Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Ford completes long journey back to MLB

It has been quite the journey for Lew Ford since he last played in the big leagues for the Minnesota Twins during the 2007 season. Since that point, he has played baseball in Japan, Mexico, and the Atlantic League. But on Sunday afternoon for the first time in half a decade, the soon to be 36-year old outfielder was in the line-up at the big league level. It is hard to believe that the players that achieved cult status with Twins fans has made it back to the major leagues but he took the hard road to earn his way back to the biggest stage.

The Baltimore Orioles were the team that gave him a shot with their organization in May when he was sent to their Triple-A affiliate in Norfolk. With the Tides, he got off to a blistering pace by hitting .386/.426/.596 in the first month with the club. His numbers would cool down a little of the next few weeks but he was still hitting the ball at a very good clip. In 62 games at Triple-A, he hit .331/.390/.550 with 11 home runs, 14 doubles and 40 RBI. Those numbers were too good to ignore for the Orioles and he made what seemed like his second major league debut on Sunday.

Through his first two games with the Orioles, Ford has failed to get a hit by going 0-for-3 on Sunday with a walk and 0-for-4 on Monday night. He has drawn one walk during his eight plate appearances and he had a nifty defensive play during his first game back (see video here). The Orioles are in the thick of a pennant race and Buck Showalter was not afraid to write his name down in the middle of the line-up. He has played in front of the hometown crowd in Baltimore and his second time in the line-up was at Yankee Stadium, a far different venue than some of the places he played in Japan and Mexico.

Ford made a name for himself with the Twins as a scrappy outfielder that put together a couple of decent seasons with the Twins during their runs to multiple division titles in the late-2000s. He debut with the team as a 26-year old rookie in 2003 and his best season with the Twins would come the following year. During the 2004 season, he batted .299/.381/.446 with 15 home runs and 72 RBI. He even managed to get a few MVP votes by the end of the season. It was downhill for Ford from this point as he battled injuries and inconsistent play before he and the Twins parted ways.

It seems that Ford is elated to be back in the major leagues and his performance in the first two games might be signs that he is suffering from a few jitters. He just joined Twitter at the end of March and he took to the social media site to share some of his thoughts when he got called up.
The second time around sounds like it might be sweeter for Ford since he had to work so hard to get back to this level. He had a smile on his face when he played with the Twins but that smiles is even wider now that he has completed this journey. In interviews, it sounded like he was content to stay in the Atlantic League with the Long Island Ducks to try and help that team win a championship. He hadn't been given a chance in so many years that he thought it might never happen. The Orioles have given him the chance and now it is up to Ford to prove that he belongs in the middle of the pennant race for a contending team.

There might have been other options for Baltimore in the midst of one of their best seasons in years but there were plenty of people that put their faith in Ford. Before his first game on Sunday, Ford thanked many of the coaches and front office people for the Orioles that gave him this second chance. Buck Showalter said before the game, "That's one of the great things about this jobs is that I get to take in those moments." The Orioles hope Ford can continue to find some magic and provide the team with many more special moments in the coming months.

Fans from across Twins Territory might not have a team fighting for a playoff spot this season but the story of Ford is something for everyone to follow. Chants of "LLLLLLLLLLEEEEEWWWW" will be heard across the upper Mid-West as people dust of their number 20 jerseys and shirts with the name Ford on the top. Baseball is a wonderful game and it's stories like this that make following the sport with every minute.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Fans frustrated even when Liriano is dealt

The moment many Twins fans had been waiting for over the course of the last week finally happened during the weekend; Francisco Liriano and his expiring contract were dealt away from the Twins. After seeing other teams walk away with huge halls for rental players like Liriano, the expectations were decently high for the Twins to pick up something of value in a trade. When the news broke late on Saturday, fans were left scratching their heads over the "haul" the organization received back for their hard throwing lefty.

As many have probably already heard, Liriano was sent to the White Sox for IF Eduardo Escobar and LHP Pedro Hernandez. The White Sox have one of the worst minor league systems in baseball and neither one of these players is ranked very high among their up-and-coming players. It is not often that teams will make a deal in the division but Liriano will only make a handful of starts for the White Sox before becoming a free agent. Twins GM Terry Ryan took the best deal that he was offered and unfortunately, it doesn't look like a great deal for the organization.

Escobar has spent most of the time at the big league level this year but he is not much of an offensive threat. He struggles to get on-base at a decent clip but his defense is very good at multiple infield positions. The 23-year old infielder has hit .207/.281/.276 in 36 games with the White Sox this year. In 104 plate appearances as a big leaguer, he has managed five extra-base hits with no home runs. During his time in the minor leagues, he hit .270/.315/.354 over the last six seasons. His defensive skills have been focused on third base at the MLB level but he mostly played shortstop in the minor leagues.

Hernandez is a left-handed pitcher that has split time at Double- and Triple-A this year with one start at the big league level. During his big league debut, he got hit pretty hard by giving up three home runs at Fenway Park against the Red Sox. The 23-year old pitcher tossed four innings and allowed eight runs on 12 hits with two strikeouts. He fits the mold of most Twins pitchers by not throwing very hard and trying to command the strike zone. His numbers at Double-A this season look good, 7-2 record with a 2.75 ERA, but he has only made seven appearances at the Triple-A level. The Twins will give him some time to get more experience in the minor leagues. 

Liriano's time with the Twins could be described with many words but frustrating seems to fit the bill. The Twins acquired Liriano along with Boof Bonser and Joe Nathan from the San Francisco Giants for AJ Pierzynski. For the Twins, it was a deal to make room for Joe Mauer to take over the catching duties for the club. It is now seen as one of the most lopsided trades in the history of the organization. Bonser put together a couple of decent seasons with the Twins but Nathan and Liriano became parts of multiple division winners for the club. Nathan became one of the best closers in the game and the team's all-time saves leader before leaving the team in free agency at the end of last year. Liriano looked to be one of the best pitching prospects in all of baseball before an elbow injury changed his future. 

On September 5, 2005 in front of a crowd that didn't have many of the 15,627 ticket holders left in their seats, Liriano made his much anticipated debut for the Twins in a relief role. He came in during the ninth inning of a game that the Texas Rangers already had in hand by a score of 6-0. From my seat in the upper deck of the Metrodome, I couldn't make out every piece of action on the field but Liriano's fastball looked faster than anything I had seen in person since Randy Johnson. He was hitting speeds on the radar gun that I had never seen before and he seemed like he was going to be able to strike out any batter at will. Gary Matthews Jr gave Liriano his welcome to the majors moment by crushing a fastball to the upper reaches of the home run porch. The ball was absolutely destroyed but this one at-bat would not define Liriano's career.

His rookie season was magical to watch as he looked like the best pitcher in baseball by striking out 144 batters in 121 innings pitched. His ERA was 2.16 and he posted a WHIP of 1.000 over the course of his 28 games and 16 starts. Along with Johan Santana, Liriano looked to be another front end started that the Twins would need to make a deep push into the playoffs. Something happened during his start on August 7 at Detroit that would change his career forever. Liriano only lasted four innings on that day and he wouldn't appear in another game until September. That start in September was a chance for the Twins to see if Liriano had worked his way back from whatever was bothering him. It didn't work and he was forced to go under the knife. 

Since coming back from Tommy John surgery, Twins fans had been aching to see the Liriano that took the mound for his rookie season. Santana had been traded away and the team needed a pitcher to step up and be an ace. Liriano's career would be a roller coaster ride for the rest of his time with the Twins. Following his surgery, he would post a win-loss record of 37-47 with a 4.69 ERA in 122 games. There were moments of excellence like his no-hitter versus the White Sox and seasons like 2010 where he seemed to be putting it all together. On the other hand, there were plenty of low points like the multiple times that he was relegated to the bullpen to try and get himself back to pitching the way the Twins thought that Liriano should be able to do.

Years from now, fans of the Twins might look back at Liriano's time with the team and not be frustrated. Maybe they will be able to look back fondly on his rookie season, the 2010 campaign, and his no-hitter in 2011. In the meantime, fans are going to be frustrated with the way Liriano pitched during the last couple seasons and the mediocre return the team got from trading away his rights. Twins Territory will watch closely as Liriano dresses in the colors of the hated White Sox. If he succeeds with that team, fans will be frustrated with the deal that gave him away. If he pitches like the inconsistent Liriano of old, White Sox fans will feel their own frustration. "Frankie" is no longer the Twins headache and that might be a good thing for fans of the Twins.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Friday Night Minor League Lights

For the first time in quite awhile, the Twins game was very enjoyable to watch on Friday night. Scott Diamond had his best pitching performance in his big league career by throwing a complete game shutout with only three hits surrendered. He was remarkably efficient by throwing less than 100 pitches during his nine innings on the mound. With some not so smooth appearances in his last few outings, it was good to see Diamond get a fantastic start under his belt and hopefully he can stay on track for the rest of the season.

While Diamond was busy tossing a gem, the Twins offense blew up for 11 runs on the strength of 15 hits. Justin Morneau crushed a huge 3-run home run in the first inning to put the Twins up from the early going. Later in the game, Josh Willingham hit his team leading 26th home run of the season by sending one into the bullpen and he now has 76 RBI. Joe Mauer had two RBI and three hits to raise batting average to .332 for the year.


There was just not enough offense for the Red Wings on Friday evening. Danny Valencia was noticeably absent from the line-up with his call-up to the Twins so this could have taken a little away from the offensive output. But most of the credit should go to Yunesky Maya for holding the Red Wings to a single run over eight innings pitched with the lone run being scored on a home run from Chris Parmelee. Besides the home run from Parmelee, there were no other hits for the Red Wings during the entire game so there is not much else to discuss from an offensive standpoint.

Jeff Manship pitched a very good game for Rochester as he tossed six innings with a couple earned runs. It was his first loss since May 11th and it's not often that a pitcher expects to get a loss when they only give up two runs. Lester Oliveros did very well in his three innings on the mound. He pitched three innings while allowing a single hit and striking out six to lower his ERA to 3.04 for the season.

Before the game, there were a few different roster moves including the Red Wings. RHP Deolis Guerra was reinstated from the 7-Day Disabled List and he was replaced on the DL by RHP Daniel Sattler. As many fans heard about on Thursday's off day, Anthony Swarzak had to make a trip to the DL so RHP Luis Perdomo was called up to Minnesota for the first time. To take the place of Perdomo with Rochester, RHP Daniel Turpen was transferred from Double-A New Britain.


The Rock Cats tried their best to comeback against the Phillies by scoring multiple runs in the last three innings but Reading had too much of a lead. There were five members of the Rock Cats to collect multiple hits in the game including 2-for-4 nights from Joe Benson and Rene Tosoni. Benson hit his second home run with New Britain and he knocked in three runs. Chris Herrmann matched the three RBI of Benson including his 22nd double of the season, the second most two-baggers on the team.

Logan Darnell started for the Rock Cats and lasted five innings while giving up six earned runs on 10 hits. He didn't walk any batters but he only struck out one hitter and gave up two long balls for his eighth loss of the year. David Bromberg pitched a scoreless inning by striking out two of the four batters that he faced while on the mound. Edgar Ibarra got roughed up for the second straight outing by giving up three runs and only being credited for one out.


Madison Boer picked up his first win since July 1st and his fifth win of the year. He threw six innings by giving up eight hits and three earned runs. The two home runs that he allowed were basically harmless since the Miracle jumped on starter Taylor Jungmann of the Manatees for six runs in under four innings. Clint Dempster and AJ Achter threw three hitless innings to finish out the victory for Fort Myers. It was the second hold fro Dempster and the fourth save for Achter.

Steven Liddle was appearing in his fourth game for Fort Myers but he didn't waste any time making his mark with the Miracle. On this day, he went 4-for-5 with three runs scored and an RBI to raise his batting average to .583 during his second trip to the FSL. Lance Ray and Daniel Santana each had three hits to their credit but Ray knocked in three RBI including his 11th home run of the year. The only other member of the Miracle to have a hit was Michael Gonzales and he did collect an RBI.


The Snappers didn't manage any extra-base hits against the Bees and the team went 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position so it's hard to come out on top with very little offense. Adam Pettersen had the only RBI for New Britain with his two-out RBI in the fourth inning. Miguel Sano had a hit for the third straight game but he hasn't had an extra-base hit since he hit a home run on July 19th. Kennys Vargas had a hat trick by striking out three times to lower his batting average to .211.

Beloit sent Taylor Rogers to the mound for his first start since being called up from Elizabethton. He took the loss by giving up three earned runs on six hits over four innings. The worst part of his outing might have been the six walks that he allowed compared to his three strikeouts. Cole Johnson did very well in relief with four strikeouts and no hits in two innings. He lowered his ERA to 1.16 in nine games with the Snappers.


The Greenville Astros pounded out 17 hits against the pitching staff of the the E-Twins. Hudson Boyd got shelled for eight hits and four earned runs in 3.2 innings pitched. It was easily his worst start of the year as it only raised his ERA to 2.15 for the season and he hadn't given up more than one earned run in his last five starts. Christian Powell tried to relieve Boyd but he didn't fare much better by giving up four runs in a little over two innings on the mound. Tyler Duffey and Andrew Ferreira combined to give up three runs over the last three innings.

Candido Pimentel lead the team with three hits in his four at-bats including his third double of the season and two RBI. The other E-Twins player with multiple hits was Adam Walker who went 2-for-4 with three runs scored, an RBI, and his seventh home run. Niko Goodrum only got one hit but his double did knock in his 26th, 27th, and 28th RBI of the year.  Max Kepler seems to have found his man muscles by hitting his seventh home run of the season when he only had one home run during the last two years.


The Twins might have gotten a glimpse of their future with Byron Buxton and Eddie Rosario in the same line-up on Friday afternoon. Rosario is rehabbing on the way back from an injury and he went 2-for-4 with a home run and three RBI before being lifted from the game. Buxton wouldn't be outdone by Rosario as he hit a home run of his own while going 1-for-3 with two runs and two RBI. Joel Licon and Jose Ramirez helped pace the offense with three hits each.

A few different big name pitchers got into the game for the Twins. Two former first rounders, Kyle Gibson and Luke Bard, pitched scoreless outings to help improve their ERAs in the GCL. Alexander Muren picked up his second win of the season by tossing two innings without giving up a hit but he did walk three batters. It was good to see Muren not give up any runs for the first time in his last two appearances but his three walks were the most this season.


Players of the Day for July 27th, 2012

Hitter of the Day- Lance Ray (3-for-4, HR, 3 RBI)

Pitcher of the Day- Lester Oliveros (3.0 IP, 1 H, 6 SO)

A Look Ahead- Saturday, July 28th Schedule

Rochester @ Columbus- RHP Liam Hendriks
New Britain @ Reading- RHP Steven Hirschfeld
New Britain @ Reading- Game 2
Fort Myers vs Brevard County- LHP Pat Dean
Beloit @ Peoria- TBA
Elizabethton vs Greeneville- RHP Angel Mata
GCL Twins @ GCL Red Sox- TBA

If you have any question or comments about the minor leagues, leave them in the comments section and someone will be sure to answer them.

Friday Links-N-Thinks

It was a rough week for the Twins in Chicago as the team got swept by one of their biggest rivals in a three game set. Minnesota won't have to wait long to get another shot at the White Sox as Chicago will come to Minnesota at the beginning of next week.  For now, the focus of the club will turn to the Cleveland Indians over the weekend, a series where the Twins could play spoiler to a team trying to get back into the division race.

Even with the team playing some important games over the course of the next week, the focus of many fans will be on the trade deadline on Tuesday afternoon. The Twins are one of three teams in the American League that is a below the .500 mark by quite a lot and this should mean that the team will be sellers in the next handful of days. Players like Francisco Liriano and Denard Span have heard their names mentioned multiple times in the rumor mill. It should be an interesting couple of days to see what Terry Ryan can do with his first trade deadline since taking back the GM chair.

Another Friday means a collection of links to enjoy before you head off for your weekend fun. Sit back and buckle up for this week's edition of "Friday Links-N-Thinks."
My Weekly Rundown:

Video of the Week: Carlos Gomez has been known to be a show boat during his career and Twins fans will remember plenty of things that he did on the field. Earlier this week, he got a little excited over a deep foul ball and he trotted around the bases. Just watch the video because it will bring a smile to your face.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Plouffe's injury could mean Valencia's return

For what seems like the 100th time, the Twins are taking their time deciding whether or not a player should be put on the disabled list. Trevor Plouffe has an injury to his thumb and he has missed five consecutive games as he tries to recover. He tried to work out over the last couple of days and it sounds like gripping and swinging the bat have been tough for him to do. During the game on Wednesday afternoon, Plouffe was going to try and do some work in the cage. If everything went fine during this workout, he could avoid time on the DL but the Twins might be forced to call-up someone for the start of the homestand on Friday night. 

This has been a reoccurring theme over the last couple years as the team waits for a week or more after an injury to place a player on the disabled list. It's fine to give a player a couple days to try and work through some kind of nagging injury but the Twins often wait longer than it seems would be necessary. The earliest that Plouffe would see action again is on Friday and that is a week after the last game that he appeared in. If he was place on the disabled list, he would be forced to the sidelines of 15-days. This might not seem like a big deal but there are negatives from waiting to put a player on the DL.

Over the course of the last couple days, the Twins have been forced to play with a little bit of a short bench. Plouffe's non-availability meant that Ron Gardenhire was left with of a bench composed of Drew Butera and Darin Mastroianni. Later in the game when Alexi Casilla left the game, the Twins were forced to turn to Mastroianni at second base, the first time he appeared in the infield as a big leaguer. He had played five games at second base with Rochester earlier this season but it still wasn't the ideal situation for the Twins. 

When Friday rolls around and the Twins make a decision on Plouffe's injury, one of the options to replace him on the roster could be Danny Valencia. A couple of season's ago it seemed like Valencia would be the solution at third base that the Twins had been searching for since the departure of Corey Koskie in the mid-2000s. His rookie campaign was outstanding before coming back to the pack in 2011. The third base job was still his at the start of the 2012 season but his poor offensive numbers and spotty defense were hard for the team to ignore. In 27 games at the big league level this year, he hit .190/.204/.290 with seven extra-base hits to his credit. 

By the beginning of May, the Twins had seen enough and Valencia was sent packing to Triple-A for the first time since 2010. The opening at third base allowed for the emergence of Plouffe as one of the best power hitting threats in the Twins line-up. After having over 1000 plate appearances in the big leagues, Valencia should find the pitchers in the minors much easier to hit. He has done a little better with Rochester but he hasn't exactly been hitting the cover off of the ball. In 67 games with the Red Wings, he has hit .250/.290/.400 with 16 doubles and seven home runs. He has been given plenty of opportunities since he has been batting in the middle of the line-up for most games in Rochester. 

A report came out earlier this month that Valenica is unhappy playing in the minor leagues. Chris Perez, a college teammate of Valenica and a relief pitcher for the Indians, went on to say that Valencia is working hard in the minor leagues and he was just waiting for another opportunity at the big league level. It looks like the time might have arrived for Valenica to get another shot with the Twins. The poor play by Valenica earlier this year allowed Plouffe to shine at third base. Now an injury to Plouffe could mean a second chance for Valencia after he was cast off to the minor leagues.

Overall, it would most likely be a short call-up for whoever is picked to replace Plouffe on the 25-man roster. The Twins could continue to let Jamey Carroll start at third base with Brian Dozier and Alexi Casilla filling up the spots in the middle infield. The only infielders at Rochester that are on the 40-man roster are Valencia, Chris Parmelee, and Tsuyoshi Nishioka. Parmelee has been called up multiple times this season and Gardenhire has a hard time penciling his name in the line-up. Fans of the Twins might revolt if Nishioka was brought back to the big leagues. Pedro Florimon has been having a great month of July but he would need to be added to the 40-man roster to make it to Minnesota.

If Plouffe has to go on the DL, it looks like the Twins might be forced to give Valencia the second chance that he has been waiting for...

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Tuesday's Trip through the Minors

The Twins seemed to be sitting good on Tuesday evening after a couple of long balls from Josh Willingham and a very solid start from Cole DeVries. The bullpen took over in the seventh inning and the White Sox decided to put on a slugfest for the rest of the game. During the explosion by the bullpen in the final two innings, the Twins offense failed to score any more runs and the game ended with a final score of 11-4, an ugly blowout loss at the hands of the White Sox.

Tomorrow afternoon, the Twins will try and salvage one game out of the series before heading home for six-games against Central Division foes. Nick Blackburn will take the mound to face off against Jake Peavy. But before we turn our heads to tomorrow, let's look at what happened today across the farm system for the Twins.


After scoring a run in the first inning, the Red Wings were shutout the rest of the way by the Chiefs pitching staff. It was the third loss in a row for Rochester after going 14-5 to start the month of July. Syracuse seems to have Rochester's number in recent games by beating the Red Wings in eight consecutive games, their longest current losing streak against any opponent in the International League.

Brian Dinkelman, the lead-off hitter, started the game with a bang by knocking out his third home run of the season. He was also the only member of the Red Wings to manage more than one hit in the game with his double later in the game. In his last four games, Dinkelman is 8-for-14 (.571) with three doubles, a triple, and a home run. Danny Valencia hit his 16th double of the season but was left on base. After a brief trip back to the big leagues, Chris Parmelee returned to Rochester and went 1-for-3 with a walk. 

Shairon Martis made his second start since being called up from New Britain and it was his first quality start even though he got the loss. Over the course of six innings, he gave up three earned runs on five hits with four strikeouts. Bobby Lanigan gave up multiple runs for the first time in his last ten games with the Red Wings. All of the runs off of Lanigan came on a three-run home run in the seventh inning to turn a two run lead into a five run lead. 


New Britain did their best to claw their way back against Binghamton but the Mets proved to be too much for the Rock Cats. There wasn't a single hitter in the Rock Cats line-up with more than one hit and New Britain still out hit Binghamton in the game. There were plenty of extra-base hits with Oswaldo Arcia, Aaron Hicks, Joe Benson and Deibinson Romero all hitting doubles in the game with Benson driving in two runs during an eighth inning rally. In the end, there was not enough offense to get the victory for the Rock Cats.

Blake Martin started the game and he was saddled with his fourth loss of the season after giving up three runs on three hits. It was his first loss since joining the rotation for the Rock Cats at the end of June. Marty Popham pitched over an inning of scoreless baseball by striking out two of the four batters that he faced. Jose Gonzalez gave up a run for the first time in his last three outings. It came on a home run off of the bat of Eric Campbell in the eighth inning. It was the second loss in a row for the Rock Cats but New Britain is 7-4 since July 16th. 


The Miracle took a two-run lead into the bottom of the ninth inning but the Stone Crabs would not go away quietly. Michael Tonkin surrendered a single with two outs that pushed two runs across the plate to tie the game and send the contest to extra innings. An error by Levi Michael in the bottom of the 11th allowed a runner to reach base and the next batter smacked a double to make Charlotte the victors on this evening. From reports out of Fort Myers, it was a weird play in which the runner fell down twice on his way around third and he still managed to score. 

There were some positives for the Miracle with Angel Morales hitting a two-run home run that stretched the Miracle lead to 5-2 at the time. Kyle Knudson, Lance Ray, and Anderson Hidalgo all had two hits in the game with Knudson hitting his eighth double of the season. The top of the order had a rough night with the first two batters, Jonathan Goncalves and Levi Michael, combining to go 0-for-10 with two strikeouts. 

Matt Summers was solid for the Miracle even though he was given a no decision. He pitched five innings and gave up two runs on five hits. Michael Tonkin gets the blown save for giving up the lead in the bottom of the ninth inning. The loss was charged to Ricky Bowen even though the lone run that he gave up was unearned. 


A night after three Snappers pitchers combined to throw a seven hit shutout on Monday night, the team enjoyed an off day on Tuesday. The Snappers are playing .500 baseball in their last six games and now they hit the road for a stretch of six games away from home. Miguel Sano has gone hitless in his last four games to see his batting average drop to .240 for the season. This came on the heels of six games where he went 7-for-18 with two home runs, six RBI and six runs scored. At the beginning of the season, it looked like Sano was destined for Fort Myers by the middle of the season but he continues to need to work on his consistency. 


Two three-run home runs helped to separate the E-Twins from the Mets. DJ Hicks hit one three-run shot in the first inning to put the Twins on top and Max Kepler hit his own three-run homer in the next frame. Jorge Polanco had a couple of hits and two RBI out of the nine spot in the batting order. By the end of the third inning, the Twins were up 10-0 and it seemed like the game was all wrapped up at that point.

Even with the blowout loss, the E-Twins had to use seven different pitchers during the course of the game. Kaleb Merck got his second victory of the year by throwing two innings and allowing one run on a single hit. Travis Huber got hit hard in the final inning by allowing three runs on four hits. The team had to bring in Tyler Herr to get the last out of the game after Huber struggled during his time on the mound. 

GCL TWINS 6, GCL ORIOLES 1 (7 innings)

In his second game since returning from the DL, Byron Buxton hit his second extra-base hit in as many days. He went 1-for-3 in the game with his second double of the season to raise his batting average to .258 in his last ten games. It is good to see Buxton finding his swing after missing almost two weeks with a hamstring injury. Joel Licon and Zach Larson each had two hits to pace the GCL Twins. Jose Ramirez managed to get two RBI without recording a hit. 

Kyle Gibson made his fifth start since coming back from Tommy John surgery and he didn't give up a run for the second start in a row. His two innings on the mound were perfect and he struck out two of the six batters that he faced. Gonzalo Sanudo picked up his first professional win by throwing three innings and giving up one run on four hits. He pitched last season in the GCL but never earned a victory so congratulations are in order for Mr. Sanudo. 

GCL TWINS 5, GCL ORIOLES 4 (7 innings)

While the other game on this day was a little one sided, this game was much more of a nail biter with the GCL Twins squeaking out the win. Luke Bard, the 2012 Draft pick, made his first start as a professional and he lasted two innings by giving up one run on one hit with two strikeouts. The back and forth contest meant that Markus Solbach was the pitcher of record when the Twins took the lead for good. It was his second victory of the season for the native of Germany. Trent Higginbotham earned his first save for the 2012 year by throwing the last two innings and only giving up a single run. 

The offense of the GCL Twins was lead by a pair of 2-run home runs from Bryan Haar and Javier Pimentel. For both players, it was their first home run of the season. Kelvin Ortiz had a perfect day at the plate by going 3-for-3 with three singles spread out across the game. Byron Buxton didn't play in this game as the team tries to slowly bring him back from his injury. 

Players of the Day for July 24, 2012

Pitcher of the Day- Matthew Summers (5 IP, 4 H, 2 ER)

Hitter of the Day- DJ Hicks (3-for-5, 2B, HR, 3 R, 3 RBI)

A Look Ahead- Wednesday, July 25th Schedule

Rochester vs Syracuse- RHP Esmerling Vasquez
New Britain vs Binghamton- RHP BJ Hermsen
Fort Myers @ Charlotte- RHP Matthew Hauser
Beloit @ Burlington- LHP David Hurlbut
GCL Twins @ GCL Rays- TBA
If you have any questions or comments on the minor league system, leave them in the comments section and someone will certainly answer them.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Hendriks lost in translation to big leagues

Twins fans have gotten a couple of different glimpses of Liam Hendriks since the September of last season. In that time at the big league level, the 23-year old pitcher has been less than underwhelming to the tune of an 0-7 record with an ERA of 6.71 in 12 starts. His struggles with the Twins have meant more than one trip back to Rochester this season after making the rotation out of spring training. The story of Hendriks with the Red Wings has been much different over the course of the 2012 campaign.

Before last night when Hendriks lost his first game of the season for Rochester, the right-handed pitcher had a perfect 7-0 record in ten games started at the Triple-A level. His ERA of 1.74 was nearly as perfect over the course of those starts with one bad start at the end of May accounting for six of the 15 earned runs that he has allowed. If you take out this terrible outing, Hendriks has an eye-popping 1.19 ERA with 59 strikeouts in 68.1 innings on the mound. He seems to have the game figured out at the Triple-A level but something seems to get lost in translation when he gets the call to the big league level. 

Throughout his minor league career, Hendriks has been known as a control pitcher because he doesn't have overpowering pitches to get batters out. He relies on throwing the ball around the edges of the plate to force batters into making mistakes. In the minor leagues, this approach has served Hendriks well because he moved through the system fairly quickly and he made his MLB debut as a 22-year old. His ability to avoid walking batters in the minor leagues has been a feat to behold and he continues to impress with his ability to avoid giving up home runs, especially for a control pitcher. 

The qualities that have made Hendriks valuable during each stop along the way in the minor leagues have been absent during his time as a big league player. His outstanding walk rate of 1.5 BB/9 on his way to the big leagues has ballooned to 2.3 BB/9 as a starter with the Twins. He has also given up an average of 1.9 home runs per nine innings in the big leagues and that number sits at around 0.3 HR/9 in the minors. While Hendriks was with the Twins, he was left searching for his first career win at the MLB level and the struggles have clearly been present over his limited sample size of 12 starts and 61.2 innings pitched. 

It is hard to know what to expect from the Twins and their pitching staff over the course of the next few months. The team seems to be giving plenty of opportunities to pitchers that have less up-side than Hendriks. Players like Cole DeVries and Sam Deduno are older than Hendriks and they looked like career minor league players before the season began. During their limited amount of starts this season, each of these players has shown some good and some bad signs but it seems that they will continue to get opportunities in a starting rotation that needs plenty of help. Most Twins fans hope that Hendriks can be more of a long-term option over the likes of DeVries and Deduno but only time will tell if this is true.

For next season, there are going to be plenty of openings for starting spots on the Twins roster. Francisco Liriano, Carl Pavano, and Scott Baker will all be free agents when the offseason arrives and this could leave some opportunity for other younger pitchers to step up and show that they belong with the big league squad. Out of the current members of the starting rotation, Scott Diamond and Nick Blackburn might be the two frontrunners for a spot in next year's rotation and Blackburn is far from being a lock. This leaves the remainder of this season as a try out for the rest of the untested pitchers and the coaching staff should get a pretty good look at each of these men.

Over the course of the next week, the Twins will most likely part ways with Francisco Liriano and this will leave another opportunity for a pitcher to emerge as a viable option in the rotation of the future for the Twins. Hendriks has done almost everything that he could at the Triple-A level and a call-up seems eminent at some point before the season is through. The Twins need Hendriks to find success at the major league level so the team can be comfortable penciling him into the rotation for the start of next season. It is up to Hendriks to find a way to translate his minor league success into respectable numbers at the next level. 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Sunday Links-N-Thinks

My usual edition of "Friday Links-N-Thinks" had to be pushed back because of some other commitments. Since I am in the process of moving back to North Dakota after two years in the Cities, it has been a crazy couple of weeks of packing boxes and moving furniture. Remember to keep checking in as I will continue to post about the Twins in the midst of moving back to my home state. My regular schedule just might need to switch itself up a little bit in depending on when I have internet access and when I am not busy moving boxes.

The Twins put together a decent weekend in Kansas City with a series win for the first time in weeks. It was great to see Ryan Doumit get home runs from both sides of the plate on Sunday and Sam Deduno was able to pick up his first professional victory. Only a couple days before, Casey Fien had earned his first professional victory when the Twins won on Friday night. Now the team will head to Chicago to face a White Sox team that limped out of the weekend by being swept in Detroit.

As the trade deadline starts to sneak closer, it is going to be interesting to see what the Twins are able to get for some of their veteran players. For now, sit back and enjoy this edition of "Links-N-Thinks."

My Weekly Rundown:
Video of the Week: Oswaldo Arcia might be putting together a season that will place him very close to the top of the Twins prospect list. He started the year at Fort Myers and quickly outgrew his spot in High-A ball. Now he is playing well for the New Britain Rock Cats and he made the team a winner with this walk-off home run

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Calcaterra wins 2012 Joe Posnanski Award

The Baseball Bloggers Alliance today (July 13, 2012) named Hardball Talk lead blogger Craig Calcaterra as the winner of the 2012 Joe Posnanski Award, honoring the top internet writer of the year.  Besides being the lead voice at Hardball Talk, the baseball blog of NBCSports, Calcaterra can also be found interacting with his readers via his Twitter account.

The Writer of the Year Award was created by the BBA to honor those writers who, beyond being exceptionally great at their craft, have taken to the internet in a full and vigorous fashion.  Voters were instructed to take into account not only the writing abilities of the nominees but also their online presense, whether via blog or other media, as well as how they interact with their followers and fans.

“It seems only appropriate to honor Craig Calcaterra, as he could be seen as ‘living the dream’ for many bloggers,” said outgoing BBA president Daniel Shoptaw.  “Calcaterra quit lawyering, began blogging and quickly rose to a place of prominence.  What blogger wouldn’t want to follow in those footsteps?”

Voters were allowed to vote for three of the five nominees, casting a first, second and third place ballot.  Those ballots were tabulated based on a 5-3-1 point scale.

Calcaterra received 276 points, which included 32 first-place votes from the 119 ballots cast.  Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports was runner-up with 245 points and Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus third with 209 points.  Dave Cameron of FanGraphs (208) and Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (194) rounded out the ballot.

The Baseball Bloggers Alliance was formed in the fall of 2009 to encourage cooperation and collaboration between baseball bloggers of all major league teams as well as those that follow baseball more generally.  You can follow the BBA on Facebook and Twitter or contact them at baseballbloggersalliance@gmail.com

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Tuesday's Trip through the Minors

After an offensive explosion on Monday night, the Twins made things a little bit more interesting on Tuesday when they didn't take their first lead in the game until the seventh inning. This comeback was spurred on by four two out hits with Ben Revere and Joe Mauer knocking in the runs to make the difference in the 6-4 final score.

It seemed like a showcase game for Joe Mauer as he went 3-for-4 in the game including an RBI and one walk. He also made a tremendous diving catch on a bunt attempt where he had to sprawl out in foul territory to snag the pop up. Mauer is making an attempt to catch Mike Trout for the league lead in batting average but Trout continues to have monster games as he went 4-for-6 on Tuesday. There is plenty of time left for Mauer to catch Trout so it will be interesting to see if the 20-year old rookie ever cools down.

Mauer wasn't the only member of the Twins organization to impress on Tuesday night because there were plenty of good games in the farm system. Make sure to check out all the details below in this edition of "Tuesday's Trip through the Minors."

After a loss on Monday, the Red Wings got back to their recent winning ways by topping the Norfolk Tide on Tuesday night. During the month of July, the Red Wings have the most wins in the International League with 11 wins to their credit. Rochester is one victory away from the .500 mark and it would be the first time the team has seen that point since the end of April. The 2010 and 2011 seasons were a little rough for Rochester but the victory tonight has the Red Wings off to their best 97-game start since 2007.

Jeff Manship pitched strong for the Red Wings by spreading out eight hits over six innings with both runs being charged to him. It was his first start since returning from the DL and he got his first victory since May 21 to improve to 5-1 on the season. Luis Perdomo got the untraditional three inning save, his sixth save for the year, by tossing three scoreless frames and striking out two. The one man to get to the Red Wings pitching staff was former Twins player Lew Ford who went 3-for-4 with a home run to raise his average to .340 with 10 long balls.

Rene Rivera didn't start the game for the Red Wings but an early exit by JR Towles meant that Rivera would get some at-bats in the game. He went 2-for-3 with sixth home run of the year. Clete Thomas and Evan Bigley matched the two hits from Rivera with each hitter managing an extra-base hit in the game. Sean Burroughs lead the team with two runs batted in and he's up to 18 RBI for the season. The Red Wings have scored four or more runs in a season high six straight games and it's the first time they have done this since July of 2010 when they put together a seven game streak.

The Rock Cats took an early 2-1 lead in the first inning and proceeded to fall behind for the next few innings. A big rally in the 8th inning brought the team back into the game with Aaron Hicks scoring the game tying run on a wild pitch with two outs in the frame. The lead wouldn't last long as the Fisher Cats posted back-to-back hits in the top of the ninth to reclaim the lead. In the bottom of the ninth, the Rock Cats would do their best to tie the game with two men reaching base in the inning. Unfortunately, the tying run was left in scoring position when Estarlin De Los Santos popped out to shortstop.

Joe Benson was the only member of the Rock Cats to have more than one hit in the game. The lone extra-base hit came off of the bat of Chris Colabello, his team leading 27th double of the season. In the last ten games, Colabello is hitting .389/.421/.500 with five extra-base hits and seven RBI. Aaron Thompson tossed eight innings for the Rock Cats and gave up five runs on 10 hits including two home runs. By giving up the run in the top of the ninth, Edgar Ibarra was tagged with his first loss since being promoted from Fort Myers at the end of June.

FORT MYERS 2, DUNEDIN 1 (GAME 1, 7 innings)
The Miracle scored two runs in the first inning of this game and that is all they would need to hold on for their 39th victory of the season. Cole Nelson started the game for the Miracle and didn't give up a single earned run during his time on the mound. Over the course of five innings, he surrendered four hits while striking out four and lowering his ERA to 4.03 on the season. It was his fifth victory of the season and his second win in the month of July. AJ Achter earned his third save of the year by throwing two scoreless innings with four strikeouts. 

Levi Michael and Rene Tosoni were the lone Miracle hitters with an extra-base hit as each man had a double to his name for the game. Daniel Santana and Josmil Pinto each had two hits with Pinto knocking in one of the two runs in the game for the Miracle. Pinto has 34 RBI on the season and this ranks third for Fort Myers behind Lance Ray and the aforementioned Daniel Santana. It was the second victory in a row for the Miracle and they would try and complete the sweep of Dunedin in the second game of the double header.

FORT MYERS 0, DUNEDIN 6 (GAME 2, 7 innings)
After winning the first half of the double header, the Miracle struggled to get runners across the plate in the night cap. Fort Myers piled up nine hits over the course of the game but the team went 0-for-13 with runners in scoring position. Levi Michael and Daniel Santana had two hits apiece to lead the club. For the most part, Casey Lawrence, the starter for Dunedin, shut down the rest of the line-up for the Miracle as he tossed six scoreless innings for his sixth victory of the year. Koby Clemens, the son of Roger Clemens, hit a home run in the second inning to give the Blue Jays an early lead in the second inning.

Madison Boer was roughed up for six earned runs off of eight hits in only 2.2 innings on the mound. With the rough outing, Boer saw his ERA rise to 7.47 over the course of his 13 starts with the Miracle. Miguel Munoz and Nelvin Fuentes cleaned up the rest of the game for the Miracle by throwing over four innings of shutout baseball but the hole was already dug for Fort Myers. Even with the rough loss, the Miracle can go for the series victory tomorrow in the finale of the four-game set.

After three straight losses, the Snappers enjoyed a much needed off day on Tuesday. The team will start a six game home stand on Wednesday as they try to sneak closer to the .500 mark in the second half standings. The Snappers have already clinched a playoff spot with their record in the first half but it would still be nice to see the team continue to succeed in the second half. Miguel Sano hit his 19th home run of the year on Monday and it was only his second home run of the month. In the last ten games, he is hitting .300 with eight RBI and four extra-base hits.

One big inning at the plate was all that it took for the E-Twins to take command of their game against the Johnson City Cardinals. The first three batters of the inning got singles to load the bases before the first out was recorded on a force out at home. Kelvin Mention strode to the plate with the bases loaded and he connected for his first professional home run and it just happened to be a grand slam. A couple of batters later Max Kepler would hit a two-run home run, his second of the year, to cap off a seven run inning. Five members of the E-Twins had multiple hits as the team compiled 12 hits in the game.

Hein Robb started the game for the E-Twins and threw 3.1 innings with Johnson City getting seven hits off of him and three earned runs. Kaleb Merck earned his first professional win by throwing 2.2 innings and giving up one earned run on a single hit with three strikeouts. DJ Baxendale and Christian Powell combined for three scoreless innings to close out the victory for the E-Twins. For Powell, it was his first save on the season and four of the six outs he recorded were on strikeouts.

Today's double header between the GCL Twins and GCL Orioles was postponed because of the wet weather in Florida. The GCL Twins are in first place in their division and sit two games ahead of the GCL Red Sox. The team has won their last five games and nine of their last 11 contests. First round pick Byron Buxton hasn't played in a game since July 9 when he suffered a hamstring injury. Hopefully he will be able to get back into action whenever the weather decides to cooperate in Florida.

Players of the Day for Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Pitcher of the Day- Cole Nelson (5 IP, 0 ER)

Hitter of the Day- Kelvin Mention (1st Professional HR, 4 RBI)


A Look Ahead- Wednesday, July 18th Schedule

Rochester @ Norfolk: LHP Liam Hendriks
New Britain vs. New Hampshire: RHP Shairon Martis
Fort Myers vs. Dunedin: LHP Pat Dean
Beloit vs. Lansing: LHP Jason Wheeler
Elizabethton vs. Johnson City: TBD
GCL Twins vs. GCL Rays: TBD


If you have any question or comments on the Twins minor league system, leave them in the comments section and I will try to answer them.

Tuesday Morning Tidbits

After having their starting pitchers struggle for most of the series against the Oakland A's, the Twins made sure their pitchers didn't have to worry about giving up runs on Monday night. The Twins offense exploded for 19 runs against the Baltimore Orioles including seven runs in the first inning. This was more than enough for a rested Scott Diamond who hadn't pitched in over a week and a half. In all of this offensive explosion, it is interesting to note that the Twins only had one home run in the game and it came on a solo home run from Joe Mauer.

The Twins will hope their red hot hitting carries over to the second game of the series versus the Orioles. Zach Britton will be making his first start of the year for Baltimore and the Twins will have to try and figure out a pitcher that hasn't thrown in the big leagues since September of 2011. This could be a good thing or a bad thing for the Twins hitters so fans will just have to wait and see what tonight's contest brings.

Last week I promised readers a minor league report on Tuesday night before realizing that there was only one game for Twins affiliates that day. It was a pretty momentous occasion with Kyle Gibson taking the mound for the first time since Tommy John surgery so a full story was written about that over at Twins Daily. Tonight there is a full slate of games in the Twins farm system so make sure to check back later for what happened down on the farm. 

Willingham staying put... maybe
The trade rumors are going to continue to swirl in the next couple weeks and it seems that very few members of the Twins will be safe from the rumor mill. According to one American League executive, Josh Willingham might be the most valuable trade chip on the Twins roster but it sounds like the Twins are planning on keeping him around from the sound of things. Willingham joined the Twins as a free agent this offseason and signed a three-year deal for $21 million, which is a very good deal for the production that he has offered the team. 

As a 33-year old outfielder with limited mobility on the defensive side of the ball, Willingham might be at the peak of his value in the midst of his best offensive season. The fact that he is under contract for the next couple seasons for a very decent amount of money could mean that some teams would over pay to add him to their roster for a playoff push. The Twins seem to think that it would be best to keep Willingham around unless they are blown away by an offer from another club.

Over the course of his career, Willingham has never played more than 144 games in a season and he is on pace to play well over that amount of games in 2012. The Twins might be getting all that they can out of Willingham this year and the front office is going to have to decide when the team will be in contention again. Are the Twins going to be pushing for the playoffs in the next three years when Willingham is under contract? Or would it be better for the team to turn him into some prospects that could help the team in the future?

Target Field starting to be more home run friendly
In the third year of Target Field, it seems that batters have started to figure out what needs to be done in order to conquer the vast outfield walls. So far this season, Target Field has yielded 2.11 home runs per game which ranks right in the middle of the American League. The poor starting pitching for the Twins might be to blame for some of the recent rise in home runs but even the Twins have started to hit more bombs in their home ballpark. This is a change that could keep some players from complaining about what seemed like deep outfield fences in the first couple years that Target Field was open.

When Target Field first opened in 2010, there were only 1.43 home runs per game hit and that number ranked second worst in the entire American League. The 2011 season saw a slight rise in the number of home runs with their being 1.56 home runs per game, the third fewest in the AL. Check out Hit Tracker Online for information on every home run that has been hit at Target Field throughout the three year history of the ballpark. Those numbers could rise this week with the king of home runs at Target Field, Jim Thome, returning as a member of the Baltimore Orioles. 

Arcia cracks walk-off home run
The Rock Cats had an exciting finish to their first game of a double-header on Monday night. In a back and forth contest with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, the game was tied in the ninth inning even though the Rock Cats had gotten out hit in the contest. The rally for the Rock Cats started with two outs in the ninth inning when Aaron Hicks hit a line drive to center field. Hicks would proceed to steal second base so the Fisher Cats pitched carefully to Chris Herrmann with first base open. After a walk to Herrmann, Oswaldo Arcia stepped to the plate with the chance to be the hero. 

Arcia worked the count in his favor by taking the first two pitches for balls before swinging at a slow breaking pitch in the dirt. The next pitch was outside again so the count moved to 3-1 and the pitcher had to put one near the plate. Arcia deposited the high fastball into the over the right field fence for a walk-off home run. It was his second home run since being called up to New Britain in June and it is his 10th home run overall on the season. At this point, Twins fans can start getting excited about what Arcia is doing in the minor leagues and he is making a push towards Target Field.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Hicks following the path laid by Hunter, Span

Since the Twins took Aaron Hicks with their first round pick in the 2008 MLB Draft, there has been plenty of talk about the athletic outfielder fitting into the future plans of the Twins organization. Hicks was one of the highest draft picks the Twins had prior to drafting Byron Buxton in this year's draft and he seemed to have all of the tools to make him a very valuable player. It hasn't been a fast rise to the top for Mr. Hicks during his five years in the farm system for the Twins but he looks like he might slowly be figuring things out at the Double-A level with the New Britain Rock Cats.

There has been an up and down trend to the career of Hicks with there being more downs than ups. He can go through extreme hot stretches were he looks like a power threat from both sides of the plate and he follows that up with a rough couple of months that brings his statistics back down to earth. This roller coaster ride has been something that the Twins have tried to solve in recent years as they try and push the outfielder to find more consistency in his approach at the plate. The trend of ups and downs has continued in 2012 with some poor months mixed in with some very good offensive months. 

The month of July has been one of those very good months for Hicks. In his 14 games played in July, he is hitting .358/.452/.566 with five extra-base hits including two home runs and four RBI. This is also following the month of June where he hit .288/.377/.424 and all of those numbers were higher than his career averages. So it seems that the last couple of months have slowly been improving for Hicks as he starts to get more experience at the Double-A level. For the most part, his 2012 campaign would be excellent if not very a rough month of May at the plate. 

It could be a season of new personal records for Hicks on the offensive side of the ball. He has a career high nine home runs and he is closing in on some other personal bests. He is one triple away from tying his career high of six triples in a season and he has 19 stolen bases which is two short of his own record. There is over a third of the season left so this should give Hicks plenty of time to set some offensive highs for himself in the coming months. 

One of the biggest problems for the switch-hitting Hicks has been the change in his splits versus right-handed or left-handed pitchers. He is traditionally much better from the right side of the plate versus left-handed pitching. While this trend has continued in 2012, the gap is closing between his splits and he has shown the ability to hit for power from both sides of the plate. As a right handed hitter in 88 at-bats, he is hitting .295/.370/.466 with four home runs and three doubles. He has more than double the at-bats from the left side, 203 plate appearances, and he is hitting .266/.365/.424 with five home runs and five triples. It is great to see his numbers improve from both sides of the plate but it is also very good to see him become a more well-rounded hitter in the box. 

In the past, the Twins have seen some other high school outfielders take their time while developing in the system for the Twins. Denard Span didn't debut until he was 24 and his first full season in the big leagues didn't come until the next season as a 25-year old. Torii Hunter made his debut as a 21-year old but he only go into one game and he was used as a pinch runner. His first full season would come a couple seasons later when he was 23-years old. He hadn't been blowing the cover off of the ball in the minor leagues but he became an All-Star caliber player for the Twins.  It is also important to remember that the Twins teams of the late 1990's were not very good so it allowed for younger players to get more playing time. Could this situation play out with Hicks in the next couple years?

With Hicks playing all of this season so far at Double-A, there are plenty that are wondering when the young star will be making his debut with the Twins. The 22-year old might be a long shot to debut in 2012 because there are a few things working against him at this point. He is not on the 40-man roster and that means another move would need to be made to clear a spot for him even though that wouldn't be too difficult. There are a couple other young outfielders, Oswaldo Arcia and Joe Benson, that are already ahead of him because they have 40-man roster spots. Arcia is having a tremendous season but he spent the first part of the year at the High-A level so it might be pushing it to say he will get a chance this year. During last September, Benson got a taste of the big leagues but he has struggled in 2012. It will be a toss up to see if any of these players get the call this year. 

It seems the Twins front office would be satisfied with Hick showing that he can be a consistent offensive threat from both sides of the plate. His speed and defense have always been his best attributes and it seems that his hitting is slowly coming along. Twins fans can hope that he will follow some of the other high school outfielders that took some time to develop in the minor leagues before becoming solid regulars with the club. For now, Hicks will continue to refine his approach at the Double-A level in hopes that he can call himself a major league player at some point in the next two years. 

Friday, July 13, 2012

Friday Links-N-Thinks

Happy Friday! I hope you made it through the week and you are looking forward to the weekend. It's hard to believe that it is already the 13th of July. Where is the time going from this summer? Make sure you spend some time this weekend enjoying the warm weather and the wonderful outdoors. It won't be long and we will all be stuck inside for another frigid winter across Twins Territory. At least the Wild should be worth watching this season with their newest additions.

The Twins resume play tonight for the first time since the All-Star Break. For the first week, the Twins play all of their games at Target Field so that should be beneficial to the club. This weekend the A's come to town to match-up with the Twins for three games and that is followed by a four-game set with the Baltimore Orioles. As I wrote about yesterday, there are still some headlines to follow in the second half that should make the Twins fun to watch.

Before the Twins resume play and before you head out for the weekend, make sure to check out the links I have provided below. There were some great interviews and Twins stories this week so make sure to enjoy this edition of "Friday Links-N-Thinks."

My Weekly Rundown
Video of the Week: Season ticket holders for the Twins were asked to send in questions for Twins GM Terry Ryan. It was cool to listen to some of his answers and he even answered a question that I sent in. My question has about the lack of pitching depth in the entire organization but they took out some of the words that I used but it was still a cool concept.