One Bad Baseball Team
I think the time has come that even I have to just admit that this Minnesota Twins team is a bad baseball team. Always an optimist, it takes me a long time to give up on a person/player, or on a team. The Twins have been tremendous after the calendar turns to August in recent years, and that tends to keep some level of optimism. However, this is not the same type of team as those Twins teams of years past.
This team is not a good offensive team. Yes, I will agree that injuries are not only an excuse but the reality. Denard Span, Alexi Casilla, Jason Kubel, Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Delmon Young, Jim Thome, Tsuyoshi Nishioka.† Each of these starters has spent an extended amount of time on the Disabled List this year. To not acknowledge that is completely unfair.
But at the end of the day, this team will score more than 150 less runs than they did a year ago. That is definitely significant. When healthy, Denard Span and Jason Kubel were really good. Michael Cuddyer has been tremendous since May. Alexi Casilla has been pretty solid since May. But others have definitely been disappointing. Injury has played a huge part in that. In most cases, reserves or unready minor leaguers have had to step in. For three months of the season, anywhere from three to five regulars were out of lineup. Yes, an excuse, but also the reality. I didnít have hope for Tsuyoshi Nishioka, but I figured .270/.340/.360 might be a solid rookie season. He looks like he might struggle in AA.
This team does not have good starting pitching. The Twins have five to seven starters who are good pitchers, but they donít have guys that intimidate an opponent. Scott Baker has been incredible most of the year.† However, it is impossible to understand how Francisco Liriano has become this bad. I agreed with those who said he was a head case, but his 2011 has been ridiculously bad even considering his no-hitter against the White Sox. Carl Pavano has been nowhere near what he had been the previous season and a half with the Twins. He has had his moments, but he has not been good.† Brian Duensing has been solid as a starter despite right-handed hitters crushing him. Nick Blackburn was pretty good until his last five or six starts, when he has been absolutely crushed. Anthony Swarzak has been solid in long relief and spot starts, but you could actually make an argument that he has been the Twins second-best starterÖ which says a lot about how bad the pitching has been.
The team does not have a good bullpen. This is probably a huge understatement. Glen Perkins has been incredible all year (except for his† 3 week stint on the DL). Joe Nathan has been very good since he came back from the DL. Matt Capps has been good at times, but his blown saves have been very frustrating. His inability to record any strikeouts finally caught up to him. Jose Mijares has been a disaster. Alex Burnett continues to show that he could be very good, but heís not there yet. As I said, Swarzak has been good. Jim Hoey, Chuck James, Phil DumatraitÖ the Twins have tried any number of pitchers and roles to try to make it work. Little has worked.
The team does not play good defense. Denard Span and† Ben Revere have both done a good job in†† centerfield. Other than that, who has been good? We knew that Michael Cuddyer, Delmon Young and Jason Kubel would not be good outfielders. And they havenít been. You have to commend Cuddyer for his willingness to play anywhere, but he struggles with the glove and range. Joe Mauer has done a good job at 1B, but the intricate details of being a 1B are new to him. In general, the defense has been really bad this year.
The manager has made his share of mistakes, but because of the lineups he has had at his† disposal, he didnít have a† lot of options. Often, he may have been too aggressive, but I understand wanting to help out by trying to make things happen.
It was a rough one for the front office. Have there been any moves that have worked for the Twins? Re-signing Capps? Trading JJ Hardy? Bringing in Nishioka? The best move that the front office did was† not signing Francisco Liriano to a† long-term contract.
It has been another horrible year for the Twins training staff. More questionable decisions, and although I realize that most injuries are pretty flukish, how did one team have so many injuries?
The Twins are now 51-60 and they are eight games out of first place with three teams to pass in their final 51 games. Considering again that this Twins team† has bad hitting, bad starting pitching, bad relief pitching and bad defense, it is hard to see this team coming back. As much as I probably thought the Twins should have sold at the trade deadline, one week ago, the Twins had a chance to be just 4 games out of first place. So, I understand not selling. But now, I would hope that the Twins would have all of their players on waivers and see wh0 does or doesnít get claimed. Veterans and others that are unlikely to be back should be considered as trade options. Iím not saying to just give everyone away. The other team has to be fair, but trades and selling should be strongly considered.
Admitting it is often the problemÖThe Twins are a bad baseball team.† I think I can admit it. I think!