Monday, May 23, 2005

Tribal Trouble

The Twins put up another embarrassingly pathetic offensive performance tonight against the Indians in a 2-1 loss at Jacobs Field to start their latest road trip. Surprisingly, however, I am not going to spend my post tonight with another long rant about the Twins pathetic offense, despite the fact that Morneau (which we must now all get in the habit of saying with emphasis on the first syllable instead of the second) is in just a ridiculous slump and is pressing way too much, Terry Tiffee continues to be pinch-hit in key situations despite the fact that he couldn't hit the broad side of a barn, and Torii Hunter - despite a big near-homer in the ninth that put him in the position to score the winning run - killed another rally with a miserable ground ball out in the first inning.

Actually, what I'm going to discuss tonight is the fact that, while I complain constantly about the Twins' offensive ineptitude, perhaps I should count my blessings when I look at the team we faced tonight. I actually kind of feel sorry for Indians fans. Cleveland was expected by most people to have one of the top three or four offenses in the league, and they have been among the worst. I was totally furious that Gardenhire continued to regularly start Michael Cuddyer while he was flirting with the Mendoza line for a whole month, but here in mid-May Indians third-baseman Aaron Boone is still starting with an absolutely miserable .159 average and a .215 OBP. I have to believe that Victor Martinez is the biggest disappointment in all of baseball this year. After hitting 23 homers and knocking in 108 RBI last year, he was set to be the next great offensive catcher of the MLB. Instead, Martinez is batting .191 and tonight got just his 12th RBI despite the fact that he hits cleanup. It doesn't end there. Casey Blake has played 40 games this year despite a .211 BA. As a team, Cleveland is hitting .242, worst in the Majors... worse than the Royals and Athletics. The Indians have scored only 170 runs, 28 less than the anemic Twins.

I am totally stunned by this unbelievable lack of offensive performance by a Cleveland line up that seemed poise to be sandwiched between Boston and New York in all stats this year. The most unfortunate part is that the pitching has been there for them. They are one of five AL squads with a team ERA under 4. Their bullpen has been outstanding. And yet, even after their victory tonight, their record still sits three games under .500. I have to believe that this has just been a very tough run for the Indians and that they are still going to break out and start scoring massive amounts of runs, but here we are, more than 1/4 of the way through the season, and tonight they were able to score only 1 run against a bad pitcher in Kyle Lohse (the second was charged to Lohse, but was really JC Romero's fault).

Getting back to the Twins though, I just have to say that this year has really made me realize that I had heavily overrated the speed of Jacque Jones. I have seen him get thrown out stealing by large margins twice this year, and tonight was his worst offense yet. With one out and Hunter on second in the ninth, Jones hit a very slow grounder up the middle. It was so slow in fact, that Ronnie Belliard, who was shading the left-handed Jones to the right a little, went all the way to left side of second-base to pick it up and while moving the other direction lobbed it to first. Jones could not beat out the throw. You've gotta be kidding me.