Posted on: March 9, 2010 11:22 am
Edited on: March 9, 2010 11:23 am

Joe Nathan out for the Year??

Joe Nathan to get second opinion?

By Christopher Torola
Twins fans have been eagerly awaiting big news out of spring training, with the speculation that the Twins' management and Joe Mauer are near to finishing what will most likely be a 10 year deal. I was hoping for that to be my first BLOG on the 2010 season; instead, we get the news that Joe Nathan, Twins' All-Star closer, has headed back to MPLS. Nathan is considering getting a second opinion from Dr. James Andrews, who did some unrelated work on Joe's elbow during the off-season. All signs point towards Tommy Johns surgery for the hurler.

It would be a bad way to start the season, as there is no sure fire back up to move into the closer role. The Twins bull pen has been a bit of a trouble area the last few years, with the exception of Nathan.
Category: MLB
Posted on: November 23, 2009 6:19 pm
Edited on: November 23, 2009 6:27 pm

WONDER BOY - Joe Mauer

Wonder Boy Joe Mauer Wins MVP

By: Christopher Torola


Minnesota Kid Makes Good On Promise! 26 year old Joe Mauer was named the American League Most Valuable Player today, prompting me to take a brief look at his career to date, as well as a peak into the future.

In the 2001 MLB player draft the Twins used the number 1 overall pick to draft Joe Mauer right out of high school. This was considered by many at the time as an attempt to save money. Mark Prior was tagged as the consensus best player in the draft. Although Joe was a local kid, hailing from St. Paul Minnesota, criticizers of the pick claimed that the Twins drafted Mauer because the team wouldn't spend the money to sign Prior. Some went on to say that they had no intention of signing Mauer, who also had signed a letter of intent to play Quarterback for Florida State University. 

Obviously the Twins were able to sign Joe, and he sky rocketed through the Twins minor league organization and being names Minor League Player of the Year in 2003.

After the 2003 season the Twins traded All-Star catcher A.J. Pierzynski to the Giants to make way for Joe. A.J., then just 26 years old, was coming off a .312 batting average season. In his first season with the big club, 2004, he played in only 35 games due to a knee injury. Notably he hit 6 home runs that year in just 107 at bats. In spite of the injury, the Twins had seen enough and signed Joe to a multi-million dollar deal on the off season. In 2005 Joe played in 131 games in which he batted .294. The power that look so promising before his injury did not seem to be there, but Joe had an eye for the ball and was able to do plenty of damage with the base hit.

In 2006 Joe had his coming out party. He was selected to his first All-Star game, won his first Silver Slugger Award, and was the first American League catcher to win a batting title... ending the year with a .347 batting average. The Twins rewarded Mauer with another off-season contract. Re-working his deal with the Twins for a reported $33 million through the 2010 season.

2007 was a bit of a down year for Joe comparatively. He has a stress reaction in his leg that caused him to miss some games. It also, caused the Twins to rest Joe on a regular basis. As a result Joe only played in 109 games. He hit for .293 batting average, his lowest average as a major leaguer.

In 2008 Joe played in 146 games, was a starter in the All-Star game for the first time, won his 2nd batting title, his 2nd Silver Slugger and his 1st Gold Glove. This was a Joe's best year for personal accomplishments; however, the team missed the post season by losing a 1 game play in game to the White Sox.

The start to Joe's 2009 season was not a good one. He had off-season kidney surgery that bothered his back as the start of the season was nearing. Mauer ended up missing almost a month of the regular season. With his first swing of the bat this year, Joe sent went into the bleachers. He was on fire his first months back. He was named MLB's player of the month in May. Mauer went on to hit for career highs in home runs - 28, hits - 191, RBI's - 96, and batting average .365. All that in an injury shortened season. 

Joe Mauer and the Twins garnered a lot of national attention towards the end of the regular season, as all the play off spots except the AL Central were already decided. The Twins made an amazing come back to force its second 1 game play in game in as many years.  Although, they were swept by the eventually World Series winning Yankees in the first round, Joe had one of the top years ever by a catcher. As a result he won his 1st MVP trophy today. This to go along with his 3rd All-Star game, 3rd batting title, 3rd Silver Slugger, and 2nd Gold Glove.

With Joe coming up on the last year of his contract, it would be great to see the Twins extend him this off- season. They are opening a new stadium next season, and after letting go of the likes of Johan Santana and Torii Hunter over the last few years, it would be a travesty for Joe to end up playing for another team, especially after the Minnesota fans and tax-payers were promised a bigger budget to go along with a new ball park. Local insiders have been heard saying that the two side are likely to reach a deal this winter. The Twins seem willing to pay the salary, they just may have to offer a few more years onto the end of the contract.


Posted on: October 7, 2009 12:44 am
Category: MLB
Posted on: October 5, 2009 12:16 am


Game #163

By: Christopher Torola

With both the Twins and the Tigers winning their final games, the American League Central Division will be decided with a one game playoff for the second consecutive year. Last year, despite the Twins having beat the White Sox in the season series, the game location was decided by a coin flip. The Twins went on to lose the game 1-0 in Chicago. Many around baseball felt that it was unfair that the Twins didn't get a home field advantage, so the rule was changed. The sentiment around the Twin Cities at the time seemed to be that the rule change came too late to do us any good... Oh what a difference a year makes.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago when the Twins had been losing ground to Detroit in the division race, they had lost perennial MVP candidate Justin Mourneau, the football season had started, and the fan base, myself included, had all but given up on the team. Instead of getting down on themselves, the Twins never gave up. They fought their way back into contention, and after all 162 games have been played, they have earned the right to play at least one more.

Since the Twins have won the season series with the Tigers this year, winning 11 of 18, including going 7-2 on their home field, the game will be held at the Metrodome. The Tigers, having used their Ace Justin Verlander today, will be placing the hopes of their entire season on the shoulders or rookie pitcher Rick Porcello. The Twins will be starting their staff Ace, Scott Baker. In a game that is already a game 7, winner take all, game 163 is set, and I wouldn't have it any other way.



Posted on: September 29, 2009 4:53 pm
Edited on: September 30, 2009 5:08 pm

Somehow Someway..

How is it possible... Twins 1 game back and still have 3 more at Detroit?

By: Christopher Torola

It is now the end of the year and the team holds their playoff destiny in their own hands. This has been a resilient team and is playing well, winning 8 of the last 10 games in spite of being without Justin Morneau. There are now just 6 games left to play, 3 at Detriot and 3 at home against the Royals.

Right now the only games that matter are the next 3 against the Tigers. If the Twins win two of them, they will be tied with 3 games to play. If they lose two of them they will be 2 games back with 3 games to play. If they lose all 3 they are not eliminated, but would need to win all 3 remaining games and have Detroit lose their remaining games just to force a one game playoff. Finally, if they manage to sweep the Tigers on the road, they will be 2 games up with only 3 to go.

In my humble opinion the Twins need to win 5 of the last 6 games, and tonight's may be the hardest to get. It will be Twins rookie Brain Duensing, who is 4-0 over his last six starts, facing Tigers' Ace, Justin Verlander. The Twins have beat Verlander twice during the last two months, including once at Detroit. Joe Mauer has decided to catch the 2nd game of the double header allowing the Twins to keep his bat in the line up without using the DH spot. This is good because it means the Twinks will get to have Jason Kubel's left handed bat in the line up over that of righties Mike Redmond or Jose Morales

The Twins and their never-give-up attitude will continue to be on display after winning the opening game of the double header in extra innings. Look for the boys from Minnesota to slip past the Tigers to represent the American League Central in the post season.


Posted on: September 1, 2009 5:45 pm
Edited on: September 1, 2009 5:46 pm

Needed Harden for a better shot at Hardware

The Twins needed to get a deal done for Harden

By: Christopher Torola

The Twins took a stab at trying to bring over Rich Harden from the Chicago Cubs, but the two sides were unable to reach an agreement. Rumor has it that the Cubs wanted the Twins best two minor league prospects, Aaron Hicks and Ben Revere, both outfielders. Obviously I have no idea what went on during negotiations but I do know two things. The first, the Cubs need outfielders for the next few years. None of Milton Bradley, Alfonso Soriano, or Koske Fukudome have too much left in the tank. The second being, the Twins are stacked with outfielders. Between Carlos Gomez, Denard Span, Jason Kubel, Michael Cuddyer, and Delmon Young... along with Revere and Hicks, you would think that a deal should have been obtainable. 

If Harden would have been added to the Twins rotation they would have had decent 4 man roster for the playoffs, not to mention the extra push that may be needed to catch up to the Tigers. Scott Baker, Rich Harden, Carl Pavano, and Nick Blackburn could match up pretty well with most teams, as long as the Twins bats kept putting up big numbers.

I still see the Twins winning the American League Central, but I doubt that Brian Duensing or Jeff Manship would strike much fear into the hearts of opposing  hitters should the Twins make the post season.

Posted on: August 24, 2009 6:29 pm
Edited on: August 24, 2009 11:42 pm

Keeping the Faith

Keeping the faith.

By: Christopher Torola

The Twins are only 4 1/2 games out and have plenty of games left to play. That being said, you will have to excuse my morose attitude towards the team last week. 5 straight losing series is a tough pill to swallow. Luckily, all it took was a road split against a good Rangers team, and a road sweep against a bad Royals team to turn my attitude right back around.

Head into this week the Twins start a 9 game home stand that includes games against the Orioles, Rangers, and White Sox. All are winnable games if the Twins' pitching can find a way to stop giving up so many runs. Since the teams last break, they gave allowed almost 6 runs a game (5.9). To put that into prospective, MLB's worst team, The Washing Nationals, has given up 5.1 runs a game in the same amount of games. That is almost a run a games less then the Twins pitching staff.

I do believe that both the bull pen and the rotation are just going through a slump. They won't become world beaters this season by any means, but they are not as bad as the have been playing in the last few weeks. And while the pitching has been struggling, the BATS of the Twins have continued to mash. Joe Mauer is on his way to hitting over 30 home runs and 100 RBIs while maintaining a batting average around .375. If anyone else were to win the MVP it would be a travesty. Delmon Young has even hit 5 home runs in the last 3 weeks.

So here is to keeping the faith that the Twins hot hitting can continue to carry the team while the bull pen and rotation can attempt to right the ship.


Category: MLB
Posted on: August 14, 2009 6:47 pm

The End Is Near...

Can we now close the book on the 2009 season?

By: Christopher Torola

Having just lost 2 out of 3 games to a bad Royals team the Twins are now 4 games out of .500, and 5 games behind the AL Central leading Tigers. I know there are almost 50 games before the end of the season, and the Twins have made tougher comebacks to win the division in recent years... but it just doesn't feel the same. The pitching has been getting destroyed. I seems almost weekly a starter won't make it through the first 3 innings. They are going through what should be an easy part of the schedule, and they haven't won a series since sweeping the White Sox 2 weeks ago (for only there 3rd series win in the last month).

I will admit that the division is week. The A.L. Central is up for grabs, as no team has taken the opportunity to run away with it. I am usually ever optimistic when it comes to my Twins, but unless the team's attitude drastically changes, I can't see this being their year, and even if they do make the play-offs.... Things could get ugly playing a team like the Angels or the Yankees.

Here is hoping for a BIG final push... Go Twins!

Category: MLB
Tags: T Unit, Torola, Twins
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com