It’s nice to open up the Sunday paper and find a Whole Page devoted to baseball news. Surely that’s a sign of spring. Here it comes! It must be right around the corner! Everybody ready?
Dougie Baseball Feels at Home
So Doug Mientkiewicz has returned to the Twins, bringing with him some nice memories of the days when he was a young slick-fielding first baseman with the upstart Twins of the late 90s, early 00s. Pierzynski, Guzman, Koski, Jones, Hunter, Ortiz, Santana, Milton, Mays, Radke, Lohse, Hawkins, and, of course, Eddie Guardado. That was a fun group to watch mature into a winning team over the course of a few years. They won the division in 2002, 2003, 2004, but could never get to the big show, losing to the Angels in the 2002 AL championship, 4 games to 1, and then losing to the Yankees in ’03 and ’04. (And then in ’09, and then again in ’10.) (Damn Yankees.)
Mientkiewicz came up in 1998, 24 years old. Young (22) David Ortiz played first base for the Twins most often in ’98, but I seem to recall that Ortiz got hurt in ’99, and Mientkiewicz took over at first. His best year was 2001, when he hit .306, with 15 home runs, 74 rbi, and an ops of .851. In 2003 he hit .300 again, with an .843 ops, less power and fewer rbis, and then in 2004 Morneau was ready and needed to play, and Doug was traded to Boston in a way complicated 4-team trade, where the Twins ended up getting a minor leaguer from the Cubs named Justin Jones, who never made it to the majors. Mientkiewicz was always known as a good glove at first base, and won the gold glove there in 2001.
Doug took a tour of MLB after his tenure with the Twins; he played one year each for the Red Sox, Mets, Royals, Yankees, Pirates, and the Dodgers.
Doug’s comments about former manager Tom Kelly were a bit puzzling. Seems like Doug says he learned some positive things from Kelly, but also has some uncomfortable memories: “I hear his voice and my swing goes to crap.”
Anyway, nice to have Doug back in the organization; he’ll be managing the Twins minor league club at Fort Meyers.
Twins 2, Pirates 1
Twins runs driven in by Willingham and Brandon Boggs (who I know nothing about). De Vries gives up a run in a rocky outing – 3 innings, 2 hits, 2 walks. De Vries has had a great spring, .90 era, and I think he’ll make the club. The article also says Deduno had an impressive outing against Team USA, but I’m not so sure – four innings, one run, five hits and a walk, but 7 strikeouts. The 7 strikeouts are impressive. The article on the game talks about the Twins impressive defense, “up the middle” with Florimon, Dozier, and Hicks. The Twins have always valued defense highly, perhaps over-valued it? Defense is great to have when you are scoring runs, but when you’re not, you’ll swap out the defense for some base runners.