if he gets his name into the starting lineup again.

Second, many people were starting to worry about the Twins since their only major moves had included trading away J.J. Hardy and Jose Morales and signing Tsuyoshi Nishioka, but I mentioned that we haven’t even played a single game yet and many things could still happen between now and Opening Day. I’m not claiming to be prophetic; it was inevitable that the Twins would make a signing or two since they had never admitted to be done with making major moves.

Third, this is the second consecutive year the Twins sign Thome without actually needing him. Yes, he does improve the offense, but I (along with quite a few others) believed that it was more important to sign a righthanded bat. The possibility is still open (come on, Marcus Thames!), but regardless, I’m still happy to see Thome get added to a bench that would have consisted of Drew Butera, Matt Tolbert, Jason Repko, and either Luke Hughes or Trevor Plouffe.

Finally, this signing not only keeps these things relevant (speaking of which, I need to find mine again), but it also means that I may be forced to stand on the target range again. Plus, the chances of watching or even nabbing #600 from Thome will be worth it, even more than receiving this and that.


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