Now, this is just begging for a long, and maybe pointless, rant. But after reading Aaron Gleeman's post this morning, I had a thought I bet most of us have had: Why is the Twins' patience so inconsistent? Most of have lulled over Joe Mays' 20 million dollar contract in 2001 and of course, the lack of a small one to David Ortiz.
Why do we continue to ask such questions? A few reasons: For one, obviously Ortiz has developed into a great player. But its unrealistic to say he would have done the same here. He wouldn't. Want to know why? Scotty Ullger isn't a great hitting coach, where is Boston actually pays guys to teach people to drive in runs. He likely would have hit 30-35 HRs and driven in 100 RBIs and been a star for us, but not quite the way he is in Boston. A let us keep one thing in mind: The man is hitting behind Manny Ramirez, the best right-handed hitter in the AL for years now. Don't listen to any pundets who tell you otherwise. Pitchers are a lot more afraid of Manny, because of his incredible power to the opposite field and his strike-zone knowledge. But even so, a nice 3 year, 9-10 million deal would have likely kept him around for a few years. Thats not asking a lot, but for some reason the Twins were impatient and acted like 20 HRs, 75 RBI, and a .500 slugging percentage are bad numbers for a little over 400 at bats. (Those are 2002 numbers, by the way)
Those aren't bad numbers at all, especially for a Twins hitter. So, what I conclude from this case study is simple: The Twins have no patience with hitters who can emerge, and thats likely cause they don't teach them or develop them very well. On the other hand, they have infinite patience with terrible pitchers and terrible small-ball players. Nick Punto? Has very little talent, in my opinion, but he gets plenty of playing time over a guy like Jason Bartlett, who has plenty of high-end talent. Or how Corky Miller over Michael Restovich? Or Terry Mulholland and Joe Mays over any one of our talented Triple-A pitchers?
Now, there is no complaints about a 3.71 team ERA or our pitching in general. But, thats because Rick Anderson does a good job with his staff because he keeps them throwing strikes. The same can't be said for Gardenhire and Ullger, who do not push guys the right way and who consistently bench the wrong guys. Many of us are still looking at that .259 with a giant "what-if" in our heads. What if we signed David Ortiz? What if we kept Corey Koskie? What if we kept Matt Lawton? But its better to clear our heads and look at every situation popping up. Who does everyone seem to have a problem with? Gardenhire. Ortiz never said it, but I'm sure Gardy didn't think he played well into "small-ball." But Newman? He didn't have kind words upon leaving. Lohse and Morneau are clearly immature players, but Gardy didn't help those situations. Its the nasty clubhouse atmosphere in the end. Chemistry could change those numbers. So could a few "veteran" bats. So could a new staff. But will it happen? I sure hope Terry Ryan is thinking real hard about that right now.