Tag:Nick Blackburn
Posted on: November 25, 2011 3:09 pm
Edited on: November 26, 2011 1:38 pm
 

Homegrown Team: Minnesota Twins



By C. Trent Rosecrans


What if players were only permitted to stay with the team that originally made them a professional? No trades, no Rule-5 Draft, no waivers, no minor- or major-league free agency ... once you are a professional baseball player, you stay in that organization. This series shows how all 30 teams would look. We give you: Homegrown teams. 

For years, the Minnesota Twins were the model of how to build a consistent winner in a small market. From 2001-2010, the Twins appeared in the playoffs six times and recorded just one losing season. But the wheels fell off in 2011, with a mixture of bad fortune and bad pitching. The Twins have two former MVPs in their lineup, but it would be tough to find two former MVPs who did less in 2011 than Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer. Those two homegrown players were supposed to be cornerstones for the franchise, but their performance last season was more fitting a tombstone. The team's fortunes, for better or worse, will be tied to those two for the next few years.

Lineup

1. Denard Span, CF
2. Michael Cuddyer, 3B
3. Joe Mauer, 1B
4. Justin Morneau, DH
5. Torii Hunter, RF
6. Jason Kubel, LF
7. Wilson Ramos, C
8. Danny Valencia, 2B
9. Tsuyoshi Nishioka, SS

Starting Rotation

1. Matt Garza
2. Nick Blackburn
3. Kevin Slowey
4. Brian Duensing
5. Anthony Swarzak

Bullpen

Closer - Jesse Crain
Set up - LaTroy Hawkins, J.C. Romero, Pat Neshek, Glen Perkins, Grant Balfour, Peter Moylan

Notable Bench Players

A.J. Pierzynski, Ben Revere, Luke Hughes, Trevor Plouffe.

What's Good?

With Ramos and Pierzynski on the roster, there's zero reason for Mauer to get anywhere near catching gear -- unless it's for another commercial. With Mauer freed of pitching duties, he can concentrate on first base and Justin Morneau doesn't have to worry about playing in the field. Even though Morneau is a very good defensive first baseman, keeping him off the field could keep him on the field. Last year he suffered concussion-like symptoms after merely diving for a ball. Limiting his risks for a recurrence of head injuries should be a top priority for the Twins, and the easiest way to do that solves the team's other big problem, getting the most out of their long-term deal with Mauer. While the Twins don't have anyone on this list with a large number of saves on their resume, there are a ton of good relievers.

What's Not?

It's a good thing the team has good relievers, because they're going to need them -- and even more than the seven listed above. The rotation, after Garza, is shaky. That rotation isn't going to get much help from its defense, either. The roster makeup requires several position shuffles, including Cuddyer to third, a position he's played, but is not too keen on playing. The Twins also have to put Nishioka at shortstop. Although he played there some in 2011, the team signed Jamey Carroll to play shortstop every day in 2012 for a reason.

Comparison to real 2011

Well, if you thought it couldn't get much worse in Minnesota than it did in 2011, it may with this lineup and rotation. Minnesota went 63-99 in 2011, and it probably breaks the 100-loss barrier with this squad, but don't expect them to be historically bad, so it'd probably only cost four-to-eight wins in my unscientific research. Either way, it's an ugly summer in Minneapolis.

Up next: Pittsburgh Pirates

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Posted on: September 4, 2011 2:48 pm
 

Twins shut down Blackburn

Nick BlackburnBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Nick Blackburn's season is over, as the Twins placed the right-hander on the 60-day disabled list before Sunday's game.

Blackburn had been on the disabled list late last month with what was called a strained forearm and then later diagnosed as an entrapped nerve in his forearm.

Blackburn, 29, was 7-10 with a 4.49 ERA in 26 starts for the Twins this season. Moving Blackburn from the 15-day disabled list to 60-day disabled list allowed the team to call up infielder/outfielder Brian Dinkelman and right-hander Kyle Waldrop before Monday's doubleheader against the White Sox. The team will need to make another 40-man roster move before Tuesday's game when the team will call up right-hander Liam Hendriks for the game against Chicago.

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Posted on: August 22, 2011 9:35 am
 

Pepper: Pirates send small message with Tabata



By Matt Snyder


The Pirates announced Sunday that they agreed to terms with outfielder Jose Tabata. He'll be paid $14 million over the next six seasons, with options that could keep Tabata in Pittsburgh through 2019 (Associated Press). The deal buys out the remaining three years of arbitration, but that's not the important part -- which is that the Pirates made a long-term commitment to a young player.

Tabata, 23, has a .356 on-base percentage with 15 stolen bases and 44 runs this year in 75 games, serving mostly as the leadoff man.

He is certainly no Andrew McCutchen and he's been signed for a pretty cheap deal, but the signal is the same as it was when the Pirates were buyers at the trade deadline: These Pirates aren't a laughing matter anymore. No longer is ownership content to simply be a virtual Triple-A team, developing players only to have them traded or leave via free agency. When they lock up McCutchen, which I fully expect, the signal will be even louder. Granted, the Pirates will never be a large-market spender, but the increased attendance this season shows the fans are still there, should the team become a legitimate contender. Expect the Tabata deal to be the first of several.

Strasburg Watch: Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg will make his fourth rehab start Monday. He'll pitch for Class-A Hagerstown again, where he was shelled last time out. He was dominant in his first two outings, however, so Monday will be a good gauge to see if that was simply an off-day. He's going to be working toward four innings and 65 pitches (Nationals Journal). That's a huge sign, because from 65 pitches, a lot of pitchers jump to 80 next time. Presumably, 80 pitches is enough to get back to the bigs. Strasburg is scheduled to have a fifth rehab start August 27, but if everything goes well in these next two outings, that's likely all he'll need before joining the Nats.

Joe on A.J.: Yankees manager Joe Girardi and struggling starting pitcher A.J. Burnett appeared to exchange some pretty heated words Saturday night, but both Girardi and Burnett said the issue was Burnett's anger at the home plate umpire. Girardi reiterated that sentiment Sunday, but also noted Burnett is on shaky ground due to his pitching performance. "The reality is he needs to pitch better," Girardi said (New York Times baseball blog).

Pronk injured: Indians designated hitter Travis Hafner broke an 0-for-16 slump with a single late in Sunday's game, but when he rounded first base, he pulled up lame and limped his way to getting tagged out and back to the dugout. He has a right foot strain, which is a similar injury to one that kept him out for five games earlier in the season (MLB.com).

Time for revenge: It's been a while since the Rangers and Red Sox played. In fact, it was the first series of the season. Many of us may have forgotten the Rangers kicked the Red Sox teeth in for three games, sweeping them and outscoring them 26-11 in three games. It's the only team the Red Sox have played this season and not beaten. Reliever Daniel Bard certainly hasn't forgotten, though, as he said "we owe them something for the first series of the year," Sunday (BostonHerald.com). The two teams square off for a four-game series in Texas, beginning Monday.

Winded Grandyman: Yankees center fielder Curtis Granderson hit an inside-the-park home run at Minnesota Sunday, and he was a bit tired after the trip around the bases. “It was good until everyone wanted to talk,” Granderson said (LoHud). ” As we’re coming in, everyone was asking about it, and I couldn’t really talk too much.”

Action Jackson: Tigers center fielder Austin Jackson ended Sunday's game by throwing out the would-be tying run at home plate. A game-ending double play scored 8-2 hasn't happened since 1988 when Pirates center fielder Andy Van Slyke pulled it off, according to Baseball-Reference.com.

Swarzak in, Blackburn out: Twins starting pitcher Nick Blackburn injured his right forearm early in his start against the Yankees Sunday, and it looks like he's headed for the disabled list, as the Twins have already named a replacement in the rotation. Anthony Swarzak will get the spot (Around the Majors). Swarzak is 2-2 with a 3.16 ERA and 1.05 WHIP in five starts this season.

Love for Hendry: Recently-fired Cubs (former) general manager Jim Hendry has been beaten down pretty good in terms of fans, message boards, Twitter, etc. But you rarely hear anything bad about him as a person from his own players, media who know him personally or even opposing players. Former Cubs shorstop Ryan Theriot -- who Hendry traded last season -- joins in, calling Hendry a good person who has a good heart (Chicago Tribune).

Leyland tossed again: Tigers manager Jim Leyland had a pretty nice ejection Sunday, marking the fifth time in the past two months he's been run. The Detroit Free-Press has a list of the five ejections.

On this date: Mark McGwire made his big-league debut 25 years ago today. (Hardball Times)

Oh, Nails: Former Phillies and Mets outfielder Lenny Dykstra is currently serving time in prison because he filed for bankruptcy and then tried to sell off part of his estate for profit -- which is otherwise known as embezzlement -- and was also accused of lying under oath and trying to hide some of his assets from the bankruptcy court. Apparently, however, Lenny doesn't believe the law applies to him because he was good in the 1993 World Series. Seriously: Read his post by clicking here and let me know if I'm wrong, but I believe that's kind of his argument -- warning, the post has the grammar and spelling of an eight year old. The best part is that Dykstra is delusional enough to believe he's been targeted by a government that wants to redeem itself for the O.J. Simpson case by nailing a celebrity. I mean, you can't make this stuff up. It's amazing.

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Posted on: July 26, 2011 2:19 am
Edited on: July 26, 2011 2:19 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Kipnis' first hit one to remember

Jason Kipnis

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Jason Kipnis, Indians: In the sixth plate appearance of his young career, the Cleveland rookie delivered his first hit -- a single to right. That's great and all, but the fact that it was done with two outs and bases loaded in the ninth inning of a tie game is what lands him here. It overshadowed the play with bases loaded and one out when Travis Buck grounded into a 9-2 putout -- Torii Hunter was playing in the infield to try to cut down the winning run at home, which he did. Temporarily.

Chris Denorfia, Padres: There are few plays as awesome as a steal of home. In the span of two days, Denrofia gave us one of the season's best defensive plays -- robbing Raul Ibanez of a home run on Sunday -- and then following that up with a great offensive play Monday. In the second inning of the Padres' 5-4 victory over the Phillies, Denorfia was on third with a runner at first and as soon as Cliff Lee lobbed a throw over to first, Denorfia broke toward the plate and beat the throw home for San Diego's first steal of home since Mark Sweeney did it in 2005.

James McDonald, Pirates: The Pittsburgh right-hander recorded a career-high nine strikeouts and picked up his seventh win of the season in a 3-1 victory over the Braves. Pittsburgh has now started seven of the last eight McDonald has started. McDonald lasted just 5 1/3 innings -- and has yet to complete seven innings in any start -- but that's good enough with the Pirates' bullpen. McDonald left the game with bases loaded and one out in the sixth inning, but Chris Resop got a popup to the catcher and a strikeout to end the threat. Joel Hanrahan worked a perfect ninth for his 29th save.


Twins pitchers: The most successful Twins pitcher on Monday started the game at first base before moving to right field and then the mound. Michael Cuddyer was the only Twin to take the mound and leave unscathed. His scoreless ninth was one of just two scoreless innings tossed by the Twins in their 20-6 loss to the Rangers. Left-hander Phil Dumatrait wasn't charged with a  run, but came into the game in the fifth inning and allowed a two-run double to Elvis Andrus, but both runs were charged to Chuck James. Starter Nick Blackburn allowed 11 hits and nine runs (six earned) in 2 2/3 innings. Jose Mijares was charged with five runs (four earned) in 2/3 of an inning. James allowed four runs in one inning and Alex Burnett allowed two runs. Cuddyer gave up two hits and a walk, but no runs in the eighth inning.

Marco Scutaro, Red Sox: Several Red Sox hitters failed to help their cause late in the team's 3-1 loss to the Royals in 14 innings on Monday night and Tuesday morning, but Scutaro was the worst offender. In the 12th inning, Scutaro missed the sign for the suicide squeeze, allowing the Royals to easily get Josh Reddick in a rundown. He then singled and was thrown out at second trying to stretch a single into a double. He then ended the game in the 14th looking at a called third strike from Joakim Soria. The Red Sox put runners in scoring position with less than two outs in three of the five innings from the ninth to the 13th and failed to capitalize.

J.P. Howell, Rays: Howell gave up two singles and a walk to help bring Oakland to within a run of the Rays in the seventh inning before being pulled for Joel Peralta, who allowed a two-run double to Conor Jackson to give Oakland the lead for good. In 17 2/3 innings this season, Howell has allowed 21 runs and 18 earned runs.

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Posted on: July 8, 2011 4:05 pm
Edited on: July 8, 2011 8:49 pm
 

On Deck: NL East showdown

OD

By Matt Snyder


It's a full slate of games Friday night as we head into the last weekend before the All-Star break. Let's start with an enticing matchup in Philly.

Beasts in the East: The Phillies have the best record in baseball, yet only a 2-1/2 game lead in the NL East, as the Braves will not go away. The Braves actually trail the Red Sox by just two percentage points for the second-best record in all of baseball. The Phillies have been pretty consistently great all season, but the Braves come to town scorching hot. They've won four in a row and 14 of their past 17. You'd have to give the advantage on the hill to the home team Friday night, though, as Roy Halladay (11-3, 2.44) takes the hill. That isn't to say Brandon Beachy (3-1, 3.23) is an unworthy adversary. Quite the contary, Beachy has 72 strikeouts in 61 1/3 innings and has shown he can dominate at times. This three-game series should not disappoint. Atlanta at Philadelphia, 7:05 p.m. ET. Watch Live on Gametracker

Off the Schneid? The Twins have beaten the White Sox eight times in a row, including all five meetings this season. They've actually won a whopping 29 of the last 36 games against Chicago's South-Siders. Talk about utter domination. It's probably gotten to the point where it's a mental mountain for the White Sox, but they still have plenty of chances this season to turn things around. Friday night, they'll have a shot. At least in theory, since the two teams play each other. Gavin Floyd (6-8, 4.17) is the starter for the Sox, but he's been awful against the Twins in his career (4-9, 5.20). Nick Blackburn is the Twins' pitcher for the night and he has completely handcuffed the White Sox this season. He's 2-0 with a 0.61 ERA in two starts against them. On paper, it looks like the streak continues, but games aren't played on paper. We'll see. Minnesota at Chicago (AL), 8:10 p.m. ET. Watch Live on Gametracker

Mediocrity Central: The Brewers and Cardinals are tied for first in the NL Central. The Pirates trail by just one game. The Reds -- who are a game under .500 -- are only three out. Hell, the Cubs are only 11 games out and they have the second-worst record in baseball. Who has the worst? The Astros. Of the NL Central. Just to give a good point of reference, the Mets would be 1-1/2 games out in this division. Instead they're 10 out in the East. We'll see how things shake out this weekend for the four teams that matter here, but they could be ordered any which way by the break. Friday, the Brewers and Reds face off in Milwaukee, with Mike Leake (8-4, 4.03) going against the thus-far disappointing Zack Greinke (7-3, 5.66). Meanwhile, the Cardinals will send Kyle Lohse (8-5, 2.97) to the hill and attempt to beat Arizona's near-All-Star Ian Kennedy (8-3, 3.38). And if the Reds and Diamondbacks win, the Pirates can slip into a three-way first place tie with a win over the Cubs. It shouldn't be difficult, as James McDonald (5-4, 4.40) gets the nod for the Bucs, and he's been hot -- 3-1 with a 2.98 ERA in his last nine starts. The Cubs send Rodrigo Lopez (1-2, 3.91) to the mound, after needing an eight-run comeback to avoid a four-game sweep in Washington. Check CBSSports.com Live Scoreboard for all game action

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Posted on: June 29, 2011 4:27 pm
Edited on: June 29, 2011 4:41 pm
 

Twins win another 1-0 game

Ben Revere

By C. Trent Rosecrans

The Twins just won another 1-0 game, their seventh overall 1-0 game and fifth victory in a 1-0 contest. Five of the seven games came at Target Field and the only two losses were on unearned runs.

Here's all of their 1-0 games this season:

June 29: Twins 1, Dodgers 0: Scott Baker went 7 1/3, allowing six hits and a walk, striking out 9. Rubby De La Rosa allowed just one run on six hits in seven innings for the Dodgers to get the hard-luck loss. The only run came in the first after Ben Revere led off the game for the Twins with a triple and Tsuyoshi Nishioka knocked in the game's only run with a dribbler down the first-base line.

June 18: Twins 1, Padres 0: Another great start by Baker, who allowed just four hits and a walk in eight innings, striking out 10. Padres starter Tim Stauffer went seven innings allowing six hits, one of them a Danny Valencia homer in the seventh inning.

June 16: Twins 1, White Sox 0: Right fielder Michael Cuddyer homered off of Mark Buehrle in the second for the only run of the game and one of three hits Buehrle surrendered in seven innings. Nick Blackburn gave up seven hits (all singles) in eight innings, walking one.

June 7: Indians 1, Twins 0: In Cleveland, Indians starter Carlos Carrasco held the Twins to just three hits in 8 1/3 innings, while Chris Perez came in for the final two outs. Minnesota starter Francisco Liriano went 5 innings, giving up three hits and an unearned run. Cleveland scored in the fourth when left fielder Delmon Young's throw allowed Carlos Santana to advance to third on his leadoff double, followed by an RBI groundout by Shelley Duncan.

May 28: Twins 1, Angels 0: Anthony Swarzak took a no-hitter into the eighth inning and Valencia's RBI single in the 10th gave Minnesota the victory. The Angels' Jered Weaver allowed just two hits in 9 innings, but Hisanori Takahashi gave up a single in the 10th inning and Jason Repko came in, Takahashi allowing three straight singles to decide the game.

May 3: Twins 1, White Sox 0: Liriano no-hit the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field and Jason Kubel homered in the seventh for the lone run. Edwin Jackson gave up six hits in eight innings for the White Sox.

April 9: A's 1, Twins 0: With two outs in the sixth, Blackburn gave up a single to Kurt Suzuki who moved to second on a wild pitch and scored on a throwing error by shortstop Alexi Casilla for the game's only run. Minnesota used five relievers, while Gio Gonzalez allowed four hits in six innings for Oakland.

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Posted on: June 28, 2011 1:16 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Ramirez blasts two homers

Ramirez

By Evan Brunell


UpAramis Ramirez, Cubs -- Ramirez blasted two home runs, with Carlos Pena joining in on the fun too. But Ramirez gets the props here for a 3-for-4 showing, scoring three runs and driving in three while adding a double as the Cubs raked Jhoulys Chacin over the coals. Ramirez hasn't been the same the last couple of seasons but is still a quality hitter who was in sore need of a power display such as this, as his slugging percentage prior to the game was at .417. It's up to .446 now.

Brandon Phillips, Reds -- Phillips hadn't been performing up to expectations on offense this season but has turned things around since with his 4-for-5 evening pushing his batting average to .299 after collecting hits in half of his last 32 at-bats. Despite boasting the best run differential in the NL Central, the Reds have scuffled lately. Phillips' hot streak has allowed the Reds to more or less keep pace and are now a half-game behind the Cardinals for first place. The Brewers lead by three games over St. Louis.

Trent Oeltjen, Dodgers -- The 28-year-old Oeltjen, all due respect to him, is nothing more than an average backup outfielder. But Monday he was so much more, ripping four hits in four trips to the plate and making a case to get some more playing time. The Dodgers, who have struggled to find someone to fill left field with any measure of aplomb, will be all too happy to oblige. Despite hitting .350/.440/.650 in 20 at-bats, Oeltjen's career line only increased to .229/.286/.404 in 109 career at-bats.



DownNick Blackburn, Twins -- Blackburn, just like most other Twins pitchers, got raked over the coals Monday, dropping Minnesota's sixth straight game. The right-hander coughed up eight runs, seven earned, in a game the Dodgers would eventually go on to win 15-0. Blackburn got through 4 1/3 innings before he was yanked having given up 13 hits, walking and whiffing one apiece. Of the five Twins pitchers, only one -- Matt Capps -- was unscored upon, while the rest gave up at least two.

Michael Brantley, Indians -- The Indians haven't gotten much for their CC Sabathia trade. Matt La Porta only just claimed the full-time position at first base, but he's sidelined with injury currently and isn't quite a centerpiece. Brantley, meanwhile, hasn't delivered on his leadoff potential, striking out three times in five hitless at-bats against the Diamondbacks to drop his overall line to .272/.335/.392. For a punchless outfielder to start, he has to register a high OBP, which the 24-year-old certainly is not doing. Cleveland absolutely needs to continue playing Brantley, but he doesn't exactly inspire confidence.

Sean Burnett, Nationals -- Burnett couldn't give Davey Johnson a win -- or even a tie -- in his return to managing. The Nationals knotted the game at 3-all in the top of the ninth on a Danny Espinosa home run, but Maicer Izturis singled in a run in the bottom 10th to end the game. Burnett, who opened the year as closer and has been demoted to middle relief since, opened the frame by inducing an out, but quickly gave up a single and ground-rule double. Johnson ordered an intentional walk of light-hitting Bobby Wilson to set up a force at every base, but Izturis rendered that moot with a grounder that barely eluded Espinosa at second.

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Posted on: June 17, 2011 12:52 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Weeks edition

3 Up, 3 Down: One Weeks up, one down

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Jemile Weeks, Athletics -- In his ninth big-league game, the younger brother of the Brewers' second baseman is already making a name for himself. Weeks went 2 for 4 with three RBI in Thursday's 8-4 victory over the Royals, doubling in two runs to start the scoring in the second and also coming around to score in the four-run frame. He added an RBI single in the fifth. He's now hitting .344/.364/.594 since being called up to replace the injured Mark Ellis.

Nick Blackburn, Twins -- The Twins right-hander out-dueled Mark Buehrle by going eight shutout innings, allowing seven hits and one walk, while striking out one. Buehrle allowed just three hits and two walks in seven innings, but did give up the game's only run. Blackburn is 5-0 since the start of May.

Kosuke Fukudome, Cubs -- The Cubs right fielder came into Thursday's game having driven in just six runs all season, so you know where this is going -- he had four on Thursday, including a three-run homer in the seventh off of Daniel Ray Herrera to break the game open for the Cubs. Fukudome had three hits on the day and was a double shy of the cycle.


Rickie Weeks, Brewers -- Jamile's older brother was thrown out twice trying to stretch a single into a double. Fukudome gunned down Weeks both times on Thursday, in the fourth inning and the seventh inning. Weeks maybe should have learned his lesson on Wednesday night when he tried to stretch a double into a triple and was gunned down at third. 

Fernando Salas, Cardinals -- St. Louis' closer gave up his first homer of the season, a three-run shot to Nationals rookie Danny Espinosa in the 10th, allowing the Nationals to not only sweep the Cardinals, but also move out of last place in the National League Central.

D.J. Carrasco, Mets: Ugh -- a balk-off win for the Braves courtesy the Mets' reliever. Following Lucas Duda's two-out error, which allowed Diory Hernandez to get to third, Carrasco stopped his motion and then restarted it -- a balk that nobody in the park missed, scoring Hernandez and giving the Reds a 9-8 victory in 10 innings. It was the second walk-off balk in Mets history.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com