get off my lawn cat

Local columnist tells injured Twins to “suck it up and play”

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I’m told Ron Gardenhire spent part of today’s pregame media briefing angrily addressing Tom Powers’ column in the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

Gardenhire ranted about it despite Powers not being in attendance, but after reading the column I can’t blame him.

Injuries have decimated the Twins, with Joe Mauer, Delmon Young, Tsuyoshi Nishioka, and Kevin Slowey on the disabled list and Justin Morneau missing six straight games with a flu that has also hit nearly everyone on the roster.

Powers’ column is devoted to telling the injured players to “suck it up and play” because “we’re all sick of hearing about tweaks, strains and IV bags.”

Seriously. Here’s an excerpt:

You know what? This is getting ridiculous. Hey guys, just go play baseball. We’re all sick of hearing about tweaks, strains and IV bags. Suck it up and play! The Twins have to quit babying these guys. Either they can play or they can’t. And if they can’t, get somebody up here who can. The problem is that guys walk into Gardenhire’s office and tell him when they can play and when they can’t.

To me, that’s a case of overcommunication. Unless the trainer specifically says a certain player needs to sit out, Gardenhire should just make out his best lineup and expect his players to go out there and perform. He has pitchers telling him they can’t pitch and hitters telling him they could use a day off. It’s April, for God’s sake. It’s not September. This garbage started in spring training.

Powers makes a decent point about the Twins keeping injured players on the active roster rather than placing them on the DL, which is something they’ve done for years now. However, any logic gets completely lost in the “get of my lawn!” attitude of a veteran newspaper columnist accusing an entire team of sitting out games with injuries they should be playing through and criticizing a manager for not forcing them to play, as if that doesn’t just lead to poor performances and more injuries.

But wait, there’s more:

“We’ve got a bunch of guys sniffing and coughing up there,” Gardenhire said, nodding toward the clubhouse. Did Ted Williams ever sniff? Anyone ever hear Willie Mays cough? … The Twins’ approach to injuries can be summed up in three words: caution, caution, caution. How do you feel? Think you might play today? Want to give it a try?

Enough! Gardenhire needs to do what Vince Lombardi used to do as coach of the Green Bay Packers. Just barge into the trainer’s room, tip a couple of tables over and order everybody out. As Lombardi would scream: “Nobody is injured here!” Then write their names into the lineup and refuse to take them out unless the medical staff advises otherwise.

Criticizing players missing time with a team-wide flu by writing “Did Ted Williams ever sniff? Anyone ever hear Willie Mays cough?” was almost enough to make me think the whole column was parody, except I’ve read enough of Powers over the years to know better. And really, an anecdote about Vince Lombardi screaming at injured football players 40 years ago? I’m sure Ron Gardenhire taking that same approach would go over really well in the Twins’ clubhouse and, obviously, knocking over tables will fix everything.

I’m ashamed of myself for even giving Powers’ column attention and clicks, but not nearly as ashamed as a veteran journalist with a prominent local platform and a large audience should be for writing that cliche-filled, rabble-rousing drivel.

Report: Teams reluctant to gamble on Cliff Lee

Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Cliff Lee throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park Thursday, July 31, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
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In Saturday’s column for the Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo suggests that free agent Cliff Lee is seeking a guaranteed major league deal between $6 and $8 million plus incentives. That is turning some otherwise interested teams away, as the lefty is still recovering from a torn flexor tendon in his left elbow. Lee hasn’t pitched since July 31, 2014.

Last month, Lee’s agent Darek Braunecker said the pitcher would need “a perfect fit” to pitch in 2016. He also noted that Lee has begun a full offseason throwing program.

In his most recent season, Lee compiled a 3.65 ERA with 72 strikeouts and 12 walks in 81 1/3 innings for the Phillies. The Phillies had signed him to a five-year, $120 million contract in December 2010 but declined a club option for the 2016 season, instead buying him out for $12.5 million.

Orioles reconsidering signing Yovani Gallardo

Yovani Gallardo
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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In an article for MASN on Friday, Steve Melewski noted that the Orioles were reluctant to forfeit their first round draft pick (14th overall) in order to sign free agent starter Yovani Gallardo. The club is now reconsidering its stance and rechecking the right-handers medicals, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports.

Gallardo, who turns 30 on February 27, posted a 3.42 ERA with 121 strikeouts and 68 walks over 184 1/3 innings for the Rangers last season. The Rangers had acquired him in a trade with the Brewers, sending Luis Sardinas, Corey Knebel, and minor leaguer Marcos Diplan to Milwaukee.

Gallardo has posted an ERA below 4.00 in six of his last seven seasons. He remains unsigned into February, however, because his strikeout rate has rapidly decreased with each year since 2012. Per FanGraphs, that rate was 23.7 percent in 2012, then went to 18.6 percent, 17.9 percent, and 15.3 percent progressively. Some of that may have to do with diminishing fastball velocity, as Gallardo’s 90.4 MPH average marked a career low among his eight full seasons with at least 100 innings pitched.

The Orioles lost starter Wei-Yin Chen, who signed with the Marlins, and the back end of their rotation is highly speculative with Kevin Gausman, Mike Wright, Odrisamer Despaigne, and Tyler Wilson. Adding a veteran like Gallardo, even if he is apparently declining, may be stabilizing.

Freddy Garcia is calling it a career

Screenshot 2016-02-07 at 10.16.43 AM
Elsa/Getty Images North America
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MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez passes along word from the Dominican Republic that right-hander Freddy Garcia will hang up his cleats for good after Sunday’s Caribbean Series championship game.

Garcia will start that game for the Tigres de Aragua out of Venezuela. He’s taking on Mexico’s Venados de Mazatlan.

“Venezuelan fans are expecting something good from Freddy and so is everybody,” said Tigres de Aragua manager Eddie Perez, who also serves as the bullpen coach for the Atlanta Braves. “Knowing that it’s his last game is going to make it very special. We all hope he pitches a really good game so he can retire in a good way and bring the title for Venezuela. Everybody who is rooting for Venezuela expects him to do well.”

Garcia’s last major league game was in the 2013 postseason. The 39-year-0ld will finish with a 4.15 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, and 6.4 K/9 in 2,264 career regular-season innings. He had a 3.26 ERA in 11 playoff starts, winning a World Series title with the White Sox in 2005.

Video: 2016 will be a season to remember

Carlos+Correa+Houston+Astros+v+Arizona+Diamondbacks+Ctyu5RiU3SWl
Christian Petersen/Getty Images North America
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MLB.com put together this very cool video montage reviewing the 2015 season and setting us up for what should be a wild 2016. Young stars, veterans chasing milestones, unpredictable divisional races.

It’s so close to spring training. Let’s do this.