November 18, 2018

More unfamiliar names join Twins’ coaching staff

If you’re still trying to figure out who Rocco Baldelli is — former player, Twins manager — here’s a new group of names to ponder after the Twins on Friday rounded out the coaching staff with new hires for pitching, bullpen, first base and third base.

They will join existing coaches Derek Shelton (bench coach), James Rowson (hitting coach) and Rudy Hernandez (assistant hitting coach).

The new hires are Jeremy Hefner, assistant pitching coach; Tommy Watkins, first-base coach; Tony Diaz, third-base coach. But the most interesting hire is pitching coach, Wes Johnson, who has no previous professional coaching experience, according to MLB.com.

Johnson was the former pitching coach at the University of Arkansas, which played the Oregon State Beavers in the 2018 College World Series. (The Twins would later draft Beaver outfielder, Trevor Larnach, in the first round of the 2018 draft).

So why Johnson?

According to MLB.com:

He’s known as a forward-thinking, analytical coach who uses technology such as Trackman to help his pitchers find a consistent release point and unlock greater velocity.

According to the Strib:

Johnson in particular studies the mechanics of each pitch and pitcher — spin rates, release points and methods for adding mph to a fastball.

 

He developed a reputation in college for developing training methods designed specifically to help pitchers add velocity. Arkansas last year struck out 619 batters in 603⅓ innings and had a team ERA of 4.21, both ranking third in the SEC.

The other new coaches:

-Jeremy Hefner: Former advanced scout for the Twins. Pitched for the Mets in 2012-2013.

-Tommy Watkins: Former player and manager of Twins’ affiliates Double-A Chattanooga and Class A Advanced Fort Myers.

-Tony Diaz: Former first-base coach for the Colorado Rockies.

November 11, 2018

Say it ain’t so, Joe

Longtime Twins catcher and first baseman, Joe Mauer, who hinted at retirement before the season was over — and practically retired on the last game of the season — made it official Friday with a letter to fans that he is, in fact, going to retire. ESPN reports the letter is set to be published... Continue Reading »

November 8, 2018

We hardly knew ye, Kennys Vargas

At one time, Kennys Vargas, who stands 6-foot-5 and weighs 290 pounds, appeared to be the slugger of the future for the Twins. But with Joe Mauer established at first base and a variety of players to fill the designated hitter slot, including Miguel Sano, Vargas never really found a home with the Twins. Instead,... Continue Reading »

November 2, 2018

We hardly knew ye, Ervin Santana

Starting pitcher Ervin Santana is a free agent after the Twins took a pass on a $14 million club option for his services and bought out his contract for a fraction of that amount, according to MLB.com. There’s always a chance he could return to the Twins as a free agent, but that doesn’t seem... Continue Reading »

October 30, 2018

In fairness to the champs, let’s remember the Red Sox, Twins and the ‘impossible dream’

The 2018 Boston Red Sox are World Series champions after they knocked off the Los Angeles Dodgers in five games to win their fourth series since 2004. The Dodgers won Game 3, the longest World Series game in major league history, but did little else in the series. As the Red Sox marched through the... Continue Reading »

October 27, 2018

Let’s remember a time when the Twins crushed the Red Sox, Part 5

The Boston Red Sox have the lead in this year’s Fall Classic. If you’re tired of seeing the rich get richer, indulge me for a moment and let’s remember a time when a good Red Sox team had no answer for an up-and-coming Twins team. The year is 1990. The Twins won it all in... Continue Reading »

October 20, 2018

Let’s remember a time when the forerunner of the Twins crushed the Red Sox, Part 4

The Boston Red Sox are back in the World Series after knocking off the Houston Astros in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series. If the new Evil Empire has you down, read on. The year is 1917, and on the second-to-last day of the regular season, the Washington Senators, who would eventually become... Continue Reading »

October 18, 2018

Let’s remember a time when the Twins crushed the Red Sox, Part 3

The Boston Red Sox beat the Houston Astros again Wednesday night and now have a commanding 3-1 lead in the seven-game series. If you’re rooting against the Red Sox, keep reading. That’s because this is another installment of a time when the Red Sox had no answer for the Twins. It happened in 1977, it... Continue Reading »

October 13, 2018

Let’s remember a time when the Twins crushed the Red Sox, Part 2

The Boston Red Sox had no trouble with the New York Yankees and will now face the Houston Astros in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series later today. But before the coronation continues (Boston wins, right?), let’s remember a time when Beantown was flat on its back and had no answer for those... Continue Reading »

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Hi, I’m Rolf Boone and I love the Twins.

I became a fan of the Minnesota Twins after a friendly wager in the early 1980s. I survived Ron Davis, the meltdown in Cleveland, Phil Bradley at the Kingdome and then marveled at a rising generation of stars and two World Series wins in 1987 and 1991. Brad Radke made the 1990s bearable, while Kirby Puckett’s eye injury, exit from the game and eventual death made it almost too much to bear. The new century ushered in more talent — Joe Mauer, Johan Santana, Joe Nathan, Torii Hunter, Justin Morneau — and consecutive seasons of playoff baseball, followed by consecutive seasons of losing baseball. A winning season returned in 2015. So here we are. Go Twins.