Friday, July 30, 2010

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Well it's finally here. The time of the year for trade rumors, deadline deals, and I celebrate another year in my life (My birthday is always on the trade deadline). It's like Christmas in July.

So to celebrate this festive season of giving (well trading), here is an ode to the lyrics of "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year" with a unique spin to fit the MLB Trade Deadline

It's the most wonderful time of the year
With the GM's phones ringing
And everyone telling you "Find a good deal"

It's the most wonderful time of the year

It's the hap-happiest season of all

With those rumor mills spinning and secret team meetings

When other GM's come to call

It's the hap- happiest season of all


There'll be veterans for pitching

Prospects there swinging

And dealing down to the wire

There'll be scary blockbusters

And tales of the trades of

Deadlines long, long ago

It's the most wonderful time of the year
There'll be titles for blowing

And hearts will be glowing

When your team gets a steal

It's the most wonderful time

Yes, It's the most wonderful time

Oh, It's the most wonderful time...
of the year!

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Thoughts on the Twins trade of Wilson Ramos for Matt Capps:
My initial thought as I heard about this trade was that it wasn't a good deal. I wanted the Twins to get a front end of the rotation starter before the deadline, especially for one of the Twins' best prospects. I felt that Ramos was thought of highly enough that the Twins could have gotten more for him. As I have had a night to dwell on the trade I have come to terms with the route that the Twins had to take as this year's trade deadline approached. With Mauer locked in, Ramos was expendable. Jon Rauch wasn't made to be a closer on a team that has aspirations to be a championship club. Capps has the "stuff" to be the closer and now Rauch can move back into a set-up role. Rauch did great in the time that he was closer, but it was time for a change.
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Twins Trade Deadline Checklist
1. Starting Pitching
The only real need that the Twins have yet to address during trade deadline season. It will be interesting to see if anything gets done in the next 24 hours. If the Twins plan to make a long push into the playoffs they will need a front end of the rotation pitcher. I don't know if the Twins will be willing to part with the prospects that it would take to acquire a player of this caliber.
2. Relief Pitching
Check this off the list. See my thoughts on the Ramos/Capps deal above.
3. 3rd Baseman
Danny Valencia has been playing very well as of late. Hopefully this continues and he can lock down the 3rd base slot on the Twins roster. Read my post on why Valencia should be the everyday 3rd baseman for the Twins for now and into the foreseeable future. (Valencia: The Twins Everyday 3rd Baseman)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Valencia: The Twins Everyday 3rd Baseman

It's very simple.

Danny Valencia should be the Twins everyday 3rd baseman.

It needs to be this way and there are many reason why.

Valencia has been an prospect that the Twins have thought very highly of in recent years. He has continued to put up outstanding numbers at every level along the way to the majors. In two seasons at AAA he batted a combined .289. His power numbers from parts of two seasons at the AAA level aren't off the charts (7 HR, 65 RBI, .421 SLG) but they are more appealing than the other options that the Twins have at 3rd base, such as Nick Punto.

Hitting:
Valencia (26 games) : .329 BA, 0 HR, 5 RBI, .386 OBP, .382 SLG
Punto (77 games): .242 BA, 1 HR, 19 RBI, .316 OBP, .301 SLG

If he is getting consistent at-bats, Valencia has the potential to be a threat at the plate. In comparison Punto has never really been in the Twins lineup because of his batting prowess. Punto is a career .248 hitter with 13 HR and a .322 SLG. Valencia is only 25 and there is still time for him to develop more power at the major league level.

Fielding (Games at 3rd base):

Valencia (23 games): 15 PO, 39 A, 1 E, .982 fielding %
Punto (48 games): 29 PO, 93 A, 0 E, 1.000 fielding %

Punto is amazing in the field. He is the best fielding player on the Twins roster and he might be one of the best fielding infielders that currently plays in the majors. He has the ability to make an extremely hard play look routine. That being said, Valencia is also a very adequate player in the field. He has one error in his time at the major league level. This difference in defensive level is not enough to push Punto into the line-up over Valencia.

The Twins seem to be taking a different approach with Valencia as compared to some of the other prospects in the organization. Take for example Wilson Ramos. The Twins have this innate fear of Ramos not being able to play everyday at the catcher position. When Ramos made his appearance on the team earlier this season, Ron Gardenhire was adamant that Ramos would only be with the major league club until Mauer was able to play again every day. Why doesn't this fear extend to Valencia as well?

The only way Valencia is going to improve as a 3rd baseman is to be playing the position and playing the position on an everyday basis. He is not going to learn from watching Nick Punto make outstanding play after outstanding play. He needs to be out there making the plays and learning from any mistakes that he does make. Let him play everyday or send him down so he can play everyday at AAA. Brendon Harris can come up and be a fill-in player at 3rd base.

Mr. Valencia take every opportunity that you are given and show the Twins that you are the team's everyday 3rd baseman.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Stop, Slama Time


The call-up finally came for Anthony Slama. He has been pitching very well for the Twins AAA affiliate, the Rochester Red Wings.

So in ode to the man that could be a savior for the Twins pitching staff. It is officially Slama time. The following songs is to the lyrics of MC Hammer's Can't Touch This. It's called Can't Hit This. Stop Slama Time...


Can't hit him (x2)
Can't hit him (oh-oh oh oh oh-oh-oh) (x2)

My-my-my-my no one hits me so hard makes me say oh my Lord
Thank you for blessing me with an arm to throw and two hyped feet
It feels good when you know you're down
A superdope homeboy from the Orangetown
And I'm known as such
And this is a pitcher uh u can't hit

I told you homeboy u can't hit this
Yeah that's how we're livin' and you know u can't hit this
Look in my eyes man u can't hit this
You know let me bust the funky pitches u can't hit this

Fresh new cleats and pants
You got it like that now you know you wanna hit
So move out of the box
And hit a fly ball and catch this toss
While it's rollin' hold on pump a little bit
And let me know it's going on like that like that
Cold on a mission so pull on back
Let 'em know that I'm too much
And this is a pitch uh u can't hit

Yo I told you u can't hit this
Why you standing in there man u can't hit this
Yo sound the bells school is in u can't hit this

Give me a ball or strike
Making 'em sweat that's what I'm giving 'em
Now they know when you talk about the Slama
You talk about a show that's hyped and tight
Batters are sweatin' so pass them a bat
Or a tape to learn what it's gonna take
And now he's gonna learn
The average legit either work hard
Or you might as well quit

That's word because you know
U can't hit this (oh-oh oh oh-oh-oh) (x2)
Break it down
(Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh oh-oh) (x4)
Stop Slama time

Can't watch the spin of the ball you can't hit this
You probably are dead in the box
So wave your hands in the air
Struck out by a rook in the league
This is it for a winner
Hit to this and you're gonna get richer
Move slide your rump
Get out of the box cause you just got bumped
Bump bump bump yeah

U can't hit this
Look man u can't hit this
You'll probably get out boy
'Cause you know you can't u can't hit this
Ring the bell school's back in break it down
(Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh) (x4)
Stop Slama time
(Oh-oh oh oh oh-oh-oh) (x2)
(Oh-oh oh-oh oh-oh oh-oh)
(Oh-oh oh oh oh-oh-oh) u can't hit this (x3)
(Oh-oh oh oh oh-oh-oh) break it down
(Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh) (x2)
Stop Slama time

Every time you see me that Slama's just so hype
I'm dope on the field and I'm magic on the mound
Now why would I ever stop doing this
With others givin' pitches that just don't hit
I toured around the world from Rochester to the TC
It's Slama go Slama
Slama yo Slama and the rest can go and play

U can't hit this (oh-oh oh oh oh-oh-oh) (x2)
U can't hit this (oh-oh oh-oh-oh)
Yeah u can't hit this
I told you u can't hit this (oh-oh oh-oh-oh)
Too hype can't hit this
Get me outta here u can't hit this
(Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Just the way the Twins drew it up...

Jon Rauch got pulled from a game and the Twins still won. Jesse Crain got his first save in almost half a decade. Carl Pavano pitched a complete game that took under two hours to complete. Nick Blackburn pitched better than he has in his last few outings. The Twins chased Bobby Jenks from a game in which he didn't get an out. The Twins won a one-run game when trailing by three runs in the ninth for the first since 2001. Just the way the Twins drew it up...

The Twins on the heels of a horrible end to the first half of the season shifted into a huge weekend series with their division rivals, the Chicago White Sox. After Thursday night there seemed to be little hope for a second half surge. The Twins took the lead and the bullpen let the lead slip away. It looked like more of the same and the Twins were on their way toward the bottom of AL Central.

Friday night a savior arrived in the form of Fransisco Liriano. Liriano pitched a jewel of a game and still there were questions at the end of the game. Jon Rauch came into the game to get some work in a non-save situation. Rauch didn't have his stuff that night and Jesse Crain had to come in to clean up the mess. Yes, the same Jesse Crain that was a GIANT question mark just a few months ago. He got his first save since the end of the 2006 season.

Saturday showed why Carl Pavano has become an innings eater and the "ace" of the Twins staff. Both Pavano and Mark Buehrle pitched complete games. Only the fifth time that that both starters have done this in a 9 inning game this season in MLB. The game was also the third shortest game in the majors this season at a quick 1:52.

Sunday put the cap on the entire weekend. The Twins prospects looked bleak as the 9th inning approached. The team was down by three runs. The White Sox closer, Bobby Jenks, was entering the game. But as crazy as the weekend had been the Twins decided to keep the festivities going. According to the Elias Sports Bureau it was the first time that Minnesota scored four or more runs in the last inning of a one-run walk-off win since June 26, 2001, when Denny Hocking's two-run triple capped a four-run ninth inning, coincidentally in a 7-6 win over the White Sox.

It was wild, it was wacky, and it was just the way the Twins drew it up...

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Second Half Solution: Move Mauer Down

There was so much going right for the Twins at the beginning of the 2010 season. They had a magnificent new ball park, a payroll pushing toward $100 million, and a line-up of potential All-Stars. So what happened? What went wrong to make a first place team become a middle of the pack team in the American League?

The second half of the season is fast approaching and there have been many issues from the first half of the season that other Twins bloggers have looked at. Everyone is trying to figure out what the problem has been for the Twins over the last month and a half.

Aaron Gleeman has looked at the Twins collapse as being related not only to the starting pitching of the Twins (Anatomy of a collapse Part 1: Pitching) but also to their lack of hitting and lack of clutch hitting (Anatomy of a collapse Part 2: Hitting). Others, such as Fanatic Jack, have been calling for a managerial change (Fire Gardenhire Now!!) to spark a team that has a lot of good players that don't seem to be playing up to the potential that they have.

The more that I have thought about it over this All-Star Break the more I have decided that there needs to be some kind of change to spark another second half comeback by the Minnesota Twins. I feel that one solution to the problem could be adjusting the line-up. I feel that the one move that needs to be made to wake up the entire line-up would be to move Joe Mauer down in the batting order.

I believe this would open a few players eyes on the team. Hopefully making them perform at a higher level. The truth is Mauer is not performing like a number three hitter on a team that is contending for a division title. He is batting below .300, his power numbers have decreased, and he seems to have some nagging injuries.

Look at the following numbers of the other teams number three hitters on the contending teams in the AL Central:

Magglio Ordonez
BA: 0.313
HR: 11
RBI: 56
OBP: 0.382
SLG: 0.485

Alex Rios
BA: 0.305
HR: 15
RBI: 49
OBP: 0.361
SLG: 0.518

Joe Mauer
BA: 0.293
HR: 4
RBI: 35
OBP: 0.368
SLG: 0.424

Delmon Young should be moved into the number three spot in the batting order until Mauer shows that he deserves to be there again. As the numbers show below, Young would match-up very comparably with the other number three hitters.

Delmon Young
BA: 0.305
HR: 10
RBI: 58
OBP: 0.340
SLG: 0.502

There have been a lot of injuries and line-up changes throughout the season. A few things about my line-up listed below. I hate Cuddyer at 3rd. He can't hit when he plays 3rd base because he has to focus on his fielding so much. I also think that Danny Valencia should get to play more often. That is why I have him in both line-ups. These are just rough estimates of who I would have in (obviously there would be people moved around for pitching match-ups, injuries, etc.). The new Twins line-up would look something like this:

Right Handed Pitcher
1. Denard Span CF
2. Orlando Hudson 2B
3. Delmon Young RF
4. Justin Morneau 1B
5. Jim Thome DH
6. Joe Mauer C
7. Michael Cuddyer LF
8. Danny Valencia 3B
9. JJ Hardy SS

Left Handed Pitcher
1. Denard Span CF
2. Orlando Hudson
3. Delmon Young RF
4. Justin Morneau 1B
5. Joe Mauer C
6. Michael Cuddyer LF
7. Jason Kubel DH
8. Danny Valencia 3B
9. JJ Hardy SS

Would this solution solve all of the Twins problems? No. There are too many other flaws in the pitching staff, the other hitters, etc. This is only one piece of the puzzle that might help push the Twins toward a second half run. When I get to Target Field on Thursday night I hope that the line-up looks different. It's time for a change and this might just be the Twins' second half solution.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Comerica Park

As I mentioned in my post yesterday (Detroit: A Twins Train Diary), I am breaking down my trip to Detroit as part of the Twins Train into a few different parts. Yesterday was a recap of the entire trip and many of the sites and sounds that the Train saw along the way. Today my focus will be our experience at the games and the good, the bad, and the ugly of Comerica Park.

The Good

Comerica Park is a beautiful stadium and I hope everyone gets a chance to visit the field at some point in their life. There are many similarities between Target Field and Comerica Park. There is a nice view of the Detroit skyline over the right field fence. There didn't seem to be a bad seat in the house. There were many attractions to been seen throughout the ball park. From the championship flags in center field, the stainless steel statues of Tiger greats, or the Walk of Fame through the main concourse the rich history of Tigers baseball was on display in every corner of the field.

The Bad

Comerica Park had many positives but there were some things that detracted from my experience at the game. I may have been spoiled by the new scoreboard at Target Field, but the scoreboard at Comerica Park was pretty lame. The screens on the scoreboard were small and only one of them was an HD screen. Also they didn't have the new Twins logo. They were still using the Twins logo from last year. The beer selection was odd. They seemed to have a weird fixation with Labatt Blue in the city of Detroit. Beer prices were about the same as Target Field but I was still surprised by the selections that they offered.

The Ugly

THE FANS!!! I know it wasn't all of the fans. Maybe we just got unlucky and ended up in a bad section for back to back games. It also didn't help that the Twins didn't show up to play in either of the games that we attended. The fans would heckle us for anything that they could think of. I have been at plenty of home Twins games where there have been opposing fans near me and I don't think I have ever heard the fans start to heckle the fans of the opposing team. Maybe it is the Midwest attitude of Twins fans but for the most part the Detroit fans were not some of my favorite of all time. (As a side note: There were fans that were very pleasant to us and glad that we came to spend money in their city. One bad egg can spoil the whole batch.)

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Don't forget to start following me on Twitter. (Twitter username: nodaktwinsfan)

Also listen to my interview about the Twins Train on the SethSpeaks.net Weekly Minnesota Twins Podcast. We discuss the Twins Train, the first half of the season, and what needs to change for the team in the second half. (Click here to listen)

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A quick side not on the biggest story of the day, the passing of George Steinbrenner. I have never been a Steinbrenner fan or a fan of the Evil Empire, the Yankees. Saying that he did help to bring baseball to the point that it is at. I might not have liked some of the tactics that he took to get baseball to this point but without him baseball would be a completely different game. Anytime an icon of the sport passes away it allows us to sit back and reflect on our own lives. Baseball is just a game. Rest in peace, Mr. Steinbrenner.

Check me out on the SethSpeaks.net Weekly Minnesota Twins Podcast

Seth and I discuss our trip to Detroit as part of the Twins Train. We also look back on the first half of the season for the Twins and what improvements they need to make for the second half.

Listen to internet radio with SethSpeaks on Blog Talk Radio

Monday, July 12, 2010

Detroit: A Twins Train Diary

There are so many things to cover about my trip on board the Twins Train. I am going to break up my posts over the next couple days. Today I am going to talk about the trip itself. In the upcoming days I will write about Comerica Park, how the Twins looked going into the All-Star break, and I will post some pictures from the trip.

The trip began in a Walmart parking lot in Vadnais Heights, MN at 1:30 AM. As we assembled there the 25+ Twins Fans began to mingle about to get to know each other a little before the 12 hour bus ride. On the way to Motor City there was a lot of sleeping. But we did get to see some of the Chicago skyline and we went past the White Sox Stadium, US Cellular Field. This place looked like a dump compared to Target Field.

We arrived in Detroit at the Hotel St. Regis. If you are ever in Detroit avoid this hotel. It was an overall bad experience. The employees were hard to deal with and this made it difficult. There were some positives: The hotel was very clean and in a "nice" section of town. Thankfully this didn't detract from the rest of the fun that was had on the trip.

The first game was Friday night. The Train arrived early enough to explore around the stadium. That was fun and it is a beautiful stadium. I will talk about the stadium and our experiences there in my post tomorrow. Justin Verlander pitched very well that evening and Francisco Liriano pitched the opposite of that so the Twins lost 7-3. After the game the Twins Train convened on the roof of the Hockey Town restaurant and bar. This was a wonderful time and there was great views of the stadium from this location.

The second day allowed the Twins Train more time to explore the city of Detroit. We drove around to a variety of areas of the city to see: Joe Louis Arena, the GM Building, Greektown, etc. Before the Saturday game the Twins Train gathered at Cheli's Chili Bar for a few refreshments. As soon as the gates were open the Twins Train moved into the Tiger Club for a VIP buffet experience. The food was the most amazing I have ever had in a buffet style setting. There were table upon table of food. Needless to say we didn't go hungry that day.

The game was another disappointment for the Twins. Nick Blackburn got burned for four home runs and that put the Twins in a hole that they couldn't climb out of. The final score was 7-4.

After the game on Saturday we went down to the Greektown area of Detroit. As we asked people around town this seemed like the place to go for bars, restaurants, clubs, and casinos. Members of the Twins Train spread out to a variety of areas and everyone had a great time.

Overall the Twins Train was an amazing experience. If you haven't heard about the Twins Train check out their website (Twins Train) or their Twitter Account (Twins Train). The Twins Train Crew puts on a great trip that every Twins fan would love. There are still other trips to attend this season, so pack your bags and hop on the Twins Train.

I know that I will be a repeat traveler on the Twins Train in the future. I can't wait for my next trip!!!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Packing for Detroit


Well my bags are packed for a road trip to Detroit this weekend. It is my bachelor party and my groomsmen and myself will be taking the Twins Train from the Minneapolis area.

It should be a fun trip. I have my bag packed and my clothes sitting out to wear tomorrow. My groomsmen and I were talking about the trip all weekend on the lake.

It sounds like the Twins Train company puts on a pretty cool experience for the price that they charged. I will write a review of the trip when I return next week.

Here's hoping the Twins don't fall further behind in the division...

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A Glen Perkins sighting

The conversations this fourth of July weekend on boats and lakes across Twins Territory focused on what the Twins need to do to snap out of the slump they currently find themselves in. As I was getting severely sunburned, my buddies and I brought up the fact that we hadn't heard much from Glen Perkins this season. I quickly did some research on my phone and found a Glen Perkins sighting.

Over the weekend Perkins was sighted and sighted pitching a very good game. He gave up only three its in 6+ innings pitched (Red Wings' Perkins shuts down Bison). This was a good bounce back game for Perkins. He had given up six earned runs in each of his last four starts.

One prominent change in the game this weekend was that Perkins kept the ball in the ballpark. He had given up seven home runs in his last four starts. Giving up home runs has been an issue for Perkins during his career. During his time with the Twins last season he gave up 13 home runs in 96.1 innings pitched. If he wants to continue to develop and become a threat in the majors he is going to need to cut down on the long balls.

Hopefully this is a good sign for a player that could add some bite to the bullpen in the second half of the season. The Twins are going to need some pitching help in the stretch run and an improved Glen Perkins could help.

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Don't forget to continue to vote for Delmon Young to make the 2010 All-Star Team
VOTE DELMON YOUNG NOW

Local Twins fans help open the new stadium | WDAY | Fargo, ND

Local Twins fans help open the new stadium | WDAY | Fargo, ND

Here is a quick link to a story about me and my friends from Opening Day. I didn't realize that they posted it online. It was pretty cool to have a camera crew follow us around for the day.

Monday, July 5, 2010

All-Star Vote Overload: The Sequel


Well here we go again! In my post to end the week (All-Star Vote Overload), I talked about being overloaded with all of the votes that I had put in for Mauer and Morneau to make the All-Star team. With the announcement of Delmon Young as a candidate for the All-Star Game Final Vote it is time to let the campaigning begin, again.

Delmon is having an All-Star worthy season. He has had big hit after big hit for a team that has been at the top of the AL for most of the first half of the season.

Young needs your help and your votes. After the first update today he is already way behind in the vote. There is no limit to the amount of times you can vote. So get out and support Delmon and support the Twins

Follow the link below to:
VOTE NOW

Friday, July 2, 2010

All-Star Vote Overload

If on Sunday Justin Morneau is announced as the starting first baseman for the American League All-Star game (On nation's birthday, All-Stars to be unveiled), I would personally like to take credit for it. I know he has had close to 2 million votes cast in favor of him, but I still took on my own personal campaign for Morneau in the past few weeks.

I have used every email account in my possession to vote the maximum 25 times. I have also taken the liberty of voting for my fiance, mom, dad, grandparents, etc. I know that each one of them want to see Morneau starting at first as well. Overall it has been quite the All-Star vote overload.

It has become a three horse race for the starting first base position between Morneau, Miguel Cabrera, and Mark Teixeira. As of the last update earlier this week Morneau had a slight advantage over the other candidates (Mark Teixeira pushing Justin Morneau at first base in AL All-Star voting).

Hopefully my hard work pays off. But more importantly, Morneau's hard work should be recognized and rewarded. He is having an MVP caliber season and should be starting at first on July 13.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Missing Piece


There was an interesting article published by FSN North last night following an interview with Justin Morneau. The topic of discussion was what is the missing piece for the Twins this season.

There has been a lot of discussion as to what the Twins need to add. The rotation has been flawed, there have been shaking innings put together by the bullpen, and the Twins have been looking for a power third baseman for the better part of a decade.

The one piece that Morneau focused on was the loss of Mike Redmond (Morneau: What we're missing is...). Redmond had been a staple with the Twins over the last 5 seasons. He might not have hit for power but he brought a presence to the team that has been missing. The team needs a veteran presence and a jolt of energy on the bench. Redmond could be the Kevin Costner role from Bull Durham by providing leadership to a pitching staff that is still fairly young.

The first time I read this article I felt bad for Drew Butera. He has been trying his best to fill-in that back-up catcher role. He just doesn't bring life to the team like Red Dog did. Every time I see Butera go out to the mound I feel like the pitchers look at him with some trepidation. They just can't trust him like they could with the crafty veteran, Redmond. With the trade deadline less than a month away, I wouldn't mind seeing Redmond back in a Twins uniform.

The Jekyll and Hyde Twins


With only a few games left until the All-Star Break, the Twins seem to be going through the metamorphosis that plagued Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. There have been problems that have faced the team in the first half of the season. Overall the team has prevailed and still remains in first place.

The starting pitching staff has been one of the main culprits in the Twins' Jekyll and Hyde personality. The biggest surprise has been Carl Pavano. He has been an innings eater and a losing streak stopper for the last few weeks. The rest of the pitching staff has gone through it's share of ups and downs over the past weeks. There have been great outings and poor outings. All fitting into the teams Jekyll and Hyde attitude.

Attitude has been another thing that the Twins have been trying to address. Justin Morneau has been trying to find the energy that the Twins are missing (What's with the lack of energy?). It has been true that the Twins have come out looking flat in the last few weeks. For the Twins to continue to succeed and to enter the break in first place, they will need to find their energy in some form.

The Twins are in need of the All-Star break. Their batteries need to be recharged. Hopefully the Jekyll and Hyde attitude disappears as well.