the 2018 season: so long, it’s been fun…

I hope you don’t think that I’ve lost interest. Not. At. All.

It’s just that life is pretty full right now.

But I have to take a moment to wish Paul Molitor well. The Twins Brain Trust fired him today, which is the eventual fate of all managers, practically. From Manager of the Year and a brand new three-year contract in October 2017, to former Twins Manager in October 2018.

That’s the way baseball go.

There’s some talk about him staying with the team in some capacity. I’d be surprised if that would happen.

Molitor didn’t have much of a chance for success this year, when you consider the Twins season. Did Ervin Santana ever pitch? Sano and Buxton were largely MIA with assorted injuries. Shortstop Polanco: suspended for half a season. Their pitch-framing catcher: out most of the year. Their free agent off-season pickups were largely disappointing. This is not a recipe for success. This is a recipe for “So long, see you later, thanks for everything.” The Twins finished the season a lackluster 78-84, second place in the Hapless American League Central Division, behind the Spiders of Cleveland.

It was a annoying and dull season. The Front Office threw in the towel and became a retail operation in July, selling players for whatever the market would bear. Goodbye Mr. Dozier, thanks for everything. So long, Mr. Escobar. You were a pleasant surprise and we wish you well. Joe Mauer donned the tools of ignorance for one last at-bat, last game of the season, and everyone expects it to be his last. So long, Joe. Thanks for all the great baseball. Wish we could have taken you to the World Series. But that’s the way baseball go.

I am squarely on the fence regarding the Twins brain trust, Levine and Falvey Inc. Their moves so far have not inspired a great deal of confidence. But – to be fair – I’m willing to give them a few years for their efforts to come to fruition. I’m not about to show them their walking papers after one disappointing and injury-plagued season. Nope. I believe in giving a guy a fair chance to succeed.

And now they’ve got a chance to pick a manager. Here’s a Golden Opportunity to show me something.

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And It’s the Hawks! And the Tigers! And the Monkeys.

Once again, the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks have won the Japan World Series, in six games, over the Yokohama BayStars. This is the third time in the last four seasons that the Hawks have been the Champs.

They Hawks won the first three games of the series against the BayStars, but then dropped two, leading up to game 6. Down 3-1 in the 8th, the Hawks picked up a run on a groundout, and they tied the game up in the ninth on a homer by Uchikawa against closer Yamasaki. Then, in the 11th, a couple of walks set the stage for Kawashima’s two-out Sayonara Single, a drive through the right side of the infield that plated the series winner.

[10 Nov 17 – Well, it looks like the original video had been taken down. But I think this (below) is also the Sayonara Single.]

[11.15.17 – Well, now, that’s gone too. So much for marketing. The Sayonara Single will have to live on in legend. I can say that I saw it. A looping liner into right. Perfect. Sayonara.]

Meanwhile, over in the KBO, the KIA Tigers pounced on the Doosan Bears, winning the series 4 games to 1 on October 30th. The Bears took the first game of the series, 5-3, but then lost four straight. Poor Bears.

And finally, over in the China Professional Baseball League (Taiwan)…

…it looks like the last game was played on October 11th, with the Lamigo Monkeys beating 7-11 by the score of 9-7.

Are they the champions?

I think they are, judging by the game-ending celebration.

 

And I think this means that it’s safe to say that Hot Stove League has begun play.

How ’bout them Monkeys? Could they beat the Bears? Or the Astros? What is an “Astro,” anyway?

 

Franklin MN

Franklin MN ballpark b

Seems like every little town has got their baseball field. Something nostalgic about that. I don’t see many kids out there playing, though maybe it’s just in my neighborhood. This is Franklin Minnesota, farm country, south central Minnesota. Catfish Capital of Minnesota, or so they claim. They do not field a team known as the Franklin Catfish, however. I haven’t been able to find any hometown team mentioned, or a name for this little ballpark.

Ahh, well, it’s a nice looking little ballpark. Probably called Franklin Ballpark. Good enough.

10-10-64

Jim Bouton battles Curt Simmons in the Series.

bouton - first pitch game 3 - 1964 world series b

The game goes 1-1 through 8 innings, and then Mickey Mantle homers in the bottom of the 9th, and the Yankees win, 2-1.

Which just reminds me that, back in the old days, we’d be seeing an Angels-Nationals Series. Those were the clubs that came through the “pre-season” with the best records, the Angels, 98-64, the Nationals 96-66. Sure the playoffs have some exciting ball, how could you not love that? But a part of me that thinks the old way was better, you play the whole season to find out who’s the best in each league, and then the best two teams play for the championship. Case closed.

Well, we won’t see that again. It will probably go the other direction, another level of playoffs.

Anyway, good game, bulldog.

Twins updates…

Joe “no nickname yet” Mauer is moving to first base next year, rather than risk further injuries behind the plate. Joe’s 2013 season was shortened when he sustained a concussion from a foul tip off the catcher’s ffirstbasemask, and they figure that putting Mauer at first will keep him healthy and in the line up. Well, hard to argue with that. The downside of this is that while Mauer ranks very highly as an offensive force at catcher, he has lacked the home-run swing you traditionally like to see in a first baseman. However his OPS numbers are plenty respectable as a first baseman, and perhaps he’ll hit with more power since he won’t be banged-up from catching.

Mauer’s move to first makes it even more unlikely that the Twins will sign free agent first baseman Justin Morneau, who some might remember as having played first base a bit for the Twins in the past. At catcher the Twins have high hopes for young Josmil Pinto, who hit .342 with four home runs for the Twins in 21 games in 2013. There’s also Ryan Doumit — who also suffered a concussion that kept him from behind the plate at the end of last season.

I wonder if Doumit can play short?

While Morneau is now unlikely to return, (even more unlikely,) former Twins shortstop Jason Bartlett has returned, signing a minor league deal with the club. Bartlett is 34 now (how did jason bartlettthat happen?) and last played in the majors in 2012 with the San Diego club. He had a knee injury that limited his play in 2012, and he spent 2013 trying to heal up. As you recall, Bartlett was traded to Tampa Bay along with the pitcher Matt Garza for Delmon Young, who now happens to be back with the Rays. Garza is a free agent currently, and certainly the Twins could use him. Is it crazy to think that the Twins will sign Santana, Santana, and Garza? Yep. It is.

It would be nice to see Bartlett regain some of his old form. With Florimon’s limited offense, perhaps there might be a place for Bartlett, if he’s healthy and capable and regains some significant portion of his misspent youth.

Okay, seriously, Bartlett’s a long shot. And I like Florimon in the field. Bartlett has sentimental value, but he’s a long shot.

There was a great comment on the Twins Daily website about Bartlett’s signing:

“This is the kind of serious move I think we all have been waiting for.”

Well said, jctwins, well said. Funny, but I think not serious criticism.

 

Joe “The Tower of Power” Mauer? I’m sure somebody’s suggested that all ready. No good.