maketh hay whilst the sun doth shineth

In other words, hey, those Twins have won six in a row.

Nice.

Just when you count them out, wait, don’t count them out yet. Hey, Falvey! Levine! Don’t count these guys out yet!

A few days back, the brain trust put their thinking caps on and thought, “hey, you know? Maybe we can win something here.” They bolstered their starting pitching with Jaime Garcia from the Braves, and then the Twins promptly lost about five in a row.

And the brain trust suddenly thought, “hey, you know? We’re not going to win anything here,” and, after making one start as a Twin, Garcia was dealt away “to a contender” (the Yankees.) And then closer Brandon Kintzler (2.78, 28 saves) was gone too, to the Nationals. Whereupon, soon after, the boys put together this here little win streak, which finds them within striking distance of winning something again.

Which makes me wonder if Garcia might be available again?

And which just shows that you never know in baseball.

After they traded Garcia away (for a couple of prospects, not so bad) I think it was Molitor who said, no worries, we got this far with what we got, we can go with the horses we have. I paraphrase. But, good point, Molly. We’re not so bad. Not so bad at all.

We just might win something here anyway.

Tonight, Twins 9, Tigers 4.

Obviously, a lot of nice hitting by the Twins. Kepler, Rosario, and Mauer each get three hits, Dozier gets a couple, one of them being a beautiful triple down the right field line. Rosario and Kepler homer. Mr. Kepler has a very nice swing.

Mr. Buxton made a very nice catch in center. And the Twins keep rolling.

Three and a half games out of first.

 

Still no word on which Chicago team Carl Sandburg rooted for.

A long belated and apologetic return to 28 April 1904: Rain Out

Rain Rain Rain

“Speed of Watkins’ Men Elicits Favorable Comments”

Well, the rain continues in April of 1904, and yesterday’s scheduled game was a washout. Our scribe had thought that the millers would take two games in Columbus, but instead they drop one and are rained out of their other three opportunities. The club boarded the train last night for Louisville, where they will play a four-game series against the colonels. It looks like the colonels dropped yesterday’s game against Kansas City. (Oddly, the game was played in Louisville, but KC batted on the bottom of the card. So, really, they were the home club, it seems. Perhaps we’ll find out more about this later. Does KC not have a park? Are they like the fabled Rupert Mundy’s, wandering in the wilderness?)

The speed of Watkins’ men continues to astound all who witness their ambulatory talents. Apparently they excel at the bunt game — “…the slightest bobble by a senator on an infield hit meant that the runner would reach first.” I imagine other teams must be quite nervous about these millers and their short-ball style of play. Veritable gazelles. The entire game played with the infield pulled in, guarding against the bunt. “The Minneapolis Shift.”

If this pennant chase comes down to a footrace, the boys quite have it all locked up.

This new catcher Weaver is apparently as tall as the team is fast. He stands well over six feet, a veritable towering Goliath of his day. This now means Watkins has four catchers on the club — Weaver, Leslie, Ludwig, and Roach, and our reporter hazards a guess that Ludwig and Roach are slated for Watkins’ bloody chopping block.

excerpt-tacoma-times-12-april-1909-wm-ludwig

Four backstops are probably too many, but I do hope he keeps Ludwig, who showed some pluck in spring training. Watkins famously said he was going to instruct him in “all the finer points of the game.” I’m sure Ludwig was kidded about that quite a bit. Did Ludwig turn out to be a poor student, or was Watkins just talking a good game? Well, we’ll probably never know.

Frankly, I would not be at all surprised if the club picked up another new catcher in Louisville in the next day or two. Watkins seems to have some sort of weird obsession with the position. It seems like there’s always someone better waiting in the wings. Tomorrow perhaps we’ll hear about catcher Slumhaggen, a seven-footer who can run like a jaguar and is a wand master of the highest degree. If I was catcher Weaver or catcher Leslie, I would not be feeling too comfortable.

Perhaps you’re wondering about the standings? Especially given the extended lay-off between our visits to 1904. Our last visit being, (embarrassingly) in November of 2015. 2015? Yes, 2015. My apologies.

Well, keep in mind that it’s early yet, and far, far too early to make any serious prognostications about future success. Especially given the amount of rain we’ve been having. But here’s the scoop:

04-28-04-standings-b

Tomorrow we’ll find out how we fared against those colonels in Louisville.

27 April, 1904: Too Much Malarky

27 April 04 - Millers can't hit malarky b

Yesterday there was rain all across the circuit, and our home-town scribe was bemoaning the Miller’s lost opportunity to pick up a win against the Columbus Senators. Well, perhaps the Senate caught wind of this. Perhaps they heard that they were considered an easy mark, a Win just waiting to be plucked. For, lo, the Senators downed the visitors 5-4, as Watty’s colts only muster 5 hits against the mighty Malarky.

John Malarky b

John Malarky was a pretty good pitcher – in ’03 he pitched for the Beaneaters in Boston, and was second on their staff in ERA, going 11-16, and finishing 25 of his 27 starts. The Boston club needed money, though, and sold Malarky to the Columbus club. Malarky was 32 years old in ’04, and never made it back to the majors again, (yes, the Beaneaters were “the majors” back then.)

Anyway, not a good game for the boys from Minneapolis. All the Millers runs came on throwing errors by the Senators, including 3 runs in the third on a wild toss from the outfield. But Malarky had the game well in hand, and Olyer and Lally were troubled by “slippery footing.”

The play of the game (from the Minneapolis perspective) was a double play, where Bowcock tried to steal home, was tagged out by Leslie, who then tossed to second in time to get Yeager. Heads up play by Mr. Leslie!  Good going!

None-the-less, our reporter says that Watkins is trying to acquire a catcher from Columbus, perhaps a fella name of Weaver. As I recall, (and it has been some time now) the Millers had two or three catchers in spring training, and it was the youngster, Ludwig, who surprised and looked to be the starter, and then suddenly Watty brings this guy Leslie onto the scene, and now… now.. Leslie is on the way out? Plus Leslie, whoever he is, he’s been hitting the ball some.

Or maybe our reporter doesn’t know what he’s talking about. A couple of days ago he said Demontreville was about to be cut, and now it’s Leslie, while Demontreville, meanwhile, started at second and scored a run, and “played a good game at the second cushion.”

I’ll bet Watkins has everybody on edge. He likes to wheel and deal.

And hey, there it is, right on page 2 of the day’s paper. I’d missed it, scurrying to page 18 to catch the score. “Minneapolis Secures Crack Backstop by Purchase from the Columbus Club.” Watkins sends a telegram to the Journal to announce the acquisition of “Catcher Weaver” (is that his name?) Weaver caught for St. Louis and Pittsburgh in the National league last summer. He played in 32 games and had… er….thirteen passed balls. Thirteen? Yes, that’s right. Thirteen passed balls. In 32 games. While hitting a solid .237. I wonder if the Journal was being sarcastic when they termed him a “crack backstop?” They say his bat will help the club, and that signing Weaver shows that Watkins — though confident that he has a winning club –  will apparently spare no effort in order to strengthen his club, even acquiring a “crack backstop” while at the same time Leslie has been doing well at catcher, and Ludwig has been a capable back up. But that’s not enough for Watkins, whose passion is, apparently, a strong fast ball club, replete with windpaddists. Well, whatever. I wonder who the starting catcher will be tomorrow?

Colabello…

Because I have been living under a rock for the last few months, and for December in particular, I totally absolutely missed the news about:

a. Chris Colabello, being claimed by Toronto off waivers (December 8th! Where was I?)

and

b. Colabello being outrighted to the Triple A Buffalo Bisons.(February11th! Where was I?)

And so, here I am, suddenly thinking to myself, “Hey, wha… where… where’s Colabello? What happened to Colabello?”

Crap.chris colabello - Worcester Tornados

Yes, this kind of brings me down, even though I probably should have been preparing for it, lo these many months. For the Twins have a first baseman name of Mauer, and once Joe picked up the first baseman’s glove, that probably indicated that all the other first baseman better start to pack their bags. (Goodbye, Justin Morneau. So long, Chris Colabello.)

Justin went to Pittsburgh, of course. (Who did we get for him? Oh, yes, Alex Presley, and, momentarily, Duke Welker. The Twins then waived Presley, and Houston picked him up, and it looks like he’s still with the Astros. The Twins quickly traded Welker back to Pittsburgh for Kris Johnson. Pittsburgh then released Welker, and then, later, the Twins released Johnson. Such are the wily machinations of the executive suite.) Meanwhile, of course,Pittsburgh let Morneau walk at the end of the season, and Colorado signed him, and I guess he had a pretty fine season up there in the mountains of Colorado.(.319, (leading the NL), 17hr, 82 rbi, and a .860 OPS.

(Trivia question: Who had the highest OPS on the Twins in 2014? Answer: young center fielder / shortstop Danny Santana: .824, followed by young DH Kennys Vargas (.772) and then young second baseman Bull Dozier (.762). Perhaps this bodes well for the future?)

So Mr. Colabello is gone, and I’m sorry to see him go. I liked the way he came up from the independent leagues to make the majors, and I like the fact that he turned down big money to play in Korea, because “Going to Korea would mean giving up the dream of being a big-leaguer.” How can you not root for a guy like that? Plus he broke Kirby Puckett’s record for most RBIs in the month of April (26), and he hit a home run for his mother on her birthday. With her sitting up in the stands. I really wanted Colabello to hit so well that they had to play him. But he didn’t, and they didn’t, and now he’s in Toronto. (Starting first baseman last year, Edward Encarnacion. 34 home runs there.)

Good luck, Chris Colabello. You’re a hero.

colabello c gs red  fr - mtpmcg714 sm - 5599

 

13 April 1904: Case Closed

Wednesday Evening

Charlie Case

Charlie Case

Remember Mr. Case?

Remember the plaudits tossed by Manager Watkins just two days ago?

“Case is doing fine twirling. He is in the best of conditions and is practicing a slow ball, which will probably be a winner. “

No wonder Watkins was so worried about Case yesterday. No wonder he told him to take it easy. He didn’t want him hurt before he could be shipped off to Duluth, nor did he want him to perform well, so that people would be upset by his departure. A tightrope act by Mr. Watkins, and a successful one at that.

Does Watkins have any feel for how the team might feel about this?

Probably not. They are just pawns in his game.

In any Case, Case is gone, Duluth bound, another Case of disappearing ballplayers. Ahh, well.

edvard the scream munch smIn other news, Munch apparently showed up on Monday evening, and he “showed fine form” while pitching the last three innings in a 3-2 victory. “He merely toyed with the varsity players, who were unable to solve his curves for a single hit.” He also varies his speed so as to confuse the batters, and “His slow ball is very deceptive.”

With the good news (The Incomparable Munch!) comes the bad, of course.

Demontreville has a sore arm, “caused by being hit with a water polo ball while refereeing a local contest.” This is not of a serious nature, apparently — I assume our scribe could not keep a straight face as he typed this tidbit up — and it won’t keep Demont from playing. No wonder pros today have that Water Polo Refereeing Prohibition in the standard contract. An arcane bit of legalese, probably many have puzzled over. Now we know why it’s there.

And what’s this? Ludwig’s arm is also now troubling him too! Slightly, they say. It’s nothing. Just a minor thing, really, and hardly worth mentioning. He will be in good shape again soon, they say. So; as soon as we get rid of our third catcher, our new first stringer has a “slightly” sore arm. Why do I think I see where this is headed?

Frosty Thomas

Frosty Thomas

But, again on the upside, Frosty Thomas has recovered from his neuralgia (what the heck is that?) and is ready for more slab duty. Bring it on, he says.

And, finally, the deal for Converse is complete and details are undisclosed, which seems a bit odd, but in any case, Converse heads up to Winnipeg “as soon as his transportation arrives.”
Horse?
Freight train?

spalding's 1904 Guide

And, a last bit of unrelated baseball news, the big leagues open their 1904 season tomorrow.

In the American league, the New York Highlanders are the odds-on favorites, though the Philadelphians and the Cleveland Naps are expected to challenge. For the Nationals, Pittsburg and New York are the favorites. The 1904 Highlanders are lead by outfielders Patsy Dougherty, John Anderson, and Willie Keeler, with Jack Chesboro on the mound. Cleveland features the Great Lajoie at second base, Elmer Flick in the outfield, Bill Bernhard and Addie Joss on the mound, while the Athletics will rely on Lave Cross at short, Socks Seybold and Topsy Hartsel in the outfield, and pitchers Rube Waddell, Eddie Plank, and Chief Bender – which is not a bad start for a rotation.

The Pirates, in the senior circuit, have the great Honus Wagner at short, Tommy Leach at third, Fred Clarke, Ginger Beaumont, and Jimmy Sebring in the outfield, with Sam Leever and Deacon Phillippe twirling. The Giants counter with Dan McGann at first, Bill Dahlen at short, Art Devlin at third, and Roger Bresnahan and Sam Mertes in the garden. Christy Mathewson, Joe “Iron Man” McGinnity, Dummy Taylor, and Hooks Wiltse are the slab artists, another fine assemblage for manager John McGraw. Sounds like a good season shaping up, for those who care about “major league” base ball.

11 April 1904 – the Axeman Cometh

Monday Evening

A Monday evening shocker in the Journal! A buzz goes around town. Watkins has released four players! Whack! And they’ve all found employment with other clubs!

Smell a rat?

The rat’s name is L. Van Praagh, (which is a good name for a rat,) owner of the Duluth White Sox in the Northern league, who happened to come-a-calling on Manager Watkins and then walked away with Frank Martin for his Manager, Captain, and second baseman. Van Praagh is obviously a man who’s careful with a buck, and believes on getting his money’s worth.

Also heading north – Roy (Not Yet In Playing Condition) Converse, who’ll be playing with the Winnipeg Maroons this year, and James (Not the Famous) O’Rourke, destined for the Superior Longshoremen. Good luck to you, boys. God speed.

The biggest surprise, though — and a huge huge glaring mistake, in my humble opinion — is that Joe Koukalik will be heading up with Martin to the Zenith City to play for the White Sox. Joe Koukalik! What is Watkins thinking?!? Has he taken leave of his senses? What’s happened?

Joe Koukalik - "a major error in judgement"

Joe Koukalik –  Johnny we hardly knew ye…

Joe!

Say it ain’t so, Joe!

Baseball is a hard business sometimes.

This means that Frank McNichol will be kept on as the utility player this season, and, in fact, almost all of the positions on the club are pretty much set. So much for competition, for the cream rising to the top, may the best man win. April 11th: it’s all settled.

But wait. Not quite.

William Ludwig - 1908

William Ludwig – 1908

There’re still three catchers on hand, and now, suddenly, it appears that Ludwig – Ludwig! – is going to be doing most of the catching this year! Watkins says: “By the time the season begins I will have taught him all the finer points of the game.” (A regular Svengali…) Our reporter sees that O’Leary is being worked out much more than Roach, and will probably be Ludwig’s back-up! This is another shocker! Ludwig, out of nowhere, suddenly the Miller’s Foremost Windpaddist! This has got to be a serious wake-up call for Mr. O’Leary, who perhaps has been reading the Minneapolis Journal and figured that he had a lock on the position, a sure thing, a starting role, a slot in the batting order. No. Time to shed a few extra pounds of beef, O’Leary! And whither goest Mr. Roach? A Northern league summer, perhaps?

In other news, as if there could be other news, the pitchers are all shaping up nicely. Mr. Munch finally arrives on Tuesday, and it turns out that Bailey isn’t in camp yet either, as he’s a student at a medical college in Columbus. (Inevitably, he will be called “Doc” Bailey.) Case gets special mention from Manager Watkins:

“Case is doing fine twirling. He is in the best of conditions and is practicing a slow ball, which will probably be a winner. “

Probably?

Katoll is also doing some fine twirling. His arm is fine, and he’s even been teaching some of the younger players a few tricks of the trade. Trying to get on Watkins good side, no doubt. Don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows, and the wind is blowing north, strong and steady, and carrying with it the Miller’s chaff.

The team did not go to Springfield on Saturday as the weather was bad. They must have had a practice, though, because our indefatigable journalist says that the surprise of the day was Katoll’s fine pitching. “His arm does not trouble him at all.”

Jack "My Arm Feels Fine" Katoll - 1901

Jack “My Arm Feels Fine” Katoll – 1901

It seems odd that on a day when four players are suddenly – without warning – shipped to the northern hinterlands, the Siberia of minor league baseball, our reporter thinks that Katoll’s fine pitching is the surprise of the day. But I suppose that’s how it is, when you are a journalist. The four players – Koukalooka and what were their names? – they are yesterday’s news. The big story here is Katoll: his arm is not hurting!

Or should I say, not hurting yet?

Nah, just kidding. His arm is fine. Really.

The Twins Head North.

While the spring record is… about… 8 and 16… last place… a .333 winning percentage…. we should keep in mind:

Those Games Don’t Count!

Spring is not about “winning” and “losing”. Spring is about limbering up, stretching out, experimentation, and finding the groove. Spring is about the warm sunshine and the fresh green grass and about playing one game at a time. Spring is all about fresh starts, and that’s exactly what we’ll have come opening day, when everyone is 0-0 and tied for first.

Worley2

Sad to report, the Vance Worley Era is over.

Vance Worley, sold for cash, probably not a lot of cash, to the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Has there ever been such a disappointment as Vance Worley?

Tommy Herr - 1989 Score DISAPPOINTMENT

Well, let’s see now, who comes to mind. Well, there’s Tommy Herr, of course. Came over from the Cardinals in exchange for Tom Brunansky. Whose idea was that? “The answer to our second base problem…” hit about .263 in about 86 games, with about 21 rbis. (meanwhile, Brunansky hit.243 for the Cardinals, in 143 games with 22 homers and 79 rbis. And then played for them in 1989 as well, while Herr was gone, traded to the Phillies with a couple other players for Shane Rawley and cash.

Also, the Herr move totally demoralized Steve Lombardozzi, who was our second sacker in ’87, but only hit .209 in ’88, in about 120 fewer at bats. Lombo went to Houston in ’89 and ’90, didn’t play much, and then was out of the majors.

All because of Tommy Herr.

(Okay, I’m kidding.)

I thought about adding Shane Rawley to this list, but we didn’t really expect anything from him. We just wanted him to be not Tommy Herr.

Scott Diamond, also comes to mind, but no.

David West copy - DIS

My vote would be for David West, who pitched for the Twins 1989-92, coming over in the Frank Viola trade with the Mets. There were high hopes for Mr. West, but in the end, after four years, he was 15-18 with a 5.33 ERA. He was not the raw talent that we were led to believe.

And thus, Vance Worley wins the David West award. Sorry Vance. Good luck in Pittsburgh, and I hope you find your arm there.

Scott Diamond, by the way, has cleared waivers, and has also decided to report to Twins triple A club. Alex Presley was also placed on waivers, and claimed by the Houston Astros. Perhaps he’s excited about that. Perhaps he’ll get to play there. Parmelee also has been sent down to Triple A. He’s running on fumes now, kind of disappointing, especially for him, I’m sure. He’s played some good ball down there on the farm, but he hasn’t been able to bring it up to the majors. I suspect that this will be his last chance to get sorted out, though some other team might see him as a “project.”

Kubel and Bartlett go north! What’s the opposite of a youth movement? Perhaps the steadying influence of vets will make a difference.

sudden sam deduno a

Deduno in relief? Well, okay. I’d have him starting, and I bet he will be starting before the end of the season. He had a nice relief outing down there in Florida on the 27th, striking out five in 2 innings of work. (Not too bad.)