Friday, December 31, 2010
Looking Back at 2010
Last night, I hosted a special two-hour SethSpeaks.net Weekly Minnesota Twins podcast. It was a full show. It’s hard to believe that two-hours may not have been enough time for the show. In all, 15 guests joined the show and talked about their top memories and top stories from 2010. We also shared some ideas for the Twins offseason and some had predictions for 2011. It was a seriously fun show. The challenge was to set up the schedule, but I really think it would be a fun show to listen to. So, if you are able to, and would like to listen to the show and come up with your own list of memories for 2010, click here.
Guests on tonight’s show included:
Before the show, I looked back at my Archives and went back to the beginning of 2010. Here are some of my favorite memories, and please feel free to add yours:
· Bert Blyleven six votes shy of Hall of Fame induction – hopefully in the next week to ten days, one of the Twins top 2011 stories will happen and Blyleven will be announced as a 2011 inductee to baseball’s Hall of Fame. With Jesse Crain leaving the Twins for Chicago, it is also time to retire his uniform number.
· Twins Sign Clay Condrey – Certainly it didn’t turn out well since Condrey was injured the entire season, but I liked the signing. An extreme ground ball pitcher in the middle innings is never a bad thing.
· Twins Sign Jim Thome – for $1.5 million plus some incentives, he was the free agent signing of the year!
· Twins Sign 2B Matt Gaski – OK, that wasn’t too big of a deal. I’d say the minor league free agents they have brought in this offseason have been much more exciting.
· Twins Sign 2B Orlando Hudson – Two days later, the Twins signed Hudson to a 1 year, $5 million contract. He filled the team’s need for a 2B and for a #2 hitter. Hudson played well in the first half, for sure.
· Pitchers and Catchers report to Ft. Myers – Always a great sign of spring!
· Twins Lock of Nick Blackburn and Denard Span to long-term contracts. Both were met with mixed feelings, but again showed Twins willingness to retain their own players.
· Joe Nathan injured in spring and soon after, has Tommy John surgery – This story can’t be overplayed when discussing the Twins 2010 season.
· On March 21, the Twins and Joe Mauer agreed to an eight year, $184 million deal – At the time, I wrote that the deal would never make sense from purely a baseball standpoint, but it still made sense for the Twins. It was a move that had to be made. As disappointing as this offseason has been, imagine how frustrated Twins fans would be if Mauer was still a free agent. How much would the Yankees pay Mauer if they were willing to overpay for Russell Martin? Think the Red Sox would have thrown some years and dollars at Mauer rather than go back to Jason Varitek?
· Ramos to AAA, Neshek makes team – The final roster spots were a big topic. Wilson Ramos or Drew Butera as Joe Mauer’s backup, and could Neshek return.
· Target Field and the Twins hosted the St. Louis Cardinals in an exhibition game, the first Major League game in the team’s new stadium. My brother and I went. You probably saw it, or at least pictures of it on Twitter, Facebook or here. Yes, I enjoy the Nachos Grande at Target Field. As Bert Blyleven noted, yes, I was ‘stuffing my face.’ But the thing I noted above all else at that game was the drainage system. It poured most of the morning and poured hard until 3:00. It was a 5:00 game, and the field was in great shape. Whatever the cost of the drainage system, it was worth it.
· April 5th was Opening Night. The Twins lost a game to the Angels, but Delmon Young hit a home run, beat out an infield single and stole a base. It was a sign of things to come.
· April 12th was a day that the Twins and their fans have been waiting for since the schedule came out. Opening Day at Target Field. The Twins did it right. FSN had all-day coverage. The pregame festivities were terrific. It was a great day to be a Twins fan. And hey, the Twins won.
· Francisco Liriano was a big question mark coming into the season. At one point in April, he threw 23 consecutive scoreless innings. The common statement or belief was that we may never see the 2006 version of Liriano, but the streak made me wonder when it might be OK to start thinking that he just might get to that level again?
· Luke Hughes was called up to the Twins in late April. He made his first start, and in his first at bat, he hit an opposite field home run off of the Tigers’ Max Scherzer.
· Kyle Gibson threw a one-hitter for the Ft. Myers Miracle.
· Dan Osterbrock pitched a seven inning no-hitter for the Beloit Snappers. The lefty was the pitcher of the week in the Midwest League two straight weeks and then was promoted to Ft. Myers where he may have been even better.
· Wilson Ramos was promoted to make some starts while Joe Mauer was hurt. He had four hits in his big league debut, and then followed it up with three hits in the next game.
· Kyle Gibson was promoted to Double-A New Britain.
· Mariano Rivera entered the game at Yankees Stadium with the Bronx Bombers leading by four runs. The bases were loaded and Jim Thome came to the plate. Rivera walked Thome. The next batter was Jason Kubel and he drilled a Rivera cutter into the right field bleachers for a grand slam, and it gave the Twins their first win at Yankees Stadium in a long time.
· Trevor Plouffe was promoted to the Twins when JJ Hardy was put on the Disabled List in late May. In his first game, at Target Field against the Brewers, he collected two hits.
· I made a trip to Beloit with Josh Johnson to watch a couple of Snappers games against Cedar Rapids. The experience was terrific. It was fun to see some of the players in person that we had only ‘seen’ in box scores and stat lines. It is completely a different perspective, and I think something that is important for fans to experience.
· Danny Valencia was promoted.
· The Twins drafted Alex Wimmers with their first-round pick.
· Francisco Liriano struck out 11 batters against the Braves in eight innings. At one point, he struck out seven hitters in a row.
· Scott Baker struck out 12 batters in six innings against the Colorado Rockies.
· Cliff Lee rumors were abundant throughout the month.
· My brother rand I went on a Twins Train trip to Detroit. It was a great opportunity to travel on a chartered bus with a big group of baseball fans. We were able to watch the Twins play two games against the Tigers in Comerica Park, drive through the good and bad areas of Detroit, and go out at night. We got to go through downtown Chicago on the drive back. Hopefully the Twins Train will be active again in 2011. I’d love to take another trip. Maybe we can work with the owner of the Twins Train and put together a Twins Train/SethSpeaks trip. Thoughts?
· Ben Revere and Anthony Slama represented the Twins and the United States in the Futures game in Anaheim. Liam Hendriks was supposed to represent the World Team and Australia in the game, but he had an emergency appendectomy.
· On July 20th, Joe Mauer laid down… The Bunt.
· Danny Valencia had quite the series in Kansas City. In game one, he had three hits. In game two, he had three hits. In game three, he had four hits including a first-inning grand slam against Zach Greinke. In game four, he had four hits.
· I officially moved away from the Twin Cities, and on August 1 moved back into my house in Warroad.
· Brian Duensing pitched a complete game shutout against the Oakland A’s.
· Then Kevin Slowey threw seven no-hit innings against the A’s. He was making his first start after missing time with a arm soreness. It was a controversial decision at the time, but it was clearly the right decision.
· Down by one against the White Sox, Delmon Young led off the bottom of the 10th inning with a single. Matt Thornton was pitching for the White Sox, looking for the save. His former teammate, Jim Thome, stepped to the plate. On the first pitch, Thome swung wildly and missed. But on the 0-1 pitch, he got a high-fastball from the Sox lefty, and Thome connected. He drilled a long, towering blast, deep into the night and well beyond the right field wall to give the Twins a big win over the White Sox. I was in the 5th row, just to the right of the Twins dugout for the game, and it was by far the highlight of my Twins season in 2010.
· In the wee hours of September 3, I heard and blogged that it would be Matt Fox making the start for the Twins the next day. The Twins were struggling, and the bullpen had been overused that night. Fox was the right choice as he was pitching better than other starters in Rochester at that time. Fox got to the field for a big Friday night game against the Rangers. And he pitched a terrific game. He gave up two runs on four hits and a walk in 5.2 innings. Two days later, the Twins took him off of their 40 man roster. He was claimed by the Red Sox a couple of days later.
· The Twins swept the Rangers that Labor Day weekend while celebrating their 50th season in the Twin Cities. They announced the 50 Greatest Twins players. Many of them played in Sunday’s Old Timers game. It was a great weekend.
· In Cleveland, Jim Thome hit his 587th home run to pass Frank Robinson on the home run list.
· The Twins went to Chicago, hoping to win one game and maintain their lead in the AL Central. Instead, the Twins swept and completely dominated the White Sox, essentially ending the White Sox shot at surpassing the Twins.
· Late in the month, the Twins beat Cleveland. In the clubhouse, they watched the end of the A’s/White Sox game. When former Twin Craig Breslow closed out the game, the Twins won the AL Central again and celebrated in the clubhouse and out on Target Field.
· Joe Benson was named the Sherry Robertson Award recipient as the Twins top minor league hitter. Kyle Gibson was named the winner of the Jim Rantz Award as the organization’s top minor league pitcher.
· Swept in the first round of the playoffs… to the Yankees… again!
· The Twins signed a bunch of veteran minor leaguers to help the Rochester and New Britain rosters. Names like Jeff Bailey and Yorman Bazardo, Chas Lambin and Chuck James may not be exciting, but they will help the Red Wings, and they will keep the Twins from pushing prospects before they are ready. .
· Joe Benson, Chris Parmelee, Rene Tosoni and David Bromberg were added to the 40 man roster.
· The Twins placed the winning bid for the rights to negotiate with Tsuyoshi Nishioka.
December 31, 2010
· JJ Hardy traded to the Orioles for James Hoey and Brett Jacobson.
· Within about 24 hours, Matt Guerrier signed a three year deal with the Dodgers, and then Jesse Crain signed for three years with the White Sox.
· The Twins signed Tsuyoshi Nishioka to a three year deal with an option for a fourth year.
· Twins traded catcher Jose Morales to the Rockies for minor league left-handed reliever Paul Bargas.
2010 has certainly been a good year for the Twins and for Twins fans. It was another good year for me and SethSpeaks.net as well. I want to take this moment to thank a few people. First, thank you to the TwinsCentric guys; John Bonnes, Parker Hageman and Nick Nelson. These three are incredibly talented and prominent writers. But there are a lot of great Twins bloggers, and all deserve to be noticed. Please take a minute or two and check out some of the Twins blogs on the left side of this screen. The monthly TwinsCentric events at bars around the metro area were largely successful. The best part of it was providing an opportunity to meet other Twins bloggers and great fans that take time to read our sites.
I want to thank Chad Abbott and Paul Allen of KFAN for giving me the opportunity to be on a segment of the 9 to Noon show. That was a great opportunity and I do appreciate it. Thank you also to Dan Hammer who has had me on his show on 40 The Fan in Fargo, and to Jack Michaels in Bismarck.
Obviously I remain busy with the 2011 Prospect Handbook and with the Twins 2011 Annual from TwinsCentric and Maple Street Press. But taking a step back, 2010 has been a great year, and hopefully 2011 will be even better.
Thank you, most of all, to those who read this blog and/or the TwinsCentric blog, listen to the podcasts, have bought the books and continued to support me, the Twins, blogging and such. It means a lot. Thank you, and Happy New Year to each of you, and your families!