Beware the Tigers and Twins

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By Paul M. Banks and the Soxman

Currently nipping at our heels are “the piranhas” in Minnesota. They’ve been on an amazing hot streak partially because they are getting very solid contributions from their young guys Alexi Casilla and Brian Buscher. Mentioning the latter, makes me laugh because it reminds me of my favorite movie “Eight Men Out,” In the 1910s, a “Busher” was slang for a terrible baseball player.
 
(SM) As a smaller market team, the Twins play the baseball economics game extremely well.  They command top prospects when they trade away a superstar, draft smart, and compliment their roster with scrappy veterans.
 
Speaking of “Busher”, do you know where that slang comes from?  Well, before baseball had true “minor” leagues, a number of smaller leagues began to spring up in rural communities. These parks simply did not rival the panache of major league fields. To save construction costs, minor-league parks often had bushes lining the outfield perimeter. Hence, minor league associations became known as the bush leagues.  I won’t even touch the easy softball insult potential of the “greenery” along the outfield perimeter of Wrigley. 
 
Minor league salaries were so low that players often had to work side jobs to survive. Because many teams were composed of players who did not embrace baseball as their profession, the quality of the play was often perceived as being inferior in some manner. Hence the slang terms “Busher” and “Bush League Call,” were born.
 
A green outfield?  Would that not earn all sorts of points with the “green movement of today?”  Hmmm.
 

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I love referring to certain things as being “Bush League,” and I agree as eco-friendly as the new Nationals park is, those ball-fields were certainly “green.” Here’s what TSB writer and Twins fan Peter Christian had to say about his team:

“The Twins won 10 in a row because they are far and away the best National League team playing right now. What? The Twins play in the American League? That’s unfortunate.”
 
(SM) Peter has a point that the Twins actually have an NL approach to the game.  Sox fans may better know this style of play as “Ozzie Ball” or “Grinder Ball.”  Simply, the approach to the game is timely offensive execution as opposed to clobbering your way to a victory or living and dying by the homerun.  Critics of the AL, and the DH, believe this is the style of play of an AL team.  It does sound a lot like the 2008 White Sox.
 
Another TSB writer and Twins fan Andy Weise had this to say:  The Twins as a NL team would be awesome. Granted right now we’d have to sit either Jason Kubel or Delmon Young.  Yesterday our DH was Mike Lamb.  Last year, there were times Nick Punto (a defensive minded utility infielder) and Jason Tyner (slap hitter, can hit for decent average, no power whatsoever) got time at the DH last year. LOL!  Santana was a better hitter!
 
(SM) Andy strengthens the point of the Twins style of play actually.  It has been their key to success in my opinion.
 
Your thoughts on the Twins chances in the division race……
 
(SM) Soxman’s thoughts build from the discussion regarding the style of play of the two teams.  Here is the critical stat that this division race will come down to:
 
The Twins are second in MLB in batting average (.280) with runners in scoring position and two out.
 
The White Sox are fourth from last (.205).
 
The Sox are 2nd in MLB in team home runs (112).
The Twins have exactly half as many homers and are second from last (56)
 
In virtually every other statistic besides stolen bases, the teams are similar or the Sox have a sizeable statistical dominance.
 
Execution and making the most of every opportunity will be the key.  The Twins can stay right there if they continue to do the little things as a team.  Their pitching is just good enough to win (4.24 team ERA).


 
And their opponent this week, the Detroit Tigers, recently won 18 of 22, meaning the talent up there in Motown is starting to play commensurate to their ability. We still have a six game cushion on them though.
 
(SM) I’ve heard references that the sleeping giant in the AL Central has awoken when talking about the Tigers.  Well, the sleeping giant of the White Sox offense has also awoken in the month of June despite a missing Paul Konerko.  Going into the All-Star break, a 6 game cushion is not insurmountable however.
 
Even with the incredible record of the Sox, I’m still very frustrated that they dropped so many winnable games early in the season.  The Tigers have plenty of thunder, even without Magglio Ordonez.  The true keys to their success in the second half will be the pitching of Justin Verlander and how successful Joel Zumaya is in his return from shoulder surgery. Over his last four starts, Verlander has a 2.42 ERA with 26 Ks in 26 IP. Zumaya has struggled with his control since his return, posting a 2.44 WHIP.  He cannot become the set-up man or closer until he lowers those numbers.
 
It should be an interesting race all the way.  Kenny Williams claims he’s not likely to make any moves before the trade dead-line.  Although it is very possible you could see Juan Uribe traded or released, there really is not much tweaking you can do to this team without taking a higher paid regular out of the line-up.
 
High five Mr. Banks on another good exchange!
 

Right back at ya! Personally, I’m predicting that it will be the Tigers who will be dueling with the Sox in September for the division.

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Comments

  1. paulmbanks says

    ah yes, 4th of july…the lowest traffic day of the year! huzzah!

  2. Peter Christian says

    Dear White Sox:

    I hate you.

    The Twins have outscored you this year with half as many home runs. I hope you enjoy your annual second half implosion.

    Sincerely,

    Peter Christian (via Twins fans every where)

  3. paulmbanks says

    Do you like apples? Well, you’ve gone an insane 15-4 and you’re still a game and half behind us…so how about them apples?!!!???

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