At the beginning of this season, we had a little fun on the site predicting award winners, World Series winners, and of course, divisional winners. I wouldn't say that we were off on all things, but nevertheless, some of our predictions have fallen short big time.
I can't fault Nelson for believing the Twins would win 96 games this year as we see now that they may not be above .500 when all is said and done. It just look possible. We had some overachieving hitters who look like they had bright futures and of course, great pitching. Well, the pitching panned out for the most part and it looks like we will have a fairly imposing staff for next year. My prediction that Santana would win the Cy Young was fairly accurate (Yes, I realize there's a very good chance he will lose it to Colon, but being fair and honest about the stats and who was the best pitcher, the prediction was true. Santana is the AL Cy Young. No Qualms about it). However, believing that Morneau would hit 40 HRs with 100 RBI didn't come true at all. Morneau regressed and showed that perhaps 2004 was a fluke. 21 HRs and 73 RBIs is marginal at best from first base (and its worse that those are team-leading numbers), but a .238 average and a .305 OBP is just terrible. It was hard to see that coming.
But worse than Morneau, it was hard to see that this team would simply fall apart. Granted, Nelson's prediction that Chicago would loss 90 games isn't looking good in the limelight, but not many saw Chicago emerging into a contender. No, the Twins still could have played ball like Cleveland. Instead, we are the worse executing team in the majors. The young players we hoped could come up and put up decent numbers in support of a great pitching staff (think Houston Astros, whom I didn't think would do this good either) we would be fine. Punto, Cuddyer, Rivas, Ryan, Ford all failed to do what was necessary. Or did they?
The biggest failure of this year was unpredictable. And that was the exposure of Ron Gardenhire's coaching failures. The team's 42 sacrifices is symbolic of Gardy's disease: He presses for the little things way too much. He wants sacrifices all the time and by doing so, he pushes all his hitters away from any of their natural talents. (Mauer could be better but he's being held back. And this is not to say Ulger is doing a great job. Everyone knows he should be out of town) What it does is create a mentality in our hitters that they can not drive in runs, that they can not get extra-base hits. Instead, all they can do is try to "put the ball in play" and move the runner over. Those things are good to know, but if David Ortiz is evidence of anything, its that the Twins are being run into a ditch by a poor managing philosophy. And thats why of all things I'm reflecting on when it comes to this year in baseball, its Gardenhire. He needs to be gone more than Ulger, more than Lohse, more than Romero, and more than my favorite guy to pick on, Matthew LeCroy.