Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Now for Something Completely Different

I was asked to comment on the Minnesota Twins season-to-date, and I thought I'd take a quick excursion on an entirely different topic than of late.

To begin, I must confess that I have yet to see or hear a game yet this season, so my comments will be limited to the team's statistics thus far.  Unfortunately, the statistics show precisely the same problems fans have been lamenting thus far.  The team can't hit and can't pitch this year, and I see no reason to believe they'll turn things around in time to save their season.

The Twins had a very good offense last year, but losing Hardy and Hudson left two glaring weaknesses up the middle the Twins, and Nishioka's injury has only widened that gap and shown how truly thin the Twins middle infield is.  Who was the last really good Twins middle infielder?  Rod Carew?

Joe Mauer was evidently rushed to the active roster after what had been described as minor off-season knee surgery.  Clearly the surgery wasn't as minor as advertised, or it was done too close to the beginning of the season because Mauer wasn't ready to be playing every day.

Justin Morneau has managed to play 23 of the first 28 games, but he's been ineffective and without the power stroke to which we're accustomed.

The rest of the Twins hitters have either been plagued by injury, or simply haven't performed to expectations.  Thome is old, and may not have much left.  Young had a career year and may never be so good again.  Valencia was playing far above expectations last year, and likely won't repeat.  Cuddyer has been overrated for years now.  Kubel is a streaky player that can't hit lefties, but is continually exposed to them.

Liriano's no-hitter was one of the ugliest, and luckiest no hitters you'll ever see.  6 walks agains 2 strikeouts, in just about any other situation, would have led to Gardenhire pulling him long before finishing a game.  I had hoped the Twins would lock-up Liriano over the off season for the next few years, but what we learned in Spring Training, is that Liriano has a very poor work ethic, and seems to lack the mental acuity and discipline required of an ace pitcher.  He might be about done as a top of the rotation starter.

Baker and Duensing have pitched pretty well so far, but after them the staff and the bullpen are a mess.  Slowey's return may bolster the staff some, but he's not enough--especially if he's not going to start.  Pavano will give the staff some good innings, which is very valuable, but he's not an ace.  I expect him to improve.  But I'm not confident that Blackburn will get much better.

The Twins are not playing like a playoff team, and I don't have any confidence that they will play any better the remainder of the season.  They'll get better, but I can't envision the Twins being much better than a .500 team this year--that might even be a stretch.