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The Bleacher Bums: July 23, 2007 Archive

The Cold, Hard Facts

Posted at 10:27 AM on July 23, 2007 by David Zingler

6-4 – two games over .500. Win 4, lose 3, win 2 and lose 1. Instead of making a surge during their post All Star break home stand, the Twins ran in place. Should we have expected anything else from the 2007 squad? Of course not.

It’s time for Twins fans to face two cold, hard realities:

1. The Twins aren’t going to playoffs this year.
2. Torii Hunter is playing his last season in Minnesota.

The fans still clinging to post season dreams will point to last season’s miracle turnaround. The problem with that is that it isn’t last season, it’s this season. The ’07 Twins haven’t shown the resilience, spark or toughness need to go on a run that even faintly resembles 2006. They’re entertaining, star-studded and underachieving. These Twins aren’t the “The little team that (almost) could” anymore, they’re the “The talented team that (probably) should.”

If you are devastated by the thought of Torii Hunter playing for another team next year, I have some advice: Start preparing for it now. If the Twins wanted to re-sign Hunter they would have done it by now. Instead, they haven’t even made a credible offer to the centerfielder. Why? Because, right or wrong, the franchise has no intention of paying Hunter anywhere near the price he’ll command.

With Johan Santana’s current contract running down and Justin Morneau having another big year, the Twins aren’t going to break the bank for a 32-year-old outfielder. It may not be popular with the masses, but it is consistent with the Twins philosophy.

What's wrong with Major League Baseball

Posted at 10:45 AM on July 23, 2007 by Steve Rudolph

Before the season, Kansas City paid more for journeyman pitcher Gil Meche than the state of Minnesota did for the Metrodome. Yes, the same Gil Meche that was 11-8 last year with a 4.48 ERA received a guaranteed $55 million contract from the Royals.

So when I read uber-agent Scott Boras is preparing to market Kyle Lohse as the next Gil Meche, it made me wonder if baseball’s current glory days will soon come to an end.

Kyle Lohse is currently 5-12 for the Reds, but a pitcher doesn’t need to get batters out or wins games to get paid these days. New ballparks, increased attendance, strong ratings and big TV and satellite radio deals have made teams flush with cash and once again willing to throw good money at mediocre talent.

Lohse is 59-74 in his career, has never won more than 14 games in six seasons, infuriated Ron Gardenhire with his attitude and now stands to make close to $10 million a year because he’s under 30, is durable and shows some flashes of brilliance a couple times a season.

If clubs continue to reward the Kyle Lohses of the world with big contracts, it's even less likely the fiscally responsible Twins will retain their top talent once they become free agents.

If someone has some good news about the Twins future, please share it with me. There's still a lot of baseball left to play this season and I want to be excited about watching games again.

How committed are you to your team?

Posted at 5:28 PM on July 23, 2007 by Tom Scheck

I saw two great video segments detailing the passion of SEC football fans. One is from an Alabama fan. The other is from an Auburn fan. Both are hilarious.

Those vidoes made me think of an old MPR story that I did when the Twins made their playoff run in 2002. I went out and interviewed the fans on their weird superstitions/rituals on game day.

How did I know to do that story? Experience.

I've done everything from wear old, ratty t-shirts to tap on bobbleheads to play particular music to get my beloved Philadelphia Eagles to win during those slate of consecutive NFC Championship games in the early part of this decade.

I even made Philly Cheesesteaks (it's not Pats but it had to do) before every playoff game (here's a recipe) in 2005. Cheese whiz, fried onions, hot peppers and more grease than a jiffy lube. The smoke alarms would go off like crazy because of the smoke. They won that year but lost the Super Bowl. I still think my wife is pleased they lost to the Patriots because our waist lines and hearts would have suffered for another season if they won the darn thing.

So here's my question -- When the game is on the line, what do you do to get your team the win?

Dollars and sense

Posted at 10:32 PM on July 23, 2007 by Chris Dall

Say what you want about the ridiculousness Gil Meche's contract, but the guy is actually having a pretty decent year for the KC Royals, posting a record of 7-6 with a 3.63 ERA and 1.29 WHIP. In fact, he's a having a much better year than the recipient of perhaps the most outrageuous deal handed out this past offseason--Barry Zito. $10 million for 7-10 and a 5.00 ERA. Maybe the Royals don't look so bad after all.

But's Steve's point about the increasing fiscal irresponsibility of MLB owners makes one see the logic in Terry Ryan's refusal to let anyone pry his prized pitching prospects from his vice-like grip. If I'm the guy spending the boss's money, and the options are getting yourself locked into horrible contracts for mediocre pitchers or dealing with the ups and downs young, cheap hurlers, I might go the latter route as well. And while it appears someone in Kansas City did their homework on Gil Meche, in the end he's still only a middle of the rotation starter, and that team is a long way from competing.

And speaking of prized pitching prospects, check out the season Nick Blackburn is having at Rochester. Maybe his emergence will make Ryan a little more willing to deal an arm for a bat.

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