Friday, February 27, 2015

Episode 120: Better Call Paul

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

Paul is cranky pants this week. I think he hates Spring Training. We dive into that assumption and figure out what the heck the Twins are doing for the next couple weeks. We're joined this week by Jeremy Nygaard from to talk more about prospects, pitching, and even a little fantasy baseball. Then, as always, beer, baseball, and the news.

Thanks for listening.

If you enjoy our podcast, please tell your friends about us and take a couple extra minutes to rate and review us on iTunes. Ratings and reviews help Ricky Nolasco be in the "best shape of his life." 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Who is the Twins Most Marketable Player?

As the beginning of the 2015 season quickly approaches, the Twins marketing team has been hard at work. How do you try and sell a team that has lost 90 games for four consecutive seasons?

Twins single game tickets went on sale last weekend and one thing that seems to get fans in the door is offering some unique giveaways. This year the club will offer such items as a Vintage Twins Bobblehead, a Brian Dozier Bobblehead, a Torii Hunter Adult Jersey, and a Fur Bomber cap.

One noticeable name not featured in a promotion so far is the team's highest paid player, Joe Mauer. This got me wondering... Who is currently the Twins most marketable player?
Joe Mauer
With multiple batting titles and an MVP under his belt, the Twins $23 million man gets most of the attention from the national level. Topps Trading Cards has a very Mauer feel when it came to their 2015 Series 1 product inserts. When MLB Network does their annual "Face of MLB" contest, Mauer is always penciled in as the nominee for the Twins. Even when the All-Star Game was in Minneapolis last year, Mauer served as the local ambassador for the game even though he wasn't elected to play in the contest.

However, Mauer can be a very polarizing figure among Twins fans. He's failed to live up to some fans high expectations of him and his huge contract makes it even harder for fans to accept him. There have been injuries and poor play for a few seasons so it seems like his local marketing has declined even if he's the most nationally known member of the Twins.

Brian Dozier
Dozier's emergence over the last couple of seasons has quickly made him a fan favorite. When the club sent out their season ticket renewals last fall, a life-sized cardboard cut-out of Dozier accompanied each information packet. He took some of the national spotlight during last year's Home Run Derby at Target Field. Now the club is ready to immortalize him with his first bobblehead doll. Everything seems to be working in Dozier's favor.

Even with the HR Derby experience last year, the name Brian Dozier isn't a national name. Dozier is getting a lot of love from the Twins marketing team and it's easy to see why with his infectious smile and outgoing personality. With a Dozier long-term contract extension expected to be in place before Opening Day, it seems likely for him to become a central figure in the local marketing campaigns.

Torii Hunter
It was hard to ignore the cheers and the lines for Mr. Torii Hunter at TwinsFest. He's signed for a one-year deal but he sounds like a man that would like to finish out his career in a Twins uniform. There has to be a desire by both parties for Hunter to continue playing but that's a full season away at this point. Fans are excited to welcome back the player that was the most marketable during this generation's best winnings years.

Many younger Twins fans might not remember the last time Hunter played in Minnesota. The names of Mauer and Dozier are out there and a little more familiar. It's also hard to know how long Hunter will be around in Minnesota. The front office will try and ride him out through the waning years of his career and hope his smile brings enough fans through the gates to pay his $10.5 million contract.

Glen Perkins
Besides being a local kid and a two-time All-Star, Perkins can be electric on the mound. Last year the team featured Perkins in his first bobblehead and they gave away kids jerseys with his number on them. In Target Field's biggest moment of the year, Perkins was on the mound closing out the game for the American League. He's been a vocal leader in the clubhouse and he and his wife do plenty of good things in and around the community.

Relief pitchers don't tend to get a lot of hype but it helps that Perkins is in a closing role. His under contract through 2017 and he's spent his entire career in the organization. There will be younger relief pitchers making their way to Target Field over the next couple seasons so it will be interesting to see how long he serves in the closer's role.

Byron Buxton
Buxton hasn't even played a game at the big league level but he might be the second best known name on this list. For most of the last two seasons, he's been considered the best prospect in all of baseball or at least close to the top of the list. Casual fans know his name because it has been out there for multiple years and it's easy to get excited when he get compared to some of the best players in the game.

Last year was disastrous for Buxton as he suffered through multiple injures and couldn't stay on the field. He is still young and hopes are still high that he'll be able to overcome the nightmare he endured throughout 2014. He's been on the cover of magazines, books, trading card packages, and his face might become even more recognizable if he could put together all of the talent scouts have seen in him.

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Monday, February 23, 2015

2015 Twins Spring Training Headlines

Spring is in the air and with it comes the hope of a new baseball season. Pitchers and catchers have already reported to spring training and this gets fans excited for the beginning of a new year. For Twins fans, there are a multitude of story-lines to watch as spring begins to unfold. Here are five headlines I will be watching as the team prepares for Opening Day. 

Fifth Starter Battle
One of the biggest battles in camp will be for the final rotation spot. Phil Hughes, Ervin Santana, Ricky Nolasco, and Kyle Gibson should have the first four spots locked up barring any injuries. This leads a large cropping of players fighting to make the 25-man roster.

Last season Kyle Gibson separated himself from the pack and won the final rotation spot. This year a group of players including Trevor May, Tommy Milone, Mike Pelfrey, Alex Meyer, and Tim Stauffer will all have a chance to follow in Gibson's footsteps. At this point, it seems like Milone will have the edge heading into spring but anything can happen before the year starts.

Center Field Up for Grabs
The Twins used Danny Santana in center field for a large chunk of last season and the team seems set on moving him back to shortstop, his natural position. This leaves Aaron Hicks and Jordan Schafer fighting for playing time in center field. Hicks has won the job the last two years with impressive springs but he's failed to consistently produce at the MLB level. Schafer will have an opportunity but he seems more likely to fill a fourth outfielder role.

Byron Buxton is lurking in the wings but an injury plagued 2014 season means he's probably a full season away from making his debut. That's good news for Hicks and Schafer but it might be bad news for the rest of Twins Territory. With Torii Hunter and Oswaldo Arcia manning the corner outfield spots, the Twins need a strong defensive center fielder to take the job and run with it.

Danny Santana Shortstop?
Santana was a breath of fresh air in 2014 but many expect him to come back down to earth during his sophomore season. In his first taste of the big leagues, he hit well above his minor league track record and he accomplished this while playing a new defensive position. This year he will be penciled in as the everyday shortstop and fans are going to expect big things from Mr. Santana.

The biggest question will be if he is able to stick defensively at shortstop. Ron Gardenhire and his departed coaching staff didn't seem too worried about getting Santana a ton of reps at shortstop last season. Paul Molitor and the new regime are going to give him ample opportunities to succeed at a position that has annual been a weak spot in the Twins line-up.

Top Prospects Health
Going into last season few could have foreseen how terrible the year would turn out for many of the Twins best prospects. Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano, the team's top two prospects, combined to play in 31 games (all by Buxton). Pitching prospects Kohl Stewart, Alex Meyer, and Lewis Thorpe missed playing time with various ailments. Eddie Rosario also missed the beginning of the season because of a 50 game drug suspension.

The beginning of a new year means that many of the top prospects have had the off-season to relax and recover. Buxton, Sano, and Rosario should be primed to be back on the field for an entire season. Meyer and Stewart should be ready to take the next step. Thorpe is the lone questions mark as the organization contemplates whether or not he will need to have Tommy John surgery and miss all of 2015.

Mauer's Return to Glory
Call it a hunch but Mauer is due to get back to his former playing greatness. It is going to change some continued growth on the part of Mauer but he's concerned about his historical place in the game. He's already started to develop a relationship with new manager Paul Molitor, a player that had to change his style throughout his Hall of Fame career. If Mauer can rely on his new manager and his baseball acumen, he should get back to being a top tier player.

 He's only two seasons removed from posting a .300 batting average and he lead the American League in OBP during the 2012 season. He's no longer playing behind the plate so fans are going to expect him to produce on the offensive side of the ball. With 1540 career hits, he's half way to the 3,000 hit mark for his career. If he wants in the Hall of Fame, he's going to need to make some strides towards that total.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Episode 119: To Do-Over Episode

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

Jay and Eric take a long over due road trip around the last three weeks of Twins news, which includes a bunch of baseball folks thinking the Twins will lose 90 games again, a pretty miserable collection of teams in the American League Central, and what Spring Training is all about.

In "Reviewing the Roster," this week, we dive deeper on Glen Perkins, Eddie Rosario, and Phil Hughes. Then it's time for the usual beer, baseball and the news.

Enjoy the show.

If you enjoy our podcast, please tell your friends about us and take a couple extra minutes to rate and review us on iTunes. Ratings and reviews help Danny Santana to stick at shortstop in 2015. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

TD Top Prospects: #3 Jose Berrios

Twins fans made an immediate connection with Berrios after his emotional video response to being drafted by the club in the 2012 MLB Supplemental First Round. As a teenager, Berrios made fans take notice of him by dominating the rookie leagues while striking out nearly 14.5 batters per nine.

There were some questions about Berrios after an up and down season with Cedar Rapids in 2013. He put many of those questions to rest in 2014 with a dominating performance across three levels of the Twins system on his way to winning the organization’s minor league pitcher of the year award. His stock rose more than any other prospect in the system last year and he now sits on the cusp of the major leagues.
Age: 20 (DOB: 5/27/94)
2014 Stats (A+, AA, AAA): 12-8, 2.77 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 139.2 IP, 118 H, 38 BB, 140 K
ETA: 2015
2014 Ranking: 6

What’s To Like

Berrios is only 20-years old and he’s already pitched at Triple-A (even if it was only one start). His work ethic might be one of the best in the Twins organization as he has let fans glimpse into his off-season routine through his social media accounts. His personality is infectious and he should be able to make the big leagues based solely on his work ethic and talent.

His fastball explodes out of his small frame and he can hit as high as 97 mph on the radar gun but usually settles in at 93-96 mph. To counter his fastball, he has a very good change-up that follows the same motion as his fastball. Last season he was able to make improvements with all of his pitches including increasing the movement. He’s also had plenty of exposure on the national stage by pitching for Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic and starting last year’s Futures Game at Target Field.

What’s Let To Work On

One of the biggest knocks against Berrios has been his lack of height. At this point in his life, that’s something Twins fans are just going to have to deal with. Because of his lack of height, his fastball can stay on the same plane and he could run into some issues with this in the higher levels of the system. Out of things Berrios can control, his secondary pitches could continue to be refined.

He needs more consistency with his curveball and that should come with more use as he moves up the ladder. With his change-up, he needs to continue to keep it down in the zone so better hitters aren’t able to make solid contact. If he can make improvements to his secondary pitches, he should be able to continue to miss bats. In the past, he’s used his fastball up in the zone to strikeout batters. Over the next couple years he might have to start using it down in the zone to avoid giving up fly balls that can turn into home runs.

What’s Next

In 2014, it seemed likely for Berrios to pitch the entire season at Fort Myers but he dominated the Florida State League. He pitched only 40.2 innings at Double-A so that seems like the most likely starting spot for him in 2015. If he continues to pitch as well as last year, he’ll be on his way to Rochester with the expectation of him making his big league debut in the second half of 2015.

Some experts question whether Berrios will end up in the bullpen or continue to be a starter. After last year’s performance and this off-season’s workout regimen, the Twins are going to give him every opportunity to stay in a starting role. Minnesota had plenty of success with another 6’0” starting pitcher named Johan Santana and fans can only hope Berrios will be close to that good going forward.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Worst Twins of All-Time Series: Charlie Manuel

Welcome back to one of the most popular off-season series here at NoDak Twins Fan, the Worst Twins of All-Time. There have already been eleven profiles of some players that played their worst while wearing a Twins uniform. Luckily most of the players went on to have careers beyond their time in Minnesota. 

Today's edition to the series played parts of four seasons in Minnesota as a left fielder and pinch hitter. He'd go on to a successful coaching career in baseball but he wasn't very good during his Twins tenure. Welcome to the dubious club, Charlie Manuel.

Charlie Manuel was born in West Virginia but graduated high school in Buena Vista, Virginia. He signed with the Twins as an amateur free agent in 1963. He'd spend the first half of his 20's working his way through multiple minor league levels. Manuel had over 1700 plate appearances at the A level over four seasons and hit .258/.345/.385.

In 1968 Manuel put together a solid .283/.338/.455 slash-line with 13 home runs, 26 doubles, and 11 triples at Double-A. This was enough to convince the Twins to start him at the big league level in 1969. He'd get the most plate appearances of his career (194 PA) but struggled to hit. 207/.320/.280 with two home runs and six doubles.

Over the next three seasons, the Twins would use Manuel sparingly and his offensive numbers continued to suffer. Combine this with below average defense and there wasn't much of a reason to keep Manuel on the field. He'd finish his four year Twins stint averaging .199/.276/.265 with 16 extra-base hits in 223 games. Manuel would get two ALCS at-bats in 1969-70 and he struck out once and got walked in the other.

Baseball Reference combines his four years in Minnesota to be worth a -2.1 WAR. That includes negative numbers on the offensive and defensive side of the ball. According to FanGraphs, Manuel is one of the top 10 worst offensive players in team history. His compiled -1.8 WAR ranks behind players like David McCarty and Rondell White.

Manuel would be traded with Glen Ezell to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Mike Floyd and Jim Fairey near the end of October 1973.  He'd play in less than 20 games for the Dodgers over the next two seasons before heading over to Japan. In six seasons overseas, Manuel played in over 600 games and hit .303/.385/.447 with 189 home runs and 69 doubles.

Manuel's time in Minnesota wasn't over when his playing days came to an end. He returned to the United States and the Twins organization to be a scout. After that, he'd spend nine seasons coaching in the Twins' (1983-1987) and Cleveland Indians' minor league systems. He win multiple manager of the year awards including one in 1984 while coaching for the Twins.

Cleveland would be the place where Manuel would make his coaching mark. He served multiple stints as the team's hitting coach before taking over the managerial duties from 2000-02. The Indians went on to win the AL Central Division in 2001 but he'd be fired a year later in the midst of a contract dispute.

Manuel won't be unemployed long as the Phillies came calling. For two seasons, he served as a special assistant to the general manager before taking over as manager in 2004. He'd led the team to multiple division titles and the 2008 World Series Championship, the Phillies second world title. They'd be back in the Fall Classic a year later before losing to the Yankees in six games.

Even coming off a World Series Championship and four consecutive NL East titles, Manuel didn't make it through the 2012 campaign. He was fired in mid-August and replaced by third-base coach Ryne Sandberg. Since being fired, he's served in the role of senior adviser to the General Manager.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

2015 Topps Series 1 Review: Minnesota Twins

One of the first signs of the return of baseball is Topps Trading Cards release of their Series 1 Baseball set.

Every year near the beginning of spring training, Topps releases their flagship product with a new design, new inserts, and a fresh look on baseball. When a product is released this early in the year, it can be tough to get everything right.

So let's rip open some packs and see what's inside...

The base design has taken on a very different feel this year. One of the noticeable differences is the border being a variety of colors that fades from the bottom to the top. This takes the place of the more standard white border from previous releases.

There are over 350 cards in the base set, the largest Topps baseball set in quite some time.

The Twins base card checklist has some of the team's favorite regulars and a handful of players that are no longer on the roster. 

41.) Chris Colabello
55.) Trevor May- RC
128.) Anthony Swarzak
185.) Ricky Nolasco
197.) Glen Perkins
204.) Eduardo Escobar
219.) Kennys Vargas
259.) Brian Dozier
288.) Chris Parmelee
322.) Phil Hughes
330.) Brian Duensing

Besides the normal base cards, there are a variety of parallels for fans to hunt down. Rainbow Foil cards are new this year and come 1:10 packs. Gold cards (#/2015) are back and they have a little more shimmer. Snow Camo cards (#/99) are new and replace the Army Camo cards from previous sets. The other new addition is Silver Metal Framed cards numbered out of 20. Black (#/64), Pink (#/50), and Clear (#/10) also return. Printing plates and platinum cards are available but very rare and numbered 1/1. 

Kennys Vargas has a unique short print card that he's even touted on his new Twitter account. The front of the card has a photo different from his base card and it is harder to pull from packs. This is the first time Vargas has appeared in Topps base set but he had a couple rookie cards in their later releases last year. 

Joe Mauer gets most of the love in the insert department. He's included in the First Home Run insert set and the First Home Run Medallions set. Mauer is also featured on an Inspired Play card with Hall of Famer Rod Carew. The only Twins autograph is a Kennys Vargas and it's in the Spring Fever Promo set.

Because of his appearance in last year's All-Star Game, Glen Perkins had the letters taken off the back of his Home Run Derby Workout Jersey and put into the In the Name Relics set. Kurt Suzuki was also on the All-Star team but his jersey is not featured in this set. Even though Harmon Killebrew is no longer with us, he has a Strata Cut Signature autographed card. The Perkins and Killebrew cards are all numbered 1/1. 
Overall, the new design might take some getting used to. The classic white border gave cards a crisp look and it was easier to hide flaws along the edges of the cards. When three of the team's 11 cards include players no longer with the club, that's a little disappointing. Seeing Vargas included in such a big role after only part of an MLB season was defiantly an interesting choice. It also would have been nice to see some inserts from players besides Mr. Mauer. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

TD Top Prospects: #8 Eddie Rosario

The Twins used their first three draft picks in 2010 on pitchers Alex Wimmers and Pat Dean along with shortstop Niko Goodrum. However, Eddie Rosario, the team's fourth round pick that year, has become the most highly touted prospect. The Puerto Rican outfielder signed for $200,000 and in his second season with Elizabethton, he led the Appalachian League with 21 home runs. 

From 2012-13 he continued to move up the ladder while showing a tremendous hit tool. While many of the Twins top prospects missed time in 2014 due to injury, Rosario's situation was more self inflicted. Leading into the 2014 season, Rosario was suspended for 50 games after a second positive test for a drug of abuse. 
Age: 23 (DOB: 9/28/1991)
2014 Stats (A+/AA): .243/.286/.387, 20-2B, 3-3B, 8-HR, 40 RBI
ETA: 2015
2014 Ranking: 5

What’s To Like
Rosario’s hit tool has always been his ticket to the big leagues. Entering the 2014 season, he was a career .307 hitter in the minors. Last season saw a dip in his average (.243 over 346 AB) as he struggled to adjust to Double-A pitching after missing the season’s first 50 games. Even with the rough numbers, he’s still gotten on base over 34% of the time during his career. 

His quick hands allow him to hit the ball to all fields and he’s shown the ability at times to drive the ball. After heading back to the Arizona Fall League for the second straight year, he shined by hitting .330/.345/.410 with four doubles, two triples, 18 RBI and 10 steals. A few years after being asked to switch to second base, Rosario is back playing as an outfielder. He’s shown the ability to play all three outfield positions and his arm is strong. His flexibility to play multiple positions could help him in the long run.

What’s Left To Work On
One of Rosario’s calling cards has been his aggressiveness at the plate. This served him well in the lower levels of the minors but he’ll need to be able to improve his walk rate to keep his OBP higher as he moves through the system. With other stronger defensive center fielders in the system, it seems likely that he’ll have to play a corner outfield spot in Minnesota. That means he’ll have to show he can continue to hit for power. 

This past season at Double-A his home run total doubled (from four to eight) in only 27 more at-bats. However, his slugging percentage dipped by 70 points. Another thing to keep an eye on is the fact that he came back from his drug suspension and for the first time in his career, didn't hit. His AFL numbers offer some promise that he might have come out of his slump but there is definitely some cause for concern.

What’s Next
Rosario will likely be headed back to Double-A to start next season with the assumption that he’ll move up to Triple-A at some point during the year. Minnesota’s outfield situation is a little murky so there’s a good chance he’ll make his big league debut in 2015 after being added to the 40-man roster. In the majors, he could be used at all three outfield positions but it seems likely that he’ll be slotted into a corner outfield role with Byron Buxton the likely center field option.

If Rosario’s personal issues are behind him, he should get his professional career back on track in 2015. He has a great ability to hit the ball and he can use his speed to be an above average outfield and a threat on the bases. His hit tool might be the best in the Twins system and that should be enough to get him to the major leagues. He might never win an MVP but he could make an All-Star team or two if he continues to progress. 

Monday, February 9, 2015

Worst Twins of All-Time Series: Don Cooper

Welcome back to one of the most popular off-season series here at NoDak Twins Fan, the Worst Twins of All-Time. There have already been ten profiles of some players that played their worst while wearing a Twins uniform. Luckily most of the players went on to have careers beyond their time in Minnesota. 

Today's edition to the series played two sub-par seasons in Minnesota after not making his big league debut until age 25. He'd go on to a successful coaching career in baseball but he wasn't very good during his Twins tenure. Welcome to the dubious club, Don Cooper.

Cooper was born in New York City so he must have been excited to be drafted by the Yankees in the 17th round of the 1978 MLB June Amateur Draft. There would be some bumps and bruises on his way through the Yankees system but in 1980 he posted an impressive 12-7 record with a 1.93 ERA between Double-A and Triple-A. He was close to making his debut.

After the season, New York failed to protect Cooper on their 40-man roster and this allowed Minnesota to swoop in and select him in the Rule 5 Draft. The Twins had to keep him at the big league level for the next season and he played in 27 games with a 4.30 ERA and a 1.56 WHIP. He stuck out one more batter (33 SO) than he walked (32 BB).

Cooper would spend most of the 1982 season at Triple-A before being a September call-up. He was knocked around in most of his appearances by allowing 12 earned runs in just over 11 innings pitched. He walked 11 and struck out five with his WHIP ballooning to 2.21. Minnesota traded him to Toronto for Dave Baker following the season. 

According to FanGraphs, Cooper is the fourth worst pitcher in Twins history with a -0.8 WAR. All of that was accumulated in the 1981 season. Baseball Reference gives him a slightly positive WAR for 1981 (0.1 WAR) but a -0.4 WAR for 1982. His Wins Above Average (WAA) during his Minnesota years is calculated to be -1.0 above an average player. 

Cooper spent most of the rest of his career bouncing from different team's Triple-A affiliates. He'd play in Toronto, New York, and Baltimore before his career was through while making 11 more big league appearances with Toronto and New York. His playing career was over after the 1987 season with the Rochester Red Wings.

After retiring Cooper jumped right into the coaching ranks, He served one season as the pitching coach for the Single-A South Bend Silver Hawks in 1988. Following that year, he'd be moved up to High-A Sarasota where he'd be from the next three seasons. In 1992 he moved to Double-A, the Birmingham Barons, just a few years before Michael Jordan played there.

From 1993 through 2002, Cooper was named the White Sox minor league pitching coordinator. During that time he also served as the pitching coach for the Triple-A Nashville squad in 1995-96. He has served as the White Sox pitching coach at the major league level since 2002 and was part of the team's World Series Championship in 2005. 

He became the 38th manager of the club while serving in the role for the final two games of the 2011 season after Ozzie Guillen left the team. Chicago would go 1-1 in those two games and the club would hire Robin Ventura in the off-season. Cooper was kept on as the pitching coach.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Pace of Play and the Twins

Bud Selig is out as commissioner and Rob Manfred has a variety of issues to tackle as he takes over the reigns of America's past-time.

One issue at the forefront is trying to find a way to speed up the pace of play for major league games. Last year the average MLB game lasted over three hours. This comes at a time with a steady decrease in run scoring as baseball adjusts after the steroid spike around the turn of the century.

Baseball wasn't meant to be this way. Recent years have seen an increase in all of the pitches batters are taking, pitching changes, mound visits, and time between pitches. In just 10 years baseball players have added 29 minutes, 11 seconds of dead time per game while scoring 13.3 percent fewer runs. If that doesn't grab your attention, I don't know what will.

How do the Twins rate?
FanGraphs tracks "Pace," a pitcher's average time between pitches in seconds. Just four seasons ago, pitchers averaged 21.5 second between pitches. In 2014, only five Twins pitchers (Lester Oliveros, Michael Tonkin, Aaron Thompson, Caleb Thielbar, and Glen Perkins) were below this mark. Phil Hughes just missed the mark with an average of 21.7 seconds between pitches.

Top 3 Pace (Minimum 20 IP)
1. Caleb Thielbar 21.0
2. Glen Perkins 21.0
3. Phil Hughes 21.7

Bottom 3 Pace (Minimum 20 IP)
1. Kevin Correia 25.0
2. Brian Duensing 24.1
3. Casey Fien 23.9

Minnesota's four longest games this season were all extra-inning affairs with these contests averaging four hours and 42 minutes. The club's five fastest games were all under two hours and 30 minutes. The team even had one 10-inning game in Boston that was completed in just over two and a half hours.

Twins 3 Longest Games of 2014
1. May 1 vs LA Dodgers (12 innings) 5 hours 11 minutes
2. April 23 @ TB Rays (12 innings) 4 hours 48 minutes
3. September 5 vs LA Angels (10 innings) 4 hours 30 minutes

Twins 3 Shortest Games of 2014
1. May 17 vs Seattle Mariners 2 hours 26 minutes
2. August 27 @ KC Royals 2 hours 27 minutes
3. June 28 @ Texas Rangers 2 hours 27 minutes

Between 2000 and 2013, the Twins average time have nine inning games has increased from two hours and 56 minutes to three hours and one minute. During that stretch, the shortest average time was two hours and 37 minutes (2005). There were only two seasons during that stretch where Minnesota's average time was above the average time for MLB.

Finding Solutions
MLB is experimenting with a variety of solutions and the first of these were rolled out in this year's Arizona Fall League. Some of these solutions included a pitch clock, batter's keeping one foot in the batter's box, no-pitch intentional walks, a 2:30 pitching change/inning change clock, and a three "time out" limit. There were mixed reviews but game times did decrease.

MLB's next experimental solution will take place at Double-A and Triple-A this season. The higher levels of the minor leagues will institute pitch clocks this year in an attempt to speed up games. Specifics haven't been ironed out for this yet but change is in the air.

If everything goes smoothly in the upper minors this season, it seems like the first solution might be the institution of a pitch clock. This sweeping change might take a couple of seasons to make it to the big league level but it seems likely that one of the first changes under the Manfred regime will revolve around pace of play.