Minnesota Twins are in Total Free Fall


Delmon Young

The Minnesota Twins have been plummeting in the American League Central standings. There win percentage may be lower than Adam Dunn’s batting average by the end of September. The Scott Baker injury recently put the icing on the cake of a disastrous season. Fans looking for a bargain in the Twin Cities should look to purchase tickets secondhand during an NFL Sunday. They could pick up the seats for next to nothing.

In analyzing the struggles of the ball club, the most glaring shortcoming is the lack of RBI production from those who should have provided more impressive numbers. Delmon Young, Jason Kubel, Justin Morneau, and Joe Mauer were all expected to have substantially more runs batted in. Usually the team can weather the storm if one of its players falls off, but when it’s almost everyone, good luck.

The lack of production from the starting pitchers is worrisome. During a year where offense took a back seat, the earned run averages of the starting staff is increasing at an alarming rate. Francisco Liriano is very unpredictable. Nick Blackburn can be mistaken for a batting practice pitcher at times. It’s obvious that the rotation is in shambles when Kevin Slowey gets called in for duty out of obscurity and the dog house.

Infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka doesn’t have the arm to play shortstop in the Major Leagues. He also might not have the mental make-up for overall success. If I had to pick one end of the spectrum for an extreme, it would be lackadaisical over uptight. When the media talked to Ken Griffey Jr. in postgame press conferences, he often couldn’t even tell you the pitchers’ names that he faced or whether they were righties or lefties. Nishioka is not only physically overmatched, but mentally as well.

Injuries have been the most obvious component of the squad’s downfall this season, but the lackluster production from the fringe players is a major concern. Matt Tolbert, Danny Valencia, and Drew Butera hit for dismal averages. Tolbert and Butera also don’t possess the kind of power that can override some of that lack of efficiency.

Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau have long had the reputation as calm, cool, and collected. These are tremendous attributes for baseball players and golfers. Boxers or MMA fighters might not value these traits to quite the same degree. A team, however, does need some fiery characters to keep players on their toes and motivated. Second baseman Orlando Hudson played this role in the past, but one has to wonder where this will come from now.

In September the Twins should take some chances on young players at the AA level. Going for broke with the prospects makes more sense than calling up the same guys repeatedly who have already reached their potential. A long shot can shine through when given the opportunity on occasion. If there are some growing pains along the way, it won’t affect the team’s ability to make the playoffs. The youthfulness could provide the aforementioned spark.

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