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The Bleacher Bums: April 11, 2006 Archive

Play ball already, will ya?

Posted at 8:23 AM on April 11, 2006 by Josh Lee

One week into the baseball season, and a gameless day for the Twins already means a day of me wondering what I'm supposed to do with my time. Hopefully, they managed to get a little batting practice in on the off day, in preparation for their home opener. Here's hoping that the first week was just a case of needing a few extra games to shake off the rust that clung to the team all of last season, and that tonight will be the real beginning of the year for the team. Oakland pitcher Dan Haren won't make things any easier for our boys, but hey, delusional expectations going into a game (and a season) are almost as much fun as the game itself.

Two classic games

Posted at 9:29 AM on April 11, 2006 by Ben Tesch

This will be sure to kill 8 minutes of your day: The bottom of the 10th inning of Game 6 of the 1986 World Series meticulously re-enacted, pitch-by-pitch, in RBI Baseball for the original Nintendo Entertainment System. The game (both the real and video) are both classics. Enjoy!

Why can't the Twins hit?

Posted at 10:30 AM on April 11, 2006 by David Zingler

We’ve all been asking ourselves the above question for the past few years. We’ve blamed Scott Ullger, cried out for the acquisition of sluggers and burned Terry Ryan in effigy for releasing David Ortiz (who couldn’t hit in a Twins uniform either), but while all of those points may be valid, the underlying issue goes far deeper. The Minnesota Twins clearly have a deep-seeded organizational flaw in their approach to developing hitters.

Since the early part of this decade, we’ve seen a string of promising prospects that either never improved (Torii Hunter, Jacque Jones, Corey Koskie), regressed (Cristian Guzman, Luis Rivas, Doug Mientkiewicz) or flopped (Micheal Cuddyer, Michael Restovich). The question is why and the answer is complex, but the main issues are plate discipline and command of the strike zone. The Twins organization has been woefully inept in instilling those concepts into their young hitters.

Even the most conservative, traditional clubs have begrudgingly come to the conclusion that on-base-percentage is essential to fielding a productive offense – a fact that seems lost on the Twins. “(On-base-percentage was) not really an emphasis,” former Twin Bobby Kielty said of his time in the organization. “When I was with the Twins, it was more of a free swinging club.” Well Bobby, that hasn’t changed and it needs to.

In 2005, the Twins posted a .323 OBP which topped only the Royals, Tigers, Mariners and the White Sox (by .001). The Royals, Tigers and Mariners were the dregs of the American League, while the White Sox, of course, won the World Series. The difference between the Sox and Twins however, was that Chicago slugged at a .425 clip and hit 200 homers while the Twins slugged a league worst .391 and hit just 134 homeruns (2nd worst). So, we are stuck with a bunch of free-swinging hackers with no power – the worst of both worlds!

While the Twins inability to produce power hitters is embarrassing, it’s a lot more forgivable than the organization’s inability (or possibly unwillingness) to instill some concept of the strike zone into their young players. Without that skill, their hitters will always struggle whether they have power or not.

Another meticulous history

Posted at 4:06 PM on April 11, 2006 by Ben Tesch (2 Comments)

Check out Blake Meyer's Minnesota Twins: A Card By Card History, a work in progress which is chronicling 46 years of Twins baseball card history.

I was always a fan of the 1975 Topps set, but I still think one of my favorite Topps years ever was 1964. I love the simple design of the cards, plus they had those cool stand-up cards. Nowadays they're a bit too glossy with a case of information overload for my tastes, although I'll at least give them a nod for their Heritage collection.

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Soon they'll be serving antacid with those Dome Dogs.

Posted at 11:31 PM on April 11, 2006 by Josh Lee

Brad Radke's second start of the year, in Minnesota's home opener against Oakland, went down in a completely different manner than his first. Having apparently come to the decision that giving up a ton of runs in the first inning is so last season, Radke chose instead to give up a ton of runs in the second inning, as well as a bonus homer in the third. Just to make things interesting.

One thing that looked very similar to last week's outing, though, was the flukey outbreak of hitting on the part of the Twins' batters. Maybe they enjoy rising to the challenge that a big deficit presents, or maybe they were inspired by the pregame tribute to Kirby Puckett; who knows? All I know is that they managed to break through in the bottom of the third by doing some very un-Twins-like things, such as getting on base, and advancing runners, and batting those runners in, and hitting home runs with yet more runners on base.

Combine all that with a few nice defensive plays, an insurance homer by Justin "All or Nothing" Morneau, a couple of dingers by the A's Eric Chavez, a couple of runs given up by Jesse Crain to keep things tight, and a near-Guardado-like nailbiter of a save by Joe Nathan, and you have a game that was considerably more entertaining than anything that happened in last weekend's dreary series in Cleveland. If digging yourselves an early hole is what it takes to get the Twins hopping, I'll take it.

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