Friday, April 24, 2015

Gardenhire's Possible Landing Spots

This is the first time in Ron Gardenhire's life that he hasn't been actively involved in baseball since his youth. However, it doesn't mean he wouldn't like to be back in the action. Fox Sports is reporting Gardenhire hired an agent for the first time in decades to "monitor possible managerial openings." 

Since there are currently no openings, he isn't actively pursuing a position but he's open to considering all possibilities. There's also no reason to hurry since he had a year remaining on his contract when the Twins let him go at the end of last season. 

Some managers are already on the hot seat even though the season is relatively young. Here are a few of the possible landing spots as Gardy looks for new employment. 

Miami Marlins
Reports out of Miami have manager Mike Redmond, a former Twin, on the hot seat even though he is only in his third year at the helm. Many writer's picked the Marlins as a playoff team this year but the team has floundered out of the gate. Team owner Jeffrey Loria has been quick to pull the trigger on managers in the past so it wouldn't be surprising if Miami decided to go in a different direction. From Gardenhire's prospective, Miami might not be the ideal spot since his job security would immediately be called into question. This would be quite the change from the consistency he knew in the Twins organization. 

Milwaukee Brewers
Much like Miami, the Brewers are off to a poor start as they entered the weekend with the fewest wins in baseball. Center fielder Carlos Gomez, catcher Jonathan Lucroy, and second baseman Scooter Gennett are all on the disabled list so that hasn't helped the situation. Brewers owner Mark Attanasio came out earlier this week and said that neither Ron Roenicke nor general manager Doug Melvin are on the hot seat. That tune could change if the Brewers continue to lose games in the coming months. Since Gardenhire still makes his home in Minnesota, it seems like staying with a Midwest team like Milwaukee could fit his needs.

Los Angeles Angels
There have been some high expectations in Los Angeles over the last handful of years. Signing big name stars like Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton to add to the likes of reigning AL MVP Mike Trout was supposed to put the Angles on a path to greatness. The club has only made the playoffs once in the last five seasons and they were swept out of last year's Divisional Series by the Royals. Mike Scioscia has been at the helm since 2000 and the Angels front office might want a new voice to try and lead their team to the playoffs. From Gardenhire's perspective, any manager would be crazy not to want to pencil Trout's name in the line-up card everyday.

Philadelphia Phillies
Charlie Manuel has only been out the door for a couple seasons by Ryne Sandberg hasn't finished better than fourth in the NL East. The Phillies roster is aging and it's hard to pick out what direction the team is going. There isn't a lot of light at the end of the tunnel at this point and the Philadelphia sports scene can be tough on failing clubs. A new manager like Gardenhire might not completely be the answer. If the fans get out the torches and pitchforks for Sandberg, Gardenhire would be available and the rich Phillies history could be enough to lure him to the City of Brotherly Love. 

Episode 128: Previewing the MLB Draft with Torii Hunter's Life Sized Demon Bobblehead

You can download the new Talk to Contact (@TalkToContact) episode via iTunes or by clicking here.

This week on the Talk to Contact podcast we rehash the week that was in Twins territory, including Mike Pelfrey and Trevor May pitching for a job in the rotation after Ricky Nolasco returns from his rehab start in Cedar Rapids, what the hell Torii Hunter is doing attempting a straight steal of home, and our very own Jay Corn finally earns his Talk to Contact membership card.

After a musical interlude from Egon's Unicat, we're joined by Jeremy Nygaard from TwinsDaily.com to discuss a myriad of topics including Paul Molitor's bench, the Twins' payroll, and the upcoming MLB draft.

And as always, beer, baseball and the news.

If you enjoyed the show, please take a moment to tell a friend (or two, or three, or four hundred) and give us a rating/review on iTunes. Ratings and reviews help the Twins to continue to win series at home. 

Thanks for listening.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

2015 Topps Gypsy Queen Review: Minnesota Twins

Gypsy Queen is back!

This is one of the nicest products put out by Topps. This set has a old-school tobacco card feel to the design but it's full of a ton of mini cards, inserts, and some of the easiest pulls of autographs and relic cards.

The base set includes 300 cards of current and former stars. There are tough to find base set parallels. Short prints have been a staple of this product and there is a bigger 50-card set in this year's product. Also added to the packs are 50-cards with photo variations. Set collectors will have to spend some time hunting these down.

Mini cards make this set stand out from the crowd. There is one mini card per pack and every base card has a corresponding mini card. With only one mini short print card per box, these will be highly sought after items. To go along with the base mini cards, there are multiple variations including silver (#/199), red(#/50), black (#/5), printing plates (1/1), and graphite (1/1).

For Twins fans, let's dive into the set and see what players can be added to your collection.

42. Kennys Vargas
66. Joe Mauer
152. Rod Carew
172. Phil Hughes
251. Ervin Santana
287. Brian Dozier

Some of the standard inserts are back along with some new additions. Glove Stories have been a featured insert set since Gypsy Queen debuted. Aaron Hicks is the lone Twins player in the set making a sprawled out catch in the Target Field outfield. The Queens Throwbacks, a new insert set, has players wearing throwback uniforms similar to the Franchise Flashbacks set from Topps Opening Day. Joe Mauer gets the nod in this set.

The Kennys Vargas autograph market continues to grow as his signature has been used in many of the releases from Topps this year. Vargas can be found in the full sized and mini autograph sets. The full size autographs have multiple variations including Silver #/50, Gold #/25, Red #/5, Black 1/1.

Vargas isn't the only Twins autograph in Gypsy Queen. Joe Mauer is included in the Mini Autograph Patch Books Set but these cards are hard to a run of 25 so collectors will have to hunt them down. It might be easier for fans to find Mauer's relic insert cards. Besides the base model, there are also Gold #/25, Red Patch #/5, and Black Button 1/1.

The toughest Twins insert to find is an Original Art Patches of Rod Carew. This set includes a hand painted image and a piece of game worn jersey. There is only one of these cards available so the demand will be high among collectors.

One of the biggest critiques of this set has been the lack of statistics used on the cards. The back card design includes only words about the players. This has never really bothered me because it fits with the old-school design of the set. I was a little disappointed not to see a Harmon Killebrew card in the set for the first time in multiple years.

Ervin Santana gets his first Twins card but many fans likely won't be hunting this one down after his recent suspension. Vargas has gotten a lot of love from Topps to start the year so it will be interesting to see how the card market views his value throughout the season. In future sets, it would be nice to see autographs from some of the other core Twins players.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Twins Minor League Report (4/20): Pitching Trio Honored

Right-handed pitcher Tyler Duffey, left-handed pitcher Pat Dean and right-handed pitcher Felix Jorge each walked away with "Pitcher of the Week" honors in their respective leagues.

Duffey earned the honor in the Southern League after tossing 13.2 scoreless frames with 18 strikeouts. Dean, a former third round pick, went 1-0 with a 0.75 ERA and 15 strikeouts in two starts to pick up the International League award. Jorge struggled in Cedar Rapids last season but he's off to a hot start (12 IP, 19 K, 4 BB) so he was honored by the Midwest League.

Besides the pitching honors, the Twins were busy making minor league roster moves on Monday. Max Kepler was promoted to Chattanooga after hitting .250/.308/.333 in six games to start the year. He's currently in the midst of a five game hitting streak. In a corresponding move, third baseman Bryan Harr was activated off the 7-day DL for the Miracle.

Cedar Rapids announced that catcher Brett Doe was joining the Kernels from extended spring training. Last season he hit .207 with a HR and five RBI in 23 games for Elizabethton. He is taking the roster spot left open because JJ Fernandez was force to go on the 7-day DL with a concussion. Fernandez was off to a strong start hitting .293 with three doubles and four RBI.

RED WINGS REPORT
Rochester --, Syracuse -- POSTPONED

Monday's scheduled game between the Red Wings and the Chiefs was postponed due to rain. The game will be made up as part of a doubleheader on Tuesday. The first game is scheduled to begin at 1:05 pm and each game will be seven innings.

The first game pits top pitching prospects Alex Meyer (1-0, 8.31 ERA) versus A.J. Cole (0-0, 4.00 ERA). Taylor Rogers (0-0, 3.46 ERA) will start game two for the Red Wings

CHATTANOOGA CHATTER
Chattanooga 5, Mississippi 6
Box Score
Alex Wimmers made the most of his 2015 debut by tossing five one-hit innings with three strikeouts. He was effective by throwing 62 pitches with 38 being for strikes. One of the best signs might have been the zero walks he allowed. Cole Johnson kept the shutout going with two scoreless frames. D.J. Johnson struggled by giving up four runs in one inning before Jake Reed blew the save in the ninth.

The Lookouts were up 5-0 entering the bottom of the eighth inning so it was a tough loss. Jorge Polanco cracked his second home run of the season and scored a pair of runs. Dalton Hicks collected his first triple as part of a two hit night. Stuart Turner scored a run and had his second multi-hit game of 2015. Travis Harrison had a pair of RBI.

It was the third loss in four games for the Lookouts after winning five of their first six contests. Southern League Pitcher of the Week Tyler Duffey takes the mound on Tuesday with a chance to get Chattanooga back to their winning ways.

MIRACLE MATTERS
Fort Myers 3. Palm Beach 4 (10 Innings)
Box Score
For the second straight night, nine innings wasn't enough to decide this contest between the Miracle and the Cardinals. Fort Myers got off to an early lead by scoring three runs in the top of the second inning. Bryan Harr hit a double to start the frame and this was followed by three straight singles. The Cardinals wouldn't allow another run the rest of the night.

Luke Westphal made his first start of the season and allowed three earned runs in four innings. He struck out two and walked two. Tim Shibuya was effective in three perfect relief innings while striking out three. Madison Boer was charged with the loss after he couldn't get out of his third inning of work.

The loss drops Fort Myers to two games under .500 with a 5-7 record. This was the first of a three game series so the Miracle will need to bounce back if they want to win their second straight series.

KERNELS NUGGETS
Cedar Rapids 5, Burlington 2
Box Score
Nick Gordon's hot start to the season continued as his three hit, three RBI day was enough to push Cedar Rapids past Burlington. Tanner English also joined the hit parade with three hits and two runs. Zack Granite helped pace the offense with two hits including his first triple.

Jared Wilson picked up his second win of the season after tossing five innings and scattering four hits. He gave up one run while striking out three and walking four. Michael Theofanopoulos continued his scoreless streak to start the year. He pitched another two frames and he hasn't allowed a run across 8.1 innings. C.K. Irby finished the game by allowing one run in two innings of work.

With the win, the Kernels avoided their first three game losing streak of the year. They avoided the the sweep in the series but the club has still lost four of their last six games.

TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY
Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Alex Wimmers, Chattanooga Lookouts
Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Nick Gordon, Cedar Rapids Kernels


TUESDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS

Rochester @ Syracuse (12:05 CST) – RHP Alex Meyers
Rochester @ Syracuse (Game 2)- LHP Taylor Rogers
Chattanooga @ Mississippi (7:00 CST)- RHP Tyler Duffey
Ft. Myers @ Tampa (5:35 CST) – RHP Kohl Stewart
Cedar Rapids @ Wisconsin (6:35 CST) - LHP Mat Batts

Please feel free to ask any questions and discuss the Monday games.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Episode 127: The Home Opener and the Return of Torii

You can download the new Talk to Contact (@TalkToContact) episode via iTunes or by clicking here.

This week we chat about the Twins' recent struggles, review our experiences from the Home Opener (including the return of Torii Hunter), and try and decide what is going on with Tommy Milone.

In the second half of the program we are joined by Seth Stohs from TwinsDaily.com to talk about the first week of Minor League baseball. Most of the minor league affiliates are off to a hot start so it was nice to have some positivity in the middle of the show. And of course, beer, baseball, and the news. 

If you enjoyed the show, please take a moment to tell a friend (or two, or three, or four hundred) and give us a rating/review on iTunes. Ratings and reviews help Alex Meyer to throw strikes. 


Thanks for listening.