Bottom of the 33rd is a book about Baseball’s Longest Game. The full title of the book is Bottom of the 33rd: Hope, Redemption and Baseball’s Longest Game by author Dan Barry. It is obviously a book about baseball but it’s so much more than that.
Bottom of the 33rd is a book about life, life in baseball, life around baseball and how life is for everyone involved in the game of baseball from the owners, general managers and players of the teams to the employees who make the games happen all the way down to the fans that come to the games and cheer their teams on. All of these people have lives outside the game and reasons for being around the game.
I was told about the book by a fellow Twins fan at a game so I read the book not knowing the teams involved or even the year the game was held. All of that would be revealed as I read the book and that may be the best way to read it anyways. You find out who the teams are, who the players are and what got them to this point in their careers and what will become of them in the rest of their careers as you read the book.
Do they become Hall of Famers or do they only get a cup-of-coffee in the major leagues? Do they play for your favorite team? What do they do after their careers are finished? You may see a name that reminds you of another player and wonder if they are related or if they were teammates with one of your favorite players. You will be reminded of why you love the game of baseball.
We all love reminiscing about the past especially when it comes to sports. We love to remember stories of when we were kids and baseball was fun no matter what the outcome of the game. We were able to go and experience a professional game in person and I always thought I might see something special whenever I went to a game. It could be a no-hitter, someone could hit for the cycle or hit three home runs or make the greatest defensive play you’ve ever seen OR it could be the longest game in professional baseball and you were there and you stayed for the whole game.
We hear “It’s just a game!” all the time when it comes to sports. Author Dan Barry does an excellent job showing the reader that baseball is more than a game. Baseball is life to these players, coaches and umpires. For the majority of the fans, it’s just a game and doesn’t affect their lives too much. The players, coaches and umpires sacrifice so much time it can affect every relationship in their life. It’s their livelihood so it means everything to them. Winning and losing or success and failure can literally change those lives!
*This is an affiliate link. That means I make money off of any sale that comes from that link. That’s not why I’m reviewing this book though. I put this review on my site because I want everyone who comes to my blog to get something good out of it and if you buy this book, I think you will thank me for turning you on to it.
It is just two weeks into the season, but there are already a few Minnesota Twins players putting up solid numbers in fantasy baseball. Although the team as a whole might not be a true playoff contender just yet, owners around the world could make their own playoffs with their services. Here is a look at the three best from a fantasy perspective.
The face of the franchise is still the best option the Twins have as far as fantasy baseball is concerned, and the strong start at the plate proves that. His defense behind the plate might be deteriorating, but fantasy owners don’t care much about that.
As long as Mauer is healthy, he is going to be able to hit. Moving away from behind the dish might actually make him a more valuable hitter, as his body will be able to play on a more consistent basis. He has only been listed as a designated hitter or catcher at this point in the season, but he could play some first base as well.
Willingham’s entire career seems to be underrated. He has always been a dependable hitter, but since he has mostly played on bad teams, he goes unnoticed. Many fantasy baseball owners know all about him though, and his Silver Slugger season in 2012 definitely opens up some eyes.
Now that he is 34 years old, a repeat of his season a year ago seems like a stretch. However, he is still a top 75 fantasy baseball player. He can be counted on to provide solid stats at the dish.
Justin Morneau might be the safer pick, but his health is troublesome. Instead, taking a chance on Trevor Plouffe might be worthwhile later in drafts (or off waivers).
Outside of Minnesota, many probably do not know a ton about Plouffe. He plays a position with not a lot of depth (third base), so that helps right away. He is coming off a solid season last year, belting 24 home runs in just 119 games. With the opportunity to play even more this season, he could provide valuable power despite going rather late.
In the last 10 games, the Minnesota Twins have gone 6 and 4 with a series sweep of the defending American League Central Division champion Detroit Tigers and a series win over the Brewers of Mil-wauk-kay! Both of these series victories came on the road! There was a 4-game winning streak in there as well. This forced fans to question reality and their butts are probably still in pain from all the pinching! (“Is this really happening?”)
The big question is if the winning will continue and can this team put together a good stretch of 20-25 games playing .500 or better baseball?
That would mean the Minnesota Twins would have to hit well and score runs consistently, pitch well and keep the opponent from scoring runs consistently and defend well so the opponent doesn’t get any “free” runs. That’s a lot that needs to go right for this team to keep winning more than half of their games. Is it possible?
Joe Mauer is starting to hit again, Morneau is back mostly healthy and Ben Revere is on fire right now! He’s playing great defense, getting some extra-base hits and being a spark plug on the base paths. In his 23-game stint at triple-A, he had one extra-base hit. Since his call-up, he has hit 4 XBHs in 4 games. Don’t forget about The ‘HAM! The HAMMER is Willing to hit the ball!
The pitching has been giving the Twins a chance to win in the last week or two. It still has to get better and with the Twins having to rely on young arms like Scott Diamond and P.J. Walters, you don’t really know what to expect. The pitching, at least the starting pitching has been the problem all season long and it’s hard to see how it can be fixed with these young guys. I’m not saying they can’t keep pitching well but with young players, you have to expect mistakes and live with them. That’s how they are going to learn! Hopefully they learn quickly and can stay with the Minnesota Twins and help them win some games.
Defensively the Twins have been alright. They’ve had some blunders but for the most part they’ve caught the ball and haven’t caused Gardy to lose the hair he still has! They rank 6th in all of baseball with a .987 fielding percentage.
The next 24 games are (all 3 game series – at CWS, vs DET, vs OAK, at CLE, at KC, vs CHC, vs PHI & vs MIL) so there’s some teams in there that should be beatable but “beatable” might not mean anything for this team.
Jason Marquis – is he done?
Jason Marquis gave up 8 runs in 1.2 innings pitched in his last start on Sunday against the Brewers and that turned out to be the last straw as the Minnesota Twins designated the 33-year old pitcher for assignment. His ERA went to 8.47 and in Sunday’s game he never got a swinging strike meaning if they swung at it, they hit it! They might not have hit all of those fair but they hit it and they hit it hard! I call that batting practice and that’s what it looked like. OUCH!
I honestly feel bad for the guy. He had a rough couple months when his daughter was fighting for her life and I can’t imagine baseball was that important at the time and I don’t blame him for that. I’m not saying that affected his pitching but I can see how it would. We’ll see what happens in the next 10 days but he’s probably done as a Minnesota Twin.
Terry Ryan is trying to trade him because it wasn’t working out here. Sometimes players and teams don’t match-up well. He was great last year in Washington but when he was traded to Arizona, he didn’t pitch well and ended up breaking his leg on a comebacker to the mound.
Jason Marquis did win a World Series in 2006 with the St. Louis Cardinals and he got to watch Albert Pujols from a pretty good seat for 3 seasons! Ironically, 2006 might’ve been his worst season statistically! He was 14-16 (W-L) which was the most losses among National League starting pitchers. He also had the most earned runs in the National League with 130 and gave up the most Home Runs in the National League with 35 and for all that, he got a World Series Championship ring and will be able to celebrate that again and again with the people of St. Louis. Jason Marquis was an All-Star in 2009 for the Colorado Rockies and he even won a Silver Slugger award in 2005 when he hit .310/.326/.786 (AVG/OBP/OPS) with 1 home run and 10 RBIs in 91 plate appearances.
Good luck to Jason Marquis!
One out, one coming up!
With failure comes a chance for someone else to step up and this time it’s Minnesota’s own and former University of Minnesota Golden Gopher Cole DeVries. Cole is a 27-year old right-hander who’s been pitching well in triple-A Rochester. He only has a record of 1-4 in 8 starts but he has a 4.24 ERA, a WHIP of 1.157 and he’s given up 47 hits, 22 earned runs and 6 home runs with 37 strikeouts and only 7 walks in 46.2 innings pitched.
Is that a Plouffe? PLOOF!
Trevor Plouffe has not had a great season by any stretch of the imagination. It’d be a stretch to call it not bad. Even with the recent streak of success, he’s still hitting only .152/.272/.601 (AVG/OBP/OPS) but he’s hit 3 home runs in his last 5 games including a game-winner in Milwaukee on Saturday. Oooh, 3 home runs in 5 games, right? Well, in those 5 games he’s 4-for-19 for a whopping .211 batting average with zero walks and 7 strikeouts. Home runs are nice but he’s going to have to do more to keep getting at-bats. His defense is still iffy no matter where they put him.
I’m not sure how long the Twins can stick with Mr. Plouffe. He needs to be playing every day and they aren’t doing that. If he isn’t playing every day, then he should be sent down but he’s out of options so he would have to clear waivers to be sent to triple-A. The Twins probably don’t want to risk losing him and right now it’s either him or Ben Revere in the outfield, him or Ryan Doumit as the DH or him or Jamey Carroll at third base. He doesn’t have enough defense to play a utility role.
We could go from PLOOF, there goes the ball over the fence to PLOOF, there goes Trevor off the team.
Pitch AND Catch! Drew Butera Pitching?
Well maybe it should be Catch and Pitch! Minnesota Twins backup catcher Drew Butera made his debut as a pitcher in Sunday’s game against the Milwaukee Brewers. With the Twins losing 16 to 2 in the bottom of the 8th, manager Ron Gardenhire decided to give Drew Butera a shot at pitching!*
Drew Butera has never pitched before or at least that I could find so it was a little strange seeing him take the mound on Sunday. Obviously, catchers usually have pretty good arms so its not crazy to see a catcher pitch. Michael Cuddyer pitched in high school and supposedly pitched a perfect game striking out all 27 batters!
Drew got the first hitter out on one pitch! He struck out former teammate Carlos Gomez for the 2nd out! When he got his first career strikeout, they took the ball out of the game, Drew threw it to the dugout and it bounced off the infield and into the crowd so they had to retrieve it and trade a different baseball for Drew’s strikeout ball! He then walked the third hitter and broke the bat of T-Plush on a inside pitch that was grounded to the 2nd baseman! I bet that was fun! It was fun to watch!
Former Minnesota Twins outfielder Lew Ford is back in baseball! Lew was signed by the Baltimore Orioles and sent to the triple-A Norfolk Tides of the International League. Since becoming a free agent after the 2007 season, Lew has played for 6 teams in 5 years! He played in Japan, spent some time with the Cincinnati Reds triple-A club, spent a season in Mexico and a season plus in Long Island playing in the Atlantic League for the Long Island Ducks before getting signed by Baltimore on May 18th.
Say what you want about Lew Ford but he’s now 35-years old and he’s still working on getting back to the Majors and I think that’s awesome! He’s definitely racking up the travel miles! The Minnesota Twins have a 4-game series against the Baltimore Orioles from July 16th though July 19th. What are the chances we might see a Lew Ford appearance at Target Field? LEWWW! That would be pretty cool for Lew and the fans he made when he was here.
Those are my TwinsTakes! What are your TwinsTakes? Will the Twins keep winning? Is the starting pitching going to be a problem all season? Can the young arms keep pitching as well as they have been? How much more time will the Twins give Plouffe? Should Drew Butera pitch again?
Danny Valencia was the victim of change due to losing games! or was he? It’s hard to call Danny a victim when he has a .190 batting average (AVG), a .204 on-base percentage (OBP) and a slugging percentage of .290 (SLG), even if Drew Butera thinks those numbers are pretty good.* Those are numbers that are screaming THIS ISN’T WORKING so the Minnesota Twins optioned Danny Valencia down to Triple-A Rochester on Thursday, May 10th. He needs to go down there, get to work and get some confidence back into his game.
*Haha, sorry Drew! My first thought was to go with Junior Ortiz for that, then Tim Laudner but I decided to go with a current Twin so everyone would know who it was. How ’bout Brendan Harris or Matt Tolbert or maybe Alexi Casilla so I can match up the ValenSeeYa with the CaSeeYa? ValenSeeYa is supposed to be a good thing like when Danny hits a home run or gets a clutch hit not when he’s sent down to the minors!
Danny has gone through some struggles on his way to the Major Leagues but I doubt he’s gone through anything like this where he’s struggled for so long. He had a tremendous 2010 season for the Minnesota Twins to the point where it’s hard to find an area he didn’t do well in, at least with the bat. He only had half a season in the majors but he seemed to adapt to the major leagues quickly. Did his success make him relax in the off-seasons or was it teams learning how to pitch him?
In 2011, Danny Valencia was hitting basically the same way he was in 2010 but getting different results and less hits. He started to struggle against right-handed pitchers. That will tend to happen after teams get some film on young players. That’s probably not close to the whole reason Danny struggled in 2011. I’m far from an expert in analyzing swings. I’ll leave that to the scouting types.*
*I do find it fascinating how a batter’s swing can be divided into so many parts and then adjusted or fixed to speed up or slow down a swing for various situations. Think of what that takes to do and do it in a timely manner to fix your swing from day to day or even week to week. The discipline to first admit there’s something wrong, even if you can see it on video, then know what to do (or try) to fix it and, most of all, to change a part of your swing and get to the point where it becomes natural to you again. I’m not sure most fans realize how much this happens. Another thing that’s amazing is that these players obviously had success before they changed a part of their swing so it was working and it just shows that baseball is a game with adjustments going on all the time and that’s why I love the game!
So Danny’s hitting struggles go back to 2011 and have not really ended and have actually gotten worse. At least in 2011 he was still getting some walks where as in 2012, he has 2 walks and 23 strikeouts in 27 games and 100 at-bats. That tells me that he’s trying to swing his way out of his slump which usually means swinging at more bad pitches. The opposing teams and pitchers know he’s struggling so they’ll try to take advantage of that by not giving him much to hit and seeing if he’ll bite on the breaking balls and off-speed stuff and throwing more outside pitches as well.
The trouble with being in a slump is most players try to swing their way out of it, swinging at more pitches and at more pitches out of the strike zone but contacting on less of those pitches. Look at Danny’s plate discipline stats and it’s easy to see what I’m talking about. His swing percentage on pitches out of the strike zone has gone from 24.9 % in 2010 to 30.9% in 2011 and a whopping 40.1% so far this season while his swing percentage on pitches in the strike zone has gone down (60.3 to 57.8 to 50.5.) Not surprisingly, his contact percentage has gone down as well (82.9 to 79.8 to 74.6.) He’s getting down in the count early which is getting him into pitcher’s counts and he’s swinging at the junk they are throwing out of the zone which, of course, is harder to hit. Danny is 0-for-May and he’s struggling big time. The Minnesota Twins could’ve tried sitting him down for a couple games but they obviously didn’t want to go in that direction. Hopefully Danny is able to correct this in the minors because we’ve seen that he’s capable of being a pretty good hitter.
Defensively, Danny has kind of been on the questionable side so when he performed so well in his initial call-up, it took most people by surprise. His defense went from above average to really bad. Was it playing more games and the small sample size fooling us? Ron Gardenhire started to show frustration with Danny’s approach at the hot corner and hinted that the team’s future at 3rd base might be in question. Danny worked on his defense in the off-season and has looked a lot better but he still has his deficiencies.
The bad thing about sending Danny Valencia to the minors is the Minnesota Twins don’t really have another 3rd baseman on the roster. They have some guys they can put over there, like Jamey Carroll, Trevor Plouffe, or Alexi Casilla, but they have never really played 3rd base full-time. This should allow the Twins to get Trevor Plouffe more playing time to see if he is worth keeping or if they eventually have to make a move with him as well.* This points to the problems of the Twins depth in the minors at 3rd base and infielders as a whole.
*Plouffe is hitting a whopping .145/.280/.585 although in the last two games he is 2-9 with 2 home runs, 3 RBIs and 4 strikeouts so we may have witnessed a slump…BUSTED! Trevor is out of options so he would have to clear waivers to be sent to triple-A. I would prefer they keep Plouffe in the outfield as he’s shown that he might not have the skills to play infield in the Majors. He seems to be on a Michael Cuddyer path where the Twins are trying to find a place for him and it might end up being right field because his glove isn’t good enough in the infield. He could probably fill in at 1st base here and there but that’s about it.
The bottom line is if players aren’t performing and they still have options left to be sent down to the minors, at some point they need to play better or someone else needs to be given a chance in The Show! That’s what has to happen when you have a losing team.
Other Minnesota Twinsactions
5/7 – 1B Justin Morneau placed on 15-Day disabled list (retroactive to May 1, 2012) with sore right wrist
5/7 – SS Brian Dozier recalled from AAA Rochester Red Wings
5/7 – RHP Liam Hendricks optioned to AAA Rochester Red Wings
5/7 – LHP Scott Diamond recalled from AAA Rochester Red Wings
5/9 – signed free agent DH Shawn Roof
5/10 – LHP Matt Maloney designated for assignment
5/10 – RHP P.J. Walters recalled from AAA Rochester Red Wings
5/10 – 3B Danny Valencia optioned to AAA Rochester Red Wings
5/10 – LF Darin Mastroianni recalled from AAA Rochester Red Wings
SS Brian Dozier is the big name on this list. He’s moved through the organization quickly and made a bid to make the team out of spring training. Don’t expect him to be the savior or anything like that but it’s always exciting to see how a prospect does in his debut. It’s fun to see the firsts of a player’s major league career (hit, rbi, home run, etc…). He should be pretty good defensively and alright with the bat.
LHP Scott Diamond was up with the Twins at the end of last season for 7 starts (a spot start in July and a regular rotation spot in late August) going 1-5 (W-L). He got his 1st Major League win in a 7-6 win in Chicago against the White Sox. He ended up with a 5.08 ERA & 1.744 WHIP (Walks + Hits per Innings Pitched) with 17 walks and 19 strikeouts in 39 innings. Not great but he got a taste of what it’s like in The Show and had a couple good starts.
He’s been great so far this season no matter where he’s pitched. In triple-A Rochester, he was 4-1 with a 2.60 ERA, 1.212 WHIP with only 7 walks and 26 strikeouts in 34.2 innings. He’s been spectacular with the Twins. In his 2 starts, he’s 2-0, has yet to give up a run (0.00 ERA), has a WHIP of 0.714 and has only 1 walk and 10 strikeouts in 14 innings. Can he keep this going?
RHP P.J. Walters was signed as a free agent in December. He was part of the Colby Rasmus trade from St. Louis to Toronto for Edwin Jackson. He’s been up and down between AAA and the majors since 2009 getting some starts and some time in the bullpen.
LF Darin Mastroianni was claimed off waivers from Toronto in the off-season. He’s got a lot of speed, good plate discipline, a decent bat although very little power and he’s good defensively in the outfield. He can play 2B as well although I doubt he’d be put there much for Twins but nice to have that option if you need it.
Alright, those are my TwinsTakes. What are your TwinsTakes? Are the Minnesota Twins doing the right things with their roster? When will we see Danny Valencia back up with the Twins?
Did the offense give the pitching a break for a week?
No Hits in L.A. Well, there’s nothing like having a pitcher throw a no-hitter against you to get the focus off the pitching, huh? On Wednesday, the 2nd of May, Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher, Jered Weaver, pitched a no-hitter against our Minnesota Twins. That also made it two games in a row the Twins were kept off the scoreboard having been shut out the previous game by Jerome Williams. They ended up scoring only 3 runs in the 3-game series after scoring 13 runs in 2 games at home against the Kansas City Royals.
A no-hitter is a tremendous accomplishment for any pitcher and the team around him! There are other players on the field though. Pretty much every no-hitter has a few great defensive plays that keep it a no-hitter, even if those plays aren’t really remembered much, if at all. The pitcher is remembered for the no-hitter so it seems like the pitcher was solely responsible for the whole game.* Every ball hit the web of the glove that was put in play unless, of course, there was an error. The pitcher knows this and I would imagine they all do something to make it known how thankful he is for all the plays his defense made for him.
*Maybe it should also be known as an all-webber? or a Web-fest? I’ll come up with something! Ooh, how ’bout All-Leather Performance? No?
Most fans seemed to react as if this was rock bottom for the Minnesota Twins. They have the worst record in baseball, were shut out by a 5th starter and now they’ve been no-hit by a pitcher who is the ace of the Angels staff. I obviously don’t want it to get worse for the Twins but I’m not sure that’s rock bottom! How different would people have reacted if they got one hit? Would that have changed their reaction?
In the end, it is just one game and they have to be ready to play the next game. The Twins had a day off so they had time to think about, hopefully work on and go over the struggles they are going through. They need to forget about not getting a hit and just go play baseball in Seattle.
Worst team in baseball? Have the Twins been as bad as their record shows? Maybe, but they have played some decent baseball at times. The offense has been performing alright but the pitching has been horrible. They aren’t getting the big hit when they need it, especially with the bases loaded, where they are hitting .200 (5-25) with 1 double, 14 runs batted in (RBIs), 1 walk and 6 strikeouts. Usually when they have gotten a big hit, the pitching has given up the lead and the game more often than not.
They’ve been in games with chances to win. 11 of their 25 games have been one run games and they are 5-6 in those games. Only 2 of their games have been 2-run games and they lost both of those in Baltimore, 4-2 & 3-1. In 1-run games, they have been outscored 60 to 59. In the other 14 games, they’ve been outscored 76 to 31! It’s no wonder pitching was my take in week 2 and week 3. OUCH!
Have the Twins been as bad as they were last season when they were committing errors on defense and just playing bad baseball? I don’t think so or at least I think it’s too early to say with just 25 games played. A lot can happen in 137 games! It will be interesting either way, good or bad.
25 Scoreless Innings? Who Cares? The Twins broke their scoreless innings streak last night when they scored in the 7th inning last night in Seattle. A lot of people made a big deal of that since they were shut out two straight games. Sometimes fans make too big a deal of those things. After shutting out the Twins for two straight games, the Angels have been shut out twice at home by the Toronto Blue Jays and have been shut out a whopping 6 times in 27 games and they have Albert Pujols on their team!*
*How often does a team with Albert Pujols get shut out 6 times in a season? It can’t be many, right? WRONG! Since 2001, Pujols 1st season, the St. Louis Cardinals were shut out 89 times! Only 3 of those seasons did they get shutout less than 6 times.
Sometimes stats don’t mean anything and they almost always don’t mean anything to the players playing the game. Do you think any of the players knew their scoreless innings streak was at 25 innings in the 7th inning last night? At most, they knew they hadn’t scored in two straight games but don’t care about the one inning they didn’t score in the 1st game of the Angels series and the 6 innings to start the 1st game in Seattle.
Jared Burton How many of you know that Jared Burton has gone 8.1 innings without giving up a hit? That’s right! He gave up 2 runs (both home runs) in his Twins debut on April 7th and 1 run in his appearance on April 12th but since then he hasn’t even given up a hit. In those 8.1 innings, he’s struck out 8 and walked 2 with 11 groundball outs and 5 fly ball outs. He’s been pitching great and is or should be the right-handed setup guy. I hope I didn’t just jinx him but if I did, I’ll take credit for it! Hey, any publicity is good publicity, people! Tell EVERYBODY! Haha!
Is the Fire Gardy Bandwagon Fueling Up? With the Twins record at 7-18, a lot of fans have taken to the Fire Gardy bandwagon! A lot of fans have been on that bandwagon for a long time and have never been fans of Ron Gardenhire.
I don’t really know what Gardy is supposed to do with this team. He lost one of his best pitchers in Scott Baker before the season began and Francisco Liriano, his supposed best pitcher, apparently forgot how to pitch. The rest of the staff is either young or old! How much should we really expect from Liam Hendriks, Carl Pavano and Jason Marquis? So the two guys he was depending on are nowhere to be seen or shouldn’t be seen.
It is almost impossible to win without good pitching. You can have the greatest offense in the world but if you can’t keep the other team from scoring, you’re probably not going to be winning a lot of games. The Texas Rangers finally figured that out and look where they are now.
Gardy won’t be in Seattle as he went back to Minnesota for his daughter’s graduation. Or is it Garduation?
Maybe the Twins needed more than three extra days in Spring Training? Gardy?
Twinsactions of the Week – Ups & Downs 4/28 – OF Ben Revere optioned to AAA Rochester Red Wings 4/28 – LF Josh Willingham activated from Paternity leave 5/1 – C Drew Butera recalled from AAA Rochester Red Wings 5/1 – 3B Sean Burroughs designated for assignment 5/4 – RF Erik Komatsu claimed off waivers from St. Louis Cardinals 5/4 – RF Clete Thomas designated for assignment 5/4 – 3B Sean Burroughs outrighted to AAA Rochester Red Wings
Sean Burroughs accepted his assignment to Rochester so we’ll see how he does there. That could be good for the Twins.
Erik Komatsu might be a better option for the Twins than Clete Thomas. Komatsu looks to have a better feel for the strike zone with a .389 career minor league on base percentage (OBP)
Clete Thomas had a minor league OBP of .348 and as you saw, he struck out a tad – in his last 7 games, he was 1-18 with 14 strikeouts and no walks
Those are my TwinsTakes! What are your TwinsTakes? Will the Twins get better as the season goes on? Will it be a repeat of last season?