Thursday Links - Lunch Time Edition


You’ll forgive me that the Thursday Links were not out at the crack of dawn when you learn what I was doing instead of blogging the links.  Late last night I was browsing ebay and I found a pair of game worn Rick Renick pants from the 1990 season.  Renick played exclusively for the Minnesota Twins in his short career (parts of all five seasons from 1968-72).  After retiring Renick bounced around as a coach and spent a couple years coaching under Tom Kelly in Minnesota before leaving to coach in the Chicago White Sox organization after the 1990 season.  Clearly, game used pants from Rick Renick are not going to be the centerpiece of anyone’s Twins collection, but they were listed for just 99 CENTS!  Throw in about $8 shipping, and you’re looking at some pretty strange looking Twins merchandise for under $10 bucks!  Upon closer inspection of the pants, I didn’t see any pinstripes and the pants were just plain white, because the Twins home kit in 1990 used pinstriped pants, and the road kit was grey, these were clearly some sort of practice pant.  Still, for less then $10 George Washingtons they could be mine!  Sadly, the bidding spun wildly out of control during the final minutes, as ebay auctions often do, and the pants were priced out of my comfort zone. They sold for $5.  You win some, you lose some, but when you learn about the history of Rick Renick along the way you have to feel good coming out the other end!  If you have a favorite memory of Rick Renick please share it below.

The biggest signing this week, at least for Twins fans (others may be biased towards the signing of Yu Darvish, and there was that blockbuster deal between the Mariners and the Yankees) was the announcement that the Twins had signed right handed flame thrower Joel Zumaya to a Major League deal.  Zumaya actually passed his physical and the Twins made the move official yesterday afternoon, the Tenth Inning Stretch was kind enough to share some lesser known facts on the fastballer.  In less big news, the Twins also signed 16 year-old Venezuelan, Mauricio Silva as an international free agent with a  $370,000 dollar signing bonus.  Silva is already throwing his fastball in the low 90′s and is at least five years away from putting on a Twins uniform.

On with the links:

Jon Swol is rolling the dice on the Twins 2012 season, and wondering if they can bounce back from 99 losses a year ago.  His analysis bounces around the Central and looks at other teams that had significant drop offs in win totals from one season to the next, like the Twins did a year ago, and then looks at how those teams responded.  History doesn’t bode well for the 2012 Twins, but I’m still holding out hope.

The North Dakota Twins fan has managed to collect a few baseballs during his years as a Twins fan, and shared a couple stories about how he snagged his favorite balls.  I have never been lucky enough to catch a foul ball at any type of professional sporting event, so I am a little jealous, but I still hold out hope. 

Steve Adams, Twinkie Town, has tracked down a brief scouting report on Mauricio Silva that indicates he is throwing as hard a 93.  As one of the premier power arms in Venezuala Silva is a nice get for the Twins, but as many 16 year olds never turn into anything resembling a a Major League ballplayer, the jury will be out for years to come.

The Seattle Mariners will have plenty of time to acquaint themselves with Jesus Montero, they are the first team to report to spring training, reporting on February 12, an entire week ahead of the Minnesota Twins.  The Big League Chew has the full list of reporting dates.

Rob Neyer pokes fun at Alaska and Bud Selig in this article, but the heart of the story is about the monstrosity that is the MLB Blackout Rules and how they continue to drive up the price for lucrative tv deals and team revenue.

Orel Hershiser > Tim Tebow.  Evidence here.

Two videos in this post from NotGraphs, and either could be the Video of the Week.  Unfortunately for them, neither one is, but if you’re looking for bands that love baseball, this is the place to find them.

The Twins Fan From Afar  believes that the absolute worst outcome for the Twins in 2012 is 81-81.  While a .500 team would certainly be more entertaining to watch than the 63-99 team of yesteryear, I think that 81 wins is closer to the ceiling for the 2012 Twins, not the basement, and Andrew argues that at 81 wins, the Twins will be mildly competitive in  the AL Central and will make mid-season moves to strenghten the team in the short term rather than looking to the future.

What does the Twins’ ceiling look like in 2012?  TC Huddle looks to Mauer and Morneau as the two biggest question marks in 2012, and the biggest reasons for the success, or failure of the Minnesota Twins next season.

If you’re an ESPN Insider, you’ll enjoy Buster Olney’s piece on Joe Mauer.  If you’re not an ESPN Insider, then just let me give you the highlight: Joe Mauer feels good (healthy).

What can $1,789,476 buy you?  Apparently one victory, if you are the 2011 Minnesota Twins.  Despite the steep price tag, Twins wins were not the most expensive wins in 2011, that distinction goes to the New York Yankees, with the collapsible Boston Red Sox not far behind

I keep thinking that The Baseball Outsider, Edward Thoma, is finished dissecting the Bill Smith Era, but every week he has something new to discuss.  This week Thoma looks closely at the Scott Diamond and at the trade that sent Delmon Young to the Detroit Tigers.

Who are the best five players in Major League Baseball over the past five years?  Ranked by WAR they are Albert Pujols (39.6), Chase Utley (29.1), Joe Mauer (28.8), Adrian Gonzalez (26.6), Matt Holliday (26.4).  Who are the best five players in each five year stretch dating back to 1969?  David Schoenfield has done the research over at the Sweet Spot, defnitely worth a read as much for who makes the lists as who doesn’t appear at all.

Joe Mauer certainly did not play up to his own lofty standards in 2011, but he is still a very valuable player, and performs at a very high level, the exact opposite of a hitter who compiles statistics by being consistently above average for a long time.  In fact, Mauer is the second highest non-compiling hitter in the history of the Major League.

Anytime someone interviews Tom Kelly you should hunt down the results.  Tom Powers from the Pioneer Press had some time with TK and it sounds like the Twins are poised to bounce back.

Things that Bert Blyleven has worn on his head.

Criminal Justice and Baseball together, in one place, for a short time only.  NotGraphs’ The Common Man has the best baseball crime coverage in the history of Criminal Justice and Baseball being together in the history of the world. I’m partial to number 6: “Criminal Neglect:  Or, The Atlanta Braves Offseason, 2011-2012.”

Nick Nelson takes time out of his busy schedule from being a guest star on the most recent episode of the Gleeman and the Geek podcast to update Twins fans on the “progress” of Justin Morneau.

If there was an Image of the Week here on the Thursday Links, this would be it: Harmon Killbrew in a Royals uniform (from TwinsTrivia.com).  Wrong in at least 1,000 ways.

It is cold in the Midwest today.  Here is a heartwarming story from 2011 to keep your spirits warm while the wind chills plunge below zero.

Video of the Week: Hat tip to Rob Neyer for unearthing it, additional hat tip to the Kids in the Hall for making it.

You’ve probably been seeing links to Seth Stoh’s 2012 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook all over the internet this week, but if you haven’t ordered your own copy yet, make sure you do today.  If you are a prospect junkie,  if you are planning a trip to Spring Training, or if you like looking at guys down in Low-A ball in Beloit, Wisconsin and making a bet with your brother about who will or will not eventually make the Twins roster, then you need a copy.  I purchased my first copy in 2011 and have already pre-ordered a copy of my own.  Get them while you still can!

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Tags: Adrian Gonzalez Albert Pujols Chase Utley Delmon Young Jesus Montero Joe Mauer Joel Zumaya Justin Morneau Matt Holliday Scott Diamond Yu Darvish