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Twins Territory: What it Really Means


MINNEAPOLIS, APRIL 8, 20011--The second season at the Target Field is upon us. As the ground begins to thaw and the air warms to a balmy 45 degrees, the people of Minnesota have awaited the opening home game with baited breath, excitement and hope for what is to come. But, there is another side to the Target Field beyond home runs, excited fans and Joe Mauer. On May 4, the Twins will open up their field for WCCO Sport reporter, director and anchor Mark Rosen’s Sixth-Annual All-Star Afternoon. The event supports ACES (Athletes Committed to Educating Students), a Twin Cities nonprofit organization that provides after school programs to at-risk students. The Minnesota Twins are one of ACES’ professional sport league supporters; and have been helping ACES’ staff, volunteers and students in the goal to close the academic achievement gap by making various generous donations every year.

So what does this have to do with sports? Well if we think back to the cardinal rules of baseball, the sport is constructed on elements of teamwork, goals and commitment. The Twins understand that they aren’t just a MLB team; but they are a part of this great community with fickle weather that we call Minnesota. Sometimes, it’s easy to forget that baseball extends beyond the gates of the great TF, but the Twins aren’t likely to forget their importance to the community any time soon. By coaching students that might have struck out a time or two, or might be down on their luck in their first couple innings of life, the Twins practice teamwork outside of the game. ACES students learn to overcome the academic curve ball life has thrown them and move beyond to find success. This is part of a legacy to our community, and we can see that teamwork, goals and commitment can expand to all aspects of life in the Twin Cities. As you sit in the stands this summer with the quintessential hotdog and cold beer, remember you’re not just watching a game. This is a Minnesota legacy, tradition and community. This is Twins Territory.


--Lauren Marosok

Another playoff appearance, another quick exit

By Josh Newman
As I sit here listening to KFAN Radio personality Dan Cole, also known as The Common Man, I have just received his word that, according to another source, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire has just been named American League Manager of the Year.

Good for him. He is a good manager and deserves the recognition. He has been the Twins manager since 2002 and the team is coming off its third-best regular season record under his direction. He has just guided the Twins to their sixth division title. He is good with his players and knows when to use everybody.

Having said all of this, I now ask you: what is it going to take to get this team to believe it can go all the way? Gardy’s regular season success has not exactly carried over to the postseason. In six postseason appearances, the Twins not only have won just one series, but they have not won a single postseason game since 2004.

Let’s face it: in the ALDS against the Yankees, the Twins were just outclassed. I admit right now that I was one of those many Twins fans who was hoping to draw anybody but the Yankees in the first round. The belief just was not there for me. I can still hear myself saying “Anybody but the Yankees! Anybody but the Yankees!”

Was my lack of faith justified? Was it possible the Twins were thinking the exact same thing?

All evidence points to: Yes.

After all, if history has taught the average Twins fan anything, it is that they need to make some drastic moves if they want to beat the Yankees. Whatever those moves are, I do not know besides to acquire another power hitter. All I know is this was Minnesota’s ninth consecutive postseason loss to New York, including two consecutive sweeps.

As I stated previously, the Twins were just outclassed. The Yankees were that much better in this series. New York is a fantastic team and they had the Twins beat in just about every possible match up. How ironic is it then that they currently trail the Texas Rangers 3 games to 1 in the ALCS?

Believe it or not, I actually thought at one point that the Twins had a chance to make their mark in this series. It was in Game 1. Minnesota had a 3-0 lead heading into the sixth inning thanks to a 2-run homer by Cuddyer in the second inning and Orlando Hudson scoring on a passed ball by Yankees catcher Jorge Posada.

Had the Twins been able to hold on to that lead, they may have been able to build off of that momentum. Instead, New York pushed four runs across the plate in the sixth inning, and two more on a home run by Mark Teixeira in the seventh inning. The Yankees held on for a 6-4 win, and never looked back.

After that loss, it looked as if the Twins just threw all hope out the window. During the final two games, the Twins managed just three extra base hits and hit .206 as a team.

Perhaps the series could have been much more competitive, at least. Maybe even an upset. But we’ll never know now, will we?

It’s true that the Twins were banged up for this series. Justin Morneau had already been lost for the year prior to the end of the season. Michael Cuddyer has just had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee. Nick Blackburn has had arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow, and Scott Baker will have arthroscopic surgery on his elbow this week. Rookie third baseman Danny Valencia had an MRI on his right elbow, and relief pitcher Jon Rauch has a sore knee that will be examined.

Throw on top of that mess that Joe Mauer will soon have an MRI on his left knee, and this is one bunch of guys that needs to find the road to recovery.

I am not too worried, though. The team has an entire offseason to recover, and my guess is they will be more than ready to go when they take the field for the 2011 season.

Washington leads Texas over Tampa.

Ron Washington should be manager of the year. I know that is not received well in Minnesota. Our beloved Ron Gardenhire has been overlooked so many times, that this has to be his year. Well maybe he hasn't been overlooked, he's just been properly evaluated. I'm not sure if the voting includes the postseason, but if it does, in my opinion it's a no brainer. Ron Washington didn't something I'm not sure "Gaardy" is capable of. Well I'm almost certain Gaardy couldn't do it, because I'm not sure he's capable of taking a 2-0 lead in a series. But Washington let his guys into a game 5 on the road, and came out with a win. Washington's taken a team that for the past few years, had an indentity of all power, no pitching, no defense, no "small ball". They didn't do the little thing's that Gaardy loves so much. Well whatever they're doing now, they are doing it right. And you have to give the manager credit. We give Gaardy so much credit for every good thing the Twins accomplish, and usually it's deserving. But to say that Gaardy should win this award hands down is just moronic.

While it's obvious that Cliff Lee was the difference for the Rangers, and Washington couldn't have done it without him. Remember about a month after the trade deadline, and the papers, and FSN would run stats of what Cliff Lee had done since the trade deadline, and what Brian Duensing had done. Duensing had better numbers at one point, so they were leading us to believe that not trading for Cliff Lee was a good decision for the Twins. Instead we traded for a closer that was never used, and set up guy that wasn't brought in (We brought in Mijares in Game #1 instead). So Cliff Lee didn't go 2-0 with a 1.13 ERA, and 21 strikeouts in his first two starts with the Rangers in August. He just did that in the first round of the playoffs instead!!!! Imagine a Cliff Lee starting game #1 at Target Field, and dominating and giving the Twinks some confidence, and Liriano pitching game #2. And always knowing that if things get hairy, we always have Cliff Lee we could bring in 3-4 days rest.

Who knows how the Rangers will do against the Yanks, but they have pitchers that strike guys out. Hitters that hit. So that in my opinion gives them a chance in any game they play. So congrats to the Rangers, good luck against the yanks.

Twins acquire lefty Brian Fuentes from Angles

By Derek Wetmore

Ken Rosenthal reported today that the Twins have acquired left handed closer Brian Fuentes from the Anaheim Angles today for a player to be named later or cash considerations. My immediate reaction was that this is a player who is over-the-hill and is being overrated because he's a closer. But a closer look at the numbers, and it starts to make a little more sense. Fuentes eats left handed hitters for breakfast, and coupled with the injuries to Jose Mijares and Ron Mahay, the timing of the addition seems to make sense.

In 38 at bats against lefties this year, the southpaw is holding opponents to a .132 average and a .209 on-base percentage. Those are paltry numbers, but the majority of his opponent batters faced have been right handed. Fuentes is averaging over a strikeout per inning, currently sporting a 9.16 K/9 for 2010. He does walk more batters than the average late inning option, averaging over four per nine innings. He has 23 saves this year, but the move to Minnesota means he will likely set up instead of slamming the door late in games. The numbers against lefties would make him an ideal lefty specialist, but that's likely not a luxury the Twins will have down the stretch, with Mijares not expected back until mid-September.

This has been a busy week for the Twin's front office, as they also added Randy Flores - formerly of the Colorado Rockies.

It's not clear who the PTBNL is yet, but indications are the teams have agreed to a specific player who Angels' general Manager Mike Reagins described as "a prospect with upside." No conclusion should be made of the deal before we know who that player will be, but that bullpen looks pretty good on paper for down the stretch.

Capps CL
Fuentes SU, L
Crain
Guerrier
Rauch
Flores L
Perkins L

When Mijares returns, rosters will have already expanded, so no one needs to be sent down to give him a spot on the roster. However, he will likely supplant either Flores or Perkins for the playoff roster. 




Derek Wetmore is a sports reporter for the Minnesota Daily. He edits and operates Wet Socks.

Twins Mix blog featured writers Josh Gloe, Travis Hines, Rick Jourdan,Eric Johnson, Matthew Deery, Josh Newman, Brandon Warne
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