Twins Vs. Tigers: AL Central Race Heating Up Now?

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Outside of Justin Morneau, Jason Kubel is the most prolific bat in the Twins lineup on a consistent basis. He has more potential than Joe Mauer to put up big time numbers in the RBI and home run departments. The argument could also be made for Delmon Young or Michael Cuddyer, but I would wonder if those that would bring up those names have ever been to a batting practice session. People often speak of making judgments concerning the eye test. This would be more of a case of trusting the ear test.

If the Twins could take the Tigers and Yankees off the schedule, then the reason of the season would be pure bliss. The team showed promise in the first two series that were post All Star break. The Indians and Royals are anonymous nationally, but intra-divisional contests are always of the utmost importance in Major League Baseball. Then the team faced the Tigers-a team that had beaten them eleven straight times before Saturday night.

Before the season, it would have seemed that three teams had a chance to take the division. Now, four are still in the mix to make a move. What transpires will obviously depend on who gets hot and what deals are made prior to the trade deadline. The Tigers are a bad matchup for the Twins because Detroit has hitters that are amongst the elite in the game and Minnesota has pitchers who thrive on control and throwing strikes. It is kind of ironic that the Detroit general manager decided to construct the team in this manner considering that Comerica Park has some of the longest fences in the American League.

In Dave Dumbrowski’s defense, he did realize that a defensive talent like Austin Jackson would have to patrol center field. He may have to address the situation at third base before the end of the month. Don Kelly is a stopgap solution, but he is not the long term answer. The question is whether the team would be willing to depart with a starting pitcher. He should not do so because things tighten up in the postseason and Jim Leyland could even use the extra arms out of the bullpen if he chose not to have them in the rotation.

The strength of the team is in the offensive production, so it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to deplete in an area of need to add to a component of strength. If anything, the reverse would be logical, but there are too many contractual obligations at high dollar amounts to make that realistic. There are a limited number of roster spots, even in the postseason. Detroit also doesn’t pull in at the gate like Boston and New York do.

The addition of Carlos Guillen at second base has added punch to the batting order that Magglio Ordonez hasn’t done yet. The most important factor for Guillen going forward is his ability to turn the double play. This timing can be off after prolonged absences due to injury.

 

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