Friday, December 21, 2012

Twins Autograph Collection

With returns from Carl Willis, Rich Robertson, Bobby Darwin, Camilo Pascual, Matt Walbeck,Frank Quilici, David West, and Chris Parmelee, my autographed baseball card collection of current and former Minnesota Twins continues to grow. I have 437 different players, and roughly 722 total signed cards.

7 of those cards were of Ben Revere, who was a great signer thru the mail. I was sure that I would soon have more signed Ben Revere cards than any other Twin (I have 10 signed Alexi Casilla cards). Then the Twins went out and traded Revere.

I like the pitchers (Alex Meyer, Vance Worley, and Trevor May) they got in return for Revere, and Denard Span - who had been traded earlier in the offseason. We need young, power arms to help solidify our starting pitching which has been the worst in baseball. I also like that Worley has a cool nickname “Vanimal” and that he has a history of signing cards through the mail (TTM)

I am sure Worley will be at Twinsfest along with candidates to replace Span / Revere in center field – Aaron Hicks, Joe Benson, and Darin Mastroianni. Hicks and Benson don’t sign through the mail, but I got both of the at fee minor league table the last couple of years. Mastroianni signed 4 cards for me at an appearance at the Twins Pro Shop in Roseville. Those cards look a fair bit different than the one he “supposedly” signed for me though the mail.

The signing of free agent pitchers Kevin Corriea, Rich Harden, and Mike Pelfrey (none of whom signs thru the mail) do not inspired me as they don’t have power arms. Hopefully the Twins can do more to improve the team for 2013; otherwise they should go into total rebuilding mode and trade Josh Willingham and Justin Morneau.

Christian Ponder

Something happened to me that is never happened to me before, and likely will not happen again. I was the first person in line at an autograph signing. It happened on 11/30 at a Schneiderman’s Furniture store where Vikings QB Christian Ponder was appearing.

I missed the previous signings he had done at the other Schneinderman’s locations, so I got there extra early – like 3 ½ hours early. Luckily, they let me sit in one of their recliners while I waited. Easily, the most comfortable autograph signing I have ever been at.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

My Trip to Nashville

In 2001 I took a trip to Nashville where I was going to visit the Grand Ole and the Country Music Hall of Fame. My first day there I became seriously ill, and ended up in the ER. I was forced to go back home the next day without seeing anything. To say I was not happy was an understatement.
I always wanted to go back, and this spring I got a call from my brother telling while attending a charity function hosted by his friend Tennessee Titans coach Mike Munchak, he’d won a tour of the Titans training facility along free tickets and field passes to a Titans game. Needless to say I was elated with he invited me to join him.
I flew down to Nashville with my dad on Friday the 26th. That night we attend the Grand Ole Opry. As a huge fan of country music I was thrilled to finally get to visit the Opry. John Conlee, Eric Paslay, Jean Shepherd , Little Jimmy Dickens, Jesse McReynolds, Steel Magnolia, George Hamliton IV, Sweethearts of the Rodeo, Jimmy Wayne, Riders in the Sky, Ralph Stanley, Joe Diffie were the acts playing that night. All of the acts were great, but Mr. Dickens was the hit of the night with several hilarious jokes.

Here are a few of pictures of my Opry visit:

                                           Little Jimmy Dickens

                                           Steel Magnolia

                                           Sweethearts of the Rodeo

                                          Joe Diffie

Saturday morning we visited the Tennessee Titans practice facility where we got a tour of the facility and watched practice. Afterwards I got a chance to meet Coach Mike Munchak. Coach Munchak and my brother’s other friend Bruce Matthews have always been gracious enough to get me tickets when their teams have played against the Minnesota Vikings. I met Mr. Matthews at this year’s Viking – Titans game, but had never met Coach Munchak before. He was a gracious man, tolerating my endless babbling about how great it was to meet him, and thanking him for all the past tickets he had gotten me.

Here is a picture of Coach Munchak and me:

I also got to me star Titans running back Chris Johnson, and former Viking and 5x All-Pro offensive lineman Steve Hutchinson. Mr. Hutchinson was a great person, and I really enjoyed meeting him.

                                           Chris Johnson and me

                                           Steve Hutchinson and me

Coach Munchak, Mr. Johnson, and Mr. Hutchinson all autographed the free Tennessee Titans yearbook I had received as part of my tour. Coach Munchak also autographed a football card I brought along for him to sign.

After our enjoyable trip to the Titans practice facility, we went to the Country Music Hall of Fame. As a country music fan, it was a pleasure to see all the displays featuring the greats of country music.

Sunday we went to the Titans – Cols game. We were able to go on the field before the game. I was able to do the same at the Titans – Viking game up here, but I must say it was more enjoyable in the open air of LP Field. I prefer open air stadiums to domes, it just seems more real to me somehow.

The game featured the Colts young star quarterback Andrew Luck who as fate would have it, played high school football with my nephew. I remember back when Andrew was a sophomore and junior in high school having seen him play and thinking this kid is pretty good. He is indeed as the Titans found out when he rally the Colts to a win. To bad, I was rooting for the Titans.

Titans lost aside, it was great trip, and helped me purge that bad memory from 2001. Thanks to my brother and Coach Munchak for making the trip possible!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Brian Dozier Comes Through

Today's mail brought 3 signed homemade baseball cards from current, former, and future Minnesota Twin Brian Dozier. Dozier was the Twins starting shortstop for a good part of 2012 till he was replaced by Pedro Florimon. There is a lot of talk of Florimon starting at short in 2013 with Dozier playing either second or third. Time will tell how that turns out.

In my previous post I reported I was 10 out of 25 sending to current, or at least current at the time, Twins. Now I am 11 out of 25. Thanks to Brian Dozier for taking the time to sign my cards.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Update on My Autographed Twins Card Collection

I am now up to 431 signed baseball cards from current and former Minnesota Twins. I need only 227 players and I will have them all.

On September 8th I went to the Festival Foods in Brooklyn Park where Josh Willingham and Drew Butera were signing autographs for free. How popular is Josh Willingham now? I got his autograph at Twinsfest this year, and the line was not bad. On 9/8 I showed up 2 hours early and was the 115th person in line. The line was equally long behind me by the time they started signing. I guess hitting 30+ home runs makes you popular.

In my August 12th post I stated I was 3 out of12 with current Twins, but was not 100% correct. The Twins have turned over their roster so much that some guys I sent to when they were current Twins are now former Twins. So I am actually 10 out of 25. Below are players who were current Twins when I sent to them: 

Jamey Carroll - signed

Chris Parmelee - signed

Cole De Vries - signed

Casey Fien - signed

Darin Mastroianni - signed

Clete Thomas - signed

Pedro Florimon - signed

Scott Diamond - signed

Rene Rivera – signed (added a signed card of his own)

Matt Carson - signed

Ryan Doumit

Carl Pavano

Jared Burton

Alexi Casilla

Liam Hendriks

Brian Dozier

P. J. Walters

Sameul Deduno

Luis Perdomo

Esmerling Vasquez

Tsuyoshi Nishioka

Jason Marquis

Sean Burroughs

Eric Komatsu

Matt Maloney

I need a signed card of Burton, Walters, Deduno, Perdomo, Vasquez, Nishioka, Burroughs, Komatsu, and Maloney, so I hope they come through, but at the moment it is not looking good.

I have Doumit, Pavano, Casilla, Hendriks, Dozier, and Marquis, but sent them different cards in hopes they would sign. All these guys have a good history of signing, so we will see if they come through.

I was 10 out of 20 on Twins minor leaguers this year. Below are my results:

Chris Herrmann - signed

Angel Morales - signed

Travis Harrison - signed

Levi Michael - signed

Evan Bigley - signed

Pedro Hernandez - signed

Eduardo Escobar - signed

Jose Berrios - signed

Dereck Rodriguez - signed

Daniel Santana - signed

Eddie Rosario

Miguel Sano

Hudson Boyd

Madison Boer

Oswaldo Arcia

Tommy Stuifbergen

Danny Rams

Bryon Buxton

Adam Walker

Kennys Vargas

It should be noted I got Sano and Rosario through the mail last year. Herrmann and Escobar have since been promoted to the Twins, and are now considered current Twins.

Hopefully my success percentages get a little better next year, but I am grateful to all the players who did take the time to sign for me.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Creating My Own Baseball Cards

In my December 6, 2011 post I wrote about creating my own baseball cards. Some current and former Minnesota Twins players simply do not have many or even any baseball cards which can present a problem for someone, like me, trying to collect an autographed baseball card of every living Minnesota Twin.

My first attempt at designing something looked like this:

I have about 25 of these type cards signed, and they look okay. That said, I thought I could do better, so I used Scribus 1.4 to create this:

Now I had plenty of white space available for the player to sign in. That worked great for the older players who did not have the most stable signatures and for players with bigger hand writing, as they did not try in vain to squeeze their autographed into a small space.

I have about 30 signed cards of this design, and I liked them well enough. However, finding clear yet small enough pictures like the above one of Scott Diamond was not easy, so I decided to experiment with some new designs. Here is the first one I came up with again using Scribus 1.4:

I got 2-3 of these cards signed, and they looked decent, but they are kind of plain. I fired up Scribus once more, and tried to get creative. Here is my end result:

I like it. It looks like something one of baseball card companies might have designed. I have not gotten any of these signed, so I have no idea how autographs look on them, but we will find out soon enough.

I hope to design some back for these cards, and to continue to create new designs. If I come up with anything worthwhile, I will try to post them here.

Another Update on my Twins Autograph Baseball Card Collection

Continuing my string of successful TTM autograph request, I receive signed cards from former Twin Doug Mientkiewicz. I also got signed cards from prospect Chris Herrmann - who included a note of thanks - and super prospect Jose Berrios.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Twins Need Middle Infielders

The Twins started the season with Jamey Carroll as their starting shortstop. Then supposedly dissatisfied with the play of Alexi Casilla at second base, the Twins called up shortstop Brian Dozier and shifted Carroll to second. Dozier was hailed a top prospect who was the “shortstop of the future”.

The Dozier & Carroll combo last till Trevor Plouffe, who had displaced Danny Valencia at third base, was injured and Carroll was moved to third with Casilla reinstated at second. This lasted till Tsuyoshi Nishioka was recalled and inserted into the lineup at second. Nishioka was a bust last year at second, and this year proved to be even worse. As it stands right now, Nishioka’s career Win Above Replacement (WAR) is -2.5, the worst of any player in Twins history. In other words, Nishioka’s is the worst player in Twins history.

Nishioka was promptly demoted, and Casilla reinstalled at second till Plouffe returned from his injury. Supposedly Twins manager Ron Gardenhire was set to go with Carroll at second, Dozier at short, and Plouffe at third. The Twins front office had other plans, and demoted Dozier even though there are only 2 ½ weeks left in the minor league season, and Dozier would almost certainly be right back with the Twins in September.

Now Pedro Florimon – a career .249 hitter in the minor leagues - has been summoned to be the new “shortstop of the future”.

Personally, I would have left Dozier the minors and brought him about now when he could play with less pressure –with the season lost - then he experienced earlier this year. Carroll should have been left at short and Casilla at second till then. Nishioka has no business even being with the Twins. While Florimon might be a great fielder he can’t hit which as been the argument used against Casilla for years.

Let’s face facts, the Twins have no shortstop at the major or minor league level worthy of starting for them in the foreseeable future. The only second basemen worth anything in the system is super prospect Eddie Rosario who is playing well, but is in low A ball, and is at least 2 years away.

The Twins have no middle infielders worthy of a major league roster spot outside of Carroll who is best as a backup. While the Twins search for starting pitching this off-season, they also need to search for a new starting shortstop and second basemen.

Update to the Update on My Autographed Twins Baseball Card Collection

I knew when I published my post on Sunday that I would get signed cards in the mail from players I had listed as not responding. Sure enough, I got Chris Parmelee back on Monday along with 3 lesser minor league players (Pedro Hernandez and Eduardo Escobar – the 2 guys acquired for Francisco Liriano – and Evan Bigley). Thanks much to these gentlemen for signing for me.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Update on My Autograph Twins Baseball Card Collection

As previous mentioned in this blog, I collect autographed baseball cards through the mail (TTM) and in-person with the hope of getting a signed baseball card from every living current and former Minnesota Twin. My collection now stands at 420 players with 223 left to go (I have 110 request outstanding).

I am only 3 for 15 on current Twins I sent TTM this year. I extend my thanks to Cole De Vries, Darin Mastroianni, and Jamey Carroll for signing for me. Jared Burton, Ryan Doumit, Carl Pavano, Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Brian Dozier, Alexi Casilla, Liam Hendriks, Chris Parmelee, Samuel Deduno, Luis Perdomo, Casey Fien, and P.J. Walters are hopefully going to be coming through for me as well.

I already have signed cards of Doumit, Pavano, Casilla, Hendriks, and Parmelee, but these gentlemen have tended to good signers TTM, and every new season brings a new set of baseball cards I want to get autographed.

A few of the former Twins I have received back TTM this year include:

Craig Monroe c/o FSN Detroit

Chuck James

Jacque Jones c/o Fort Wayne Tin Cups

Eric Milton

Luke Hughes c/o Oakland A’s

Casey Blake

Rob Delaney

Randy Ruiz

Paul Sorrento c/o Inland Empire 66ers

Dave Hollins

J.D. Durbin

Brian Buchanan

Joe Nathan

J.T. Burett

Clete Thomas

Corky Miller

Jose Mijares

Rob Wilfong (private signing)

I was particularly happy to get back Jones and Sorrento. I have sent to Jacque Jones multiple times, and never received much of a response. Since Jacque is a favorite of mine, it was great to get something him back from him. Sorrento was a guy I have been trying to get for years, as he was a member of the 1991 World Series team. I now have 22 of the 25 members of that team while I already have every member of the 87 World Series team.

Also this year I sent TTM to super prospects Miguel Sano, Eddie Rosario, Oswaldo Arica, Hudson Boyd, Byron Buxton, and Jose Berrios with no response yet. Sano and Rosario signed for me last year, but they seem to be ignoring me this year. I did get responses from prospects Levi Michael, Travis Harrison, and Dereck Rodriguez.

My in-person successes include: ($ means I had to pay for the autograph.)

Brad Radke

Jarvis Brown $

Kent Hrbek

Alexi Casilla

Brian Dozier $

Glen Perkins

Ben Revere

Scott Diamond

Trevor Plouffe

Brian Duensing

I don’t wait outside the stadium or anything, but the Twins players usually make several appearances during the season at local businesses.

One person who won’t be making any appearances (save Twinsfest) to sign autographs is Joe Mauer. The Twins best player has an exclusive deal with Ironclad Aesthetics, so if you want to send $$$ to Ironclad, they hold private signing with Mauer in the spring and winter. I have participated in these signing and things have gone well, but it not cheap.

Here’s hoping for more successes this year and for years to come.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Minnesota Twins Need Starting Pitching

The Twins are at the half way point of their season, and it obvious they are heading to another losing season. Sadly, the Twins continued downfall comes even though most of the players they added to roster to improve the team have played well.

Josh Willingham has been the power hitter the Twins had hope for. Ryan Doumit has provided the backup at catcher and part-time DH the Twins needed. Jared Burton has been excellent out of the bullpen. Jamey Carroll has been solid as short and 2nd.

Young players Scott Diamond (starting pitcher) Ben Revere (outfield), and Trevor Plouffe (3rd base) have emerged giving the Twins some hope for the future. While franchise player Joe Mauer has returned to All-Star form though the Mauer haters out there won’t satisfied till Mauer hit .400 with 30 HRs. 

Yet, despite the many things that have gone right for the Twins, they are still on the bottom the American League. Why? The answer Twins starting pitching has been awful. Carl Pavano, Francisco Liriano, Scott Baker, Nick Blackburn, and Jason Marquis were going to be the starting rotation. Instead Baker and Pavano have been injured. Blackburn was so bad he was demoted, while Marquis was even worse and was released.

Liam Hendriks, P. J. Walters, Cole De Vries, and Sam Deduno were called up from the minors, and were mostly ineffective. Brian Duensing and Anthony Swarzak were brought out the bullpen to be starters and were also ineffective. Only Scott Diamond has pitched well as a starter though Liriano has been pitching well of late. Teams can’t win with that kind of starting pitching.

For all of the struggles of Justin Morneau (not hitting like he use to), Brian Dozier (the young shortstop has struggled in the field and at the plate), and Danny Valencia (played so bad he was demoted and replaced at 3rd by Plouffe who has taken over the job for the foreseeable future), the Twins cannot get anywhere with starting pitching they have been getting.

One-time super prospect Kyle Gibson is returning from Tommy John surgery, and may be able to help next year, so to may the solid prospect Hendriks, who has pitched well since his recent demotion. Still Diamond, Gibson, and Hendriks are only three of a needed five. Not to mention replacements when injuries occur.

The Twins prospects like Miguel Sano, Eddie Rosario, Oswaldo Arcia, Travis Harrison, Aaron Hicks, Byron Buxton, and Dereck Rodriguez are all position players. That means that the Twins are going to have dig up some pitching either via trade (hard to do) or free agency (very expensive to do). In other words, the Twins are in trouble and help may not be very close.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Johan Santana Was Not Always a Star

Congratulations to former Minnesota Twins pitcher Johan Santana on pitching his first no-hitter. 

Santana was a unheralded Rule 5 draft pickup whose first 2 years with the Twins (2000 – 2001) were pretty unspectacular. By 2003 though Santana was on his way to becoming the best pitcher in all of baseball, winning the AL CY Young award in 2004 and 2006.

It is fairly obvious that Johan Santana is one of the 10 best Twins ever. Looking at the Twins career leaders in Wins Above Replacement (WAR) Santana is the 9th best player in Twins history.

Rod Carew – 60.4
Harmon Killebrew – 49.9
Kirby Puckett – 48.2
Bert Blyleven – 46.3
Brad Radke – 42.6
Tony Oliva – 39.7
Chuck Knoblauch – 36.3
Kent Hrbek – 35.7
Johan Santana – 34.0
Joe Mauer – 32.8

However, with all the honors Santana received as a Twin, and the sheer domination he showed between 2003 -2007, Santana probably joins, Mauer, Carew, Killebrew, Puckett, Blyleven, and Oliva as one the seven biggest stars ever in Twins history.

The Twins could not keep Santana, who wanted $20 + million a year, and traded him after the 2007 season to the Mets. His time with the Mets has been injury filled, but the no-hitter he just threw – first in Mets history – will make him a legend there.

I don’t know if Santana will make the Baseball Hall of Fame, but he certainly will make the Twins Hall of Fame. I also know he will be a hard and expensive autograph to get, but that was not always the case.

When I began collecting Twins autographs 2005, Santana was already hugely popular. How popular? At the 2006 Twins Autograph Party I waited line over 4 hours to get Santana to sign a baseball for me, and I barely made it threw the line.

However, last weeekend I was at the Twins Cities Sports Collector Club (TCSCC) show in Bloomington when I found some Santana signed cards for a reasonable price. When I asked the guy who had them where he got them, the guy told me that back in 2001, before he became a star, Santana made an autograph signing appearance at the TCSCC show charging like $5-10 an item, and not a lot of people were interested in him.

It is just another reminder that a player who might not seem like a star at the time, might well turn into one. That is why I am collecting autographed baseball cards for all living Minnesota Twins, not just the ones I think will be a star.

Meanwhile I now have signed cards from 411 current or former Twins which means in my quest to get a signed card from living current and former Twins is now in need of 238 more players. I have requests out to 112 of them, so we will see what shows up.

I can all but guarantee there won’t be a card coming in the mail from Johan Santana (he has not signed through the mail in years), but again congrats Johan on your well deserved no-hitter.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Scott Diamond Signs for Me Before He Becomes Popular

In a desperate attempt to reverse their so to be lost season, the Minnesota Twins are cycling through players in an attempt to find someone who can help stem the losing tide.

One of those players is starting pitcher Scott Diamond. Diamond was a Rule 5 pickup before last season and he dutifully showed up for Twinsfest 2011 to signed autograph for fans. Not many people were interested in getting his though, but because I was out to collect autographed baseball cards of every living current and former Twin, I created the above card of him to sign.

The card (see above) has a picture of him at the 2009 World Baseball Classic where he pitched for his native Canada. Diamond signed the card for me, and was quite pleasant about it. In 2011 Diamond was pretty bad though at Triple A, and when the Twins got desperate and called him up to the big leagues he got rough up there too.

I figured Diamond was finished as a Twin, and in spring training this year he was demoted to minors quite quickly. Then a funny thing happed, Diamond started pitching great at Triple A, and upon being called up to the majors a couple weeks ago, he went out and pitched back to back games where he pitched 7 innings of shutout baseball. 

Now Diamond is being hailed as the Twins best starting pitcher. Funny how a guy few people wanted an autograph from back in 2011 now probably could draw a fairly big crowd of autograph seekers.

Because Diamond is left-handed and throws strikes, he should have a solid major league career. Stardom is not likely, but I think he may be around awhile. Good that I got an autograph card of him when I did. Thanks for signing for me Scott; I think you have a lot more people interested in you now.

10 Signed Alexi Casilla Baseball Cards

Minnesota Twin Alexi Casilla was appearing at Sport Authority in Richfield last Saturday, so I hustled down there, and got him to sign two baseball cards for me. I now have 10 signed baseball cards of Casilla which is most I have of any player (Four guys are tied for 2nd with 7 signed cards). 

Casilla’s not a big star by any stretch, but I have always liked him. He seems to have a knack for getting the big hit (like the game winning hit in the division clinching Game 163 back in 2009) for the Twins. When Casilla is on, it seems the Twins are on. When Casilla is not on, it seems the Twins are not on.

Alexi Casilla has been pretty good at signing the cards I sent him in the mail hence the large number of autograph cards I have of him. Casilla’s future with the Twins always seemed to be iffy, but till he is no longer with the team he will be a favorite of mind. Thanks for signing for me Alexi, it is appreciated.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Minnesota Twins Talent Drain

The Minnesota Twins have the worse record in baseball. On May 2, 2012 they were no-hit. The Twins have only one power hitter (Josh Willingham), and two other above average major league hitters (Joe Mauer & Denard Span). Former superstar Justin Morneau is a shell of himself and probably should retire, but will likely hang on till his contract expires at the end of next year. The rest of the Twins hitters are below average role players. The best minor league talent is in Single A ball, not Triple A ball.

The starting pitching is even worse. Carl Pavano is fading. Francisco Liriano is a total mess. Liam Hendriks is an inexperienced pitcher in need of patience from a team with seemingly none. Nick Blackburn and Jason Marquis are end of the rotation starters on a team filled with such pitchers. There are no starting pitchers in Twins minor league system worthy of promotion.

So basically the Twins are a bad team with no immediate help available in the minors. The Twins are in need of a rebuilding job. They should trade Pavano, Marquis, Matt Capps, Ryan Doumit, and Jamey Carroll for prospects. However, I think they will hang on to these guys hoping for a turnaround that is likely not coming.

Many Twins fan might be wondering how a team that had been so successful from 2002 – 2010 could fall apart so quickly. The answer is simple – former GM Bill Smith ruined the team with terrible trades and poor decisions on which free agents to retain. Look below at who Smith traded during his reign as GM.

  • Johan Santana – Best pitcher in baseball from 2004-2007
  • Jason Bartlett - Starting shortstop who would become an All-Star
  • Matt Garza – A promising pitcher who has developed into a top of the rotation starter
  • J.J. Hardy – A starting shortstop and former All-Star
  • Wilson Ramos – A well-thought of young starting catcher
  • Carlos Gomez – A gifted defensive outfielder who cannot hit
  • Delmon Young – A once highly thought of outfield who has had more bad than good
  • Jim Thome – Future Hall of Famer at the tail end of his career but still productive
  • Kevin Slowey – End of the rotation starting pitcher

In exchange for all the above talent, the Twins have the remaining players

  • Matt Capps – An erratic closer hated by the Twins fan base
  • Deolis Guerra – A rising minor league reliever with some upside
  • Lester Oliveros – A minor league reliever with a good fastball and bad control
  • Brett Jacobson – A minor league reliever with no real upside
  • Daniel Turpin – A minor league reliever with little future

Add in that Smith and the Twins ownership allowed top flight talents Torii Hunter, Orlando Hudson, Michael Cuddyer, Jason Kubel, Joe Nathan, Matt Guerrier, Jesse Crain, Jose Mijares, and Nick Punto leave via free agency when they could have traded for prospects, and you see the problem.

Some folks might point out that some of the free agency that left brought back compensatory draft picks. Those picks are below:

For Hunter the Twins got the following picks (Carlos Gutierrez – a reliever stuck at AAA who is now hurt, and Shooter Hunt – a reliever with major control problems who is no longer in the Twins system).

For Guerrier and Crain the Twins got 3rd baseman Travis Harrison and starting pitcher Hudson Boyd, both of whom are about to start their first year in the Twins system.

The Twins have some picks for Cuddyer and Kubel in this year’s draft, but no one is holding their breath the Twins will get anyone worthwhile.

The Twins have lost a lot of good major league talent and gotten little back in return. The Twins supposed brilliance at developing their own talent is a more myth than reality. Like many teams, the Twins hit a good run of success, and now that run is at an end.

Unlike the New York Yankees the Twins cannot buy their way into contention, they have to rebuild through minor league player development. Things are going to get ugly this year, but maybe with some of those high draft picks that come with finishing at the bottom of the standings the Twins can get some young talent that can be future stars. At least that’s the hope, and in baseball hope springs eternal.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Some Random Twins Thoughts

  • Starting pitcher Scott Baker’s Twins career has come to an end with a dud. Baker had to have Tommy John surgery which means he is lost for the season which due to his contract status means the end of his Twins career. I had multiple encounters with Baker and he always was nice to me. I hope he can recover and revive his career.

  • The Twins also released infielder Luke Hughes who was promptly picked up by Oakland. Hughes never came to Twinsfest or made in person appearances, still I was able to get a signed card of him because he was fairly decent at answering his fan mail. Thanks Luke best of luck to you in Oakland.

  • Back in 2009 I was at Twinsfest and amongst the players I got to sign a card for me was Philip Humber a pitcher who had looked pretty bad in 2008. But I wanted signed cards from every living current and former Twin so Humber qualified. Humber was pretty bad in 2009, and was released. On April 21, 2012 Philip Humber pitched a perfect game for the Chicago White Soxs. How much would it cost me know to get Humber’s autograph? I bet a lot more than I paid at Twinsfest. This only proves that you should get guys autographs when you can, because you never know how their career will eventually turn out.

  • Twins first base coach Jerry White set a record for me. It took him 4 years 6 months 15 days to return a baseball card I had sent him to autograph. Since then I have gotten him twice in person. Jerry, you gotta work on getting to your fan mail faster.

  • My thanks to former Twins pitcher Eric Milton who took only 171 days to sign 3 cards for me which is great because I liked Eric a lot when he played for the Twins. Eric also threw a no-hitter when he was with the Twins which means he will always be a player remembered by future generations of Twins fans as no-hitters are rare.

  • On the negative side former Twin Ken Landreaux took a few days over 4 years and 5 months to return my cards UNSIGNED with a note asking for $10 a card. He needed over 4 years to decide he wanted to charge for his autograph? Come on Ken you can do better than that. As it was, I had bought autographed Ken Landreaux for $5. 

  • I had sent cards to Jose Mijares, Rob Delaney, and Chuck James when they played in the Twins organization and never heard back from them. They promptly leave the Twins, I send them cards, and they autograph them and send them right back. This makes me wonder how good the Twins are at distributing fan mail to their players.

  • I currently have signed cards from 399 current and former Twins. I have 2 more I will be picking up soon via private signings, so I will be over 400 soon. I have 245 more to go.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Alan Jackson's "So You Don't Have to Love Me Anymore"

Garth Brooks may have been elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame this year, but for my money Alan Jackson is the greatest country music singer of his generation. Here is his great new song "So You Don't Have to Love Me Anymore" which I think is one of his best songs in a while.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Twinsfest 2012

I attended Twinsfest 2012 which is the off-season celebration of all things Minnesota Twins. I went both Friday and Sunday, and getting 36 player autographs. Here are some highlights / thoughts:

  • This year the Twins were doing wrist band drawings to determine who got to receive a Joe Mauer or Justin Morneau autograph. I arrived Friday night to get a Mauer wristband and the lady asked if I wanted a Morneau wrist band too. I said yes, and she said “here is a green one which is the one we just drew to get an autograph.”

  • I got to shake Twins GM Terry Ryan’s hand on Sunday. He was standing out in the middle of the event just talking to folks. Very impressive that he would take the time to mingle with the common fan.

  • I got autographed cards from newcomers Josh Willingham, Jamey Carroll, Jason Marquis, and Ryan Doumit. None of their lines were very long, reminding me yet again that Twins fans take time to warm to newcomers not name Jim Thome.

  • I was able to get signed cards from former Twins and personal favorite Jacque Jones. Jacque was supposed to be signing with former teammate Shannon Stewart. Well Jacque showed up on time, but Stewart was nowhere to be seen. They decided to let anyone who just wanted Jacque to come up to the front of the line, so I went. After he signed a card for me, I asked if I could go through the line again and get a ball signed. They said yes, and right after Jacque finished signing my ball guess who decided showed up? Since Shannon was now right in front of me, I had him sign a card. You get lucky once and a while.

  • I had not slept well Saturday night, and my stomach was sore Sunday morning, but I still headed down to Twinsfest because I wanted to get a card signed by Brad Radke. I missed out on getting Radke Friday as his line with Kent Hrbek and Dan Gladden was cut off before I got through. I arrived Sunday in time to strike up a conversation with the gentlemen in front of me. I found out he just wanted to get a photo signed by Rod Carew who was signing with Radke. The fellow then said to me “if you want I will get Radke to sign something for you.” I thought that was a nice gesture by an obviously kind individual. So I ended up with two signed Brad Radke cards. Thanks much to the gentlemen who helped me out.

  • While most dealers were selling baseball related stuff, some enterprising individuals were selling photos of the hottest new sports heroes in Minnesota – Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love.

I had a good time at Twinsfest, and would recommend it to anyone interested in the Twins. Below a list of players I got to sign for me:

  • Justin Morneau

  • Joe Benson

  • Ben Revere

  • Kyle Waldrop

  • Nick Blackburn

  • Scott Baker

  • Alexi Casilla

  • Matt Capps

  • Chris Parmelee

  • Jeff Gray

  • Liam Hendriks

  • Jacque Jones (2 items)

  • Shannon Stewart

  • Jerry White

  • Joe Vavra

  • Brian Duensing

  • Ryan Doumit

  • Trevor Plouffe

  • Rene Tosoni

  • Rod Carew (2 items)

  • Ron Gardenhire

  • Josh Willingham

  • Jason Marquis

  • Jamey Carroll

  • Jeff Manship

  • Glen Perkins

  • Anthony Swarzak

  • Brad Radke (2 items)

Minor leaguers who were signing for free:

  • B. J. Hermsen

  • Tyler Robertson

  • Aaron Hicks

  • Terry Doyle

  • Nate Hanson

  • Carlos Gutierrez

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Autographs Through the Mail (TTM) Success Rate

With the calendar turning to 2012, I start my sixth year of collecting autographs through the mail (TTM). Below are my statistics since I started sending cards out (sent out / received signed):

Baseball (since 2007)

904 / 502 = 55% success rate

Football (since 2008)

93 / 63 = 68%

Hockey (since 2007)

92 / 65 = 71 %

Others (since 2008)

16 / 7 = 44%

One reason for the baseball numbers being less successful is my attempt to get every living Minnesota Twins player to sign a baseball card for me.

There are 643 living players and I have 380 with roughly 320 of those coming through my mail effort. Unfortunately, I have 111 requests out that have not and may never return. I have no addresses for the 148 others, but I will keep looking as addresses seem to appear when I least expect them.

My goal for 2012 is to continue to add to my Twins collection. I doubt I will be sending out as many cards to players on other teams as I have in the past due to a low success rate.

I hope to get signed cards at Twinsfest from newest Twins Josh Willingham, Ryan Doumit, Jamey Carroll, and Jason Marquis. If not, I will try them via the mail. I hear Doumit, Carroll, and Marquis are decent signers through the mail. Hopefully they will continue to be so during their time with the Twins.

I also hope to make more progress on getting a signed card from every playoff roster member of the Twins 1991 World Series team. I have signed cards of every member of the 1987 World Series team, so it can be done. I currently have 19 of the 25 players of the 91 team.

Here’s hoping for more success this year.