What’s Wrong with the 2011 Minnesota Twins?

Justin Morneau

My blood pressure went through the roof while watching the Twins squander the lead against the Angels on Friday night. The Minnesota Twins of Minnesota entered the eighth inning with a five run lead when starter Scott Baker was sent to the showers to make way for the bullpen. That is when the disaster ensued that eventually led to a six to five loss, which further cemented the club as the worst in the majors. They had to try to lose that game.

Injuries are the most obvious issue with the ball club.

Joe Nathan was just sent to the fifteen day disabled list with a right flexor muscle strain.

Joe Mauer has been out a month and a half with bilateral leg weakness. Justin Morneau is still arguably suffering post-concussion syndrome from the collision he experienced over ten months ago in Toronto.

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Minnesota Twins Already Facing a Breaking Point

Joe Mauer

Around opening day I predicted that the Twins would win the American League Central Division because they were healthy and ready to continue their fundamentally solid play backed by quality pitching. It appears that I have some egg on my face at this juncture. However, they have proven over the last decade to be viable foes for all comers in the Midwest region. There are some ways that the ship can be righted to change their future levels of success.

I have called for and will continue to emphasize the need to trade Joe Nathan or Matt Capps.

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Minnesota Twins-New York Yankees Series Preview

Twins-Yankees playoffs

The history in the Minnesota Twins-New York Yankees matchup may not be long, but it is storied. [Read more…]

Justin Morneau shouldn’t hasten return From Concussion

Justin Morneau

Justin Morneau has not been in the line-up for the Minnesota Twins in about a month and a half. This concerns Manager Ron Gardenhire, General Manager Bill Smith, and the rest of the organization’s hierarchy. Dealing with concussions is a continually evolving practice for physicians and specialists. According to Web MD – the symptoms can be devastating to not only one’s job performance, but also daily routines.

They include, but are not limited to: blurry vision, a loss of balance, nausea, headaches, slurred speech, and memory loss.

Obviously, these aforementioned sufferings can adversely affect Morneau’s production at the plate and in the field. Ron Gardenhire has consistently stated that there is no timetable for his return, but Morneau has recently started taking batting practice before games.

By: Patrick Herbert

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Are the Minnesota Twins the team to beat in the AL Central?

joemauer2

By Joe Storms

The highly anticipated three game weekend series between the Twins and Tigers will hopefully give baseball fans the drama and excitement of a September divisional battle that otherwise seems to be missing this season.  The Twins trail the Tigers by 4 games with 16 games remaining for both teams.  But does Minnesota have a realistic chance at stealing their first division crown since 2006?

The Twins and Tigers play each other 7 times in the final 16 games, but Detroit also has the added challenge of facing the Chicago White Sox 6 more times before the division is decided.  The challenges for Detroit don’t end with just the schedule either.  The pitching staff suddenly seems full of holes as recently acquired starting pitcher Jarrod Washburn is out of the rotation for the time being with a knee injury.  His replacement for Sunday’s game, Nate Robertson, has battled his own injury problems this season and since the start of 2008, is 1-2 with an ERA of 6.57 against the Twins. Their starter for Saturday is ace Justin Verlander, but he too has struggled against Minnesota.  Since 2007, the right-hander has suffered a 1-4 record with a 5.40 ERA at the hands of the division rival.  Also, All-star Edwin Jackson seems to be slowing down after a strong season as he is only 2-2 with a 6.03 ERA in his last five starts, which also could raise a legitimate concern about 20 year old rookie sensation and Friday night’s starter Rick Porcello.  Already having pitched 148 innings this year, does he have the conditioning and arm strength to avoid the end-of-the-season slump that plagues so many young pitchers when they first enter the majors?

rickporcello

Meanwhile, the Twins have also faced injury problems of their own but seem to be rallying around it, unlike the Tigers who have lost 7 of their last 10.  They have scrapped together a four game win streak since learning their former MVP, Justin Morneau, is done for the season due to a stress fracture in his back.  A struggling Morneau of late may have even been holding back the Twins.  Since August 15th, when Morneau’s batting average finally dipped below .300 for the first time since April 28th, Morneau batted .100 (7 for 70) and the Twins have posted a respectable 18-13 record.  A closer look, however, shows that they are 9-1 in games without Morneau and only 9-12 when he played.  A big reason is due to timely hitting and guys stepping up their game to compensate for his absence.  The Twins are hitting .274 with runners in scoring position this season but in those games without Morneau the number jumps up to .352.  The main reason for the jump is due to Michael Cuddyer and MVP candidate Joe Mauer as both seem to have stepped up their play with the first baseman out.  In those 10 games, Cuddyer is batting .419 with 13 RBIs, 6 doubles and 5 homeruns and Mauer is hitting .500 with 9 RBIs and 3 homeruns.

cuddyer

Minnesota and Detroit enter the weekend series and the last few weeks on the schedule fighting for their playoff lives while battling key injuries with questions and concerns sprinkled through their lineup.  The Tigers lately have played like they are just holding on and hoping time runs out on the Twins.  Even though Detroit has a 4 game lead in the division, the eventual winner will be the team that overcomes the obstacles, rallies around each other and gets hot at the right time.  It has all of the makings for an exciting finish…