Rockwell Thanksgiving

Giving Thanks: The American League Central

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We continue our look at what each team — or their fans — have to be thankful for this winter.

Minnesota Twins: Their division foes. While they broke even against the Tigers, they were 38-16 against the White Sox, Indians, and Royals. They can also be thankful for a serious of silly occurrences which took place in the late 90s and early 2000s which laid the groundwork for Target Field eventually being built. Here’s to you Don Beaver, who couldn’t make a stadium happen in North Carolina! Here’s to you Minnesota Supreme Court who ruled that the Twins had to play in the Metrodome in 2002, thereby rendering any threats of contraction toothless!  Here’s to you all you wacko politicians who managed to wrangle land and tax dollars to pay for a ballpark when there really wasn’t a will out there to have it done!  And no, saying that these folks are worthy of thanks in no way constitutes an endorsement of their actions.  Think of the “thanks” as being in ironic quotation marks. But it really is a nice park, and it’s helping the Twins, so whatever.

Chicago White Sox: June and July. Ultimately it was a disappointing season, but from June 9th to June 26th they won 15 of 16, including an eleven game winning streak. Another nine game winning streak soon followed. By July 20th they were 52-41 with a 3.5 game lead.  Yes, that was the season’s zenith, and their inability to do anything against division rivals killed it, but it was a nice early summer. For a certain brand of baseball fan who truly views baseball as a pastime — as pleasant background noise on pre-dog-day summer nights, a great run in June and July is about as nice a thing as you can have. If you read this blog a lot you’re probably a big enough fan that you don’t fit that description, but there’s a joy to that kind of thing.

Detroit Tigers: The Curtis Granderson trade. Giving up a fan favorite like Granderson is hard, but Dave Dombrowksi did Detroit proud by bringing in Austin Jackson, Max Scherzer, Phil Coke and Daniel Schlereth.  In that crowd there’s a promising center fielder, a potential ace, a C.J. Wilson experiment for 2011 that I’m rather optimistic about and a serviceable reliever.  Nice haul.

Cleveland Indians: Lebron James. James made his “Decision” on July 8th. The Indians ended that night at 33-52.  They finished the season 36-41.  The second half was way easier to handle what with no one in Cleveland paying any attention to them thanks to the sturm und drang, and they were actually a touch better! I attribute this modest improvement to Lebron!

Kansas City Royals: Years and years of losing. If not for that, they wouldn’t have nearly the minor league system they currently have (and the system they currently have is loaded). It’s not unreasonable to think that, come 2012 or 2013 that the Royals will catapult to the top, Tampa Bay Rays-style. As in, “they were pretty terrible until the moment they became good, at which point they became awesome.”

Report: John Farrell won’t rule out a postseason return for Pablo Sandoval

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - APRIL 11:  Pablo Sandoval #48 of the Boston Red Sox looks on from the dugout before the Red Sox home opener against the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park on April 11, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Orioles defeat the Red Sox 9-7.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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It’s been a strange season for Red Sox’ third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who lost his starting role in spring training, went 0-for-6 in three regular season appearances, and underwent season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder in May. That was the last the Red Sox were supposed to hear about Sandoval until spring 2017, when he was expected to rejoin the team after a lengthy rehab stint in Florida.

On Saturday, manager John Farrell was telling a different story. Per MLB.com’s Sam Blum, Farrell hinted that Sandoval could return to the team as soon as October, albeit in a very limited capacity.

At the time of the surgery, it was all looking at the start of next Spring Training,” Farrell said. “We’re not getting too far ahead of ourselves here, but at the same time, we compliment him for the work he’s put in, the way he’s responded to the rehab, the way he’s worked himself into better condition. We’re staying open-minded.

If the 30-year-old does return in 2016, don’t expect him to look like the three-home run hitter of the 2012 World Series. Should the Red Sox lose another player to injury, Sandoval might be called on as a backup option, but he’s unlikely to see substantial playing time under any other circumstances. Despite making two appearances at DH in the instructional league, Sandoval has not started at third base since undergoing surgery, though Farrell noted that a return to third base would be the next logical step in his recovery process.

Sandoval has yet to hit his stride within the Red Sox’ organization after hitting career-worst numbers in 2015. According to FanGraphs, his Offensive Runs Above Average (Off) plummeted to -20.2, contributing approximately two wins fewer than the average offensive player in 2015. (The Diamondbacks’ Chris Owings held the lowest Off mark in 2015, with -26.3 runs below average.) Sandoval has not appeared in a postseason race since the Giants’ championship run in 2014.

Heading into Saturday evening, the Red Sox could clinch their spot in the postseason with a win over the Rays and an Orioles’ loss.

Video: Adrian Beltre and Carlos Beltran give signs from the dugout

OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 23:  Adrian Beltre #29 of the Texas Rangers stands in the dugout before their game against the Oakland Athletics at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on September 23, 2016 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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The Rangers got a bit of a breather on Saturday after clinching the division lead during Friday night’s win. Naturally, it was also a prime opportunity for another of Adrian Beltre‘s well-documented antics, as he spent his off day directing the Rangers’ infield defense with a series of signs. Even with Carlos Beltran‘s help, no one, least of all those playing the infield, appeared to have any idea what Beltre’s gestures were intended to convey.

You can add this to the list of in-game oddities Beltre has become so well-known for over the years, running the gamut from the way he kicked a ball over the foul line to his histrionics every time someone comes close to touching his head. If nothing else, it’s a convincing audition reel for the third baseman’s future in major league coaching — a career path that, I’d imagine, would end up looking something like this: