SUNDAY SPECIAL REPORT-THE COLLAPSE OF THE MINNESOTA TWINS

As the Twins broke camp this spring, optimism was rampant in Minnesota! The Twins were a heavy favorite to win the division, had a strong enough line-up to finally compete with the powers of the East and the West, and they have a beautiful new home park to play baseball! The Twins, even through the month of May, had taken the town back from the Viqueens. But…

…then June arrived and everything Twins has gone to hell. Let’s start with the injuries. JJ Hardy, keeping up his history of being brittle missed a lot of games thanks to stints on the disabled list. Second baseman Orlando Hudson has spent a lot of time on the DL, too, as well as missing many games nursing “nagging” owies. The always brittle later in the season guy, Justin Morneau, is injured a little earlier this season. That’s too bad because he’s actually having a good year. The pitching staff has been decimated by injuries this year in the bullpen, the starters have been decimated by mental injuries. It’s hard for a team to be competitive when it has only one quality starter, Pavano. Liriano throws a good game occasionally but is way too inconsistent. The other starters, Blackburn, Slowey, and Baker have been worthless this year. The Twins will not win the division this year with this as the starting rotation. Rauch has been serviceable as the closer, but lately he hasn’t had many opportunities for saves. Besides bullpen injuries, Ghuerrer is worn out, Crain and Mijares are psychotic, Burnett is good and has talent, but his youth shows it’s head too much. I’ve got more news for the Twins too. Getting Neshak, Perkins, and Nathan back won’t solve any problems. They just aren’t that good, even when healthy.

On paper, the potentially most powerful line up the Twins can field is this; Span(cf), Hudson(2b), Mauer(c), Morneau(1b),Cuddyer(3b), Thome(dh), Young(lf),Kubel(rf), and Hardy(ss). This is an impressive line-up with a recent history of great numbers, power, average, on base percentage, etc. What kills this team is when one of these guys goes down. They have virtually no bench. The drop-off is too dramatic for this team to remain competitive with any subs playing.

When you combine the fact the team has no bench, one quality starter, and a shaky bullpen at best, how far can we expect them to go this year. At their present rate, if nothing changes, I would say they will struggle to even stay at 500 ball.

The biggest threat to this team right now is the general malaise they are operating under. This is not “Twins Baseball”! The Twins are famous for being “hustlers”, great at the fundamentals, and never beating themselves. Now they are working in a fog, they are not hustling, they are not only making errors lately, but they are making mental mistakes as well, failing to take the extra base on overthrows, missing the cut-off man, collisions in the field, etc. I can’t even watch this team play anymore, lately it’s not “Twins baseball” and I can’t handle the mental stress of trying to stick with them.

The fix needs to start with Gardenhire. He better stop making excuses for his non-hustling players and start getting on their collective lazy ass. If he doesn’t, then it is time to think about a change in that position. The whole pitching staff has become a “head-case”. Coach Anderson better get ahold of this problem and get these guys to start pitching like they are in the majors. One thing that will help the lousy starters, Blackburn, Baker, and Slowey, is get rid of the pitch count. These guys have been trained to pitch into the sixth or 100 pitches, whichever comes first. No, they are starters, they should be expected to have the mindset of throwing nine innings every time out! I think their problem is they have been babied for so long their expectations of themselves is too low. Look, the Twins need at least one more quality starter. They blew it by not getting Cliff Lee, they could have offered more. I wouldn’t be as bold as Jim Souhan and suggest trading Delmon Young for Lee. Young is due for arbitration in the off-season, that’s alright, the Twins will pay him because if he continues on course, he will have a great year, so reward him. I still don’t know why they have Wilson Ramos so “hands-off” on the market. They have Mauer under contract for many more years, the only reason to keep a quality catching prospect in the minors is if the Twins were planning on moving Mauer to third or the outfield. I think this year, the Yankees, Rays, Tigers, Rangers, and White Sox are somewhat vulnerable. If the Twins want to make a run at the playoffs and Series, this might be the year to do it. But, they need to bring in a top-line starter, a good reliever, and a good bat off the bench. I’d love to see them make some moves. The team is very profitable now with a sold out stadium and other revenue sources, so take advantage of it all now!

The ultimate prize would be World Series games played at Target Field this year. Because they are in a weaker division, these few moves could potentially propel them to those heights. C’mon, Pohlad family, Bill Smith, and the rest, do what’s right for the team, the fans, and the state. Thanks for today’s read.
Cam Obert

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5 Responses to “SUNDAY SPECIAL REPORT-THE COLLAPSE OF THE MINNESOTA TWINS”

  1. youandmedoweagree Says:

    Cam, can’t fault Morneau for a concussion. Those days of “play through the pain” are over when it comes to head injuries. As far as the pitching, you guys lost your edge by leaving the Metrodome. All of the pitchers you mentioned, sans Pavano, pitched there for years and had the upper hand on opponents. Even though it was dubbed the “Homer Dome” long ago, their pitchers excelled there
    Submitted by Mike Taquino, Detroit, MI

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  4. Roger Says:

    It always comes down to starting pitching. Having only one consistent starter wont cut it. A team needs at least 3 of them at any point in the season to win consistently. No matter how many runs you score, bad starters and worn out relievers will give them back.

    Tight D was always the Twins trademark, along with a system that taught hitting off of the curve ball instead of the fast ball. If they are playing like the bad news bears in the field Gardenhire should not be making excuses. No team can afford to give up extra outs in the majors. But as of last week, the Twins were tied with the Padres for second best fielding in terms of number of errors (42 each vs. the Yankees at 41).

    The Twins always turn things around just after you think they are out of it. Detroit is due for a dry spell, and the White Sox are nowhere near as good as they have played for the past month (no team is). Both will tail off some time soon. It is up to the Twins to pull out of their swoon as soon as possible to take advantage when those two teams start down hill.

    Losing those 3 games to the Tigers hurt a lot, but it’s not fatal. And with Kansas City and Cleveland in the Central the Twins have no worries about staying above .500.

  5. youandmedoweagree Says:

    Keep in mind, the Twins set the record for fewest errors in the first 50 games of a season at 6. They’ve committed 36 boots since then. Gardenhire is getting a lot like Manny Acta in Washington last year, after every loss he claims the “guys are playin” real hard”. No they’re not. They’re sound asleep on the field and it’s the lack of hustle that’s the most troubling aspect. I agree the sox will fade simply because they are not that good, but the Tigers, I think are for real, and not just because they play in the same division as the sisiters of the poor. This is a quality team with good pitching and great fundamentals, not to mention Cabrera and the two sensational rookies!

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