Posts Tagged ‘Minnesota Twins’

Joe Mauer Wins AL MVP; Was There Any Doubt?

November 23, 2009

My preseason AL MVP pick: Grady Sizemore

AL MVP winner: Joe Mauer

Two nights before the 2008 All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium, I had the opportunity to hang out with Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, and Joe Nathan at an pre-All-Star Game party at a bar in New York City.

It was by far and away one of the coolest nights of life. How often does someone have drinks with an MVP? Little did I know I was hanging out with two MVP’s that night.

Me and Joe Mauer at the All-Star Game party

Today, Mauer followed in Morneau’s footsteps by winning the American League MVP award.

Mauer, who led the AL in avg. (.365), OBP (.444), and slugging percentage (.587) received 27 out of 28 first-place votes to become not only the second Minnesota Twin to win the award since 2006, but he also became just the second catcher in the last 33 years (Thurman Munson) to win the award.

Ivan Rodriguez won the award with the Texas Rangers in 1999.

Mark Teixeira and Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees finished second and third in the voting. Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers was the only other player to receive a first-place vote.

Really?

Someone voted for Cabrera? Voting for Cabrera for the AL MVP is just as egregious as Keith Law leaving Chris Carpenter off the NL Cy Young ballot.

I am going to bet a good amount of money the idiot who voted for Cabrera was the same idiot who voted for Justin Verlander for the AL Cy Young.

But back to Mauer.

When it’s all said and done, I believe Mauer will go down in baseball history as the greatest catcher of all time. I really believe he is that good.

For a catcher to win three out of the last four batting titles is truly amazing. It’s a feat that doesn’t get talked about enough. Just like with Roy Halladay having more complete games than 27 teams in baseball.

15 years from now, we are going to look back at these feats and go “Wow, he really did that?”

And for any Yankee fan who thinks that Jeter or Teixeira got robbed–just be quiet. Seriously, I don’t want to hear it.

Mauer was the best player in the American League this year.

There was no doubt about it.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

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Angels’ Mike Scioscia Wins AL Manager Of The Year Award

November 18, 2009

For the second time since 2002, the man New York Yankees GM Brian Cashman called the “Bill Belichick of our sport” won the American League Manager of the Year award.

Of course, that statement was made before Belichick’s meltdown on Sunday night against the Indianapolis Colts. I am not going to talk about that fourth and two call because the media has shoved that call down our throats the last three days.

What I am going to talk about is how the Los Angeles Angles of Anaheim’s Mike Scioscia won his second Manager of the Year award. Scioscia received 15 out of 28 first-place votes to win the award.

Scioscia was the AL's best manager in 2009

The Minnesota Twins’ Ron Gardenhire and the New York Yankees’ Joe Girardi came in third respectfully.

Even though Scioscia probably had his best team in 2008, he did his best managerial job in 2009.

Not only did the Angels overcome a rash of injuries to their pitching staff early in the season, but Scioscia held that team together during the Nick Adenhart tragedy and guided them to their sixth postseason appearance in the last 10 years.

What Scioscia has done is build a “system” in Anaheim–which is very hard to do in baseball. Every player in the Angels’ organization–from rookie ball to the major leagues–plays the game the way Scioscia wants them to play.

A player is going to play the game a certain way and if not, they won’t be around for too long.

Tony LaRussa has built a similar system in St. Louis.

Building a “system” or an “organizational philosophy” is much easier to do in the NBA, NFL, or even the NHL because it is more of a team game and players are drafted more on whether or not they fit the team’s style of player rather than because they have the most talent.

Scioscia has taken talented players and has molded them into the players he wants and ultimately, has made them better players. Very hard to do in baseball.

In terms of the voting, I was a little surprised that Texas Rangers’ Ron Washington didn’t finish higher. The Rangers weren’t expected to compete for a playoff spot in 2009 and Washington had that team in contention all the way till the last couple of weeks of the season.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

Roy Halladay: What’s His Trade Market?

November 18, 2009

I apologize for the late post today, but it was a long, long, long night last night for The Ghost of Moonlight Graham. Beer and late-night eating don’t mix to well anymore after the age of 30.

That being said, I thought I would take it easy on myself today. Today, I am going to take a look at the most coveted player on the trade market this winter–Toronto Blue Jays’ Roy Halladay.

With Halladay a free agent after the 2010 season, the Toronto ace was the hottest name on the trade market during the days leading up to last year’s July 31st trading deadline.

Halladay can be had this offseason

Blue Jays’ GM JP Ricciardi could have traded Halladay at last year’s deadline and have gotten maximum value for him. But he didn’t and that’s one of the many reasons he is no longer the Blue Jays’ GM.

This winter will be the last time the Blue Jays will have the opportunity to trade Halladay and receive top value back. If they wait until the 2010 trading dealine, then teams won’t have to give up the farm because they know the Jays will be forced to trade Halladay.

Now let’s take a look at the pros and the cons of Halladay and what teams would be interested in trading for the native of Denver, CO.

Pros

Halladay is the best pitcher in baseball. Period. End of sentence.

Any team he gets traded to, he becomes that team’s ace. And that’s ANY team including the New York Mets, who have Johan Santana.

Not only will you get an ace, but you are also going to get a guy who is going to save your bullpen. Halladay has led the American League in complete games five out of the last seven years.

As a matter of fact, Halladay’s nine complete games in 2009 were more than 27 teams in baseball. That’s probably the greatest feat in baseball that nobody ever talks about.

Cons

There are only two cons for acquiring Halladay.

First, you are going to have to give up some top prospects to get him. In terms of prospects, Halladay is not going to come cheap.

Second, you might only have him for one year. Like I said, Halladay is a free agent after the 2010 season and at 32-years-old, he will be looking for one last payday.

Now that we looked at the pros and cons of Halladay, let’s look at the teams who have the resources to acquire Halladay.

Philadelphia Phillies: The Phillies were in on Halladay last year, but they acquired Cliff Lee instead. The Phillies are a win now team and acquiring Halladay would give the Phillies the best one-two punch in the National League.

The Phillies still have the top prospects to pull off a deal for Halladay.

New York Mets: After a disastrous 2009 season, the Mets are desperate to make a splash this offseason. Halladay would not only be a splash, but he would be a Ron Burgandy cannonball.

The Mets are hoping the same scenario plays out with the Blue Jays that helped them land Santana from the Minnesota Twins. The Twins didn’t want to trade Santana to an American League team and they accepted a penny on the dollar for Santana.

Chicago Cubs: The Cubs have a new owner who wants to win. I think the Cubs have finally realized Carlos Zambrano is not an ace and Halladay would give the Cubs the ace that Kerry Wood and Mark Prior were supposed to be.

Remember, they were hot on Jake Peavy last year, so they know they need a number one. They are my sleeper to land Halladay.

Los Angeles Dodgers: The Dodgers are an interesting team because they clearly have the need for an ace. Clayton Kershaw clearly isn’t there yet and I have no idea what happened to Chad Billingsley in the second half.

Halladay would thrive in Dodger Stadium. Of course, the big question will be whether or not the Dodgers can add payroll in 2010.

Boston Red Sox: The Red Sox were all over Halladay at last year’s trading deadline. The Red Sox realize that offense might be a problem going forward, so they might try to win with pitching.

The Red Sox have the prospects and the money to get a deal done. Halladay, Josh Beckett, and Jon Lester would give the Red Sox a formidable three-headed monster.

Yesterday, the Blue Jays made it even more appealing for teams to trade for Halladay by saying they would allow another team a window to negotiate a contract extension with Halladay and his agent.

All signs are pointing towards the Blue Jays trading Halladay this winter. I am going to say there is a 85 percent chance Halladay gets traded this winter.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

Brandon Phillips: What’s His Trade Market?

November 17, 2009

Yesterday, I talked about one of the Cincinnati Reds trade candidates, Bronson Arroyo. Well today, I’ll talk about another Reds trade candidate, second baseman Brandon Phillips.

Phillips has had a pretty interesting career so far. He has been involved in two extremely lopsided trades.

Phillips could be traded this offseason

In 2002, Phillips was traded from the Montreal Expos to the Cleveland Indians along with Cliff Lee, Lee Stevens, and Grady Sizemore for Bartolo Colon and Tim Drew.

And in 2006, Phillips was traded from the Indians to the Reds for the ever so popular player to be named later. Or PTBNL as all the cool kids say. That player turned out to be Jeff Stevens.

So Phillips has already been involved in two lopsided trades–will he be involved in a third? Let’s take a look at the pros and the cons of Phillips and what teams would be possible suitors for the man who went to high school in Stone Mountain, GA.

I wonder if he knows Jake “The Snake” Roberts, who also hails from Stone Mountain, GA?

Pros

Because Phillips hasn’t played on a national stage since joining the Reds, people don’t realize how good Phillips actually is.

Over the last three years, Phillips ranks third amongst all major league second baseman in home runs with 71, sixth in hits with 494, third in triples with 19, and second in stolen bases with 80.

Not only can Phillips do it with the bat, but he can do it with the glove. Phillips is one of best defensive second baseman in baseball.

Phillips won a Gold Glove in 2008 (not that it means much), but more importantly, Phillips has ranked at the top in second baseman UZR over the last three years.

As a matter of fact, only Chase Utley has a higher UZR over the last three years than Phillips.

Perhaps the most appealing aspect of Phillips is his contract. Phillips has two years remaining on his contract with a club option for 2012.

Phillips is set to make $6.75 million in 2010 and $11 million in 2011. That is very reasonable for a man who is only 28-years-old and has been worth $28 million over the last two years according to Fangraphs.

Cons

In a game where OBP is highly valued, Phillips hasn’t seen a pitch he hasn’t liked. Phillips did set a career high in walks in 2009 with 44, but that is nothing to get excited about.

Phillips ranked 12th in OPS amongst second baseman in 2009 behind guys like Alberto Callaspo and Martin Prado.

Perhaps the only other question a GM could have with Phillips is can he produce on a big stage? It’s one thing to put up big numbers when your team is 20 games out of first in August, but can you do it when your team is battling for a playoff spot?

There is only one way to figure out the answer to that question.

Now that we have looked at the pros and cons of acquiring Phillips, let’s take a look at what teams would be interested in the Reds’ second baseman.

New York Mets: Obviously the Mets would have to find a taker for their current second baseman, Luis Castillo. That is a task all by itself.

However, if they can get rid of Castillo, I think Phillips would be perfect with the Mets, who should be building their team around pitching, defense, and speed.

Los Angeles Dodgers: As I mentioned yesterday with Dan Uggla, the Dodgers need a second baseman. Phillips and Rafael Furcal would be a lethal double play combination in L.A.

Unfortunately, because the McCourts are making a made for TV movie, I am not sure how much salary the Dodgers are willing to take on.

San Diego Padres: The Padres are a lot closer to competing than people think. They have talked about adding payroll in 2010 and if they feel Matt Antonelli isn’t quite ready yet to be their second baseman, Phillips could be a nice player for them.

Minnesota Twins: Nick Punto is a nice little player, but should be a utility on a good team. The Twins are moving into a new stadium, which means new revenues.

They have already added payroll in the form of JJ Hardy and Phillips fits the Twins style of play to a tee.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: Are the Angels ready to give up on Howie Kendrick? Every year is supposed to be “Kendrick’s breakout year” and it hasn’t happened yet.

Phillips seems like a perfect fit in Anaheim. He is a great defensive player and can’t you see him being Bobby Abreu’s latest patient pet project?

Believe it or not, the market for second baseman these days isn’t as good as one would think. There are a lot of teams in baseball, who already have quality players at that position.

I am going to say that Phillips does get traded this offseason, with the Twins and Angels being the most likely suitors

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

Bronson Arroyo: What’s His Trade Market?

November 16, 2009

One of the bigger stories of last week was the Cincinnati Reds desire to cut payroll. It’s been reported that the Reds want to have a payroll less than the $73 million it was in 2009.

The easiest way to reduce payroll, of course, is to trade away some of your highest priced players. If the Reds were to trade some of their players, Aaron Harang, Brandon Phillips, Francisco Cordero, and Bronson Arroyo are the most likely trade candidates.

Bronson Arroyo

Arroyo plays the guitar just as well as he pitches

For the purposes of today’s post, let’s take a look at Arroyo. Here are the pros, the cons, and the teams who might be interested in trading for the Reds’ Guitar Hero.

PROS

Ever since Arroyo was traded to the Reds from the Boston Red Sox in exchange for Wily Mo Pena (not one of Theo Epstein’s finer moments, though I didn’t mind the deal for the Red Sox at the time) in March of 2006, Arroyo has been one of the most durable pitchers in the game.

Arroyo over the last four years have averaged 34 starts a year and 218 innings pitched. Twice in that span he has led the National League in starts (2006 & 2008) and once led the league in innings pitched (2006).

In a game where starting pitchers average five innings and are constantly on the DL, Arroyo makes all his starts and goes deep into games.

Teams also have to like the fact that as Arroyo gets older, he is throwing more groundballs than ever. Arroyo’s groundball rate of 44.8 percent in 2009 was the highest of his career.

Lastly, Arroyo gained valuable postseason experience pitching for the Red Sox in 2003, 2004, and 2005. While he didn’t pitch well (7.41 ERA in 10 games) in those October’s, he usually does he best work late in the season.

Arroyo is 22-9 with a 3.22 ERA in his career during September and October.

Cons

While Arroyo is one of the most durable pitchers in the game, there is a lot of tread on his tires. Over the last three years, Arroyo has thrown 10,275 pitches. That ranks him sixth amongst all starters in baseball.

That’s a lot of pitches for a guy who is going to be 33-years-old in 2010.

And while Arroyo’s contract seems reasonable at one-year and $11 million with a club option for $11 million for 2011, we are in a down economy in baseball.

Normally, $11 million for a pitcher like Arroyo is not outlandish, but not only does a team have to assume his contract in a down economy, but they would also have to surrender a couple of prospects.

That’s a lot to ask a team for essentially a number three pitcher on a contending team.

Now that we have seen the pros and cons of Arroyo, let’s take a look at what teams could be possible trade partners.

New York Mets: Right now, the Mets rotation is Johan Santana and a bunch of question marks. The Mets can afford Arroyo’s contract and he would give the Mets a solid number two or three starter going into 2010.

Los Angeles Dodgers: Vicente Padilla, Randy Wolf, and Jon Garland are all potential free agents leaving only Chad Billingsley and Clayton Kershaw in the Dodgers’ rotation.

For a team who’s starters ranked 11th in the National League in innings pitched, Arroyo would be a welcomed site for Joe Torre.

New York Yankees: If the Yankees don’t feel Phil Hughes is ready to start and Andy Pettitte decides to retire, then Arroyo is a realistic option for the Yankees.

Minnesota Twins: I know this is a stretch because of Arroyo’s salary, but the Twins are looking to add a veteran starter or two this offseason. I would much rather have Arroyo than Carl Pavano, who they are looking to re-sign.

Seattle Mariners: The like the Mets, the Mariners have an ace in Felix Hernandez and then a bunch of question marks. With the Mariners great defense, Arroyo could thrive in the great northwest.

It would be a shame if the Reds had to trade Arroyo. With a great, young nucleus, the Reds are closer to contention than most people think.

I would say if the Reds were to shed salary, Arroyo is the most likely to go. His one-year contract and his performance to date would make him attractive to teams who need a starter.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

American League Hands Out Some Gold Gloves

November 10, 2009

Not only ’tis the season for surgeries, trades, and free agency, but ’tis the season for handing out some hardware.

Baseball handed out its first set of postseason awards today. The American Gold Glove winners were announced today.

gold glove award

The Gold Glove award

Let’s take a look at who won an American League Gold Glove in 2009…

C. Joe Mauer, Minnesota Twins – .996 fielding percentage, 26 percent caught stealing percentage

1B. Mark Teixeira, New York Yankees – .997 fielding percentage, -1.4 UZR

2B. Placido Polanco, Detroit Tigers – .997 fielding percentage, 11.4 UZR

SS. Derek Jeter, New York Yankees – .986 fielding percentage, 4.8 UZR

3B. Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays – .970 fielding percentage, 18.5 UZR

OF. Ichiro Suzuki, Seattle Mariners – .988 fielding percentage, 10.5 UZR

OF. Adam Jones, Baltimore Orioles – .996 fielding percentage, -4.7 UZR

OF. Torii Hunter, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim – .997 fielding percentage, -1.4 UZR

P. Mark Buehrle, Chicago White Sox – .982 fielding percentage

I think baseball did a good job with these selections. Believe it or not, the one selection you could really argue is Ichiro. Nelson Cruz (.990 fielding percentage, 11.6 UZR) or JD Drew (.992 fielding percentage, 10.5 UZR) would have been better selections as a right fielder.

Here is the one problem I do have with the Gold Glove awards. Why does baseball treat all the outfielders as one position? It doesn’t matter what position you play in the outfield, you are considered an “outfielder.”

Every year, either two center fielders win a Gold Glove, or two right fielders win, etc…

Why doesn’t baseball pick one left fielder, center fielder, and right fielder? Does that make too much sense?

The National League Gold Glove winners will be announced tomorrow.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

Phillies Decline Option On Pedro Feliz

November 9, 2009

The defending National League Champions will have a new starting third baseman in 2010.

Yesterday, the Philadelphia Phillies declined the $5.5 million option for 2010 on Pedro Feliz, thus making him a free agent. Feliz hit .266/.308/.386 last year, while playing gold glove caliber defense at third base for the Phillies.

This is why the Phillies are going to be good for years to come. Instead of being satisfied with what they have and picking up Feliz’s option, they decline the option and look to improve themselves.

Pedro Feliz

Feliz will be on a new team in 2010

Because the Phillies are in the “have’s” class, they should have their pick of third baseman this winter. Adrian Beltre, Chone Figgins, Mark DeRosa and even Miguel Tejada are all free agents and all would be an improvement over Feliz in 2010.

There is a lot of speculation that the Phillies will go after Beltre this offseason.

As for Feliz, this has to be disappointing for him. For one, he is leaving an extremely successful franchise in the Phillies. And more importantly for Feliz, he probably won’t get $5.5 million on the open market in this down economy.

The Minnesota Twins, Baltimore Orioles, Seattle Mariners, and St. Louis Cardinals are teams who need a third baseman and could be possible destinations for Feliz.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @theghostofmlg

A Steal For The Twins: Acquire J.J. Hardy From Brewers

November 6, 2009

Anyone who knows me, knows I am a big JJ Hardy fan. I have always liked the way he has played. So when I found out that he was traded to the Minnesota Twins today from the Milwaukee Brewers for OF Carlos Gomez, I thought “Wow, what a steal for the Twins.”

For the Twins to get a shortstop of the caliber of Hardy for a fourth outfielder who manager Ron Gardenhire wanted to strangle half the time is a steal in my opinion.

Hardy

Hardy is a steal for the Twins

I know Hardy stunk last season and yes, he was so bad at one point he was sent to the minors (that wasn’t all about performance). But I am convinced last year was just an aberration for Hardy. In the two years before last season, Hardy had OPS’s of .786 and .821.

Hardy is a perfect fit for the Twins. He is a low-key guy, who can play defense. Since Hardy will be under the Twins control for the next two years, he will give the Twins some stability at short.

Now the Twins can feature a lineup that might look something like this:

1. Span, CF

2. Hardy, SS

3. Mauer, C

4. Morneau, 1B

5. Cuddyer, RF

6. Kubel, DH

7. D. Young, LF

8. N/A, 3B – Twins still need a third baseman

9. Punto, 2B

Regardless of who they get to play third, that is a tremendous lineup for the Twins. That is a lineup that could win them another Central Division crown in 2010.

As for the Brewers, the acquisition of Gomez officially ends the Mike Cameron (one of the more underrated players in baseball) era in Milwaukee. I know the Brewers had a need in centerfield, but I feel they could have gotten more for Hardy.

Gomez is a fast runner and a great defensive player. Other than that, he can’t do anything else. He certainly can’t hit–yet. In three years in the majors, Gomez has a .246 average and a .292 OBP.

I say yet because he is still only 23-years-old. However, he just strikes me as a guy that a team would bring in for the eighth inning as a defensive replacement.

You can have all the speed in the world, but if you don’t use it wisely, it doesn’t matter. Look at Derek Jeter. He is not the fastest guy in baseball, but he is the best baserunner in baseball. Sometimes that is better than speed.

This move also tells me the Brewers are going to back off asking Rickie Weeks to play centerfield in 2010. If Gomez is the Brewers’ starting centerfielder in 2010 and Weeks is going to play second, then the Felipe Lopez era is also over in Milwaukee.

Top prospect Alcides Escobar is expected to be the Brewers’ starting shortstop in 2010, which made Hardy expendable.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

10 Things We Learned About Baseball In October

November 3, 2009

Not only is October the best month on the baseball calendar, it’s also the busiest. Besides the playoffs, you have general managers being fired and hired, you have managers being fired and hired, and you already start to hear some free agent and trade rumblings.

This October was no different. Let’s take a look at 10 things we learned about baseball in October.

10. Kevin Towers and JP Ricciardi were let go. When a team doesn’t win two things happen. 1. The manager gets fired or 2. The general manager gets fired.

In San Diego and Toronto–the general managers were fired.

Towers spent 14 seasons as the San Diego Padres’ GM and they have won four division titles and made one World Series appearance (1998) under his stewardship.

I wasn’t in favor of this move when it happened. Towers can be the GM of my team any day of the week and twice on Sunday. He knows how to get the job done.

Ricciardi was let go by the Toronto Blue Jays after serving as their GM since 2001. The Blue Jays never won more than 87 games and only finished above third once with Ricciardi as the GM.

If you fire someone, then you need a replacement…

9. Jed Hoyer and Alex Anthopoulos will be making the decisions in San Diego and Toronto. The Padres hired Boston Red Sox assistant GM Jed Hoyer to replace the above mentioned Towers.

Jed Hoyer

Hoyer is the new GM of the Padres

Hoyer joined the Red Sox front office at age 28, where he helped to build Boston’s rosters and assisted in contract negotiations.

In 2005, when Theo Epstein and Larry Lucchino had a lover’s quarrel and Epstein took a ten week hiatus, Hoyer along with Craig Shipley, Bill Lajoie, and Ben Cherington took over the GM duties for the Red Sox.

Anthopoulos takes over for Ricciardi in Toronto on an interim basis.

While Hoyer and Anthopoulos take over as general managers…

8. Manny Acta and Brad Mills were hired as managers. Mills was hired to be the next manager of the Houston Astros. Mills replaces Cecil Cooper who was fired with 13 games left in the season. Former Astros manager Phil Garner and interim manager Dave Clark were finalists for the position.

Mills has spent the last six seasons as the bench coach for Terry Francona and the Boston Red Sox.

Acta was hired by the Cleveland Indians to be their next manager. The Indians signed Acta to a three-year deal with a club option for 2013.

This will be Acta’s second managerial stint. His first one, as we all know was with the Washington Nationals from 2007-2009. Acta was 158-252 with the Nationals and was relieved of his duties in July.

As manager of the Astros, Mills will be squaring off against this guy in St. Louis…

7. Tony LaRussa will be back as St. Louis Cardinals manager. The Cardinals and manager Tony LaRussa have agreed to a one-year deal with a mutual option for 2011. The Cardinals also got good news when pitching coach Dave Duncan agreed to return to the team as well.

But the big shock was the announcement of Mark McGwire as hitting coach. McGwire will replace Hal McRae as the Cardinals’ hitting coach.

While the Cardinals were making news, the team they beat in the 2006 World Series made news of another kind…

6. The Detroit Tigers suffered an epic collapse. The Tigers had everything going for them headed into the last week of the season. They were playing at home, they were playing a Chicago White Sox team whose season was over, and they were three games up on the Minnesota Twins with four games to go.

Despite all that, the Tigers couldn’t hold on the AL Central lead. The Tigers lost two-out-of-three to the White Sox and the Twins swept the Kansas City Royals.

Those results forced this…

5. The Tigers and Twins played an all-time classic. The Twins beat the Tigers 6-5 in 12 innings in a one-game playoff to clinch the American League Central title. For four-hours and thirty-seven minutes in this epic classic there were no salaries, no free agency, no arbitration, and no steroids.

This game was about two teams playing their guts out and leaving everything on field. The Twins and Tigers not only captured the 58,088 screaming fans in the Metrodome, but they captured millions watching at home.

They captured four friends, who weren’t Twins or Tigers fan, but were so into the game that they were texting back and forth on practically every situation that occurred. We all knew we were watching one of the best games we ever saw.

This was just an amazing game. A true classic and a game which reminded us what is great about the game of baseball.

The Twins win allowed them to go to the postseason…

4. The 2009 postseason has given us a lot of memorable moments. Every year the postseason gives us memories that last a lifetime. The 2009 postseason has been no different.

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim finally exercised their postseason demons by beating the Boston Red Sox.

Matt Holliday’s dropped flyball against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game Two of the NLDS opened the floodgates for the Dodgers.

Alex Rodriguez, doing his best Reggie Jackson imitation leading the New York Yankees to the World Series.

CC Sabathia finally putting his past postseason failures behind him and being worth every penny.

Jimmy Rollins walk-off double off of Jonathan Broxton shattering the dreams of the Dodgers.

Cliff Lee carrying the Philadelphia Phillies pitching staff throughout October.

While on one end there is triumph in the postseason, on the other end there is heartache…

3. It’s been a rough postseason for closers. 10 blown saves (the 11th happened on Sunday night) in the postseason by closers through October 31st.

papelbon

Even Papelbon blew a save in this postseason

Everyone thinks closers aren’t important until they blow a game in a big spot. Huston Street, Jonathan Papelbon, Joe Nathan, Brian Fuentes, Ryan Franklin, and Broxton all imploded at one point this postseason.

Only Brad Lidge and Mariano Rivera didn’t blow a save through the first two rounds of the playoffs. It’s no coincidence that the teams they represent are in the World Series.

While the closers were one story of this postseason, the big story has been…

2. Bad umpiring has plagued the 2009 postseason. Major League Baseball just can’t win. It’s always something.

This postseason, the umpires have come under tremendous fire for missing calls, which has prompted many to call for more instant replay in baseball.

It seems like every game this postseason the umpires were missing calls. And these weren’t bang-bang calls–these were blatantly obvious calls.

But despite all the bad calls by the umpires, this has been a fabulous postseason. And all roads in the postseason lead to this…

1. The Phillies or the Yankees will be world champions. For the first time in maybe 10 years, the two best teams will be playing in the World Series.

The Phillies took Game One behind a complete game, 10 strike out performance from Cliff Lee. Chase Utley provided the offense with two homeruns off of Sabathia.

The Yankees evened the series at one behind a brilliant performance from AJ Burnett. Hideki Matsui’s homerun off of Pedro Martinez in the sixth broke a 1-1 tie.

The Yankees overcame a 3-0 deficit thanks to a two-run HR from Alex Rodriguez and some timely hitting by Johnny Damon to take a 2-1 series lead.

It’s very rare a World Series champion isn’t crowned in October, but this is an unusual year thanks to the World Baseball Classic. We will just have to wait to November to crown a champion.

November will be the final month of the baseball. Come back on December to get a recap of the World Series and all the award winners in baseball.

Yankees Sweep Twins, Advance To ALCS

October 12, 2009

If you are a New York Yankees fan, you have to start feeling like there is a lot of late 90’s magic going on with this team. When I say magic, I am not talking the clutch hitting from Alex Rodriguez or the brilliant pitching by Andy Pettitte.

I am talking the egregious umpiring that always benefits the Yankees (Joe Mauer call in Game Two), teams and players making bonehead plays they would normally not make (Nick Punto last night), and even when the Yankees make a bad play, it somehow works out in their favor (Robinson Cano misplay leads to an out last night).

Those were staples of the Yankee teams in their glory years from 1996-2000.

Pettitte was great last night

Pettitte was great last night

The Yankees lost that magic starting with the 2001 World Series against the Arizona Diamondbacks. However, they got some of that magic back in a big way against the Minnesota Twins.

The Yankees beat the Twins last 4-1 to sweep the Twins 3-0 in their best-of-five American League Division Series and advance to their first ALCS since 2004. The Yankees used some great pitching, timely homeruns, and some just brutal baserunning by the Twins to get by the Twins in this series.

What was amazing about this series, was that every single time the Twins would take the lead, the Yankees would come back to either tie the game or take the lead the very next inning. It was unbelievable.

Last night was such a perfect example of what I am talking about.

The Twins took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the sixth on a Joe Mauer single off of Pettitte, who was brilliant in this game. The very next inning, Rodriguez and Jorge Posada hit solo homeruns and just like that, the Yankees have a 2-1 lead.

I even wrote on my Twitter page that the Yankees have the Twins right where they want them being down 1-0. The tragedy of that, is that Carl Pavano was pitching the game of his life before those two homeruns.

That was the best I have ever seen Pavano look. For six innings he completely controled the game. There is no doubt in my mind he earned a multi-year deal with his performance last night.

Even down 2-1, the Twins had their chances in this game. In the bottom of the seventh, Yankees manager Joe Girardi took out Pettitte for reasons only know to himself and replaced him with Mr. Mediocre himself–Joba Chamberlain.

Chamberlain proceeds to give up a double to Delmon Young and the Twins had a runner on second with just one out. Chamberlain got Brendan Harris out on a hard grounder to third and then struckout Jose Morales to end the inning.

Do the Twins not have anyone else that can DH besides Morales? This guy stinks. Every time I see him play, he doesn’t seem even close to getting a hit.

In the bottom of the eighth is when the you know what really hit the fan for the Twins. Punto led off the inning with a double off of the suddenly shaky Phil Hughes.

The next batter Denard Span hit a chopper up the middle. Derek Jeter got to the ball and didn’t throw to first because he knew he couldn’t get Span. Punto, not picking up his third base coach thought the ball went up the middle and decided to head home.

Punto realized the ball didn’t go into the outfield halfway between home and third, Jeter threw the ball home to Posada, and Posada threw out Punto trying to go back to third.

I really thought at that point Ron Gardenhire was going to punch Punto when he got back to the dugout. He had that look on his face.

After that play, the game was essentially over.

I can’t believe how many bad baserunning plays the Twins made in this series. And this was the supposedly the more fundamentally sound team coming into this series. It really was inexcusable.

Now the Yankees will move on to play their arch nemesis in the playoffs, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. 

Game One of the ALCS will be on Friday.