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Minnesota Twins Sam Deduno, Jamey Carroll Added to WBC Rosters

The number of Minnesota Twins participating in next month’s World Baseball Classic is now six.

In addition to catcher Joe Mauer (USA), closer Glen Perkins (USA), first baseman Justin Morneau (Canada), and catcher Drew Butera (Italy), pitcher Samuel Duduno and utility infielder Jamey Carroll have been added to WBC rosters. 

RHP Deduno has been added to the pitching staff representing the Dominican Republic. He was 6-5 with a 4.44 ERA for the Twins last season. Deduno, who was left off the 40-man roster last November, could use the WBC as a springboard to audition for the Twins’ pitching staff in 2013.

“He was frustrated when he was taken off the roster because he felt like he’d earned a spot, but he understands,” Paul Kinzer (Deduno‘s agent) told the Minneapolis Star Tribune last November. “He feels like he’s going to come to spring training and earn a spot in the rotation.”

The eleven-year MLB veteran Carroll, who turned 39 yesterday, was added to Team USA as a reserve and would be added to the roster in case of an injury.

Carroll, who began his MLB career with the now-defunct Montreal Expos, had a career-high 537 PA for the 66-96 Twins last season. He made 64 starts at second base, 36 at shortstop and 30 at third base.

The six players will leave spring training on March 3 to head to play for their respective countries in the third WBC.

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Justin Morneau Would "Love" to Stay a Twin, but Does Management Agree?

Justin Morneau, in the final year of a six-year, $80 million deal that will pay him $19 million this season, will likely be shopped around if the Twins fall out of contention in the AL Central.

The 2006 AL MVP told’s Judd Zulgad that he hopes to remain with the Twins this season, and beyond…but with a hitch. 

“If it looks like there’s a chance we’re going to win, I’d love to stay here. I’ve been here my whole career and this where I hope to be in the future. It’s hard to say otherwise. But sometimes those decisions aren’t yours. So we’ll see. We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.”

Morneau also told Zulgad that he was able to go full speed with his offseason workouts and didn’t have to worry as much about his health as he did a year ago when he was coming off multiple surgeries and dealing with the concussion issues that almost forced him to retire.

2013 is going to be a struggle for the Twins, who dealed outfielders Denard Span and Ben Revere for young pitching. They’re hoping the veterans they brought in (Mike Pelfrey and Kevin Correia) can help improve a pitching staff that finished with a 4.77 ERA (second worst in the American League) and was the only MLB team to not record 1000 (943) strikeouts.

Despite that, Morneau has that spring training optimism and hopes the Twins will be buyers instead of sellers come July.

“So until that comes along and it’s proved otherwise, we plan on being a team that’s going to battle and be in it in July and hopefully adding to this team whatever we need.”

The Twins have flirted with the 100-loss mark the last two seasons, losing 99 in 2011 and 96 last year. Minnesota hasn’t lost 100 games in a season since 1982: a young team that featured Kent Hrbek, Gary Gaetti, Frank Viola, Tim Laudner and Tom Brunansky…all in their early 20s and integral cogs of the team that would win the World Series five seasons later.

The Twins also traded fan-favorite Roy Smalley to the New York Yankees for prospects (including Greg Gagne) and drafted Hall of Famer Kirby Puckett with the third overall pick in the MLB Entry Draft.

It wouldn’t be a surprise if Morneau plays the part of Smalley this year.

Morneau hit .267 with 19 home runs and 77 RBI in 134 games last season. He was being shopped around the league, and appeared to be on his way to the Los Angeles Dodgers before they made the mega-deal with the Boston Red Sox involving Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and former Twin Nick Punto.

It also doesn’t bode well with Morneau with the Twins are still appearing committed to the 24-year-old Chris Parmelee, who hit .338/.457/.645 with 17 homers in 64 games at Triple-A Rochester last season. Parmelee is expected to be the starting right fielder for the Twins to get big league at-bats until the first base position is vacant, either by trade or Morneau leaving next winter via free agency.

Morneau also says the he and the Twins haven’t talked extension, which is good considering his recent injury history.

“I think from their side and my side they want to see where I’m at. The last few years there have been some difficulties with all the injuries and all that stuff. It’s not something I’m really interested in doing during the season because it can become a distraction. We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

I’ve never been in this situation before. Obviously a young player you make the team and you try to make it to arbitration and get some stability. And for me, I was locked up after my first year of arbitration. So it’s something I haven’t experienced before but it doesn’t change anything. The goal is still to win.” 

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13 Things to Watch For in 2013 MLB Season

Today is Christmas, and that means two things: 55 days until Pitchers and Catchers report, and 115 days until Opening Day.

As we celebrate the Holiday season and get ready to celebrate the New Year, let’s take a look at the upcoming season at what will be memorable, breathtaking, and unforgettable moments in the 2013 MLB season.

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Historic World Series Rematch Almost Guaranteed as LCS Begins

There are four teams that are still alive in the Major League Baseball postseason: the Detroit Tigers, New York Yankees, San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals.

These storied franchises combine for 93 pennants and 48 World Series titles. They have had a combined 175 Hall of Famers—over half of the players inducted into Cooperstown.

Between 1922 and 2006, the four teams faced off in the World Series 15 times, with the Yankees and Giants meeting seven of those times (1922-24, 1936-37, 1951, 1962). The Yankees are 5-2 all-time against the Giants in the World Series .

The Yankees and Cardinals have met five times, with St. Louis winning three of those. St. Louis has also beat the Detroit Tigers in two of the three World Series that they have faced off, the last one in 2006.

The quest for the AL Pennant beings tonight at 8:30 when the New York Yankees take on the Detroit Tigers. The Yankees won the season series 6-4.

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Baseball’s Steroid Era Players Belong in the Hall of Fame…Somewhere

Love him or hate him, Alex Rodriguez will find himself among the greats at Cooperstown some day. Although it is a dark time for Major League Baseball, we need to learn to accept that the Steroid Era happened, and the only thing we can do about it is to prevent it from happening again.

Alex Rodriguez is one of the many faces and one of the greatest players of the Steroid Era. While many fans won’t acknowledge his records, and no matter how many asterisks are placed next to his name, each and every one of his 644 home runs has happened. Each of his 1,937 RBI are in the books.

Rodriguez, who turned 37 in last week, has an excellent shot of being the next player to reach the 3,000-hit plateau and needs only 128 more to accomplish the feat. He would be one of only five players in the 3,000 hit/500 home run club along with Willie Mays, Eddie Murray, Hank Aaron and Rafael Palmeiro. He is also only 17 home runs away from sending another Hall of Famer, this time Willie Mays, down the all-time home run list.

He is also an admitted steroid user and used banned substances while with the Texas Rangers from 2001-03. 

According to an ESPN article published in 2011, the Steroid Era “refers to a period of time in Major League Baseball when a number of players were believed to have used performance-enhancing drugs, resulting in increased offensive output throughout the game.” Although there is no definitive start day like the Dead Ball era (1901-1919), it is credited to have began in the late 1980s through the mid-2000s. 

In 1961, baseball commissioner Ford Frick petitioned to have Roger Maris’ home run record kept separate from Babe Ruth’s, citing the length of schedule (teams played more eight more games when Maris his 61 home runs in 1961 than then did when Ruth hit 60 in 1927. Maris hit home runs 60 and 61 in the last eight games that season). Many baseball traditionalists felt the same way.

Now, today’s traditionalists feel that Maris is still baseball’s single-season home run king.

“The institution of the asterisk, the most important typographical symbol in American sport, (is) terribly unfair. To take away Ruth’s record was to take away something that was held so close to the hearts of the baseball establishment that they couldn’t see doing it. Nonetheless, Roger Maris, did it. He hit 61 home runs and the fact that it took 162 games; he also had to do it playing at night, to bat against the screwball, having to travel to the west coast for games, and to do it all with a parade of reporters I think is unfair.” -Daniel Okrent in Ken Burns: Baseball

Regardless, there is a huge difference between the extra eight games (and exactly seven at-bats) between Ruth and Maris, and the body-altering drugs and chemicals between Maris and players like Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds or Sammy Sosa.

Another rule change that Frick was instrumental in was the widening of the strike zone so that Maris’ mammoth 1961 campaign never happened again, which opened the door to the “Golden Age of Pitching.” This launched the careers of Juan Marichal, Sandy Koufax, Bob Gibson and the dominant pitchers of the 1960s. 

Since there was a rule change implemented before those players started the dominant stages of their careers, should there be asterisks placed next to the names of those players too?

Baseball historians, while determining what records stand and which ones don’t, determined that everything after the year 1900 would be deemed the “Modern Era.” By this time, the strike zone was defined, four ball walks existed, the pitchers mound was 60 feet six inches from the now pentagon-shaped home plate. 

So because of the rules’ stabilization, Major League Baseball does not recognize records and statistics compiled in that era to be comparable to the statistics achieved today. Therefore records like Nap Lajoie’s .427 average in 1901 are the standard, whereas Hugh Duffy’s .440 average in 1894 (which is the highest single-season average since baseball’s inception) are not.

But Hugh Duffy still did it. And he is in the Hall of Fame.

Don’t get me wrong. Rule changes implemented by the Major League Baseball front office is no way comparable to injecting yourself in the butt with HGH and testosterone.

Just a quick disclaimer before we get into the juicy part: steroids are bad. They are wrong. Don’t do them. People who use steroids are cheaters. The damage that steroids users risk to their bodies far outweigh the athletic benefits of using them…not to mention the influence that professional athletes have on young and amateur athletes across the world.

Although there is no definitive start date of the Steroid Era, the pioneers of the era were the Bash Brothers Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco, who hit a combined 410 home runs while they were teammates with the Oakland Athletics from 1987 until 1992 when Canseco was traded to the Texas Rangers. McGwire was limited to only 74 games in 1993 and 1994 with foot injuries and the labor dispute…a dispute that would result in the cancellation of almost 950 MLB games, including the entire 1994 postseason.

Fans were disgruntled following the 1994 player strike and the 20 percent decrease in attendance from 1994 to 1995 reflected that.

However, in 1998, the home run phenomenon climaxed.

1998 was about three players: Seattle Mariner Ken Griffey Jr (one of the rare Steroid Era sluggers who hasn’t been linked to steroids), Chicago Cub Sammy Sosa, and McGwire (now with the St. Louis Cardinals)…all three in pursuit of Roger Maris’ single season home run record. Griffey was the early favorite. The reigning AL MVP fell five home runs short of tying Maris the season before and would finish the 1998 season with 56 again.  

The spotlight all summer was on Sosa and McGwire. The NL Central rivals were hitting home runs at a record-breaking rate and stayed almost neck and neck the entire way, and were tied at 55 apiece on August 31. But, while playing Sosa and the Cubs, McGwire hit his record-tying 61st off of Mike Morgan on September 7, then the record-breaking shot off Steve Trachsel the next night. McGwire finished the season with 70 home runs, which stood as the record until Barry Bonds hit 73 in 2001.

The excitement of the home run had fans flooding stadium gates. There were 5,064 home runs hit in the major leagues in 1998, which was the most all time and the first time there had been over 5,000 hit in a season. There were more hit the next season (5,528). And even more the next (5,693). The amount of home runs hit in the National League had more than doubled from 1992 (1,262) to 2000 (3,005).

And it was exciting…until it was revealed that players had been using performance-enhancing drugs and all the splendor has turned into bitterness

But players can argue that ball players had been using advantages to get the upper hand over their opponent for decades. After all, Ty Cobb was notorious for sharpening the spikes on his cleats in an attempt to slice open opposing players’ shins, right? Or what about stealing signs? Or Joe Niekro’s emery board? Or Kenny Rogers’ pine tar?

Right. But they haven’t been injecting testosterone and hormones into their bodies to give them a chemically produced edge.

Although the Steroid Era is a black mark on professional baseball history, we need to acknowledge that it happened and take away things that can help improve the game. Steroids saved baseball. The Steroids Era is a part of baseball history, and the players from that era belong in Cooperstown. Perhaps not hanging in the same hallway as Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Hank Aaron. But they belong somewhere.

Alex Rodriguez happened. He is a feared hitter that is capable of changing the game with a simple flick of his wrists. And, for that, he is Hall of Fame worthy.

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Minnesota Twins Rough Up Former Ace Santana in First Showdown

Last night, former Blue Jay Roy Halladay, now with the Philadelphia Phillies, threw seven shut out innings in a 9-0 win in his first game against his former team.

Johan Santana hoped to have similar success against his former Minnesota Twins teammates as he faced them for the first time since being traded in 2007.

After Orlando Hudson, Jason Kubel and Delmon Young all had doubles in the first inning, Santana found himself in a 4-0 hole already having thrown 40 pitches.

Santana settled down after that, lasting six innings and giving up five runs on eight hits, two walks. He struck out just four.

Twins DH Jason Kubel hit a solo homer in the top of the ninth to make the final score 6-0.

Twins starting pitcher Carl Pavano stole the show from the offense. Super Pavario pitched his second straight complete game shutout to help the Twins end their four-game slide. He’s amidst a stretch in which he’s gone 4-0 with a 1.63 ERA.

Santana, who won the 2004 and 2006 (and should have won the 2005) AL Cy Young Awards, posted a 94-44 record, a 3.22 ERA and over 1300 strikeouts during his eight seasons with the Twins.

The Twins are the only MLB team that Santana hasn’t beat during his eleven-year career.

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Ubaldo Jimenez: Colorado Rockies Finally Have Cy Young Caliber Pitcher

Nine of the last 11 NL Cy Young winners have come from the NL West. But none of them have worn a Rockies uniform.

That could soon change for the emerging Ubaldo Jimenez and the Colorado Rockies.

After watching Randy Johnson, Brandon Webb, Jake Peavy, Eric Gagne and Tim Lincecum (who were a combined 15-7 with a 2.67 ERA vs the Rockies during their respective Cy Young campaigns) dominate the NL West for each of Colorado’s division rivals, it may finally be Colorado’s turn to run into the spotlight.

Jimenez, 26, is off to one of the best starts in MLB history: 9-1 with an 0.88 ERA, which includes a no-hitter in Atlanta last April.

Despite Jimenez’ torrid start, the Rockies are 26-24 and in fourth place in the NL West.

However, team record doesn’t matter when it comes to Cy Young awards.

Of the past 11 NL Cy Young winners, only four made the playoffs.

Even last season, Zack Greinke won the AL Cy Young, despite his Kansas City Royals finishing 65-97.

In an organization in which many pitching records are held by Aaron Cook, Jeff Francis, and Pedro Astacio, Jimenez has the chance to not only set Rockies club records, but also MLB records.

Jimenez is on pace to win 29 games, give up only 28 earned runs and three homeruns, and could push winning 30 games.

Baseball hasn’t seen a 30 game winner since Denny McLain won 31 games for the Detroit Tigers in 1968. There hasn’t been an NL 30-game winner since Dizzy Dean in 1934.

The modern-era ERA record for a full-time starter is 1.12 set by Bob Gibson in 1968. Through his first ten starts in 1968, Gibson was 3-5 with a 1.52 ERA.

This afternoon, Jimenez and the Rockies face two-time defending Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum and the San Francisco Giants.

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Toronto Blue Jays Home Game in Philadelphia a Bad Idea

If anybody should be upset about the Toronto Blue Jays playing a home series in Philadelphia in June, it should be Jim Haslett.

Haslett, who is currently the defensive coordinator for the Washington Redskins, was the head coach of the NFL’s New Orleans Saints from 2000-2005, including the season in which the city of New Orleans was rocked by Hurricane Katrina.

While New Orleans was healing and rebuilding, the hometown Saints were finding new places to play, which included three games at Houston’s Alamodome and four games at LSU’s Tiger Stadium.

But perhaps the most controversial “home game” was the one played in New York.

While the New York Giants were supposed to travel to New Orleans, it ended up with the Saints going to the Meadowlands and being declared the home team, but playing in front of a Giants dominated crowd.

Basically, the only home field advantage New Orleans had was not calling the coin toss at the beginning of the game.

The Giants blew out the Saints 27-10.

A similar situation happened in 2008. A game in which the Chicago Cubs were supposed to travel to Houston to play the Astros was moved due to Hurricane Ike. But the game wasn’t moved to Wrigley Field.

It was moved to Miller Park in Milwaukee, a supposed “neutral” site, but one which is home to the division rival Milwaukee Brewers and the hometown of MLB Commissioner Bud Selig.

It resulted in Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano no-hitting the Astros, making it the only no-hitter at a neutral site.

It was announced this week that the June 25-27 interleague series between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Philadelphia Phillies will be moved from Toronto to Philadelphia due to security issues during the G-20 Summit.

Toronto will be declared the home team. Toronto will bat last and the designated hitter will be used, just like if Toronto were at Rogers Center or any American League park.

But if anybody thinks that Toronto will have any sort of home field anything playing in Philadelphia, they have another thing coming.

Philadelphia has the reputation of having the most rabid, unrelenting sports fans in the history of the world. 

Not to mention that the Phillies have won back-to-back National League Pennants, including the World Series title in 2008.

So why not move the series to a neutral site like the Chicago-Houston series in 2008?

In my opinion, this would be an excellent opportunity for baseball to expand its borders and expose Major League Baseball to markets that normally wouldn’t have the opportunity to watch a live Major League game.

Despite the Montreal Expos franchise moving to Washington, the former home of the Expos, Olympic Stadium, is still in use. I know it is not as appealing as playing a game in Philadelphia, but Toronto is Canada’s team now.

Baseball may not be as popular in Canada as other sports, but there is a sort of national pride in still having a team based north of the border. Why not have the Blue Jays exposed to other regions of Canada?

During the Expo’s fading years, they played a couple of their games at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan, Puerto Rico. This would be a familiar venue to the Blue Jays, as they played the Texas Rangers in the 2001 season opener here (Vernon Wells is the only remaining player from that team).

Mexico’s Estadio de Beisbol Monterrey would also be a good choice. The stadium is currently the home of Sultanes de Monterrey, and has seen several Major League games, including a 1996 series between the New York Mets and San Diego Padres, as well as the 1999 opener between the Colorado Rockies and San Diego Padres.

Although Major League games have been played in Japan, it may be tough to schedule games there. Toronto would fly from St. Louis to Tokyo to Cleveland. Philadelphia would fly from Philadelphia to Tokyo to Cincinnati. The Jays would travel 12,900 miles, while the Phillies would travel 22,330 miles.

An MLB game in Europe has never happened, but it is too late to schedule a game in Europe.

Oh, and don’t forget the other netural sites that won’t be using their MLB stadiums during those three days: Washington, Arizona, Minnesota, Cleveland, San Diego, Detroit, Houston, Seattle, St. Louis, Colorado, Pittsburgh, Boston, New York Yankees, and Chicago Cubs.

A reasonable neutral site would be Detroit or Cleveland, as they are both reasonably close to both Toronto and Philadelphia.

Basically, what I am saying is that the game should be played anywhere but in Philadelphia.

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