Thursday, July 31, 2014

30 Life Lessons From 30 Years

I turn 30 years old this week. Time certainly flies by because I don't feel much older than my early 20s. I suppose that's all part of the journey. I've made mistakes in my 30 years and there's a pretty good chance I will make some more mistakes in the future. Out of those mistakes, I have learned a thing or two.

Here is a look at 30 life lessons I've learned in my 30 years.

Life

1. Relax. Life is better when you take time to stop and smell the roses.
2. Stay healthy. Exercise, eat the right foods, and take care of your body because it's the only one you get.
3. Always mind your manners. "Please" and "thank you" are two phrases that don't get used enough.
4. Everyone makes mistakes. It's your job to learn from those mistakes and become a better person.
5. Most of the best things in life are free. A long phone conversation, a walk in the park, or just sitting down with a good book can all be found for little or no cost.

Family

6. Value the time you spend with your family because you never know when that time will get taken away.
7. During the hard times in life, lean on your family because they are the ones who can see you through to the other side.
8. Let people know that you love them. Who knows when you will have the opportunity to tell them again.
9. Love is best when it is shown. Words are important but actions speak louder.
10. Laughter is the best medicine especially when it's with people you love.

Friends

11. Some friends will come and go but the good ones stick around
12. Be yourself. Don't worry about fitting in. If people are truly your friends, they will accept you for who you are.
13. Everyone you meet today is fighting a battle of some kind, so be gentle.
14. Everyone comes into your life for a reason. They might get on your last nerve but there is still something to learn.
15. Surround yourself with people who love and support you.

Sports

16. You're never too old to play a child's game.
17. Working as a team is a skill everyone needs to have in their tool belt.
18. Strive to do you best because that's all you can ask of yourself.
19. Failure is important because some of the best lessons in life are learned in those moments.
20. Life continues to be quick, scary, and competitive. You need to be able to handle all of these situations.

Spirituality

21. We are all connected. Everyone is equal and taking the same journey through life.
22. Let your soul shine. Be true to yourself and your purpose in life.
23. Everyone is full of light. Make your light shine on others.
24. Sometimes prayer or meditation are the first steps to a better life.
25. Serve the less fortunate and you will be even more grateful of what you have in your life.

Everything Else

26. Dogs are a man's best friend. No seriously they are.
27. Dream big because out of those dreams can come some great things.
28. It's okay to be afraid but make sure to be aware of those fears and stand up to them.
29. There is plenty lessons to learn in life. Keep searching for the answers.
30. Life flies by so sit back and enjoy the ride.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Twins Minor League Report (7/29): Berrios Injured

For fans of the Twins minor league system, there were three of the organizations best pitching prospects all on the mound in one night. This is about as exciting as it gets, folks.

Rochester starter Alex Meyer had pitched five straight starts of six innings by allowing two earned runs or less. New Britain starter Jose Berrios was making his fourth start at Double-A and he combined to pitch 13 innings of two-run ball in his last two starts. Lewis Thorpe has been showing signs of improvement even though his season numbers might not show it.

One of these pitchers would have one of his best starts of the year. At the same time another pitcher would unfortunately be pulled early with an apparent injury.

RED WINGS REPORT
Rochester 6, Lehigh Valley 1
Box Score
For the first time in five starts, Meyer didn't make a quality start but it was still enough to earn his sixth victory of the season. Over five innings, he allowed one run on two hits but he walked a career high five batters. It was his 13th start of allowing one or fewer earned runs this season. Lester Oliveros and Stephen Pryor each pitched two shutout frames to end the game and keep the Red Wings on top.

Reynaldo Rodriguez hit his first Triple-A home run, a three-run shot, in the fifth inning.  It was part of a five run fifth inning when the Red Wings sent 10 men to the plate. Doug Bernier extended his hit streak to nine games with a single in the fifth inning.

With the win, the Wings take a 0.5 game lead in the Wild Card over idle Pawtucket. They also guarantee themselves a 4th straight winning month for the first time since 2006. Before the game, LHP Jason Wheeler was transferred to New Britain.

ROCK CATS REVIEW
New Britain 1, Trenton 4
Box Score
Jose Berrios didn't make it far into this game and unfortunately it was due to an injury. The training staff and coaches came out to the mound to look at him and he was pulled after just 1.2 innings. His velocity dropped on his fastball leading up to him being pulled. Sources have said that shoulder tightness is the initial diagnosis.

New Britain's pitching staff had to patch together the rest of the game. Jim Fuller and Matthew Summers pitched 4.1 scoreless frames. They combined to strike out seven. Only one Rock Cat player was able to get a hit. Aaron Hicks went 2-for-4 with a triple and a run scored. It was his first triple since being demoted to New Britain.

MIRACLE MATTERS
Fort Myers 3, Clearwater 5
Box Score
The Miracle were left without any extra-base hits and the team was a woeful 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position. Byron Buxton went 0-for-5 and struck out three times. Max Kepler reached base three times and Levi Michael went 2-for-4. Stuart Turner knocked in a couple of runs. The Miracle loaded the bases in the ninth inning but they couldn't plate a run.

Steven Gruver was forced to make a spot start for the Miracle. He lasted three innings and was charged for two earned runs. After pitching two scoreless innings, Alex Muren allowed a couple of runs to score in the sixth as Clearwater took the lead for good. It was the fourth loss in the last six games for the Miracle.

KERNELS NUGGETS
Cedar Rapids 6, Burlington 2
Box Score
Lewis Thorpe had his strikeout mojo working for the Kernels. He struck out a season-high 10 batters over 5.2 frames for his second victory. He surrendered two runs on four hits while walking one batter. The bullpen had to do some work after Thorpe left with runners on the corners. Chris Mazza got out of the jam and limited the Bees to one hit. Jake Reed was perfect over the last two innings for his first save.

Michael Quesada notched a couple of RBI in the fourth while Bryan Haar and Alex Swim each scored two runs in the game. Haar collected his 18th double of the season and Swim added his sixth two-bagger. Mitch Garver went 2-for-4 and stole his sixth base of the year.

E-TWINS E-NOTES
Elizabethton 2, Greeneville 4
Box Score
The E-Twins struggled to find their offensive stroke in this one. The team combined to go 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position and the team left five on base. Dutch Deol had the only extra-base hit of the game a double that plated two runs. It was his third double of the year. Nick Gordon picked up a single to stretch his hitting streak to three games.

Felix Jorge continued his stretch of strong starts since being send from Cedar Rapids to Elizabethton. In this contest, he went six innings and scattered four hits. He struck out four, walked one, and saw his ERA drop to 1.93 over seven starts in the Appalachian League. Keaton Steele was charged with the loss after he gave up two runs, one earned, in the ninth inning

GCL TWINS TAKES
GCL Twins 6, GCL Rays 7 (7 Innings)
Box Score
The GCL Twins got within one run in two different innings in the first game of the double header but they weren't able to overcome the five run second inning by the Rays. Josh Burris took the loss after allowing four earned runs in a third of an inning. After the first three pitchers lasted less than an inning, Josh Guyer threw the last 4.1 innings by allowing two runs on three hits.

It would turn out to be quite the day for Amaurys Minier. In this game, he slugged a grand slam with two outs in the third to bring the Twins within a run. It was the only extra-base hit for the team. Rainis Silva and Joel Polanco each added two hits and Silva had an RBI. 

GCL Twins 4, GCL Rays 2 (7 Innings)
Box Score
Two runs in each of the first two innings were enough to put the GCL Twins on top in this one. Amaurys Minier knocked a two-run bomb to get the scoring started in the first inning. It was his fourth home run this season and his second of the day. In the second inning after some wild pitching by the Rays, Ruar Verkerk collected two RBI on a single passed the first baseman.

Alex Tapia continued his winning ways tossing six innings and limiting the Rays to two runs on three hits. It was his fourth consecutive victory to start the season and it was his first time pitching at least six frames. Trevor Hildenberger allowed two base runners in the ninth but neither would score and he earned his fifth save.

TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY
Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Lewis Thorpe, Cedar Rapids Kernels
Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Amaurys Minier, GCL Twins


WEDNESDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS

Lehigh Valley @ Rochester (10:05am CST) – Trevor May (Listen)
New Britain @ Trenton (11:05am CST) – TBD (Listen
Clearwater @ Ft. Myers (6:05am CST) – Tim Shibuya (Listen)
Burlington @ Cedar Rapids (6:35 CST) - Ryan Eades (Listen)
Greeneville @ Elizabethton (6:00 CST) -  Derrick Penilla
GCL Rays @ GCL Twins (11:00am CST) – TBD 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Handful of Twins Not Likely to Be Traded

When a team could be heading for its fourth consecutive 90-loss season, the trade deadline can be a bit of a bummer. The Twins have had the opportunity to deal veteran players over the last couple of seasons but nothing has happened. Minnesota sticks with the players on their roster while not getting anything back for some of their expiring contracts.

Last week, I took a look at some of the possible trade candidates on the current Twins roster. These players are all veterans and there's a good chance they won't be back with the club next season. The Twins aren't going to be in contention this year or even next year so it makes sense to deal assets while they are still under team control.

There are a few players who likely won't be dealt over the next few days. Realistically the Twins should be listening to offers for any player in the Twins system with the exception of Byron Buxton. For now, the focus is on the major league side of the roster and these men will still be in a Twins uniform at the beginning of August.

Joe Mauer- First Baseman
Mauer's contract is huge and he can't play behind the plate anymore. These are two big red flags for other teams looking to make a trade. He doesn't fit the prototypical version of a first baseman as he doesn't hit for power. If the Twins wanted to move Mauer (that's a big if at this point), they would have to eat a big chunk of his salary. He also hasn't played a high level for a couple of seasons. His stock is low and his contract is high which means a trade is very unlikely.

Brian Dozier- Second Baseman
Dozier might seem like a young player but the 27-year old spent a lot of time working through the Twins minor league system. He won't even be arbitration eligible until 2016 which means he can't hit free agency until 2019. That's a long ways off and the Twins will have him at a very friendly price for a couple of more seasons. Since he is cost controlled, it makes sense to keep Dozier around. If another player in the system looks ready to take over second base, the Twins could make a deal but that likely isn't happening this season.

Glen Perkins- Relief Pitcher
Out of all the players currently on the roster, Perkins might have the highest trade value. Contending teams value relief pitching for the stretch run and Perkins is a high strikeout guy with closing experience. He also signed a team friendly deal that could keep him under contract through the 2018 season. At this point, it's hard to know how much the Twins will be in contention over the life of Perkins' contract. If the team wants to get the most value, it could be this year but the deal would have to be overwhelming. Perkins is staying in his home state.

Trevor Plouffe- Third Baseman
There probably isn't much of a market for a low average third baseman with some rough around the edges defensive skills. Plouffe is only a year older than Dozier but he has already reached his arbitration years because of his status as a Super 2 player. Even with this status, he can't become a free agent until 2018. He's not an outstanding player but it's important to have everyday regular players on the roster. It will be interesting to see where his salary goes in the coming years. The Twins will keep him for now but he will become more expensive in the next couple years.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Episode 93: The Return of Jason Parks

This week on the podcast Paul learns about ground rule triples, and strangely enough, if does not include TC Bear going on a rampage with his T-shirt gun (but we'd pay good money to see that happen). The Twins offense has struggled to score runs recently (what's new?) and Joe Mauer is still working his way back from injury. The scholarship program is over in Minnesota (again) as Matt Guerrier was DFA'd to make room for roster worthy Ryan Pressly.

You can download the new Talk to Contact (@TalkToContact) episode via iTunes or by clicking here, and if you want to add the show to your non-iTunes podcast player, this is the RSS Feed.

Ron Gardenhire passed another managerial milestone, 1000 losses, pretty neat, you guys. How does he still have a job? 

All of this good news and an interview with Jason "Professor" Parks from Baseball Prospectus to talk Twins minor leaguers and a suitable explanation of what exactly "rig" is/means.

Thanks for the download.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Twins Minor League Report (7/22): One Great Hamburger

The Florida State League announced that Byron Buxton was that league's player of the week. In games played from July 14-20 and he went 10-for-20 at the plate with one triple, two home runs, four runs batted in and scored six runs. Buxton is currently listed as day-to-day after being hit on the wrist by a pitch. He is expected to be back in the line-up by the end of this week.

There were a few different roster moves made throughout the system on Tuesday. Yohan Pino was recalled by the Twins to make the start at Target Field. To make room for him, the team sent Monday's starter Kris Johnson back to Rochester. Relief pitcher Alex Muren was promoted from Cedar Rapids to Fort Myers. Over 29 appearances, he had a 2.89 ERA with 44 strikeouts and eight walks.

RED WINGS REPORT
Rochester 4, Durham 0
Box Score
While making a spot start for only the fourth time this season, Mark Hamburger was dominant over seven shutout innings. He struck out a career high nine batters, walked none, and limited the strong Bulls roster to four singles. It was the first time a Wings pitcher tossed at least seven shutout innings since the middle of June. Ryan Pressly finished the final two innings of the shutout by striking out four and only allowing two base runners. 

Josmil Pinto led the offensive charge with a two hit night including his fifth double and his eighth RBI. Deibinson Romero helped spark the first run of the game with his International League leading 29th double. Nate Hanson and James Beresford joined the doubles party with one two-bagger each.  

It was the first road shutout for Rochester since August 11th of last season. Tuesday's have also been very good to the Red Wings. They have a 10-3 record on Tuesday and they haven't lost on Tuesday since May 27th. The team's four doubles tonight give them an International League best 220 on the season.

ROCK CATS REVIEW
New Britain 9, Altoona 10
Box Score
The Rock Cats offense was hot at the beginning of the game combining for nine runs in the first three frames. Altoona got out to a hot start too with a five run first and they capped off their scoring with two ninth inning runs to take back the lead.

Virgil Vasquez had a rough day on the mound. He allowed 13 hits and eight runs over four innings. Matthew Summers coughed up the lead after a trio of Rock Cats relievers combined to shut down the Curve offense for four frames. It was the second blown save for Summers and dropped his record to 2-4.

Eddie Rosario cracked two home runs and a double. He knocked in four runs and scored three runs to cap quite the offensive night. Brandon Waring and Brad Boyer joined the hit parade with two hits apiece. Mike Kvasnicka only had one hit but he knocked in two runs.

MIRACLE MATTERS
Fort Myers 7, Brevard County 6 (12 Innings)
Box Score
The Miracle had to use multiple comebacks to stay in this game. Fort Myers was shutout until the eighth inning but they team combined for four runs in the last two frames to push this one into extras. The Manatees scored two in the top of the 11th inning and the Miracle had to answer back to push this one further into the night.

Ethan Mildren started this contest but he would be long gone before a decision was made. He lasted six innings and allowed four runs while striking out five. It was the first time he had gone six innings since being called up from Cedar Rapids. Madison Boer gave up the two runs in the eleventh but the team bailed him out.

Tyler Grimes did it all in this game as his fourth hit of the night turned out to be the walk-off hit. He also had two doubles, two runs batted in, and two runs scored. He also had two outfield assists as he threw out a runner at second and at third. Jorge Polanco hit his 18th double of the season as part of a two hit night. Mike Gonzalez reached base four times including two walks and a double.

KERNELS NUGGETS

Cedar Rapids had a scheduled off day after taking a 10 hour bus ride to Kentucky. The Kernels start a series with Bowling Green on Wednesday as the start of a six game road swing. Former first round pick Kohl Stewart is the scheduled starter tomorrow. 

E-TWINS E-NOTES
Elizabethton 2, Bluefield 7
Box Score
The E-Twins almost matched the Blue Jays in hits on this night but the big hits weren't there. Even though the club combined for nine hits, none of them were for extra-bases. The team went 3-for-12 with runners in scoring position and they combined to leave nine runners on base.

A trio of players including Jeremias Pineda, Trey Vavra, and Pat Kelly all went 2-for-4. Pineda stole his ninth base of the season but he also was caught stealing for the fourth time. Nick Gordon was held hitless for only the third time in the last ten games. He also had his fifth error of the year at shortstop.

Sam Gibbons started for Elizabethton and he went five frames while giving up four runs on seven hits. He struck out one and walked two. It was the fewest amount of strikeouts he's had all season after averaging over 6.5 per game coming into this start.

GCL TWINS TAKES
GCL Twins 0, GCL Rays 3 (Suspended- Rain)
Box Score
This game was suspended by rain in the third inning. The two squads will complete this game tomorrow unless weather gets in the way for a second day in a row. Look for a full report on this game in Wednesday's Minor League Report at Twins Daily.

TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY

Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Mark Hamburger, Rochester Red Wings
Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Eddie Rosario, New Britain Rock Cats


WEDNESDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS

Rochester @ Durham (6:05 CST) – Alex Meyer (Listen)
Altoona @ New Britain (11:05am CST) – Pat Dean (Listen
Brevard County @ Ft. Myers (10:35am CST) – Brett Lee (Listen)
Cedar Rapids @ Bowling Green (7:05 CST) - Kohl Stewart (Listen)
Elizabethton @ Bluefield (6:05 CST) -  Matt Batts
GCL Rays @ GCL Twins (11:00am CST) – TBD 
GCL Rays @ GCL Twins (Completion of Tuesday's game)