It may sound pessimistic, but realistically, I find it very hard to believe the Twins have any chance of a post-season berth. I'm trying my best to keep hopes high so that I can cheer for the team and watch the scoreboards with excitement, but after watching the lackluster effort put forth in Detroit this weekend, I'm on the verge of just giving up... which makes it very hard to motivate myself to post on this blog every day. I know I sound like a horrible fan right now, but I'm so terribly dejected by the team's performance and inability to meet the expectations I had set (which really weren't that high).
First of all, a surge to overtake Chicago and win the division for a fourth straight season is out of the question. When the Twins won a couple straight while the Sox dropped 2 last week and the deficit was cut down to 10, I still had that glimmer of hope that maybe the Twinks could take a chunk out of that massive lead over the weekend while the White Sox struggled with their red counterparts. Instead, the Twins failed to take advantage of the situation and lost the series to Detroit. Now it has come to my attention that Chicago has become a major player in the AJ Burnett sweepstakes. If they get him, I might change my mind about my favorite for the AL Pennant, which is currently the Angels without hesitation. Anyway, there's no way we're catching the Sox. Therefore, the only hope for post-season play would be a Wild-Card berth, which seems realistic at the moment considering we're in the thick of the race, but...
The Twins offense is a total mess. Every position except catcher is sub-par. A run-down...
-Justin Morneau had 280 at-bats last year and hit 19 homers with 58 RBI and an .876 OPS. This year, in just 5 fewer at-bats, he has hit 12 home runs with 47 RBI and an OPS of .770. I don't buy into any of the crap that the Twins "brought him up too early" or "pressed him too hard", no one was saying that last year when he was ripping the ball out of the park left and right. Only in baseball is a 24-year old considered too young to be handed a starting job, and then patted on the back when he fails to perform. The guy is 24, at his athletic peak, and has 500 Major League at-bats under his belt. There is no excuse for his inability to perform.
-Bret Boone has been a disaster, both offensively and defensively, he clearly has nothing left. I would say the Twins should cut ties ASAP, but they really have no better options because Nick Punto has regressed terribly since returning from injury and Luis Rivas is simply not a Major League hitter. This position is hopeless.
-Juan Castro is a defensive player with minimal offensive value. A player like this is an affordable luxury when the rest of your lineup can produce, but the Twins' offense can't. Castro should not be starting.
-Third base is a mess. Michael Cuddyer is a lost cause, and while Luis Rodriguez has impressed, it's still hard to believe he is an everyday starter, especially considering that third base is not his natural position. This position is an offensive and defensive black hole with no organizational answer in sight.
-Jacque Jones and Torii Hunter are unacceptably inconsistent, especially Jones. Jacque hits the ball out of the park on occasion, but his inability to hit lefties or recognize breaking balls have become very tiresome from the 30 year-old veteran. Hunter's production is better, and good for a center-fielder, but he's no exactly leading the team to success.
-Shannon Stewart, surprisingly, has been very mediocre. Usually steady, his hitting has been disappointing this year, as he has gotten on base at only a .337 clip. Last year his OBP was .380.
-Typically designated hitters are designated with the assignment of hitting, which Lew Ford has failed to do, hitting just .256 while hitting 4 home runs and 35 RBI. Matt LeCroy's inconsistency and inability to hit right-handers or field keep him from being a regular lineup option, and no one else on the Twins bench (or in the minor league system for that matter) has shown the ability to hit enough on a regular basis to fill with spot with regular production.
Terry Ryan seems adament about making a trade to add a bat within the next week, but can you seriously expect filling one of these holes to make this a viable offense? Even with great pitching, I don't see how the Twins can expect to play over .500 for the remainder of the season unless some of these players can turn it around offensively, which is looking less and less likely.