Posts Tagged ‘Joe Mauer’

MLB Postseason Preview: Twins vs. Yankees

New York Yankees (95-67) at Minnesota Twins (94-68)

OVERVIEW

In many ways, this is a rematch of last year’s Division Series—the main way being that these same two teams played each other in last year’s Division Series. But things are much different now. The Twins are no longer the underdogs that snuck into the playoffs at the last minute, and the Yankees are no longer the dominant force in the AL. The Twins went 48-26 after the All-Star Break, essentially wrapping up the AL Central with a month to go. The Yankees, on the other hand, stumbled down the stretch, losing the AL East to Tampa Bay and settling for the Wild Card thanks to a 13-17 record in September/October. In other words, do not expect a repeat of last year’s one-sided Yankees sweep.

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MLB Midseason Bonanza: The AL

With the MLB All-Star Game come and gone, it’s time for John S and Tim to look back at their pre-season (well, more like 5 days into the season) predictions and see where they stand now. Here’s John S looking back on what he got right and what he got dead wrong.

AL West

What I Got Right

We should start in the AL West, where I made probably my best call in picking Texas to beat LA for the division title. As I expected, the Angels have taken a big step backwards—they are only three games above .500, and their run differential is -24. A lot of that is due to a rough patch the team hit shortly after the devastating injury to Kendry Morales, but a lot of it also has to do with a mediocre rotation. Joe Saunders and Scott Kazmir, the two veterans of the staff, have turned in lousy seasons, and the team is 11th in the AL in runs allowed.

Meanwhile, Texas has been even better than I anticipated. They have the biggest divisional lead of any first place team in the majors, and their run differential is better than every non-AL East team in baseball. And the only glaring weakness of the Rangers—the lack of a real ace—was addressed by trading a package centered on Justin Smoak for Cliff Lee. The Rangers won’t be able to resign Lee, but he makes them a legitimate pennant contender this year. Continue reading

In Praise of Jorge Posada

Jorge Posada returned to the Yankee lineup Wednesday night after over two weeks on the DL. If you don’t actively follow the Yankees, though, you may not have even realized he was gone. Posada is not the kind of marquee player whose injury would be national news.

Even though the last few weeks haven’t been the best for the Yankees, it’s not really like the Yankees have missed Posada so much—Francisco Cervelli’s surprising performance (he’s put up a .383 OBP and a stunning 1.442 OPS with 2 outs and runners in scoring position, albeit in an extremely small sample) has made Posada’s absence more palatable. Even before Posada’s injury, there was talk that he should become the team’s full-time DH to make room for Cervelli.

This isn’t really new. Being underappreciated seems to be Posada’s destiny. The most anonymous of the Core Four has flown under the radar throughout his career.

If you live in the New York area, have ever watched the YES Network, or picked up Sports Illustrated a few weeks ago, then you’re already familiar with the term “The Core Four.” This is how we insufferable Yankee fans refer to the quartet of teammates—Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, and Jorge Posada—that have been with the team since the beginning of the Yankee Dynasty in 1996. All four players made their MLB debut with the Yankees in 1995 and would go on to play major roles in the Yankee championships of the late ’90s, 2000, and then again last season. When critics point out (fairly) that the Yankees can sign free agents and assemble a roster of All-Stars seemingly at will thanks to their bottomless pockets, fans point to the Core Four as the four examples of homegrown talent that the Yankees didn’t have to “buy.” Earlier this season Jeter, Rivera, and Posada became the first trio of teammates in any major professional sport to play together for 16 consecutive seasons—a pretty remarkable fact in the era of free agency, even for the Yankees. Pettitte would have joined them, if not for a three-year stint with the Houston Astros from 2004-2006 that Yankee fans conveniently ignore in their memory. Continue reading

MLB Preview Bonanza: AL Central

This was probably the most exciting division last year, if only because it gave us that thrilling Wild Card Playoff (you may remember it as Game 163, because Chip Caray called it that approximately 162,886 times during the game) that cracked Tim’s top five games of the decade. A lot of that was due to Detroit falling off dramatically as the season went on, and the Tigers are still trending downwards. They lost Placido Polanco and Curtis Granderson in the off-season, and Magglio Ordonez got another year older. The big news out of this division, though, is that the Twins just signed Joe Mauer to an eight-year extension, meaning that, at the very least, they have the MVP front-runner for the next nine years. Continue reading

Monday Medley

What we read while trying to remember who won the Nobel Peace Prize last year…


  • Putting aside our affection for superlatives, we’d prefer it if Esquire had named Kate Beckinsale just “Among the Sexier Women Alive” instead of going all-out. Nevertheless, she knows how to rise our lycans, if you know what we mean. (And no, we can’t believe that was the THIRD Underworld movie and there’s already a fourth in production, either.)
  • Speaking of sexiest thises and thats, check out Deadspin/Jeff Pearlman’s humorous account of how Chiefs’ quarterback Elvis Grbac was accidentally named People‘s “Sexiest Athlete.”  The last sentence of People entry was “His personality makes him attractive.” Unfortunately (and somewhat surprisingly), Tim did not spot a single Grbac jersey during his adventure at Arrowhead Stadium earlier last weekend.
  • And the final word on that Yanks-Twins series: This is the real reason Minnesota was so upset about Phil Cuzzi’s blown call down the left-field line. Who knows what Jason Kubel could have done with Mauer on second?

MLB Postseason Preview: Twins vs. Yankees

Minnesota Twins (87-76) at

New York Yankees (103-59)

(RIDICULOUSLY BIASED) OVERVIEW

YankeesTwinsThe Yankees are the best team in the AL, but they’re taking on the Twins, who just completed one of the most incredible comebacks to win a division (down three with four to play). Fortunately for them, that makes them hot. Unfortunately for them, that makes them spent. I can definitely foresee an’03 Yankees World Series type situation, where the Twins feel as if they’ve already won their crown just by getting this far. Plus, the division race has left their rotation a little out of whack, forcing them to use rookie pitcher Brian Duensing in Game 1.

THE LINEUPS

As I insisted repeatedly earlier this week, the Yankees have the best lineup in baseball. Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez are the best three-four hitters in the league, but the lineup is also deep with seven guys who have over 20 home runs. A lot of that, of course, is due to the new Yankee Stadium, but a lot of it is also great production from guys like Nick Swisher, Hideki Matsui and Robinson Cano.

The Twins, on the other hand, have Joe Mauer, the best hitter in the league in 2009, but not much beyond that. Justin Morneau is hurt. Their second best hitter now is Jason Kubel who, though he did have an impressive season in ’09, is not going to strike fear into a lot of pitchers’ hearts. And the fact the Nick Punto, Matt Tolbert and Jose Morales are all getting significant numbers of at-bats is not all that intimidating. Continue reading