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The Bleacher Bums: April 25, 2007 Archive

A little love for ARod

Posted at 8:09 AM on April 25, 2007 by Chris Dall

I’m not sure how many of you are aware of this, but Alex Rodriguez is very good. After last night’s 6-4 loss to Tampa Bay, he was hitting .385 with 14 home runs and 34 RBI. He’s got a .444 OBP and an insane slugging percentage of 1.013. He’s already tied the MLB record for home runs hit in April (14), and we’ve still got a few days left in the month.

Still, it’s not quite enough for Yankee fans, like this fellow. Now, I know he’s being sarcastic, but a quick survey of Yankee fan blogs indicates that New Yorkers just aren’t ready to profess their undying love for ARod. The common theme seems to be “it’s only April,” which is the same line they trot out to dismiss Boston’s recent three-game sweep of the Yanks at Fenway. Yes it is only April, but a quick perusal of ARod’s eye-popping career stats makes it pretty clear that he’s, umm, put up some decent numbers in the past. And at 31, he’s just about hitting the peak of his prime years. So while he will most likely cool off, it’s not exactly a stretch to predict he could be headed for one of his best offensive seasons ever.

Still, despite his efforts, the Yankees are 8-11 and their pitching is abysmal. And Yankee fans aren’t going to fully accept ARod until he wins a World Series, and I don’t even know if that will do the trick. At this point ARod could save a family of five from a burning building and Yankee fans would rip him for not putting the fire out. And some of that’s his fault. But how can you look at his numbers and not wish you had him on your team?

The Little Piranhas are looking like this year's flounders

Posted at 10:54 AM on April 25, 2007 by Tom Scheck

This Twins team is not playing the Twins ball of the past few years. Over the past few years, the Twins played small ball which earned them the nickname of "little piranhas." Moved the runners ahead and made the reliable outs. This year is completely different.

There are too many batters swinging at first pitches. Too many fielding errors (Jason Bartlett's glove must be slippery and the Alexi Casilla double pump and throw to home instead of getting the safe out is just one example) and too many mistakes running the bases. The bullpen also hasn't been as reliable as year's past. Howard Sinker brings up some of the points in his blog here. Maybe they need a day off or maybe this team needs a kick in the pants (a la Jim Leyland).

The Twins typically start the season slow and start to heat up with the temperatures. But this year's team probably needs to get its head on straight in the batter's box and in the field before anything else.

At least someone is feeling good about the Twins

Posted at 1:07 PM on April 25, 2007 by Tom Scheck

SI's Fungoes blog gives the Twins some love. I guess they haven't seen them play over the past few days. Hopefully, a Royals visit settles them down. Either that or no BP (says the Pi Press Twins Blog). Thinking about that off day? It's Monday.

It's the end of the world as we know it!

Posted at 1:20 PM on April 25, 2007 by Tom Scheck

Apparently, you don't have to hate each other if you play for the Yanks and Sox!

The New York Times blog, Bats, has an interesting post on Doug Mientkiewicz's mom and her love for Big Papi. As many Twins fans know, Mientkiewicz and Big Papi played together and remain friends. But what's with the nickname, Papi?

After years in limbo, Cuddyer's a fixture

Posted at 9:42 PM on April 25, 2007 by David Zingler

Michael Cuddyer’s path toward stardom was hardly a direct one. From 2002-2005, the former #1 pick was an on-again, off-again big leaguer, “super-utility” player, and former starting third baseman. A year ago at this time, he still hadn’t cemented his role on the team.

“I (say), ‘Look, hang in there, don’t ever give up on your ability or yourself because things can change for the better,’” Cuddyer said with a motivational speaker’s flair. “It happened to me. I played five, six different positions in three years and now I’ve been able to find my spot. My first four years in the big leagues, I’d hit 8th or 9th, now I am the clean-up hitter on a division championship team.”

When asked about the biggest change to come out of his whirlwind 2006 season, Cuddyer quickly pointed to his new wife, “Obviously being married is really different,” the upbeat outfielder explained. “Having her here with me has been great. Claudia makes me realize there is much more to life than baseball.”

“She was a teacher, (I) met her back home (Virginia) about four years ago,” the newlywed said. “(We) got married in November.”

Thanks to his breakout year in 2006, the Twins raised the veteran’s pay from $1.3 million to nearly $3.6 million. Not a bad wedding present. While he built a house prior to last season, Cuddyer acknowledged making the mortgage payments is “a little easier” these days.

Although it may seem like Cuddyer was a fuzzy-cheeked prospect just yesterday to many fans, he now trails only Torii Hunter in seniority with the team. “I’ve definitely been here a little bit longer than most -- not necessarily in the big leagues -- but in this organization,” the 28-year-old commented. “I know how this organization likes to run things. When the younger guys come up, they tend to be able to come to myself or Torii (for advice). It’s nice to be able to give that helping hand, because a lot of people gave me a helping hand when I first came up.”

Being sandwiched in the line-up between Minnesota’s most famous batsmen has helped Cuddyer sneak up on opponents, something he doesn’t mind. “It’s great (hitting between the M&M boys),” the clean-up hitter acknowledged. “I don’t worry about notoriety or getting my name in the paper. I just worry about going out there and helping us win ballgames. If we win ballgames, that means we are all doing our jobs and we all had good years.”

“It’s awesome seeing (Morneau and Mauer) mature, not only as players, but people as well,” he continued. “(They’ve) really come into their own on and off the field. It’s fun to watch them become great men and great ballplayers.”

Success hasn’t made Cuddyer complacent however, “(I still work on) all facets of the game: being a better hitter, better base runner (and) better outfielder,” the 9th overall pick in the 1997 draft explained. “You can always improve until you are hitting a thousand with a homerun every time up and making every play in the outfield.”

Sure, he says all the right things, but after years of shuffling around the diamond, does Michael Cuddyer finally have an identity? Does he feel like an outfielder?

“Yeah,” he replied before pausing. “I do feel like an outfielder.”

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