By Peter Christian (bold) and Andy Weise (italics)
Is it just me? Or does this Twins team go against all baseball logic and purity? When they win they do it in one of two ways a) Solid starting pitching or b) Late inning rallies. That in itself usually carries the reputation of a good baseball team ready to make a move in October, but when you attribute that solid starting pitching to a rotation that doesn’t have anyone with 3 full seasons of experience (let alone post-season experience) the front office has to feel a bit nervous.
Additionally, their supposed one strength heading into the season (bullpen) has been shaky as of late. Once again they’ve succeeded by putting their faith in their homegrown talent rather than trying to count on free agent signings. This team seems destined for a dogfight into late September with the White Sox, and logic would tell me that the White Sox veteran presence has the edge, but the Twins arms are significantly less fatigued and are less prone to prolonged slumps. As of now, I am treading carefully between realist and optimist. Where are you at?
I’m on record for being a Timberwolves apologist, but that doesn’t generally go the same with the Twins. I like where they are at, but I’m a little frustrated with the same stuff every year: the Adam Everett, Mike Lamb, Livan Hernandez, Craig Monroe signings…before it was Tony Batista, Sidney Ponson, Ramon Ortiz, etc. It seems like every year we’re going out and spending like 10 million dollars just on free agents that are either over-the-hill or really never produced anything in general, they just bounce around the league from team to team every year. Our talent has always been in the minor leagues or trading for minor league players we’ve scouted over a good period of time. What I’d like to see them do is figure out where we are at the end of the season, go after ONE guy with all the money we want to spend. Then you take your farm system, and fill in any holes. Our young pitchers, Alexi Casilla, Brian Buscher and Denard Span have been so much more productive than the free agents we bring in every year. Go after one guy who is going to make an impact, that’s all I ask for one offseason! As far as the rest of the season, I’m optimistic but with some tough injuries to the everyday lineup and bullpen (Pat Neshek), I’m not too certain we will make it to October.
With Michael Cuddyer possibly out for the season, does Delmon Young or Carlos Gomez have more pressure on them to pick their game up?
Some people have been pretty harsh on Young but I think he’s done fine this year. His power is something that people want to hit him hard on but I think he’s a solid player. He’s 22, he has some things to learn but he’s a solid player and years away from being paid big bucks. Gomez on the other hand, he was the guy I was hoping would get sent down to work in the minors for awhile. He’s got a world of talent but needs to figure out how and when to use it. Denard Span was an overnight sensation, but he’s actually taken years to develop. Gomez could use some time in the minors where we have great instructors. Paul Molitor and Tom Kelly are two people heavily involved who I think Gomez could learn a thing or ten from right now.
Are the Twins set with the Buscher/Harris/Punto combination at Shortstop and Third base or are they searching the waiver wire for a right-handed batting Third baseman?
The only splash I thought that was worth making was giving up Blackburn and another prospect for Beltre. When I found out the asking price was Blackburn, Buscher AND another top prospect, I said no thanks (like the Twins did). Buscher is a solid player and Punto has done a lot better this year at the plate than last year. Harris has a decent bat so I like where we’re at with those three guys. Punto is one of the best defensive players too and some times we’veÂ been shaky at defense so I hope he can continue to do well at the plate and stay in the lineup.
Although unorthodox, having a trio of lefties hittting out of the 3-4-5 spots in the lineup gives the Twins their best chance to produce runs…
Yeah I mean it’s probably not ideal to have it that way but our three best hitters have been Kubel, Morneau and Mauer this year. Kubel is up there because he offers protection to Morneau. Luckily, Mauer and Morneau have hit lefties good this year, otherwise it would be nasty to see a lefty reliever come in and fan our 3, 4 and 5 in a row. Eventually we should get a right handed bat back in there, I’m sure Cuddyer would have gone in at the five spot had he gotten back up.
Ron Gardenhire has to start spreading out Mauer’s off days. It isn’t unrealistic to expect Joe to catch 5 out of 6 rather than 2 out of 3…
Mauer has played a lot more this year and I think earlier in the year is when he needs more days off; or days where he is DHing. Because we have an overflow of outfielders now, they generally aren’t finding him time at DH. One thing they should look into doing is getting him time at first base. That’s another way to get his bat into the lineup while letting Morneau DH, give Gomez the day off and have Span move to CF and Kubel to RF. I’m surprised we haven’t seen catcher Jose Morales this year, the guy who made his debut and went 3-3 before breaking his ankle last fall. I’m hoping he gets a call up in September.