Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Could Cuddyer Be Any Cruddier?

Tonight was probably the most frustrating game I have seen the Twins play this season. In the 3-1 loss to the White Sox, they continued an abominable trend of leaving runners on base and failing to capitalize with the bases loaded. In the second inning, they had the bases loaded with one out. No runs. In the fourth inning, they had runners on first and second with one out. No runs. In the fifth, runners on the corners with two outs, no runs. In the sixth, bases loaded with one out again. No runs. While there are a lot of places where the blame could be placed, I feel like directing my wrath at the third baseman Michael Cuddyer. There is large faction of Cuddy-supporters out there who seem to think that I am being too hasty in my disgust with Cuddyer, and I'm sure that they will continue to support him and feel that we should all still withhold our judgment until he has had more time. In my opinion, this is Major League Baseball, and you need to perform or lose your spot. There is NO WAY this guy has done anything this year to warrant a starting job on a playoff contending team. Let's take a look at his at-bats tonight...

Second inning: Steps in with bases loaded and one out. Strikes out.
Fourth inning: Steps in with runners on first and second with one out. Grounds into a pathetic double play on the first pitch of the at-bat.
Sixth inning: Singles on a grounder to left, loading the bases. Nick Punto and Shannon Stewart would actually be the ones who killed this rally, by popping out consecutively afterwards.
Eighth inning: Grounds out to third.

So... he went 1/4, striking out with the bases loaded, then grounding into a double play, and later grounding out to third on what would have been another double play had Lew Ford not beaten him to it. Meanwhile, Terry Tiffee, who is hitting .318, doubled and singled in the game. Granted, he also left some men on base, but at least he is hitting the ball. So to reiterate a point I made a few days ago, if things continue the way they are now, the team should seriously consider sending down Cuddyer instead of Tiffee when Justin Morneau comes off the disabled list.

Meanwhile, a great start by Brad Radke was wasted tonight. He pitched an eight inning complete game, allowing three runs and striking out five. When your pitcher allows only three runs in a game in which you have 14 hits, there is absolutely NO EXCUSE for not winning. I know everyone wants to say it's early, and we still have almost 150 games left, but every game counts. And if, at the end of the year, the Twins find themselves a few games behind the White Sox in the standings and on the outside of the playoff picture looking in, it's going to be games like tonight's that they will look back at and kick themselves for.