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The Bleacher Bums: April 20, 2005 Archive

...The more they stay the same.

Posted at 3:42 AM on April 20, 2005 by Josh Lee

The Twins left twelve runners on base tonight en route to a 3-1 loss to the White Sox, hitting into three double plays along the way. Apparently, their homeplateophobia is getting worse. They actually made plenty of contact with the ball, getting 14 hits off of Orlando Hernandez, but he managed to throw enough offspeed junk at the Twins' batters to keep them from getting anyone to cross the plate until the 9th inning, when it was too little, too late. On the plus side, I learned a new word today: "eephus."

And what do Minnesota's hitters have against Brad Radke? Last year, Radke had a pretty good season, or would have if he had received any run support at all. An entire season of bats going cold for a particular starter sounds like a weird fluke. If it goes on for another whole season, though, it's going to seem like more of a conspiracy. Did he short-sheet someone's bed in training camp or something?

Bullpen coach Rick Stelmaszyk had the quote of the night in his postgame interview, when he recited this koan for overeager batters who think too hard with runners on base: "full mind, empty bat." Perhaps the Twins can meditate on that between now and their next game.

It's Groundhog Day!

Posted at 11:48 AM on April 20, 2005 by Bob Collins

"Look around. Does it look like we're worried?" Sound familiar? If there's a native sport in Minnesota, it's refusing to recognize the obvious. Call it denial, but we've got it down pat. Just ask the Minnesota Timberwolves. And now we're getting that same feeling, aren't you? We're beginning to wonder if we're that good, aren't you? And, let's face it, like the Timberwolves, we're forgetting what it took for a previous year's success.

One thing it took last year -- and the year before by the way -- is the Chicago White Sox to absolutely roll over and play dead like dogs even though they may have had more talent on the field.

Watching the ChiSox this year against the Twins -- and also paying attention to the two ChiSox-Indians series earlier -- I'd say we best not count on that this year. Paul Konerko is in the early stages of what may be an MVP year. The starting pitching is fabulous and the ChiSox are able to bring Damaso Marte -- a closer on most teams -- in as a middle reliever.

As for the "it's early" quote. It's from Jacque Jones who needs to understand that a series dropped to the ChiSox in April actually is the same as dropping one to them in a close pennant race in September.

Just ask the Oakland A's.

Trusting the scouts

Posted at 2:09 PM on April 20, 2005 by David Zingler

While there are younger, flashier, and more photogenic general managers in the major leagues, nobody does the job better than Minnesota’s Terry Ryan. The two-time Executive of the Year believes in a simple, old school approach built on the trust of his scouts.

“The good thing about this organization is that we allow people to go out and do their scouting and take their recommendations” the straightforward GM said. “We make trades on scouts instead of worrying about statistics and worrying about tape or any of the things you might think happen in a baseball department.”

It is that philosophy that has produced such low-level minor league finds as Johan Santana, Lew Ford, Joe Mays, Kyle Lohse and now, Jason Bartlett – although, nobody ever expected Bartlett would blossom so quickly.

“It wasn’t anything more than us getting very lucky on an evaluation,” Ryan explained when asked about Bartlett. “Our guy that scouted him, John Leavitt, liked him, but I don’t think any of us dreamt he’d be an everyday shortstop when we acquired him.”

The number-crunching, statistics based “Moneyball” approach may be the wave of the future, but Ryan and the Twins have shown that the traditional way still works if you have the right people in place.

....

When a player is in a slump, not having a good season or just isn’t very good, we often dismiss him by saying “that guy can’t hit.” Well in Corky Miller’s case, it’s true – he really can’t. After going 1 for 39 (.026) with Cincinnati in 2004, the Twins 4th string catcher has started this season 0 for 8, making him 1 for his last 47 (.021). By the way, Corky is his given name.

....

After last week’s ugly incident at Fenway Park, many in the media – particularly the former players – commended Yankee outfielder Gary Sheffield for showing remarkable “restraint”. To me, restraint means completely ignoring the idiot fan, not shoving him and staring him down. It’s nice to see that the bar has been set so low that we praise someone for not reacting to a shove with a punch to the face. Sheffield proved he was no thug, but let’s not make him into a hero either.

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