Jose Mijares Upset with Joe Mauer over Pitch Calls to Prince Fielder

The Brewers beat the Twins 4-3 Friday night thanks to a two-run double by Prince Fielder in the 7th inning. The double came with two outs and the Twins leading 3-2, so it ended up being the game-winning hit. Relief pitcher Jose Mijares didn’t get charged with the loss, but he’s the one who gave up the big hit and he blamed it on poor pitch calling by catcher Joe Mauer.

Mijares was upset that Mauer called for several fastballs in a row instead of a breaking ball. Mauer countered by saying Mijares missed his location on the pitch. Here’s a video of the at-bat to see what happened:

Mijares missed his location by the entire plate. Mauer called for an outside fastball — a reasonable pitch call with a full count — and Mijares threw it inside. Had he hit his spot and still allowed a two-run double, his complaint might have some credence. The problem is he didn’t execute his job. It’s also wrong that manager Ron Gardenhire backed Mijares saying he would have liked to see a breaking ball called as well.

We don’t know what would have happened if Mijares threw a breaking ball instead, but we do know two things. One, Mijares didn’t hit his spot, so he has no place to say Mauer made the wrong call. Two, if he wanted to throw a breaking ball instead of a fastball so badly why didn’t he shake off the sign or call Mauer out to talk about it? Seems like a much more reasonable solution to me. Instead, Mijares comes off looking like a whiner and Gardenhire is wrong for backing him.

Lesbian Couple Claiming Discrimination Against Target Field Security

If a team decides that they would rather not have couples kissing in their ballpark, that’s their prerogative.  Perhaps the owner of the team thinks the act of kissing or other romantic behavior is inappropriate in front of young children, which depending on the particular act could be a legitimate concern.  What is not acceptable, however, is holding gay and lesbian couples to a different standard.

On Tuesday, Hardball Talk passed along a story about two women, Taylor Campione and Kelsi Culpepper, who have filed a discrimination complaint against an unnamed Target Field security guard.  According to City Pages in the Twin Cities, Campione and Culpepper claim they exchanged a “brief kiss” when parting ways as Culpepper had to use the restroom. Campione was then approached by a security guard wearing a Twins hat.

“I saw you kissing that girl, you can’t do that,” Campione claims the staff member said.  When she protested and responded that she can kiss whomever she wants, the gentleman (loose term) told her that they “don’t play grab ass” at the stadium and instead “adhere to the 10 Commandements.”

Kevin Smith, a spokesman for the Twins, said the security guard has been reprimanded and called his behavior “unacceptable,” although he will keep his job as of now thanks to a previously blemish-free record.

In the era of Dance Cams and Kiss Cams, security guards obviously can’t be projecting their personal beliefs upon fans at the ballpark.  If players like Sean Avery and Steve Nash are making an effort to convince people that gay athletes on professional sports teams would be no big deal, it is important for staff members to cooperate and not convey a contradictory message. Sadly though, this goes hand-in-hand with the kind of comments David Tyree sadly made regarding gay marriage.

Minnesota Twins Wear 1961 Throwback Jerseys as Tribute to Harmon Killebrew

They say history and tradition in baseball is lost on the youth, but that’s clearly not the case in Minnesota. The Twins players decided to wear 1961 throwback jerseys for all games the rest of the season as a tribute to franchise Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew, who has entered hospice care.

It was revealed Friday that Killebrew would enter hospice care after doctors determined his esophageal cancer was incurable. The 11-time All-Star and Hall of Famer was a consistent presence with the franchise after his retirement. He made annual trips to Florida to help instruct the team during Spring Training and would show up for games in Minnesota, forging friendships with the current players.

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MLB Playoff Preview: American League

The National League playoff picture has yet to become clear, with only the Cincinnati Reds and the Philadelphia Phillies looking comfortably ahead of their division rivals. As such, we’ll take a look at the strengths and weaknesses of the American League powerhouse teams where the playoff picture is more clear.

The truth is, predicting who will win the World Series, even when picking from eight teams, is a crap shoot at best. The five and seven game series can easily go either way and the better teams, as proven by the 162-game schedule, rarely have any significant advantages over such a short span.

A few points of particular interest, when looking at playoff contenders, are their strengths or weaknesses in the secret sauce categories. During the eight team, Wild Card-era of baseball, teams that have had the most success have three things in common: strikeout pitchers, good team defense and a good closer (all of these are adjusted for ballpark and competition and all that junk).

Each win in the playoffs is that much more valuable, so closers often get extended for two and even three innings while good defenses keep games close. Good offensive teams do not have a significant edge in the playoffs because they face more power pitching and rarely get to see number four or five starters.

So how do the American League teams stack up? Let’s find out:

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Joe Nathan Took an Unnecessary Risk

It’s what Spring Training is all about.  Players testing out their arms and legs to make sure they are in their very best shape for the upcoming season. But for Minnesota Twins closer Joe Nathan, his season got shut down before it ever really got started.

Back on March 6th, Nathan left a spring training game early due to tightness in his right elbow. Sadly, that was the beginning of the end for the stellar closer.  Though Nathan was told by doctors to expect some problems following his minor surgery in October, the news was much worse. It turned out that Nathan had a torn ligament in his right elbow and would most likely need Tommy John surgery. This past weekend, Nathan and the Twins were looking for a miracle and had him try to throw again. The results were no different and he now will have surgery.

What I want to know is for a player like Nathan, why take the risk of injuring that elbow even more? Miracles are rare — very rare — and attempting to use that elbow in my opinion was just plain stupid; it was already injured. Doctors had already determined that he was going to need the Tommy John surgery. What made them think that playing catch a week later would have healed the tendons? The risk wasn’t worth it because Nathan could have made it much, much worse.

It’s a hard fact to face that you won’t be able to play in the brand new stadium with the team considered the A.L. Central favorite and committed to winning, but it happens. Regardless Nathan’s season is closed down. And I’m sure all the teams (besides the Twins) in the A.L. Central are happy to announce “He Gone.”

Nathan leaves with tightness in Elbow [MLB.com]
Minnesota Twins Lose Joe Nathan For the Season [Bleacher Report]

Joe Nathan Got Paid, Lost His Sanity

I’m quite pleased with the contract the Twins and Joe Nathan agreed upon. For one, it means Minnesota is retaining some of its elite talent and staying competitive. Secondly, it keeps the closer market down, which is good news for the Angels’ negotiations with Frankie Rodriguez. While it was nice to see Nathan get his contract, it wasn’t cool to see what it did with his head. All of a sudden the guy is spewing the company line though he can’t possibly mean it. Check out what he said:

We’ve shown that we’re committed to winning,” Nathan said. “A lot of people are counting us out, but we’re going to be good this year and for years to come, because we’re young and a lot of our guys are hungry.”

Right, because teams that are committed to winning trade away the best pitcher in the league. Duh, I should have known better. I mean, what better way to commit to winning than by trading away your stud pitcher in the middle of his prime? Even Johan said as much — the Twins aren’t committed to winning, and that’s why he wanted out. It’s amazing what a little bit of cash in the pocket will do to a man’s sanity. Apparently it’s good enough to brainwash Nathan. And it just confirms that the Twins are going about this rebuilding thing all wrong.

Johan Santana Does Not Make the Mets a World Series Winner

Sorry to deflate the balloon of all you Mets fans out there — and I know there are many of you — but I don’t think this trade (if it goes through) will mean a ring for your team. By acquiring the top pitcher in the game, you have become even more of a contender than you were before. But even with Johan Santana, do you still give the edge to the Mets over the Diamondbacks in the playoffs? That would be hard for me to do. Furthermore, the seminal Johan Santana moment for me — and this coming from one of his top fans going back many years — is when he got out-pitched by Barry Zito Game 1 of the ALDS at home, getting bombed on by the Big Hurt. I know Johan’s beaten the Yankees at Yankee Stadium in the playoffs, but I haven’t seen him rise his game in the post-season the way Josh Beckett has. And the Red Sox have Beckett, making them my favorite to win it all almost every year.

I’m not saying Johan Santana isn’t a great pitcher, and I don’t want to knock him down. I just have a really bad feeling about him leaving Minnesota. The four-year $80 million offer the Twins made seemed pretty good to me. I know Johan will probably bag $150-160 million guaranteed and be set for life (not to mention be on a well-funded, more competitive team), but I have a really bad feeling about him playing somewhere else. I don’t think he’ll be the same; I can see the extra media attention, pressure, or even injuries plaguing him. I really think staying in Minnesota for the four years and $80 million, plus another 3-4 year deal after that for an additional $75 million or so was probably the way to go rather than what he’ll likely get from the Mets. It’s not often that stars from small-market teams work out well when they sign monster deals with New York teams. I just hope Johan does well enough to the point where he’s going to Cooperstown wearing a Mets jersey.

And as far as the trade on the Twins’ side goes, it’s far too early to tell how this will pan out (if it goes down). You need at least five years to see what becomes of the four prospects they’re receiving. I’m being told Minnesota didn’t even get the Mets’ top prospects, but nobody can really comment until we see how they all pan out. What I do believe is that the Twins could have received a few major-league ready players from either the Red Sox or Yankees, but they didn’t pull the trigger. If you believe those reports (which nobody outside the actual negotiations really knows), then I think Aaron Gleeman summed it up best saying Smith slow-played a monster hand and didn’t get paid off. That seems about right to me. Oh yeah, and check out Johan’s Baseball-Reference page while you’re at it to see his post-season stats. Gleeman also sponsors the page and his comment there is hilarious.