There’s A Target Out There Somewhere But The Twins Are Not It !

There’s A Target Out There Somewhere But The Twins Are Not It !

By tophatal …..

If there was a disappointment for me last year , then it was seeing the Minnesota Twins’ season implode in 2011 . Finishing with a 71-91 mark in the AL Central it seemed as if the Twins simply weren’t competitive enough to face the all too dominant Detroit Tigers . And though the Tigers’ foray into the postseason was one that simply wasn’t a pleasant experience and it has to be said for all sense and purpose the question I am now asking and will continue to ask ………. is there a keen sense of ambition on the part of the ownership group led Jim Pohlad , who succeeded his late father , Carl Pohlad , into the position as senior managing partner ? =======================================================================================================

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The two big profile names on the Twins’ roster , Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer , the faces of this ball-club . But but that simply doesn’t add to the fact that without the production of Michael Cuddyer I sincerely doubt that anyone would have taken any interest in this team . If there was one thing that was uniquely transparent with regard to the Minnesota Twins , it was the pitching rotation and their inadequacies left a great deal to be desired . And with the loss of Cuddyer to the Colorado Rockies as a free agent in December , 2011 , it now begs the question as to who will step up to the plate for the team in 2012 ? .

For manager Ron Gardenhire and his coaching assistants this season will be a true test of the manager and what he now brings to the table along with his associates . Gardenhire and the Los Angeles Angels’ …. Mike Scioscia are now two of the longest-serving managers in baseball (MLB) .

If the Twins are to survive this season < A then it will be down to Joe Mauer , Danny Valencia , Justin Morneau and Denard Span to get the offense going if they are to prevail at any point during 2011. And while the organization goes through their preseason schedule , wherein , Gardenhire assesses the roster which includes their none roster invitees . This should as such give the fans an indication as to the approach to be taken by the organization as a whole .

Now a lot of people might contend that Twins’ GM Terry Ryan overpaid in retaining Joe Mauer in light of the player’s injury prone season in in …. 2011 . But it simply has been last season that was a concern in term of productivity from the catcher for the general manager but also what appears to be a steadily declining attendance level at Target Field in Minneapolis , Minnesota . Ryan , having held the general manager’s position for the ball-club previously from 1994-2007 , only for Bill Smith to be brought for a four tenure , with the Pohlad’s then returning to Terry Ryan after four years of what may well have deemed abject failure during Smith’s tenure.

If I were an ardent fan of the Minnesota Twins my biggest worry would be the health issues as it relates to the team’s two biggest players ! There’s no doubt in my mind that Mauer and Morneau are the “heart and soul” of this organization. Without either , and there’s a better than even chance that this team is liable to be on the wrong side of a losing season ! I would also like to see a return to form of Francisco Liriano , a starting pitcher who a little more than five years ago was one of the premiere pitchers in the game . Now you simply can’t be sure what to expect of the all too inconsistent Liriano . Now it’d be remiss to suggest that injuries were not the main cause as to what has plagued the seven-year veteran but I also believe that there’s a lack of confidence with the player. And if he’s not able to overcome that then in all probability we will never see a return to form of the once respected player. Your thoughts on the matter ?

Ron Gardenhire , a former AL Manager of the Year knows that this season may well be his last chance to accomplish the feat of winning a World Series title as a manager . Long considered one of the best managers in the game it seems almost inconceivable that at each and every opportunity offered , his teams simply have come up short . And one only has to look at the teams that have simply denied the Twins a shot at the World Series in recent years .

Considered a small market team the Minnesota Twins along with the other franchises categorized within the area are not always able to retain talent , more often than not . So it came as something of a surprise to my mind when they sought to offer Mauer the contract offered by the Twins’ front office , which essentially made him one of the highest paid players in the game but also the highest paid catcher in baseball ! Given the rigors of playing the position and the very fact that nowadays the longevity of the catchers in today’s game is rarely beyond a decade or more . And as a productive as Joe Mauer is said to be what the Twins and specifically Gardenhire expects from the player , is maturity , and the ability to lead . Defensively , on this team he provides that and a great deal more . I don’t know that Mauer is willing to step away from playing the position as catcher to perhaps answer a need of the Twins to play elsewhere on the team. The organization does have two alternatives at the position in Ryan Doumit and Drew Butera at the position .

Joe Mauer is the draw on this Twins’ roster but I seriously doubt the fans are looking to simply seem him play center-field or first base when it is at as a catcher that he has made his name . As to the player’s own aspirations it’s clear that the hometown hero would like to bring a title to an organization that has been long starved of one . At some point in the not too distant future that premise could very well arise but it’s my belief that the team is still a long way of from where it needs to be in order to challenge the likes of the Boston Red Sox , Tampa Bay Rays , Detroit Tigers , Texas Rangers and New York Yankees within the AL , much less the perceived contenders within the NL .

As I alluded to earlier , with the Minnesota Twins being viewed as a small market team , it is easy envisage some of the realities that the organization faces. Financially , the Twins cannot compare to the likes of the Philadelphia Phillies and Miami Marlins as two of the more high profiled teams within the NL in terms of salary structure and it is abundantly as to who they lag behind amongst their AL rivals . Terry Ryan knows that he cannot match the resources available to the Red Sox and Yankees , as each has the largesse of their own respective sports’ cable programming outlets as a financial treasure trove ( NESN & YES Network ) . Having the outlets as a wholly owned subsidiary allows both organizations to essentially write-off any losses by their baseball operations and underwrite against those losses against the sports programming revenues . Something that the likes of the Minnesota Twins simply cannot afford in today’s game by making acquiescing to the outlandish demands made by the agents on behalf of their clients . Anyone of the believe that the Twins could simply make the outlay that the of Yankees have done in offering Alex Rodriguez that now ” infamous” $275 million 10 year deal ? Less we forget this is now being the second such deal that the player has signed over the course of his professional career . To my the vast majority of owners and general managers are simply too damn stupid for their own good and who show as about as much business acumen said to can be found , as the idiots who presently sit on the Senate Banking & Finance Committee !

The issues that faces a number of teams within MLB is not merely about reining costs but general managers , team owners and the league hierarchy working in conjunction working in conjunction of MLBPA (union ) led by its Executive Director Michael Weiner as to how best to address issues the game faces . I’m not so sure that the tete`-a-tete` . Nothing ever productive seems to come to light but somehow Bud Selig and his idiocy tends to put either a poignant spin on a story even when there’s a stench so vulgar that it simply defies logic ! . If the commissioner’s testimony to the to two congressional committees concerning the facts as he knew them to be , concerning the prolific and rampant use of steroids within baseball . Then how do you view Selig as the game’s highest ranking official as it relates to his complete gullibility and ignorance ? And when addressed on the escalating salaries within the game and whether or not he felt there was a need for a mandated salary cap ____ Bud Selig appeared to be dumbfounded in terms of rendering an answer . It never ceases to amaze me as to the gullibility of the man and furthermore his actions in the fiasco surrounding the overturning of Ryan Braun’s 50 game suspension shows how naive he just happens to be ! . And to think that the owners and league hierarchy offered him a four-year contract extension but yet somehow this appears to be justified in $20 million a year salary that this official attains from baseball ! Did I miss something here when there are at least at least 7 players at the top end of the salary scale who earn as much as the commissioner annually ? Never mind the fact that there are several teams at the lower end of the spectrum that can barely afford to spend in excess of $40 million annually but yet Bud Selig ignores that all without the assistance of the league . At some time either the fans will see the commissioner for what he is or as usual show complete apathy as they have tended to. Only then choosing something so trite when there are more acute issues that they have overlooked that in reality they should have shown more interest in !


Picture gallery for your perusal .

Do you believe that the Minnesota Twins are capable of being a credible contender within the AL Central this season and quite possibly challenging for a postseason berth ? And given the choice , who would you like to see succeed Bud Selig as the commissioner of baseball ?


Picture and slide show details below . ================================================================================================ =======

(1) Minnesota Twins third baseman Danny Valencia catches Baltimore Orioles Mark Reynolds , right, in a rundown while trying to steal third in the fifth inning of a spring training baseball game in Fort Myers, Fla., Friday, March 16, 2012. AP Photo/Charles Krupa …

(2) Minnesota Twins pitcher Carlos Gutierrez walks back to the mound with a fresh baseball as Baltimore Orioles Robert Andino , left, heads home on his solo home run in the sixth inning of a spring training baseball game in Fort Myers, Fla., Friday, March 16, 2012. AP Photo/Charles Krupa …….

(3) Catcher Joe Mauer (7) of the Minnesota Twins throws the ball back to the pitcher against the Boston Red Sox during a Grapefruit League Spring Training Game at Hammond Stadium on March 5, 2012 in Fort Myers, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images ….

(4) Infielder Justin Morneau (33) of the Minnesota Twins fouls off a pitch against the Boston Red Sox during a Grapefruit League Spring Training Game at Hammond Stadium on March 5, 2012 in Fort Myers, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images …….

(5) Minnesota Twins starter Francisco Liriano delivers in the first inning of a spring training baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays in Fort Myers, Fla., Thursday, March 8, 2012. Liriano threw three scoreless innings, allowing one hit and striking out five in the Twins’ 1-0 loss. AP Photo/Charles Krupa ……..

(6) Minnesota Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, right, argues a batter-interference call by home plate umpire Fieldin Culbreth , left, during the second inning of a spring training baseball game against the Boston Red Sox in Fort Myers, Fla., Monday, March 19, 2012. AP Photo/Charles Krupa ….

(7) Twins’ GM Terry Ryan has been entrusted with resurrecting the fortunes of the organization . AP Photo /Mark Webster ….

(8) Jim Pohlad senior managing partner of the Minnesota Twins . Pohlad assumed control of the team upon the death of his father , noted Minnesota businessman Carl Pohlad . Courtesy of the Minneapolis Post / Chris Harper ….



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Jim Thome A Real Baseball Hero ?

Jim Thome A Real Baseball Hero ?

So over the course of the season much had been made of the Derek Jeter watch was on and his march towards 3,000 hits and the feat achieved by the player. With that being said while Jeter and his teammates tussle with their venerable rivals the Boston Red Sox for supremacy atop of the AL East . For me what has been interesting witness is the march of Minnesota Twins’ Jim Thome as he makes himself bona-fide Hall of Fame candidate. His stellar career has been something that the fans of the game can truly appreciate . Albeit the season for the Twins has been a tremendous letdown within the AL Central .


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There hasn’t been much for Ron Gardenhire and his staff to be truly appreciative of even with the recent —- record of the team within the division . Bill Smith the team’s general manager has been appreciative of what Jim Thome has brought to the team apart from his contributions. If anything the player sees himself as tutor to the younger members of this organization and that if anything shows what the seasoned veteran has been about and what he simply represents as a player.

Injuries have plagued the Minnesota Twins this season and with the front office seeking not to make any trade deadline moves the loss of Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer over the course of the year simply meant that the team would not make much of a challenge within the division .

The AL Central remains a close and suspenseful thriller between the Cleveland Indians and Detroit Tigers . Both teams are playing some solid baseball but if anything of late the Indians have been very inconsistent in terms of their play and they now know they are in for a real challenge if they are to have any chance of making the postseason . Given the history the history of the Indians in terms of the baseball playoffs there is a great deal on the line for the organization. The Detroit Tigers for their part under Jim Leyland along with his coaching staff know that this is perhaps their best chance obtaining a postseason berth and adding to the Tigers’ history in that endeavor . GM Dave Dombrowski having assembled a team that’s built for a run at the World Series . Leading the way for the Tigers is their Cy Young candidate Justin Verlander along with Brandon Inge and Miguel Cabrera . The race within the division now rests on the play of both teams down the home stretch run .

As to what’s now expected over the ensuing months I would very much like to see Jim Thome hit that landmark of 600 home runs ! Given the talent of players who have now reached that mark this only adds to the legacy of the player’s esteemed career. Now granted , there will always be controversy surrounding Alex Rodriguez and Barry Bonds the all-time home runs leader. The distinction of the 600 home run plateau much like the landmark of Jeter reaching the 3,000 hits’ mark is not lost on the players and its importance in terms of that legacy of becoming a member of the Hall of Fame .

It certainly will be interesting what will be made as the writers make their adjudications concerning the players eligible for the Hall of Fame. Undoubtedly Thome’s name will be amongst those eligible upon his retirement and meeting the criteria of set forth by the committee adjudicating and then voting on the nominees due for enshrinement.



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What thoughts if any do you have on the points raised within this article ? Simply leave a comment as to your thoughts and thanks once again for the continued support as it is greatly appreciated .

Alan aka tophatal …….

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Picture and slide show details below .


(1) Jim Thome (25) of the Minnesota Twins reacts to striking out against the Chicago White Sox in the second inning on August 7, 2011 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images ….

(2) Jim Thome (25) of the Minnesota Twins looks on during the ninth inning against the Cleveland Indians on August 6, 2011 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The White Sox defeated the Twins 6-1 . Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images ….)

(3) Jim Thome (25) of the Minnesota Twins strikes out to end the game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the ninth inning of the game at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on August 4, 2011 in Anaheim, California. The Angels won 7-1 . Photo by Jeff Golden/Getty Images …..

(4) Tsuyoshi Nishioka (1) of the Minnesota Twins speaks to members of the media as manager Ron Gardenhire (L) and general manager Bill Smith (C) look on during a press conference December 18, 2010 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Getty Images / Hannah Foslien …..


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It’s The Results That Matter …………………

It’s The Results That Matter

Well the baseball season is slowly unfolding and as it to be expected the highs and low of the season are to be expected . The Minnesota Twins it appears is on its way to becoming synonymous with mediocrity within baseball for this season . It will be interesting to see if the team does indeed end up with the worst record in baseball at season’s end. And for Twins’ manager Ron Gardenhire this can’t have been what he expected for his team and the very fact that their All Star catcher Joe Mauer was lost to the Twins for a prolonged period. The Minnesota Twins for their part have made Target Field in Minnesota something of an elephant’s graveyard with the mediocre play and lack of the real cohesion as a team .


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It would appear having got back to winning ways of sort in defeating the Texas Rangers —- 8-1 one would have thought that victory would enough to provide the Twins’ fans with some form of relief but nothing could be further from the truth. The Minnesota Twins are languishing at the bottom of the NL Central with a 25-39 record , some 10 games behind the division leading Cleveland Indians (34-28). Having won 8 of their last ten games the Twins continue to struggle and one would be hard pressed to believe that over the remainder of the season they could prove to be serious challengers not just for the division but also for a wildcard berth within the AL .

The month of June will tell us a great deal as to the directions that a number of teams will be taking . From a personal standpoint although I just can’t see the Twins making any sort of change that would have me believing that they can actually turn things around . This team appears to be lacking in confidence and I doubt that Gardenhire and his coaching staff can now coax this team to play with any level of consistency in spite of their last ten games. This has been a season thus far that I believe that the Twins’ fans and players would rather forget as they simply move systematically back and forth in terms of an uneven season .

The CONCACAF Gold Cup has started and no doubt Team USA under the management of coach Bob Bradley was hoping to see the team show some improvement as a sign that they are heading in the right direction in lieu of the FIFA —- World Cup (2014) in Brazil in 2012 . The team is off to an inauspicious start in Group C having played three games , winning one , a draw and a rather embarrassing 2-1 loss to Panama . If anything this result shows that Bradley faces a stiff challenging a team that will have the right traits not only to qualify for the World Cup but also have some semblance in winning the Gold Cup.

Viewed as a pre tournament contender and favorite alongside Mexico the team still stands a good chance of making out of the group qualifying rounds before the format of the tournament then becomes a knockout competition . Starved of an out and out attacker with formidable goal scoring talent this has simply been the Bradley’s biggest lament . In the tournament the team’s joint top scorers are Clint Dempsey are Clarence Goodson with one goal apiece . I have always maintained that the real problem with the game of soccer resonating amongst the large majority of the fans here comes from the very fact that it is merely viewed as a recreational pass-time . And even though MLS a divisional endeavor is up and running the league itself still struggles to create any form of a seismic rumble amongst fans . Granted with the number of international stars acquired to add some glamor to the league it really hasn’t helped given the fact that the likes of Thierry Henry , David Beckham and Maicon Santos are either players who were unable to establish themselves domestically in their respective countries or in the cases of Henry and Beckham their best is simply now a thing of the past.

This Gold Cup was obviously viewed as a precursor for the upcoming World Cup and with Bradley obviously wanting gain some semblance of consistency instead he now has a team that is bereft of creativity and ideas in light of this rather humiliating 2-1 loss to Panama a team that seven times out of ten they should beat handily .

The team now faces a stern test in their next game to be played with Group C against Guadeloupe on the 14 th June . A win is a necessity if they’re to not only qualify from the group but also gain a favorable match-up in the knockout phase of the competition . It remains to be seen whether or not Bradley will be able to regroup his players and have them ready in time for the match .

At the start of the NBA season it seemed that in large part the vast majority of fans were already prepared to anoint the Miami Heat as NBA champions even before the season had started . With the acquisitions of Chris Bosh and LeBron James to add alongside Dwyane Wade it appeared that all the Heat had to do was to simply waltz their way through their schedule and lay waste to the opposition during the postseason . Well as stories go this was a script that was still being written for the drama that would be played out in the NBA Finals .

The Dallas Mavericks may well be viewed as the underdogs coming into this series but if anything only a fool would actually have felt that way and there’s a reason why Vegas simply lured the suckers in with the odds favoring the Heat . Up 3-2 in the best of seven game series and with the final two games being on the Heat’s home-court of AAA Arena , Miami , Florida in order to close out the series . The Heat players in particular James and Wade knew exactly what was on the line for them not only in terms of the team players but the franchise as a whole . Team President Pat Riley and team owner Micky Arison’s master plan had been put into effect. An assortment of role players to surround their trio of superstars and all that had to be completed would be the defeat of the Mavericks to justify the whole experiment and season as a whole .
If only the Heat players and in particular James , Wade and Bosh had left their enormous egos at the door ! Instead we saw how complacent all three had become and the classness of their demeanor throughout much of the series . And for Erik Spoelstra one has to wonder whether or not some of the blame will be layed at his door beyond that of the players and in particular the triumvirate of superstars ?

Contempt and ignorance when it manifests itself in a team , then more often than not it tends to lead to disaster and it became a reality for the Miami Heat as their hold on what they believe to be rightfully theirs was taken right out of their presumed grasp by a Mavericks’ team that simply hungered for the title even more so than their opponent . Dirk Nowitzki along with Jason Terry and JJ Barea simply showed why at times it’s great to see the good guys actually win ! The trio led the team by example and outplayed the Heat when it mattered most and by securing the deciding game six victory 105-95 the Dallas Mavericks would secure the organization’s first NBA title . And for the victorious team owner Mark Cuban this had to be the most relishing moment in his tenure as the owner of the basketball club .
Perhaps the most heart warming moment after the Finals had ended was in knowing that seasoned veterans Jason Terry , Nowitzki and Jason Kidd could finally acknowledge that they can indeed now be looked upon as being champions .

Dirk Nowitzki justifiably so , was named Finals MVP with his stellar play throughout the postseason and the Finals itself . On the flip side of the case that will now be made ……….. was the hyperbole over the Heat simply worth it considering how lackluster this team’s performances were ? We had James and Wade mocking Nowitzki’s illness prior to game 6 and even if it were meant in jest it showed how lacking in class the duo were ! Pretty much sums up how best to describe a bunch of self absorbed athletes who simply believe that the entitlement mentality and adoration makes them the persons that they are ! From my own perspective I am thoroughly enjoyed the spectacle of seeing the Heat being hoisted on their own petards in front of their home crowd . It makes that defeat all the more embarrassing not just for the fans but the whole organization as a whole . Perhaps after this James and Wade will have at least learned some civility rather than the odious behavior that they’d shown throughout much of the regular and postseason. The results matter but so too does the demeanor under which a team carries themselves during a sporting event and that simply wasn’t shown here with the Miami Heat. Decorum was never within their sphere as they simply strolled around without any deference to anyone at all !



Picture gallery for your perusal .

What thoughts if any do you have on the points raised within this piece ? Simply leave a comment as to your thoughts as you deem fit .

Alan aka tophatal ……………………


(1) MINNEAPOLIS, MN – JUNE 11: Arthur Rhodes (53) of the Texas Rangers pitches against the Minnesota Twins during the eighth inning of their game on June 11, 2011 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Twins defeated the Rangers 8-1. Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images …..

(2) Delmon Young (21) of the Minnesota Twins singles against the Texas Rangers during the first inning of their game on June 11, 2011 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Twins defeated the Rangers 8-1. Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images …….

(3) Ben Revere (11) of the Minnesota Twins steals second base as shortstop Elvis Andrus (1) of the Texas Rangers catches the ball during the fourth inning of their game on June 11, 2011 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Twins defeated the Rangers 8-1. Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images ………..

(4) MINNEAPOLIS, MN – JUNE 11: Alexi Casilla (12) of the Minnesota Twins hits an RBI single while Mike Napoli (25) of the Texas Rangers defends home plate during the fourth inning of their game on June 11, 2011 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Twins defeated the Rangers 8-1. Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images ….

(5) Clarence Goodson (21) of Team United States celebrates his goal against Team Panama during the CONCACAF Gold Cup Match at Raymond James Stadium on June 11, 2011 in Tampa, Florida. Getty Images / J Meric ……..

(6) Jozy Altidore (17) of Team United States advances the ball against Team Panama during the CONCACAF Gold Cup Match at Raymond James Stadium on June 11, 2011 in Tampa, Florida. J Meric / Getty Images North America ….

(7) Team Panama celebrates their victory over Team United States during the CONCACAF Gold Cup Match at Raymond James Stadium on June 11, 2011 in Tampa, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images North America ……

(8) Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban carries the NBA Championship basketball trophy as he leads the team off the jet after their arrival at Love Field in Dallas, Monday, June 13, 2011. The Mavericks beat the Heat to win the championship. AP Photo/LM Otero ….

(9) “I am not a pussy . ” LeBron James (6) of the Miami Heat looks on dejected against the Dallas Mavericks in Game Six of the 2011 NBA Finals at American Airlines Arena on June 12, 2011 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images …..

(10) Tyson Chandler (right) of the Dallas Mavericks attempts a shot against Miami Heat in the Game Six of the 2011 NBA Finals at American Airlines Arena on June 12, 2011 in Miami, Florida. AFP PHOTO / POOL / David J. Phillip ……

(11) TOPSHOTS : Dirk Nowitzki(notes) (R) of the Dallas Mavericks shoots before Chris Bosh(notes) (L) of the Miami Heat during Game 6 of the NBA Finals on June 12, 2011 at the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami, Florida. AFP PHOTO / DON EMMERT ….


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