Thursday, July 15, 2010

Big series in mid-July

The Twins open the unofficial second half with four games at home against the first-place Chicago White Sox.

The Sox are 25-5 in their last 30 games. They're not that good — nobody is — but they're better than the 24-33 team they were before the hot streak kicked in.

Getting the Sox now is probably better than getting them last week, but at this writing Justin Morneau's availability is uncertain, Joe Mauer is no more rested and recovered than he was before the All-Star break, the pitching issues remain unaddressed and management continues to be enamored with a slow lineup that waits for the long ball and has limited range in the field.

That's similar to what the White Sox had been the past few years. There were a lot of eyebrows raised when they opted for a speedier, contact hitting approach and decided there was no room there for Jim Thome. There still are Sox followers critical of that decision.

But this year it's the Twins who can't score from first on a double, who can't go first-to-third on a single, and who are in third place with an anchor.

Anyway: The Twins are 3.5 games back now. The Sox are justifiably feeling good about themselves. The Twins would make life a lot easier for themselves if they won this series.


  1. Haren vs. Oswalt

    Oswalt (soon to be 33 years old)
    Career ERA 3.22
    10:$15M, 11:$16M, 12:$16M club option ($2M buyout)

    Haren (soon to be 30 years old)
    Career ERA 3.68
    10:$8.25M, 11:$12.75M, 12:$12.75M, 13:$15.5M club option ($3.5M buyout)

    In the minority but I like Roy Oswalt 14 times more than Dan Haren. He looks to me like
    he has not lost much this season. His stuff is still top notch. Every time I have seen him throw this year he looks the same as always. When he pitches he is fiery, ticked off if he gives up a hit, exactly what the Twins staff needs to lead them. Show them how to get after it. He is good, he knows it and he expects to succeed. He has been a personal favorite for a long time. He is throwing better than Haren. I have no doubt the switch to the AL would not adversely affect his performance. The only thing with Roy is he is an odd duck in the fact he may just walk away from baseball and leave his 2011 salary on the table as pitch again if the mood strikes him.

    Haren, while still very good is a notch below Oswalt in stuff, plus his contract runs one year longer.

    My opinion, Oswalt is a much better get.


    Tom Brunansky sat in a professional baseball clubhouse Wednesday, eating a bowl of chicken and rice and recounting how his love for competition has remained unchanged since 1994.

    That year, Brunansky walked away from 14 big-league seasons as an outfielder with the Angels, Twins, Cardinals, Brewers and Red Sox to focus on raising his family.

    Brunansky, who turns 50 on Aug. 20, did not, however, quit competing.

    "That's one thing you can't take away from us, is our burning desire to compete," Brunansky said to fellow Gulf Coast League Twins assistant coach Milt Cuyler as they ate an 11 a.m. pregame meal at the Lee County Sports Complex.

    Brunansky, the father of five, has remained competitive since leaving the Red Sox in 1994 by helping coach his son Jason's team at Poway High School in San Diego.

    Brunansky, with the help of his brother, also started Championship Golf, a company that manages corporate golf events. Known by fans as "Bruno," Tom Brunansky played golf as a young child but gave up the sport as a teenager to focus on baseball.

    "Back then, they said the golf swing and the baseball swing don't go together very well," said Brunansky, who began playing golf again - he's a 3 or 4 handicap - after establishing himself in the big leagues.

    With Jason Brunansky about to enter his junior year as an outfielder for the University of Kansas baseball team and his other children getting older, Tom Brunansky remained open for any next-level baseball coaching opportunities.

    An opportunity arrived with the Gulf Coast League Twins on June 27, when manager Chris Heintz accepted an assistant coaching position at his alma mater, the University of South Florida, where his wife coaches the softball team.

    The Twins promoted GCL hitting coach Ramon Borrego to manager and filled his slot with Brunansky.

    "I wanted to coach at the next level," said Brunansky, who had kept in touch with Twins director of minor leagues Jim Rantz. "The day Jim called me, I was talking to a college coach. Jim said, 'Do you want to do it?' I said, 'Yes.'"

    Brunansky, who hit .245 with 271 career home runs - he ranks No. 163rd all-time - will work mostly with teenage hitters fresh out of high school, the Dominican Republic or a number of other countries with ties to the Twins.

    "He wanted to give this a go and see if this is something he wants to do down the road," Rantz said. "He was a big part of our '87 World Series team."

    When the GCL season ends in early September, Brunansky will return to San Diego. His son Ryan, 18, will be a freshman water polo player at Division III Whittier (Calif.) College.

    Brunansky and his wife, Colleen, also have Alexa, 16, playing basketball, Tommy, 14, playing water polo and baseball and Erin, 11, playing basketball.

    Until September, Brunansky will renew his love for baseball at the professional level with his second family.

    "Everything I learned about the game, I learned from these guys," Brunansky said of the Twins' coaches and managers. "It's like a family."

    The Tom Brunansky file

    Current job: Gulf Coast League Twins hitting coach

    Big-league baseball career: 1981-1994 with the Angels, Twins, Cardinals, Brewers and Red Sox

    HT: 6-4 WT: 205

    Career statistics: .254 batting average with 271 home runs (No. 163 all-time) and 919 RBI and 69 stolen bases.

    Career highlight: Hit .259 with a career-best 32 home runs and 85 RBI in 1987 as the Twins won the World Series

    Notable: He's the only Twin to hit an inside-the-park grand slam

  3. Those "speedy" White Sox have out-homered the Twins 101 to 77. They do have 80 steals, but they have been caught 43 times. And more than 50 of those steals are from just two players: Pierre and Rios. They have hit into 20 less DPs than the Twins, but they have been caught stealing 30 more times. The White Sox also are averaging less runs than the Twins. Their starters were pitching out of their minds during this streak until the last two games when they have allowed 11 runs total. The White Sox have only two regulars with any real speed: Pierre, Rios and Ramirez. Other than that, they are average or below. Their biggest problem on offense is a complete lack of left-handed power. Gee, I wonder where they could have found that?

  4. The White Sox went four-for-four on hit-and runs Thursday — four singles that put a man on third, three of which were followed by sac flies and the fourth by a balk.

    I doubt Gardenhire's put four men in motion all month. I even doubt the Twins have four first-to-thirds all month.

    Point being -- there's more to speed in the offense than steals. You can't hit and run with Thome involved.