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  • Nick Nelson

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    by 07-21-2014, 12:07 AM
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    Sponsored by Ticket King

    The forecast for the next few days calls for highs in the 80s and 90s, with a lot of sun. Hot days will give way to warm nights while sunlight glows well past suppertime.

    Sorry for waxing poetic, but… July in Minnesota. There's hardly anything better.

    Remember when going to catch a ballgame meant filing into a stuffy Dome and missing out on these glorious summer nights? It wasn't so long ago. Weeks like this are what Target Field was built for.

    There is an added level of baseball drama -- that being the team's desperate need to embark on a "miraculous run."

    Getting swept by the last-place Rays was a disastrous start to a crucially important homestand. Now, the reeling Twins need to damn near win out in the next two series
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    by 07-18-2014, 10:00 AM
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    As the Twins put the All-Star Game behind them and gear up for the final 68 games on the schedule, they face much uncertainty. They're only six games below .500 -- a marked improvement from recent years -- and although they trail the Tigers by 10.5 games in the Central, they are within seven games of a wild-card spot.

    While it's nice to be in a spot where contention is a feasible scenario, we've got to keep in mind that the Twins are still behind seven other AL clubs in the wild-card race and -- more importantly -- they just aren't a great team. Not right now, anyway.

    As such, the focus needs to be on taking steps to build that great team for next year and beyond. This means auditioning young talents here in the final months, and making decisions on which current
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    by 07-15-2014, 11:58 PM
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    As I write this, I'm feeling pretty giddy. I just got done watching Glen Perkins pitch to Kurt Suzuki in the ninth inning of the All-Star Game, closing out a victory for the American League in Derek Jeter's final hurrah.

    Admittedly I don't usually get too worked up about pageantry of the so-called Midsummer Classic, but with my lifelong city being showcased -- and with our site holding an event downtown -- I couldn't help but get drawn in this year.

    Boy, was I impressed.

    With the exception of some sourpusses who actually forced MLB to publicly apologize for having the gall to set off fireworks during an event that takes place here once every three decades,
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    by 07-14-2014, 12:32 AM
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    Last year, when the Twins reached the All-Star break, they were 14 games below .500 and 12 games back in the AL Central. In 2012, they had entered the break at 13 games below .500, and 11 games back in the division.

    Against that backdrop, their present standing -- 44-50 and 10.5 games behind the first-place Tigers -- looks downright palatable.

    The Twins had firmly established their irrelevance by the end of July after crumbling around the break in each of the past two seasons, and a week ago it appeared that they were caught in the exact same downward spiral once again.

    Yet they rebounded to win five of their last six games and
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    by 07-08-2014, 11:56 PM
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    Things are pretty bleak for Twins fans these days. The club is caught amidst yet another mid-summer free-fall, the coaches and medical staff are once again coming under fire for their handling of injuries, and we're left to ponder who can be called up from Triple-A to plug yet another rotation hole while the offense scuffles.

    The negative storylines are too easy to grasp onto at this point, so in an effort to change the tone a bit, I thought I'd focus on a few positive developments that are currently taking place within the organization.

    Times are tough, but there are some very good and very meaningful things happening outside of the general misery that has characterized Twins Baseball lately.

    Let's dig into a few:

    1)
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    by 07-06-2014, 11:55 PM
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    Beyond this season, the Minnesota Twins still owe Ricky Nolasco a total of $37 million over three years. That's something that needs to be kept in mind as we ponder what the best course of action is for the struggling starter.

    Ron Gardenhire sounded like he was just about ready to be done with Nolasco during a cranky post-game interview on Sunday, and it's hard to blame him.

    "It starts with him," Gardenhire said. "He's got to do a better job. Bottom line is he's got to figure out something because today wasn't any good at all. He didn’t do anything. He didn't locate anything. They were all over every pitch."
    Not exactly what you like to
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    by 07-02-2014, 12:30 AM
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    When Chris Colabello's season got off to an insanely hot start, I remember multiple people commenting to me excitedly about how he was on pace for something like 200 RBI.

    Some folks just love to extrapolate those grandiose "on pace" figures when a guy has a great first couple weeks. It's fun early season fodder, but of course, it's all utterly meaningless.

    Projecting hypothetical full-season totals at the halfway point is a bit more sensible, because at this point we've got 50 percent of a season as our sample. That's not enough to preclude fluky performances, but 81 games is 81 games.

    I thought I'd examine some of the crazier first-half stats on the Twins, in the context of what the numbers will look like at year's end if the player replicates
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    by 06-30-2014, 10:57 AM
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    On Monday night at Target Field, the Twins will play their 81st game, officially marking the halfway point of this 2014 season.

    As we reach this key milestone, the state of the club can best be summed up by a lineup decision that took place in game No. 80. In the final leg of a six-game road trip, with the Twins trying to snap a five-game losing streak, Ron Gardenhire inserted Chris Parmelee as his center fielder and No. 3 hitter.

    Now, I don't want to contribute to what could probably be described as a generally overblown reaction to this move. From my view, it was a defensible experiment by Gardenhire to try and coax some offense out
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    by 06-26-2014, 01:37 PM
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    When we ranked infielder Jorge Polanco as the eighth-best prospect in the Minnesota Twins organization this spring, we noted that a strong first-half performance in High-A could put him on the fast track to the majors.

    Of course, we never would have suspected it would be this fast.

    On Thursday, the Twins announced that they have promoted Polanco directly from Single-A to the majors. At age 20, he becomes the youngest player to don a Minnesota uniform since Joe Mauer back in 2004.

    Now, before you get too worked up, it bears noting that this move is most likely born
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    by 06-24-2014, 11:24 PM
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    The rosters for the MLB Futures Game were announced on Tuesday. Representing the Twins organization will be Single-A pitcher Jose Berrios and Double-A slugger Kennys Vargas.

    None of Minnesota's "Big Three" will be participating. Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano obviously have been injured, and Alex Meyer -- the team's top pitching prospect and its greatest hope for a top-of-the-rotation starter -- simply isn't having a very good season.

    That's fairly worrisome, especially when you look at his recent performance.

    Back in late April, it appeared that Meyer had turned a corner after reportedly learning
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    by 06-23-2014, 12:10 AM
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    After finishing 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in Sunday's sweep-clinching win over the White Sox, Oswaldo Arcia ran his hitless streak up to 31 consecutive at-bats. As Phil Miller noted in his post-game wrap-up, that's eight short of the franchise record.

    For all his talent and explosiveness, Arcia has proven to be a slump-prone hitter, with a tendency to look totally lost during extended stretches at the plate.

    Right now, he's mired in what I have to imagine is one of the worst funks of his life. It's not just the lack of hits -- it's the intensely bad at-bats. Seemingly every other plate appearance involves three or four pitches, a few non-competitive swings, and a strikeout or a pop fly.

    Arcia is a good hitter. He conquered the minor leagues with remarkable ease and has certainly demonstrated the characteristics of a quality MLB slugger. Why isn't that showing
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    by 06-19-2014, 10:33 PM
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    * The Twins came into this season with a lot of intrigue surrounding the rotation. Between the newly signed free agents and the rising prospects with a chance to debut, there were going to be plenty of storylines to follow here in 2014.

    The most important, though, was always going to be Kyle Gibson.

    Coming off a rocky MLB debut last year, and entering his first season with no restrictions after Tommy John surgery, Gibson won a spot on the staff in camp, making this his big opportunity to establish himself as a bona fide big-leaguer and a long-term fixture in the rotation.

    The 26-year-old right-hander was off-and-on over his
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    by 06-17-2014, 11:03 PM
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    Despite being perpetually trapped in the shadows of Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano within the Twins' system, Eddie Rosario had firmly established himself as a true upper-tier prospect by the end of the 2013 season.

    At the age of 21, he had cruised through Single-A and Double-A, batting .302/.350/.460 between the two levels all while working on the defensive transition from outfield to infield. His bat was so good, and his athleticism so outstanding, that it appeared he may have a chance to make an early impact for the Twins here in 2014.

    My, how things change.

    As we all know, Rosario was tagged
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    by 06-10-2014, 09:49 PM
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    Coming into spring training, I don't think that Ron Gardenhire and the Twins were planning on bringing Josmil Pinto north with the big-league club. The young backstop had been awfully impressive with the bat during a September audition in 2013, sure, but Twins officials commented repeatedly throughout the offseason that he was still somewhat raw and his defensive game needed work.

    That was a fair position to hold. Pinto was a bit of a slow developer in the minors, and had played only 19 games in Triple-A. As Chris Parmelee had demonstrated two years earlier, you can only put so much
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    by 06-09-2014, 10:00 AM
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    The last time I can remember the Twins making a "win now" move was prior to the 2011 season, when they re-signed Carl Pavano and Jim Thome in an effort to recapture the magic that led to 94 wins and a playoff berth in the first season at Target Field.

    You can argue that these weren't especially wise moves, but they were clearly aimed at a goal of short-term winning. Pavano, 35, was signed for two years and cost the Twins a potential draft pick. Thome, 40, was signed for one year.

    Things obviously fell apart during that season, and in the years since, while the Twins have made a lot of moves -- some
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    by 06-03-2014, 10:35 PM
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    Sponsored by Ticket King

    After splitting a brief two-game set at Miller Park, the Twins now return to Target Field for the second half of a home-and-home series this week against the Brewers. The interstate rivalry annually produces a great deal of interest, with numerous Milwaukeeans trekking into town, so the ballpark figures to be a bustling place.

    The weather forecast is looking beautiful (75 and sunny) for both Wednesday and Thursday, and Ticket King has some great seats available for both games, but if you have to pick one, which is the best option?

    We'll dig into the specific match-ups shortly. But first, let's size up the opponent.

    Strong Brew

    Last year, the
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