Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Fork

The Common Man wishes the Twins would just go ahead and make up their freaking minds already. On Saturday night, with the Twins a game under .500 and seemingly inventing new ways to lose against the A's and Angels, The Common Man was all set to trade Michael Cuddyer, the Twins lone tradeable commodity likely to bring back real talent (Mauer and Morneau are fixtures whose trade would timewarp the Twins fanbase back to 2000, and the rotation is doing poorly enough (and has enough health concerns) that dealing a starter is unlikely to get good value back, and most of the bullpen has negligible trade value). With the team floundering, and little on the farm likely to bring back the kind of middle infield upgrade the Twins desperately need (Ben Revere's lack of power makes him less than an ideal chip and he seems to be regarded as the future in Minny, last year's #1 pick, Aaron Hicks, has struggled in A-ball (though he's just 19), and 21-year old Wilson Ramos left his plate discipline in Fort Myers (138 PA for AA New Britain, 3 BB). Shooter Hunt looks lost, Carlos Gutierrez is still learning to be a starter, and Deolis Guerra is suddenly on fire in AA after disappointing for the last year and a half). The Twins have a bunch of flawed prospects, none of whom figure to be centerpiece quality for a blockbuster deal that will help Minnesota leapfrog both Detroit and Chicago.

Then the Twins go off and win 3 straight, including two against the White Sox, and now sit just 2 games back of Detroit. Mark Grudzielanek is hitting .333 in Rookie Ball (just 2 games, of course, but it sounds impressive). Jesse Crain has pitched well since coming back to the majors, lending some stability to the Twins pen. And now The Common Man has visions of October again (they're horrifying visions of being swept out of the playoffs by the Yankees, but still).

This is an exceedingly frustrating and confusing team...and the interwebz bear this out. Gleeman is seemingly waving a white flag (or at least a caution flag), and arguing against giving up farmhands for help. Neyer says it's too early to give up. Bill, from The Daily Something, or somebody really needs to step in here and break the tie. Because The Common Man is paralyzed by his own frustration and fervent fandom here. He wants to see this team win, but this club has angered The Common Man far more than any Twins squad in recent memory (grr...Gomez at the plate, Casilla, Punto, Young everywhere, all the injuries, Luis Ayala before he was jettisoned, Bill Smith's refusal to upgrade the bullpen). What say you, readers? Do the Twins go for broke or sell anything that isn't locked down or has sideburns? This team needs a direction.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Karma Police Strike Again

Karma sucks sometimes (though, by its very nature, The Common Man supposes it's a good thing just as often).

Last night, The Common Man was merrily watching the Twins beat the Oakland A's on his birthday. But because of the game's late start and the fact that The Common Man was bound and determined to spend a few hours of quality time with The Uncommon Wife, a totally hot scientist who has a grant due this week and so is mostly unavailable, The Common Man forsook his Twinkies after the 5th and headed upstairs to the boudoir. After all, how likely was it that the Twins would let an 11 run lead get away?

Huh? Oh.

The good news, I suppose, is that The Common Man didn't find out about it until this morning, when it was already too late to ruin his birthday. But still, The Common Man considers it a karmic bitch slap for embracing his inner Dodger fan and leaving early, and for making fun of Alexi Casilla's miserable birthday (Casilla's horrible day continued, as he and Nick Punto were the only Twins starters not to get a hit yesterday, combining to go 0-for-8 with a walk). Yuck.

Lost in all the talk about the A's comeback (it was epic) and the boning of the Twins by umpire Mike Muchlinski (which, after giving up an 11-run lead, let's face it, they kind of deserved), The Common Man wants to extend a hearty congratulations to the A's bullpen, who held Minnesota to just two runs (one earned) over 6.1 innings (and no runs over the last 4.2). Craig Breslow got some karmic love himself, getting a win in relief over the team that mistakenly cast him aside earlier this year.

And while Breslow and the A's pen deserve credit for silencing the Twins, perhaps their success had less to do with their awesomeness and more to do with them not being Gio Gonzalez. Gonzalez again showed he's not ready for the big time, giving up 10 hits, 4 homers, and 11 runs in just 2.2 innings. In 61 career innings, Gio's got an 8.41 ERA, largely due to 16 homers and 42 walks. At just 23, he's still got time to adjust, but for now it's clear that Gonzalez is not good enough to pitch to hitters like Justin Morneau, Jason Kubel, and Michael Cuddyer. So while all the offense was nice, The Common Man is skeptical given virtually all of it came off a guy who throws beachballs.

Tonight, The Common Man is going to try to get some karma back, watching the contest on Gameday in bed instead of on the big screen in the basement, with The Boy beside him because he doesn't want to sleep in his big boy bed. Stay tuned to see if his good deed goes unpunished.

Monday, July 20, 2009

One Great Birthday Ruins Another

The Common Man figured that there would be no better day for his grand re-blogging than the day of his birth, and this being that, he’s good to go. The Common Man hopes you’ll come back and enjoy the blog. The Common Man regrets his absence, generally caused by the crazy-high level of activity at work, the crazy-high level of activity of a two-and-a-half year old. Blogging, The Common Man is afraid, fell by the wayside. Totes The Common Man's bad, y'all.

Anyway, it's been a good birthday for The Common Man, who got up before The Boy and was able to make and eat his asiago-cheese bagel with no two-and-a-half year olds clamoring for a bite, little fingers stretched upwards, straining toward the grainy goodness, grasping at the air. Grainy Goodness.

The Common Man also had time to make The Uncommon Wife's coffee (The Common Man is not exempt from this sacred ritual, even on his birthday, despite the fact he hates coffee). Then he had some essential help from said Uncommon Wife getting The Boy ready for school and got out of the house relatively close to on time. Work, as The Common Man mentioned, has settled down for the near future to a manageable level. And dinner was enjoyed by all at a local establishment that serves Blatz in a can for $1.50/can. You can't go wrong with Blatz, people.

Blatz. You know you want it.

What made the day great (so fars), however, is the news that the Twins are finally, finally addressing their middle infield deficiency. Now, they're doing it by signing a 39-year old, oft-injured, definition of mediocre free agent who hasn't played since last season, but it's something. If he's capable of playing close to his level last year, Mark Gurdzielanek represents an upgrade. Now, it's not as good as if the Twins traded for the Pittsburgh Pirates' disgruntled duo, but it's a start.

Which one of us has to be Robin?

That said, what is a great birthday present for The Common Man, is the world's worst birthday present for The Common Man's fellow Cancer and July 20 birthday celebrant, Alexi Casilla. Casilla is, of course, the Twins' current second baseman, whose horrific and humiliating play at the plate and in the field has led the Twins to seek help from a creaky-kneed old-timer, who's going to be the singular cause of the team going over its names-on-the-backs-of-uniforms sewing budget.

See? That's a huge name!

Casilla, despite an acceptable performance last year (at least at the plate, where he had a 94 OPS+, in the field he was almost 12 runs below replacement level), has dropped into the abyss, "hitting" .176/.237/.216 (a 25 OPS+!) and managing to be almost 6 runs below replacement level despite playing in only 37 games.

Another bunt? You're not even trying anymore, are you?

Casilla has even received the kiss of death from the great Aaron Gleeman, who pointed out in early May that
"at this point waiting for that guy from early last season to return is wishful thinking. His production in the high minors was anything but impressive and he's basically been a replacement-level player through 187 games in the majors, posting a measly .619 OPS while playing mediocre, mistake-filled defense. Aside from those two months last season, nothing Casilla has done in the past three years predicts long-term success."
Whether it's because of basic crappiness or Casilla never really recovered from his thumb injury last year, it's clear Casilla isn't going to help the Twins soon.

Still, despite the undeniable truth that Casilla has earned being "fired" from the second base job, The Common Man can't imagine a crappier present on your birthday. Twins GM Bill Smith must've come around the corner this morning and smirked,

B.S.: "Congratulations, Alexi, on turning 25. Here's someone we just hired, who does the same exact job as you, but better. Let's see how this works out. Oh, here's a card."

A.C.: "Que? No hay pastel?"