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with sports reporters Daryl Van Schouwen and Chris De Luca

July 2008 Archives

Here's a quick glance at what's happening around the American League Central.

This is where the Twins sit today: ''We have a chance now for first place and we'll see what happens,'' first baseman Justin Morneau said. ''It's just as big, and it seems like every game the rest of the way on is going to be do or die. And that's the way you want to play.'' As good as they feel about winning four straight -- including the first two of their showdown four-game series with the White Sox -- the Twins are feeling the pain of losing second baseman Alexi Casilla, probably for the rest of the season.

The Tigers acquired Armando Galarraga in February from the Rangers for minor-league first baseman Michael Hernandez, who didn't last long in that organization. For all of the splashy offseason moves made by the Tigers, one of the best that flew under the radar was the deal that landed Galarraga, who improved to 9-4.

Meanwhile, look for the Rays to be very active before the deadline Thursday. They have put the Pirates' Jason Bay at the top of their long wish list.

MINNEAPOLIS - Spending most of my offseasons in the Twin Cities and having married into a Minnesotan family, I am very qualified to now put out this very important piece of literature:

1. First of all, if you are a Minnesota female sports fan, you will undoubtedly go to the event with your significant other and get looks. See, there is a serious problem in the Twin Cities called "Out Kicked Your Coverage Syndrome.'' For some reason, Minneapolis is one of those few cities where the women are far superior looking to the males, hence making the selection pool very one-sided. Every couple you see at a sporting event will fit this description: good-looking woman and man that looks like either Larry, Darryl or Darryl from the Bob Newhart Show. Just a fact.

2. Minnesota sports fan will spend all day before the event doing the "Lou Holtz.'' That means downplaying their team to the point where it sounds like they have no chance to win. What this does is set them up for a win-win situation. If they lose, "See, I told you, we're just a small-market team.'' If they win, "Yeah, eat that you big-city folk!''

3. Lay in the weeds until a division title is locked in. See, Minnesotans don't like to talk trash ... until after the fact. They downplay, downplay, downplay, then strike.

4. Finally, have a lot of outdoor hobbies. Yes, their little-engine-that-could teams are built to reach the postseason, but then fade out quicker than you can say, "Surrender Morneau, you're Canadian!'' Or as Mark Buehrle put it years ago - "one and done.'' That's why Minnesotans always have a Plan B hobby - because they need it.

Cowley Confidence Rating

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DETROIT - Yes, the White Sox stole a huge game on Friday night, but not without some serious question marks heading into Game 2 against the Tigers on Saturday. Specifically, with the bullpen.
So with Scott Linebrink likely headed to the 15-day disabled list and Matt Thornton fighting through back stiffness, here's a list of my confidence rating with the current cast of relievers.
1. Bobby Jenks - The man-child is healthy and looked dominant in the ninth.
2. D.J. Carrasco - Has been one of the biggest surprises of the season, behind rookie second baseman Alexei Ramirez.
3. Octavio Dotel - Has had a few stumbles, but brings a swagger to the eighth inning.
4. Matt Thornton - Even with a bad back, I trust Thornton.
5. Nick Masset - He's a mop-up guy at best right now.
6. Boone Logan - Took a step on Friday night, but has a lot to prove after a disastrous three-week showing.
7. Scott Linebrink - When healthy, he's No. 2. However, he's not healthy. So it might be time for Ehren Wassermann again, or a sleeper in Class AA Birmingham reliever Jon Link (5-1, 1.77 ERA).

Here's a quick glance at what's happening around the American League Central.

Though the Twins don't look to be primed for a splashy trade this week, a shakeup appears to be looming. The Twins have discussed promoting left-hander Francisco Liriano -- the former All-Star -- from Class AA, and using him out of the bullpen. The Twins play 33 of their reamaining 61 games on the road. This is not good news for a team that is 21-27 outside of the Metrodome.

The Tigers have won four straight and are three games over .500 -- their high-water mark of the season -- entering a key weekend series in Detroit against the White Sox. Jon Paul Morosi of the Detroit Free-Press does the math for us: The Tigers trail the Sox by 5 1/2 games, so a Tigers sweep makes it 2 1/2 and a Sox sweep makes it 8 1/2. Lynn Henning of the Detroit News examines the Tigers' three big deals for National Leaguers in the offseason -- the acquisitions of Miguel Cabrera, Dontrelle Willis and Edgar Renteria -- and the results haven't been pretty.

Tigers manager Jim Leyland puts the state of the Central in simple terms: ''We've got to hit a couple winning streaks and [the White Sox have] got to hit a couple bumps in the road.''

Here's a quick glance at what's happening around the American League Central.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire finally made the move he was hoping to avoid, dumping speedy Carlos Gomez from the leadoff spot. Meanwhile, Francisco Liriano continues to make a strong case that he belongs in the Twins' rotation, pitching seven scoreless innings, allowing only two hits and two walks while striking out 10 for Class AAA Rochester in a 13-0 victory over Toledo. ''I'm ready,'' the 24-year-old said after the game.

The White Sox open a three-game series in Detroit on Friday and Tigers manager Jim Leyland is trying to decide whether to keep a struggling Edgar Renteria at short or Ramon Santiago.

As Sheldon Ocker of the Akron Beacon Journal points out, here is what the Indians might be missing if Casey Blake is allowed via free agency: He is third in the club in runs (45) and homers (11); second in doubles (23), walks (33) and on-base percentage (.363) and first in RBI (58), batting average -- players with more than .250 at-bats -- (.287) and in average with runners in scoring position (.402).

Here's a quick glance at what's happening around the American League Central.

Jon Paul Morosi of the Detroit Free-Press notes that, unlike in recent seasons, it's tough to get a read on what the Tigers will do this year before the July 31 non-waivers trade deadline. Tigers manager Jim Leyland expects slugger Magglio Ordonez back in his lineup tonight. Matt Joyce replaced Ordonez in the lineup Monday and continued to thrive.

Kelsie Smith of the St. Paul Pioneer Press notes that the Twins are probably faster now than they were at the beginning of the season with the addition of Denard Span in right field, but are stealing fewer bases. The Twins got some updates Monday on a few injured players, and the news is most promising for Justin Morneau and Nick Punto.

Don't look for the rebuilding Indians to be big spenders in the free-agent market next offseason.

Meanwhile, Darryl Strawberry has returned to the Twin Cities to help others.

Roster moves

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The White Sox announced on Wednesday that closer Bobby Jenks has now been moved to the Class AA Birmingham roster for his rehab assignment, and will pitch this evening.
If all goes well with the soreness in his left scapula area, expect him back in uniform on Friday.
As far as Pablo Ozuna, the infielder cleared waivers and rejected an outright assignment to Class AAA Charlotte. The club then requested waivers on Ozuna for the purposes of granting him his unconditional release.

Here's a quick glance at what's happening around the American League Central.

Major League Baseball insists there is no conspiracy, but once again, the Tigers will emerge from the All-Star break a day earlier than most — including the White Sox and Twins. ‘‘That doesn't make sense to me,’’ Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. ‘‘We should all [have four-day breaks] or nobody should and you can quote me in big, bold print. I want everyone to write it and put it all over the airwaves. It's a joke. It's garbage. Silly is what it is.’’ Meanwhile, it's looking likely that for the second consecutive year, the Tigers will not make a significant acquisition before the July 31 non-waivers trade deadline. ‘‘Right now, we feel pretty good,’’ general manager Dave Dombrowski said.

After his 5-for-5 performance, Twins first baseman Justin Morneau is putting together another MVP-caliber season, writes Sid Hartman of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Meanwhile, fellow Star Tribune columnist Jim Souhan stresses how smart the small-market Twins were for locking up closer Joe Nathan before the season.

In the wake of the CC Sabathia trade, Indians manager Eric Wedge held a team meeting. His message was murky. ‘‘I don't think anything else is going to happen, but it might,’’ Wedge said. ‘‘I can't let [possible future trades] hang over us. I understand, because it was CC, but now that's done and we have to play baseball.’’

Check back later for updates.

Cabrera Island

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Trailing 6-5 after starting pitcher Javier Vazquez dug the offense a five-run hole by the third and made them climb out of it, Orlando Cabrera walked to lead off the eighth inning. Nick Swisher flied out to center, leading to Cabrera nabbing second base.

Clock is ticking

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Esteban Loaiza had another throwing session on Wednesday, and the results are still not there for the right-handed veteran.

Here's a quick glance at what's happening around the American League Central.

Michael Rosenberg of the Detroit Free-Press believes the Tigers have the goods to make a run at the White Sox in the Central. Tom Gage of the Detroit News points out that the schedule is doing the Tigers no favors. Tigers slugger Magglio Ordonez believes he can come off the disabled list the first game back after the All-Star break.

Twin manager Ron Gardenhire likes what he has seen from outfield replacement Denard Span, who could stick around even after Michael Cuddyer returns from the disabled list. Span is batting .315 with a .413 on-base percentage.

With 14 games left against the White Sox, the Royals view that as a positive, even though the Sox have made a punching bag out of Kansas City. ‘‘We have to view this as a chance to make a move,’’ Royals outfielder Mark Teahen said.

Check back later for updates.

Jenks headed to DL

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Bobby Jenks isn’t one to tap out of anything.

Bye-bye Pablo

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – In one of the stranger White Sox moves of the season thus far, the club announced on Tuesday that Juan Uribe has more value to them than Pablo Ozuna.

Here's a quick glance at what's happening around the American League Central.

Needing to make a push in the standings, the Brewers made the bold move of acquiring CC Sabathia. The equally small-market Twins, who need to make their own push, don’t figure to be active before the July 31 non-waivers trade deadline.

The Tigers reached day 100 of their season looking mediocre, which is an improvement, but still a disappointment in Detroit.

Rob Oller of the Columbus Dispatch points out that CC Sabathia put up great numbers, but never delivered the Indians to the promised land. The Indians stress they are not in full rebuilding mode. Instead, they are gearing up for a run in 2000. Here’s a look at the players they got from the Brewers in the CC Sabathia deal.

Check back later for updates.

Here's a quick glance at what's happening around the American League Central.

The red-hot Twins are getting offensive contributions from everyone. The Twins scratched second baseman Alexi Casilla from the lineup Friday because of a sore left middle finger.

Shortsop Edgar renteria continues to struggle and the Tigers are back to .500. The pitching-thin Tigers are mulling the idea of moving hard-throwing setup man Joel Zumaya to their rotation. Lynn Henning takes a closer look at the dreaded oblique injury, something that has hit the Tigers particularly hard this season.

Though the Indians appear on the verge of dealing ace C.C. Sabathia for a crop of young talent, general manager Mark Shapiro insists the Tribe is not about to undergo a major rebuilding.

Check back later for updates.

So who goes?

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With team captain Paul Konerko ready to leave for Charlotte Friday afternoon to begin his rehab assignment, his projected return date is now finally set for Tuesday in Kansas City, barring any setbacks.

So who goes?

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With team captain Paul Konerko ready to leave for Charlotte Friday afternoon to begin his rehab assignment, his projected return date is now finally set for Tuesday in Kansas City, barring any setbacks.

Here's a quick glance at what's happening around the American League Central.

The Twins are in full Piranha mode, and their goal is simple: ‘‘We make it so a lot of teams say, ‘We don't want to play those guys,’ ’’ leadoff hitter Carlos Gomez said. After some early stumbles, manager Ron Gardenhire says things have finally fallen into place for the Twins.

For the first time in almost four weeks, the Tigers lost a series. Another wild outing stamped Zach Miner’s ticket to the minors.

Vultures — also known as contenders — are circling over the Royals and like what they see from left-handed reliever Ron Mahay.

Check back later for updates.

Here's a quick glance at what's happening around the American League Central.

After watching Miguel Cabrera limp to the plate for a pinch-hitting appearance last night, Tigers manager Jim Leyland nixed the idea of the slugger returning to the lineup for today's series finale against the Twins. Don’t be surprised if there are fireworks between the teams today. Leyland didn’t like the Twins throwing at Carlos Guillen.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, who was upset with catcher Joe Mauer getting struck, had this reaction to the purpose pitches: ‘‘You know what, you throw at a good hitter, you knock him down or come at his lips, you're going to get something back. But you shouldn't get two somethings back. We got two somethings back.’’ Meanwhile, speed has been the name of the game for the Twins.

Amid their struggles, the Indians are at least getting a look at their future and it’s not looking bright.

Check back later for updates.

Here's a quick glance at what's happening around the American League Central.

Two of baseball’s hottest teams collided at the Metrodome and the Tigers prevailed over the Twins. With Magglio Ordonez on the disabled list, Miguel Cabrera moved into the leadoff spot for the Tigers, but departed early with his own injury. Meanwhile, Lynn Henning of the Detroit News examines whether all of those trades to acquire big-name veterans were worth it for the Tigers.

Some too-close-for-comfort pitches got under the Twins’ skin. Meanwhile, manager Ron Gardenhire knows rookie Carlos Gomez is not the prototypical leadoff hitter, but he’s not planning any changes at the top of his batting order.

Manager Eric Wedge presented a test for his reeling Indians entering their series this week against the White Sox, and they failed it Monday.

Check back later for updates.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from July 2008 listed from newest to oldest.

June 2008 is the previous archive.

August 2008 is the next archive.

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