.207 with powerLast weekend showed some of the frustrations of being a Twins fan. The organization that is, at least in theory, the model for major league baseball showed why the team built for moderate success is achieving its goal.
By: Jeff Papas, Pine Journal
Last weekend showed some of the frustrations of being a Twins fan.
The organization that is, at least in theory, the model for major league baseball showed why the team built for moderate success is achieving its goal.
The lost weekend in New York against the Yankees is nothing new. Ron Gardenhire’s teams never play well against their big-budget opposition, regardless of where their home is located. Their regular-season record of 3-22 in New York since Gardenhire’s hiring indicates that the Twins are in over their collective heads in the Big Apple.
The question, of course, is why? It’s certainly far too early to throw in the towel on the season since there’s obviously a lot of baseball left to be played, but honestly, what is the deal? The numbers don’t lie.
Much has been made about the Twins’ needs in past seasons and this year, they tried to address one of them. Yet Joe Crede was out of the lineup this weekend with a sore back, and the result was a Sunday lineup that contained only three major league hitters, all batting consecutively.
Joe Mauer is wonderful, Justin Morneau equally so, and Jason Kubel has worked his way into the top 10 in the American League in batting average. Other than that, what did the Twins boast on Sunday?
Denard Span (.284) had perhaps his worst game as a Twin. The rest of the lineup looked like this: Matt Tolbert (.179), Michael Cuddyer (.252), Brian Buscher (.217), Carlos Gomez (.222), and the ever-present-but-shouldn’t-be Nick Punto (.194). Those six players have five home runs between them with three of them off the bat of Cuddyer. In 529 at-bats.
The problem with the Twins offensively is that without Crede in the lineup, there’s no bat outside the Big Three that scares anyone. When your opponents can win games through walk-off homers from players like A-Roid (oops. A-Rod) and Johnny Damon, how do you compete?
Sunday’s bottom three for the Twins, consisting of Buscher, Gomez and Punto, had 207 at-bats through Sunday with 43 hits. That works out to a mighty .207 batting average with one homer and 18 RBIs, while managing two more strikeouts as a group than hits. A “Murderer’s Row,” they aren’t.
The rule book says a team does not have to use a designated hitter. If Kubel was not doing the job in the DH slot, perhaps a pitcher in the order might improve things.
There’s only so much you can do with singles hitters and defense, especially when you do not pitch. And, the Twins are doing precious little of that on top of it all. Yes, the offense wasted a marvelous effort by Kevin Slowey on Sunday, but the bullpen has been noxious and that’s a recipe for trouble.
The AL Central is a weak division, but it may not wait around much longer for the recalcitrant Twins.
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Meanwhile, how bad has it gotten for the Timberwolves? Bad enough that ESPN columnist Bill Simmons has started a campaign to become their general manager. And it’s bad enough that the Minneapolis newspaper is covering it, to a point.
According to published reports, the Wolves have received over a thousand e-mails in support of Simmons. What that says in general, I’m not sure. I’m pretty sure of one thing, though – the fact that enough fans seem to think it’s a good idea doesn’t speak well for Kevin McHale.
As of this writing, there’s no general manager in place with the draft lottery, and not coincidentally, the draft, approaching fast. You’d think that “someone” at Target Center is preparing for it, but darned if we know who that person might be.
Perhaps a columnist is the answer after all. After all, we have answers for everything else, right?
OK. Me, not so much.
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