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Justin Morneau’s Headaches Are a Big Problem for the Minnesota Twins

Fresh off of a 4-0 victory over the Los Angeles Angels, the Minnesota Twins moved five games ahead of the Chicago White Sox.

The Twins are a Major League-best 26-10 since the All-Star break and everything has come together for Minnesota of late. Yet there is someone missing from the Twins lineup.

His name is Justin Morneau.

The former MVP is hitting .345, with 18 home runs, and 56 RBI in just 81 games. Morneau hasn’t played since July 7, when he slid into second base and was kneed in the head against the Toronto Blue Jays.

What once seemed as a painful collision has turned into something much more.

No longer is it certain that Morneau will make it back into the Twins lineup this season and dare I say ever again?

Concussions are a tricky thing and everybody responds differently, but former Twin Corey Koskie saw his career cut short due to a concussion. 

It would be a shame if the same were to happen to one of baseball’s elite players.

Assuming Morneau will make it back this season could be wishful thinking at this point. Ron Gardenhire refuses to put a timetable on the slugger’s recovery, which is far from a positive sign.

It could also be a way of keeping the pressure off of Morneau and letting him recover at his own rate instead of rushing things to get him back on the diamond.

Minnesota lost Morneau to a back injury late last season as they went on a run to overcome the Detroit Tigers in Game 163.

The Twins were promptly swept by the New York Yankees and many were left to wonder if things would have been different if Morneau would have been healthy.

For the second straight season, the baseball world may not find out.

The good news for the Twins is that they appear to have the AL Central in control unlike last season, and for the first time in two years, it looks like they won’t need a Game 163 to decide whether or not they will be playing in the postseason.

With that being said, another division championship won’t suffice for the Twins. Morneau or no Morneau, a first-round exit isn’t acceptable for Minnesota.

Michael Cuddyer has been able to fill in admirably at first base for the second straight season, but when the playoffs came around last year, the Twins needed their star slugger.

If the Twins are going to get Morneau back this season, they are going to need him to be symptom-free for a few days before he embarks on a minor league rehab assignment.

It’s been well over a month and Morneau is still experiencing “fogginess” at the end of the day.

Minnesota has been in no rush to get him back on the field, which shows the organization is looking out for the player’s health first, but also that the concussion is much more serious than being let on.

Not only does Morneau’s concussion hurt this year’s team’s chances of making a deep playoff run, but if he is unable to come back 100 percent next season or at all, the Twins lose a franchise player they have built around.

No matter how you slice it, Morneau’s injury truly is one big headache for the Minnesota Twins. 

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Ranking MLB’s Top AL Manager of the Year Candidates

October is creeping closer and closer as each day passes, which means the postseason is on the horizon.

We are in the Dog Days of summer, as many great baseball pundits like to call August. This is the point in the season when teams step up and make a push or crumble under the pressure.

Whether a team will falter down the stretch or rise to the occasion will generally come down to how good its manager is. This season a lot of the top managers in the game have their respective teams in the playoff hunt.

Without further ado, let’s get rolling.

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Top Contenders Who Could Take the Throne From the New York Yankees

There isn’t any doubt that the New York Yankees are the best team in baseball.

They have the best record in the majors currently to go along with one of the deepest lineups in baseball.

Despite just an OK season from Alex Rodriguez the Bronx Bombers still lead the league in runs scored and have a run differential of +138, which is tops in baseball.

With all of that being said there are a number of quality teams that the Yankees will have to go through if they want championship No. 28. Surprisingly the Bombers top rival, the Boston Red Sox, don’t make the cut because of the unlikelihood they can hop the Tampa Bay Rays.

Let’s get to it.

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MLB’s Five Most Overpaid Players in 2010

With only a few more months to go before a champion is crowned, the 2010 season is winding down. As always, there are those players who have outplayed their current contract and those players who haven’t lived up to the millions of dollars that they are being paid.

Problems with age, injuries, and plain-old ineffectiveness are some reasons why these players made the list. It may not be fair to pick on someone who has battled injuries, but the club still has to pay the salary regardless if they are hurt or not. 

This list is in no particular order, so I will let you guys debate who belongs where.

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Minnesota Twins Need To Win Now, Not Next Year

I was at a restaurant when I saw on a nearby TV that Matt Capps was on his way to the Minnesota Twins. My first reaction was that of extreme joy as I felt that Capps wasn’t going to be traded at the deadline. Soon after I settled down, I looked at the screen closer and saw who was involved in the deal. Two names scrolled across the screen with only one that I knew.

The player that I knew, and most every Twin fan knew, was highly-touted catching prospect Wilson Ramos. Ramos was now heading off to the Washington Nationals where, conceivably, he will be behind the plate catching Stephen Strasburg fastballs for the next decade. 

As I scoured the Internet looking for any and all reaction on the trade, I was surprised to find out that a vast majority of the reaction was negative on the Twins part. What was even more surprising that most of the negative attention was coming from Minnesota blogs and articles.

I decided to wait a few days before writing a reaction on the trade. So many times it becomes too easy to quickly make a decision on something before further examining all the possibilities. 

Well, it’s been four days and one Matt Capps save since the deal was made and I am strongly in favor of it. Here’s why.

1. Jon Rauch was a serviceable closer and did a nice job, but he doesn’t have overpowering stuff, which is generally needed by a closer. Now he can slide into a seventh and eighth inning role to go along with Jesse Crain and Matt Guerrier keeping the bullpen fresh down the stretch.

2. Ramos very well may be the product of an organization hyping up a player who’s only true value to the team was as a trade chip. Think about it this way. Joe Mauer is going to be the team’s catcher for the next four to six years regardless of all the talk of him switching positions. Let’s be honest—Ramos had no future in Minnesota, leading me to my next point.

3. The time is now for the Twins. There is no new ballpark opening next year, it opened this year. The organization can no longer bank on tomorrow because tomorrow has arrived in Minnesota. General Manager Bill Smith did his job in the offseason by adding key acquisitions in Jim Thome, JJ Hardy, and Orlando Hudson. He did his job again at the trade deadline by improving the team.  

Ramos may turn into an All-Star catcher three or four years down the road, but nobody will remember that if Capps plays a key role in bringing a World Series to Minnesota. After all, sometimes you have to worry about next year when it comes and take a chance on this year, this team. 

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Joe Mauer’s Season Hits a Low After Failed Bunt Attempt

He is Mr. Minnesota.

The $184 Million Dollar Man. 

More importantly, Joe Mauer is the reigning AL MVP coming off one of the best statistical seasons baseball has ever seen.

Yet this season he has been just an average Joe (no pun intended). 

It isn’t the lack of Mauer Power this season or pedestrian .297 batting average that should worry Minnesota fans, but instead it should be his comments after Tuesday’s loss to the Cleveland Indians.

In the seventh inning, with the score 3-3 and one out, Mauer came to the plate with runners on first and second. What would come next would leave many wondering, what in the hell is he doing?

Mauer attempted to bunt the ball down the third baseline where Jhonny Peralta was playing back. This may seem like a smart play and if it works there is a good chance this article isn’t being written.

But it didn’t work.

The runners advanced on the play but Mauer was out at first, which put the pressure on Jason Kubel. Before I weigh in on this decision I want to get to Mauer’s comments, which appeared in The Minneapolis Star Tribune.

“If it works out, it’s bases loaded for Kubel—I like those chances,” Mauer said. “I’m not feeling the greatest at the plate right now, and that factors in, but that situation, you get two guys in scoring position with Kubel up and one out, I take my chances with that for sure.”


Does that sound like a man you want up with a chance to give your team a lead? 

“Perez on the mound is nasty. He throws a cutter the majority of the time. It’ll break away from a lefthanded hitter, and he induces a lot of double plays. So if I hit into a double play, you guys are probably talking about that.”


While Rafael Perez is a good pitcher—make no mistake about it—Mauer’s comments sound more like an excuse than anything. Yes, Joe has hit into 17 double plays so far and isn’t swinging a hot bat. But backing down from the challenge to put the onus on Kubel is not what the Twins are paying Mauer to do.

Maybe the increased attention coupled with the enormous contract and pressure to live up to last season is taking its toll on the Twins catcher. Maybe we are expecting too much from a man that plays the toughest position in baseball.

Either way with a chance to gain the lead, I want the $184 Million Dollar Man swinging the bat instead of squaring up to bunt.

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Are the Minnesota Twins Slumping, or Just Overrated?

As we approach the All-Star break, the Minnesota Twins are sitting in third place after a 6-5 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday night.

The Twins are only a game and a half out of first.

This doesn’t sound bad, but expectations are high and anything besides a deep playoff run would be a disappointment.  

The problem is that this was supposed to be the year the Twins put everything together.

They moved into a beautiful new ball park, getting out of the hideous Metrodome. Joe Mauer was re-signed, JJ Hardy was traded for, and Jim Thome and Orlando Hudson were brought in as free agent signings.

Simply put, the Twins spent money to improve the club.

Now, with the Tigers and White Sox surging and the Twins playing sub-par baseball, it’s time to ask: how good are these Minnesota Twins?

The pitching staff has floundered.  And, while the lineup looks potent on paper, it hasn’t produced to it’s capability on the field.

Justin Morneau is having another MVP-type season and Delmon Young is enjoying a breakout year.  However, other than that every other Twin that was a regular in last season’s lineup has underperformed.

Most notably, reigning AL MVP, Joe Mauer.

Yes he’s still hitting above .300 and has to deal with the daily grind of being a catcher. That being said, the Twins didn’t re-sign Mauer to an eight-year deal worth $184 million for the type of offensive production he has given them this year. By no means is the stud catcher having a bad year, but in terms of what we expect from Mauer, he is having a down year.    

Jason Kubel, Michael Cuddyer, and Denard Span have all had solid seasons, but nowhere near what was expected of them.

Cuddyer hit a career-high 32 home runs last season but has experienced a power outage thus far.  While part of that can be blamed on the pitcher friendly Target Field, he only has seven home runs.

As the cries for Cliff Lee become louder with every poor pitching performance, the Twins will be expected to make a big trade at the deadline.  One thing Lee won’t be able to do for Minnesota is hit.

The Twins have given up the least amount of runs in the division.  But, when it has come down to getting a bases loaded hit to break open the game or get a runner in from third with one out, the Twins haven’t been successful.

Lee would be a great addition to the rotation, but he won’t be able to deliver the clutch base hit in a pennant race.

If Minnesota wants to validate renting Lee for the remainder of the season, they are going to have to prove over the coming weeks that this recent stretch of poor play is the exception and not the rule.

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