December 2, 2019

We hardly knew ye, Kyle Gibson

Kyle Gibson, the longest tenured member of the Twins, is no longer that after reportedly agreeing to a free agent deal with the Texas Rangers for $30 million over three years. Not bad for a guy with a career earned run average of 4.52.

Should the Twins have tried to work out their own multiyear deal for Gibson? Perhaps. At 32, his best years are most likely behind him, but he also has developed into a much better pitcher than his earlier career would reflect.

Gibson, who spent seven seasons with the Twins, struggled for most of that time to advance beyond being merely a .500 pitcher. And in early 2017 that career nearly ended after he stumbled badly out of the gates and wound up being demoted to Triple-A Rochester. But he pitched well in the minors and earned a trip back to Minnesota. After his return, as I’ve written about before on this blog, he was a changed man, or so it would seem because he finished the season with a record of 7-3 with a 3.76 ERA. How did he start the season? He was 5-7 with an ERA of 6.31. No wonder he temporarily lost his job.

Gibson’s second-half performance carried him into 2018. Despite winning only 10 games, he still set career marks in ERA (3.62), innings pitched (196.2) and strikeouts (179). He followed that in 2019 with 13 wins, tying a career best, but he also battled the after-effects of E. coli and other gastrointestinal problems. By the end of the season, he was pitching out of the bullpen.

But what about character? If character mattered (and it does to some degree, of course), Gibson would be one of the highest paid athletes in the game. From what I’ve read, he was always a stand-up guy. 

According to The Dallas Morning News:

Last season, Gibson was nominated for the Roberto Clemente Award, which is presented to the MLB player who “best represents the game of Baseball through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions, both on and off the field.” Gibson and his wife, Elizabeth, have been involved with numerous relief organizations and charities since at least 2011.

Now that Gibson is gone, as well as Michael Pineda and Martin Perez, Falvey & Co. have some holes to fill because the Twins have only two starting pitchers: Jose Berrios and Jake Odorizzi.

Extra innings…

-What happens when you win 101 games? Other teams take an interest in hiring your coaches. Former Twins hitting coach James Rowson is gone (Miami Marlins) and so is former bench coach, Derek Shelton, who is now the new manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Twins also lost assistant pitching coach, Jeremy Hefner, to the New York Mets. To replace Rowson, the Twins have hired Edgar Varela, previously the Twins’ minor league field coordinator. He has some big shoes to fill because the Twins hit the most home runs in the majors last season, scored the second most runs and tied the Washington Nationals for the fourth lowest strikeout rate.

Sources: Baseball-Reference.com, MLB Trade Rumors, Dallas Morning News, MLB.com.

November 25, 2019

The day the Twins’ Mike Cubbage bailed out over an old flame

It’s back to the well with another look at “The Baseball Codes,” a book about the unwritten rules of the game, including the business of beanballs. Hitting a batter, it turns out, is not always about retaliating after the batter takes the pitcher deep, or tosses the bat too far, or stares too intently at... Continue Reading »

November 18, 2019

The day Bert Blyleven beaned a batter over a labor dispute

As the baseball offseason rolls on, the need for content for this blog rolls on, too, and that means reading various books about the game to find an interesting Twins-related nugget. In 2010, Jason Turbow and Michael Duca published “The Baseball Codes,” a book about the unwritten rules of the game regarding a number of... Continue Reading »

November 10, 2019

Twins’ Baldelli will win AL Manager of the Year award, but he shouldn’t

Despite the record number of home runs, the number of runs scored, the number of team wins (second most in franchise history) and any number of things that Twins manager, Rocco Baldelli, did right this season, he does not deserve to be AL Manager of the Year. Oh, he’s going to win the award, of... Continue Reading »

November 4, 2019

The day the Twins gave up 9 stolen bases and still won

In 1976, Gene Mauch took over as Twins manager, Rod Carew hit better than .330 and the club would go on to have one of its best seasons since 1970. They were especially good down the stretch — 21-8 in September and October — but in mid-May they were still trying to overcome a slow... Continue Reading »

October 28, 2019

P.G. Wodehouse: novelist, lyricist, Mets fan

English author, Pelham Grenville Wodehouse, a widely read comic novelist of the 20th century who wrote nearly 100 books, but who also contributed lyrics to musicals and dabbled in Hollywood, became a baseball fan after he settled in the U.S. Wodehouse was essentially unwelcome in his native England after he unwittingly participated in what amounted... Continue Reading »

October 21, 2019

Let’s spend a few moments with Leroy Robert Paige, baseball’s greatest pitcher

Satchel Paige, the best pitcher of all time,* is wonderfully remembered in “Bill Veeck: Baseball’s Greatest Maverick,” a biography of the legendary team owner and promoter by Paul Dickson. (I’m sure there’s a great biography of Paige as well, but, for the moment, I’ve read the Veeck book, which was published in 2012). According to... Continue Reading »

October 14, 2019

The Twins are cursed. But why?

I’m not sure there’s anything that can explain the Twins’ futility against the New York Yankees. Except perhaps a curse. There has to be a curse, right? How else do you go 2-16 against the Yanks in the postseason since 2004? And the record-setting 2019 team, which won 101 games and hit 307 home runs,... Continue Reading »

October 8, 2019

No words, a poem

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Hi, I’m Rolf Boone, Twins fan.

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.