Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Most Pathetic Performance I've Ever Witnessed

I can't say anything positive. Not even remotely. I am trying my hardest, searching my brain for a time I have been more disgusted by a Twins' performance, but even in the ugly years I fail to find an effort as pitiful as that of the Twins' offense today. It's getting really difficult to be a fan of this team right now. I can't even appreciate the contributions of the pitching staff because they go to waste on a nightly basis. This offense is utterly EMBARRASSING. I don't care if our starting rotation was comprised of Cy Young, Sandy Koufax, Walter Johnson, Christy Matthewson and Nolan Ryan; this still wouldn't be a playoff team. And yet everyone involved with the team and the broadcasts still constantly speaks about the "playoff hunt." Get the hell out of here. I hate to speak this badly of the team I have loved my whole life... but the level of play of these guys right now is such that nothing but furious rants of criticism can do it justice.

Today the Twins lost 1-0 to the Kansas City Royals. The worst team in baseball shut out the Twins. And that wasn't even close to the worst part. The Twins literally had a scoring opportunity in every single inning of the ball game. Observe:

First inning: Runners on first and second with one out. Jacque Jones grounds into a double play to end the inning.

Second inning: Runners on first and second with one out. Mike Redmond grounds into a double play to end the inning.

Third inning: Runner on second with two outs. Joe Mauer grounds out to end the inning.

Fourth inning: Runners on first and second with one out. Terry Tiffee grounds into a (weird) double play to end the inning.

Fifth inning: Runners on second and third with one out. Nick Punto grounds out to first, Mauer is walked, Jones grounds out to end the inning.

Sixth inning: Runner on second with one out. Tiffee and Redmond fly out to end the inning.

Seventh inning: Runner on first with one out. Punto strikes out; baserunner Mike Ryan gets picked off trying to go to second to end the inning.

Eighth inning: Leadoff single by Mauer. Jones grounds into another double play. Lew Ford singles and moves up to third on an error. Justin Morneau fouls out to end the inning.

Ninth inning: Runners on second and third with one out. Brent Abernathy pinch-runs for Redmond at third. A pitch gets past the catcher, Abernathy contemplates going home, then slowly heads back towards third and gets thrown out trying to do so. Ryan strikes out to end the inning.

13 hits, zero runs. Against KANSAS CITY. I don't know whether to laugh or cry. Over this whole unbelievable stretch of ineptitude, the Twins pitching staff (Kyle Lohse for seven innings, Juan Rincon for one) managed to keep the wimpy Royals lineup scoreless, but in the bottom of the ninth Matt Guerrier, Terry Mulholland, and a ridiculously ugly error by Tiffee helped KC bring in a run and salvage a win in a serious that should have easily been swept.

I wonder how many times in baseball history a team has gotten 13 hits and failed to score a run. I know for a fact that it is a Twins record. Oh, and the Twins also drew two walks and had one guy hit by a pitch, so that's 16 baserunners left out to dry if you're keeping track.

Sure, these guys kicked some paper cups around and cursed a few times in the dugout as they walked out with slumped shoulders after the game, but there's really no doubt that this weekend they'll go out and continue to do the same thing. I fear the month of September is not going to be a very fun one for the Minnesota Twins.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Offensive Spark

Well, lets not go too far with this post, considering that this offensive coming happened against the hapless, overconfident Jose Lima and the dreadful Kansas City bullpen. But, the Twins did managed to put up runs early, in the first to be specific, and a total of seven in the game. Michael Ryan double to start the game up and despite an idiot baserunning mistake, Nick Punto managed to get in the same position on a poor play. What followed was a Joe Mauer triple and Lew Ford RBI double after a Jacque Jones flyout. From there, Lima seemed to go right back to what his done to the Twins all year, actually getting them out the way he can't do against ANY other major league teams. But in the sixth, he walked Nick Punto and Mauer followed with an RBI double, giving him all but a homer in the cycle. Jones followed with an RBI single up the middle (Jones isn't the best, but a good choice over Morneau to give some protection to Mauer in the lineup) and Lima quickly hit Ford with a fastball. After Matthew LeCroy's weak at-bat ended in a usually pop fly, Lima was replaced by left-hander Jimmy Gobble to face Justin Morneau.

After my fellow blogger's tirade yesterday, its clear that we are dissapointed with Morneau's season and his lack of execution that lead us to believe he doesnt have much of a future in the majors. Justin looked good most of the game, putting good swings on Lima fastballs and driving them before he creamed a Gobble curveball over the wall for a three-run homer in the sixth. The positive? It was the difference that gave the Twins a win and it should that Morneau still has some power in that swing of his. The negatives? Well, a Lima fastball isn't too much (he has a 6.56 ERA, so its like a Triple-A fastball, which Morneau did well against) and Gobble isn't too great either since he can't make it into the Kansas City starting staff. Hopefully, it will help him get on a roll and have a good last month. That would be great for him and the Twins, but there is no guarantee he'll come out of it.

Pitching-wise, it wasn't the usually Twins stuff of the past month. Silva wasn't great, giving up four runs in 6 and 2/3 innings, but with no walks again, Silva has a total of EIGHT in 180 innings. That adds up to .4 BB/nine innings, which is incredible. The win gives him a 9-6 record, but he should have many more, just as Radke and Santana, as he has been great in the second half. Jesse Crain had an ugly, but wiggled out of it with a double play and Nathan continued his streak of scoreless innings since the All-Star break, striking out two and nearly giving up game-tying home run after putting runners on third and first to start the inning. Nathan leads the bigs in strikeouts/nine innings since the break as well, another indication of how good our pitching has been.

With Kyle Lohse on the mound tommorow, a sweep is no guarantee, but even he should be able to hold them at bay. If not, I'm calling for him to be sent to the bullpen with Mays or even the minors, so we can get Fransisco Liriano up here so we have a chance to win all our games.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Twins 3, Royals 1

There has been a lot of disappointment on the Twins offense this year. Michael Cuddyer, Shannon Stewart, Luis Rivas, Jason Bartlett... none of them have lived up to expectations. But I can't think of any player in the AL who has been more disappointing than Justin Morneau. He has had an absolutely AWFUL season, especially if you discount his two-week hot streak after returning from the DL in April. Even the most conservative projections at the start of the year had Morneau hitting .250 with 25 HR or so. Instead, it appears that he will finish the season at around .230 with under 20 home runs. Morneau is unlikely to surpass his home run from roughly one half a season's worth of at-bats in 2004 (19) in a full 2005 campaign. I sadly have to admit that I honestly don't know if Justin is going to be able to come around and have a successful Major League career. He has been absolutely ravaged by Major League pitching, and has shown no ability whatsoever to adjust. I realize it's only one year, but when a guy has holes this massive in his swing it can be difficult to impossible to correct. He has been dreadfully bad since May and shown no signs of improvement. After hitting .439 in April, Morneau has hit .222 in May, .230 in June, .213 in July, and .200 in August. His on-base percentage has declined while strikeouts have gone up. And yet... Morneau CONTINUES to bat clean-up in the lineup, despite being almost indisputably the easiest out on the team.

That is just extremely bad management by Ron Gardenhire, and it hurt the team once again tonight. In the top of the 8th, Jason Bartlett hit a leadoff double, then Mike Ryan laid down a sacrifice bunt to move him to third. Alas, the Twins had yet another runner on third with one out, this one representing the go-ahead run in a 1-1 game which would have likely meant the victory for Scott Baker. Nick Punto struck out looking (he REALLY needs to learn how to protect the plate with 2 strikes... that's little league stuff, Nick), and up came Joe Mauer. Of course, the Royals intentionally walked him, which wouldn't happen with most teams when the cleanup hitter is on deck. Of course, Morneau hit a weak grounder to second to end the inning; this after already having struck out swinging at balls in two previous at-bats. The situations would occur again in a less important but equally pitiful showing in the top of the 10th. After a clutch 2-run double by Punto put the Twins ahead by two, Mauer came up and was again intentionally walked. This put runners on first and second with one out. Up came Morneau, who promptly grounded into a double play to end the inning. Justin's 0/5 performance dropped his average to .237; his on-base percentage is an ugly .305.

Moving away from that painful topic, the Twins did collect a victory tonight, albeit it a tough one against the lowly Royals. Baker pitched extremely well, going 7 innings and allowing just one run on 4 hits while striking out 5 and walking just one. Kind of makes you wonder why the hell it took so long for for Gardy and Ryan to call him up. If he would've pitched a couple of those games that Joe Mays lost, the Twins could conceivably still be in playoff contention.

Jason Bartlett has looked really good lately. He went 2/3 tonight, raising his average to .268. Perhaps more importantly, he has shown huge improvement in the field. Bartlett is stabbing tough grounders on both side and firing the ball to first to gun down baserunners. This is a good sign, and hopefully one that continues as we move along.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Can't get it done for Johan

How bad can things get after winning 10 of 12? A three-game losing streak to begin and then scoring only eight runs against a terrible Texas pitching staff. (That includes the seven scored yesterday) It gets more and more pathetic with each game. Today, the Twins anemic offense ruined another Santana gem. Johan wasn't spectacular, but seven innings with six Ks while allowing only one run and three hits is still very good. And if you ask me, the ump's zone wasn't too nice to Johan while being very good to Texas' Chris Young. He deserved a win but the Twins offense couldn't put anything together and Jesse Crain couldn't hold the lead in the 9th.

I can't blame Crain too much. The Twins can't expect to win scoring one run. It can't be left to the pitching to win it all. And, of course, the call of catcher's interference on Joe Mauer's play of Rod Barajas' pop-up didn't help matters either. No, the blame is all on the hitters.

Five hits and one run against the "mighty" Chris Young and the great Texas bullpen. And to make matters worse, they had the bases loaded in the first with one out, and you guessed it, couldn't score. LeCroy swung at the first pitch out of the zone and popped out. Ugh surprise there. No patience is always a problem for LeCroy and he proved it. I guess his good week was a blurb. Then Jacque pretty much repeated that to end the inning. From there, it was much of the same. A double here, maybe a good play to move a guy over, but no one could drive anyone in. In the fifth, Lew Ford was stranded at third with one out when Jason Bartlett and Michael Ryan struck out. All in all, Rangers starters from rookie Kameron Loe on Friday to Rogers to Young didn't give up a single run to the Twins all weekend. It wasn't until the eight, when Bartlett singled and was moved over and Mauer singled him in.

It was a sad series in all. It was exciting to see some offense yesterday, but pathetic that they couldn't win for Johan when he pitched very well again. The only positive is that Mays is in the bullpen and tommorow we get the joy of watching Scott Baker pitch against the Royals, whom we must undoubtedly sweep.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Jacque's Day

It was shaping up like another tough loss resulting from a lack of offense today for the Twins, at least until Jacque Jones stepped up in the 9th inning as a pinch-hitter. Jones delivered a double, and would then score the tying run when Terry Tiffee singled to right. Tiffee moved up to third on a throwing error, and the Twins had the go ahead run 90 feet away with 1 out. I wrote yesterday about the Twins' need to be more aggressive if they wanted to get runs in and win games, and they did just that in this situation. Gardenhire called for the suicide squeeze, which was very nearly successful except that Mike Redmond's bunt rolled just foul. Redmond would then strike out, and Jason Bartlett would fly out to center, destroying yet another opportunity for the Twins. They would redeem themselves, as Joe Nathan pitched two scoreless innings to hold off the potent Rangers' offense and Jones came through big again in the 11th with a 2-run homer that gave the Twins the lead. They would add a couple more runs and JC Romero would finish the inning to seal a 7-2 victory for the Twins.

Despite their inabilities to bring home Tiffee in the 9th, both Bartlett and Redmond had pretty impressive games. Jason had four hits, bringing his average up to .259. Redmond had a couple hits, and is batting .288. He has been excellent as a backup catcher, and has proven to be perhaps the best off-season acquisition for the Twins. Brad Radke, who started the game, pitched 6 strong innings and allowed only one run.

The Twins will be sending a position player down within the next couple days to make room for Scott Baker, who will be starting in place of Joe Mays on Monday. Look for it to be Terry Tiffee, who - despite having a key hit in the 9th today - has been miserable, hitting .214 and playing poorly in the field.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Working against No One

Unfortunately, we were wrong. The Twins anemic offense can't even score runs against some of the worst pitching in the majors. They were shut-out by Kameron Loe, who hadn't started all year and is a reliever, and the Rangers' pitching staff. They had no walks and managed only six hits. It was beyond pathetic again. Now, it almost doesn't matter if the pitching is great. We still can't win.

Of course, that's not to say that it was. Kyle Lohse had a terrible start after putting up a good run and bringing his ERA down to a very respectable 4.09. Tonight, it was a different story, as he was tore up by the Rangers' hitters for six runs and three home runs in five innings. Alfonso Soriano showed his worth to the Twins, as he hit a two-run homer and a RBI double in the game to bring his offensive totals to 30 HRs and 87 RBIs for the year. The 30 HRs puts him in an elite class of second basemen, being the only second baseman other than Jeff Kent and Roger Hornsby to have three 30-HR seasons as a second baseman.

Maybe it wouldn't have saved our season, but having Soriano certainly would have helped. The Twins could have split up the bats of Mauer and Morneau and given them both protection by having Mauer bat third, Soriano bat fourth, and Mornuea bat fifth. Better protection, less pressure, and of course, it would make up for the loss of Hunter in the lineup. Then, at least, there would be a moment in the game or an inning in which the opposing team actually was afraid to pitch to Twins hitters. That may have been worth one of our prospects. Hell, we weren't using them we we needed them anyways, so why not?

The good news after all this: At least we know for sure that Mays will not start again. It will be Baker in his place Monday against Kansas City and that's the first good news in three days. Radke takes the mound today against Texas ace Rogers. Lets pray for a victory, but we all know how the Twins hitters fair against finesse lefties like Rogers. Come on guys....


After a brief period of offensive competence, the Twins appear to be falling back into the anemic hitting trend that caused them to essentially drop out of the playoff race in June and July. After somehow winning a three-game series with the Athletics in which they scored only 5 runs total, the Twins' offense suddenly had a dramatic turnaround, averaging 6.1 runs per game over their next seven and going 6-1 over that span. Things seemed to be coming together. Now it appears that the Twins are falling back into bad old habits, going down 1-2-3 inning after inning, leaving runners aboard, and failing to execute in simple situations. In fairness, they did face three very good pitchers in that series against Chicago, so I guess we'll have to wait and see how the hitters fare against Texas' mediocre pitching before completely passing judgment, but it certainly seems that the offense is falling into the same patterns that put them in such a rut for a couple months.

I saw some subtle reasons for the rise in offensive productivity over that 7 game span against Chicago and Seattle last week, and it wasn't just the fact that Mashin' Matthew started belting the ball and Lew Ford hit dingers in three straight games.

All of it roots from the fact that the Twins players, regardless of what Michael "we were never out of it" Cuddyer might say, felt that the season was lost and the playoff were out of reach. As a result, it seemed like they weren't pressing as much; especially the younger guys. Guys were going to the plate and swinging the bat, rather than standing with the bat on their shoulder and praying for a walk. Hitters felt less pressure to come through with the big home run, because it simply didn't matter as much. None of the games really felt like must-win affairs, they went into Chicago last week and felt no intimidation or pressure, because hell, the White Sox were 15 games ahead of them.

Aside from the more relaxed approach, the Twins' feeling of being out of contention had another very positive effect, this one more from a coaching standpoint. The team became FAR more aggressive on the basepaths. The team seemed to adopt something of a "What have we got to lose?" attitude, and it payed off, as more guys were moving into scoring position and players were running home and scoring on plays where they otherwise might have been held at third. In that Chicago series, the Twins were running all over on AJ Pierzynski and the Sox pitchers, stealing 7 bases while being caught only twice. The Twins continued to run aggressively against the Mariners, swiping a couple bags and taking the extra base on every opportunity.

However, now that they are realistically back in the playoff picture, just a few games behind in the Wild Card race, the Twins hitters seem to be getting nervous again, and the pressure is causing mistakes and overly conservative play. Yesterday's 2-1 loss to the White Sox provides us with a couple of perfect examples. For one, in the second inning, Mike Ryan stopped at second on a Michael Cuddyer single where he easily could've moved up to third. The baserunning err cost the Twins a run, as Ryan would be thrown out at home on a Terry Tiffee single in the next at-bat. Another example came later in the game, when Cuddyer came up with the winning run on second. Cuddy worked the count to 3-0 against Sox closer Dustin Hermanson, then Al Newman gave him the green light. Cuddyer failed to see the sign, and took the next three pitches for strikes and went down looking. That type of cowardly, conservative play is the whole reason the Twins went into that giant slump, and they seem to fall back into that pattern every time they play in truly meaningful games. Oh, and guess how many stolen base attempts the Twins had in that entire home series against the White Sox? One, by Justin Morneau. He was thrown out.

If the Twins want their offense to get back to where it was during that seven-game stretch of phenomenal baseball that put them back into the race, it is imperative that the younger players start to relax and swing the bats when they get up to the plate. They need to run the bases aggressively, because with the type of speed and sliding technique that this team has, it is going to pay off more often than not. And when your hitters are so incapable of coming through with the big hit to drive in runners, every base counts.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Fading Fast

Again and again, Carlos Silva and the rest of the pitchers are learning a tough lesson this year: No matter how well you pitch, you just can't win if your team doesn't score any runs. Silva pitched about as well as could have been expected today, going 7 innings and allowing just one run to the White Sox. Unfortunately, for the third straight game the Twins' offense was unable to put a single run on the board until the late innings. Sox pitcher Jon Garland mowed down the Twins hitters 1-2-3 inning after inning. Mike Ryan (who went 3/4 and had a decent game, for once) delivered a clutch 2-out RBI double in the bottom of the ninth to tie the game at 1, but unfortunately it wouldn't extend the game for too long as Messy Crain would come out in the 10th and allow a leadoff double to the extremely light-hitting Geoff Blum that resulted in the game winning run when Blum was brought home by the light-hitting Timo Perez. Crain is a wreck. After a great first half, his inability to strike out Major League hitters has caught up with him very quickly, and he's giving up key hits to bad hitters, as he showed tonight.

I fear the Twins offense is falling back into its slump after showing life for a week or so. Their inability to hit in this series was borderline absurd. Now, in fairness, they did run into three damn good pitchers; but when you're in a playoff race and playing a division rival, you have just GOT to find a way to get some runs across the plate. When your marquis power hitter (Morneau) is hitting .241/.307 and the number 2 guy in your order (Punto) is hitting .246/.307, you're going to have trouble generating many runs from the top of the order. Even the trio of Lew Ford, Matt LeCroy, and Joe Mauer - who have been very hot as of late - went a combined 0/12.

After winning in one of the most amazing games of the year on Tuesday night, the Twins have followed up with two very ugly performances yesterday and today. Hopefully we can chalk up the offense's pathetic performance in this series to the fact that three great pitchers dominated them; but our next series is in Texas against a pitching staff that is mediocre at best. If the Twins' bats are as quiet in Arlington as they were in this series, you can kiss any thoughts of the post-season goodbye.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

LeCroy's bat can't make up for defense, Mays

Matthew LeCroy should, mark my words, never play defense again. If there was ever a born DH or bench-guy, its him. He just can't do. He isnt just immobile or sub-par, he makes bad plays half the time the ball is sent his way. He's an embarrassment to himself and the club when he's out there. I understand that we are missing two outfielders, but I'd rather see anyone but LeCroy over there. A few passed balls, a major misplay on a ball to him all lead up to the problem tonight. The only reason I don't want to condemn him to baseball hell is his bat in recent weeks and tonight. The Twins didn't win and he didn't really redeem himself. His first at-bats were awful. He struck out two straight times against starter Mark Buerhle, the second time throwing the bat into the stands. (That was really embarrasing) He finally knocked one out against Buerhle in the seventh, giving the Twins their only run off of Buerhle. In the ninth, they knocked in three runs against the Chicago bullpen, with a two-run Nick Punto home-run (don't expect a repeat anytime soon) and a LeCroy RBI double. But the Twins lost because of the terrible play of another Twin more important to the loss: Joe Mays.

While LeCroy had his good at-bats to make up for the early ones and his stunningly-awful defense, Mays simply sucked the life out of the team and offense as he pitched another terrible game. He is the sore spot in this great rotation and thats obvious to everyone. This start should show that Mays must be removed from the rotation. Control problems again, nine hits in 4 and 2/3 innings, five runs, a two-run blast to Carl Everett in the first. There was no positives in his performance. He was the opposite of how good Santana was last night. For that, I don't care if they release him, banish him to the bullpen, or try to send him away to Triple-A. Make room for Scott Baker and Fransisco Liriano. I will repeat myself: If the Twins are really serious about the playoffs, they need to win every game now. That means using everything in the bag. When Baseball America calls you out because your leaving great pitching to rot in the minors, thats more than just a wake-up call. Get rid of Mays. Get rid of "Old Man" Mulholland. They don't belong on a playoff club. Period. Liriano and Baker have the ablity to change this race like K-Rod did in 2002 or Josh Beckett did in 2003. Young pitching changes everything. These guys are rested and have been dominated Triple-A hitters all year. They are ready for the show and if they don't lead us to the playoffs, we haven't lost anything in Mays or Mulholland. Think about the combination of two big lefties like Santana and Liriano who can just dominate (potentially) any lineup in the playoffs. Its too good to resist.

Those guys are waiting to chop at the bit. Lets give the a chance so that Twins don't have to watch games like tonight's. (Unfortunately, both me and Nelson were at the game and we both left quickly after Mays did his thing) They should get the excitement of a race involving such great young talent. Two and a half games isn't much to make up with and the offense can come alive (they did against a good bullpen tonight). What they need is good starting pitching ever night. There is a whole in that plan and its Joe Mays. Come on up, Fransisco Liriano, your needed.

Super Santana

Some trends in baseball just can't be explained. How come some teams play better in their alternate uniforms? Why is that some pitchers are far more successful on the road than at home, even if that home park isn't considered a hitter's park? Why do the White Sox collapse after in the last two months of EVERY SINGLE season? And why has Johan Santana been so incredibly dominant post-break in each of the last few years?

After he won the AL Cy Young award last year, making him the first Twin since Frank Viola to bring the coveted award to Minnesota, fans were expecting big things out of Johan this year. 20+ wins? 300 strikeouts? A sub-2 ERA? It all seemed possible considering how untouchable the guy was for the second half of last season and in the playoffs. He simply could not be beaten, almost literally. For the first couple months of this season, Johan looked disappointingly human. He wasn't terrible by any means, but he was being victimized by big innings and control problems. Hitters seemed to be reading his changeup. Rumors of pitches being tipped and nagging injuries flooded the Internet and media. Some began to think that maybe Johan Santana's Cy Young second half of 2004 was a fluke, and the Twins had perhaps made a big mistake in handing him a 4 year, $40 million dollar deal in the off-season. Then, suddenly, something clicked.

On July 6, Santana got shelled by the Angels for 6 runs on 9 hits over 6.1 innings, taking his fifth loss of the year. His record stood at at 7-5, and while he led the league in strikeouts, his ERA was a far-from-elite 3.98. Since that game, Johan has gone 6-1. And those wins haven't been against crappy teams either, they've been against the division-leading Angels, the offensively respectable Tigers, the Bronx Bombers, the(extremely hot at the time) Athletics, and the team with the AL's best record, the White Sox (twice). While his performance over this entire stretch has been great, and has seen his ERA drop over eight tenths of a run, it's been his last three starts where he's really been unbelievable. In those three games (at Oakland, at Chicago, and then last night at home against Chicago), Santana is 3-0, with 25.1 innings pitched, 12 hits allowed, one run allowed, 26 strikeouts, and only 3 walks. His ERA has dropped from 3.68 to 3.22.

So why the drastic turnaround? Does it simply take Johan a few months of the season to gain total command of his arsenal? Well, there are a few things to look at. Perhaps the most telling statistic is his groundball to fly ball ratio. When Santana is getting people to ground out, he's good, but when he's getting people to pop out, he's great. In each of the months of April, June, and July, Santana got more outs by groundball than by fly ball. His ERAs in those months, respectively, were 3.55, 3.93, and 3.45; good, but not extraordinary. In August, there has been a dramatic turnaround, as his GB/FB ratio has been 35/52. His ERA this month is 1.41.

If the Twins make the playoffs, it will be on the broad shoulders of Johan Santana. His chances at capturing a second consecutive Cy Young trophy are perhaps better than one would think. Mark Buehrle, generally considered to be the front-runner for the award right now, is 13-6 with a 3.07 ERA, a 1.18 WHIP, 109 K, and an OBA of .260. Santana's numbers pretty much dwarf his, at 13-6, 3.22 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 189 K, and an OBA of .220. Plus, Santana is much hotter than Buehrle, who had a 5.01 ERA in July and has a 3.71 ERA in August. Another guy who's in the mix for the award is Bartolo Colon, who has three more wins than Johan, but his ERA, WHIP, and OBA are all considerably higher and Colon has over 60 fewer strikeouts. With Roy Halladay out for likely the rest of the season, Santana actually has a very good chance to win another Cy Young. Especially if he carries the Twins to the post-season.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

One Hit Wonder

Tonight's game was probably one of the craziest I have ever watched. I hate the White Sox and everything, but you just HAVE to feel for Freddy Garcia. The guy is pitching the game of his life, carries a no-hitter into the 8th inning, throws one bad pitch, and loses the game 1-0. How could such a thing happen? Because he was facing Johan Santana, the August version. Garcia was quoted before the game as saying he would probably have to throw a shutout to beat Santana. He wasn't kidding. Santana threw his third straight gem, winning his 13th game by going 8 innings and striking out 7 while allowing only 3 hits and no runs. He probably could've picked up his second shutout in three games, as his pitch count was still below 100, but Gardy took the safe route and sent Joe Nathan in to close out the ninth, which one can hardly complain about.

The unlikely hero tonight was Jacque Jones, who has been absolutely terrible lately. Jones, who has recently been doing nothing but striking out and grounding out to the left side, stepped to the plate in the 8th inning 0/2 and still looking for the Twins' first hit of the game. Jacque made contact and drove the ball to center field, then flipped his bat down in that signature motion and started trotting. The ball sailed into the folded bleachers in right-center field and Garcia watched his no-hitter, his shut-out, and most likely his win slip away.

Garcia is the first pitcher to throw a one-hitter and lose in 10 years. He pitched great, but the real stud of the game was Santana, who has been absolutely extraordinary lately. Johan's ERA has dropped to 3.22, and he has allowed one run in the last 28 innings. His changeup is back in top form, again making hitters look silly (particularly Aaron Rowand) and he's getting first pitch strikes and showing great command with all his pitches. This is the Johan we were hoping would appear after a tough mid-season stretch when walks were up and strikeouts were down. He's now every bit as dominant as he was in the second half of last season, and if he keeps it up has a legitimate chance to repeat as the Cy Young award winner.

Unfortunately, the Yankees and Indians both pulled off comeback victories so the Twins didn't gain any ground on their main competition. The slipping Athletics did lose to Detroit, so the Twins are now just a game and a half behind them. Talk of overcoming the Sox is silly, they aren't winning right now but it's foolish to think they will sucede a 9.5 game lead to the Twins. If anything, the Indians - who are pretty much as hot as the Twins are right now - have a shot to pass the flailing Chicago in the standings.

One hit, one run, one victory. And another unbelievable performance by Cy Santana. The Twins are just a fun team to watch right now, and they are showing no signs of slowing down. Tomorrow the Sox-wrecking may end however, as Joe "Batting Practice" Mays goes against the current Cy Young favorite Mark Buehrle. It's tough to imagine the Twins finding a way to win this game, but then again... who knows?

Monday, August 22, 2005

Realistic Chance?

With the recent win streak and three straight series in their pockets, the Twins have certainly had a great week to look at. The bats have come alive and the pitching has stayed strong and steady. So, do they have a real shoot at the playoffs? Yes, because they are now only 2 1/2 games out of the Wild Card. That's still going to be their only shot at the playoffs, because catching up to Chicago (despite their recent seven-game losing streak that ended yesterday) is still going to be very difficult. Just as important as winning the games we have left against Chicago will be the games against Cleveland, who are the big competition in the Wild Card for the Twins. Oakland is falling slowly behind and New York has been inconsistent all year. Every game the Twins win against the Indians will give them considerable ground. They also have a short series against Oakland left in late September that could be huge. So what, beyond those series, is neccessary to get into the playoffs for the Twins. Here's three issues I think will be prominent:

1) September Call-ups - I've been touting and complaining about not having the likes of Scott Baker, Fransisco Liriano, and Travis Bowyer in the Majors most of the summer, especially during our dog days. That's mainly because these guys have shown they are ready, especially Baker, who's already had a few starts for the Twins. Liriano has simply dominated Triple-A pitching, going 8-1 with a 1.59 ERA. What's even more impressive is that he has allowed only allowed 43 hits in 79 innings to go with 93 Ks. Liriano can hit 97 on the radar as a left-hander and has often been called a bigger Johan Santana. His presence and a few starts from him in September could be huge since, like Felix Hernandez, teams will have no idea whats coming. Baker has already shown good presence on the mound, a good 94-mph fastball, control, and the ability to work both sides. I see lots of upside in his presence to give the staff a rest and a boost. Bowyer is the wild-card, as he is still working on mixing his breaking ball in more, but he does throw up 99 and has also dominated the International League, leading them in saves. He can give Rincon and Crain a rest and hopefully help in the push as well. The position players won't be as interesting to watch, but maybe more important. Expect Rivas back up, but he may not do much at all. He has only hit .250 at Rochester with no home runs. The lack of power and patience is just as evident there as it was up here earlier this year. Rob Bowen will likely be recalled as well at catcher, but he has never done too much at the bigs. He is hitting a decent .271 with 6 HRs at Triple-A, but I dont see that translated up to the bigs and since Mauer and Redmond have done so much, I'm not sure I see it being such a great idea. The sixth call-up will be a outfielder, likely Jason Tyner, who has major league experience and has hit well in the minors all year. He'll be much more important since the Twins are hurting in the outfield big time with the injuries to Jones and Hunter. Expect great pitching to watch, but not too much from the hitting call-ups.

2) Ford, LeCroy: Will this continue? - I have to beg this question unfortunately. Ford has had an inconsistent year, but has shown huge leaps this week in breaking out back into 2004 form. I don't doubt all that this can continue through September. My only fear is that Gardy will be foolish with him and try to bench him in a key role, like he did last year in the playoffs. (Kubel, Rivera anyone?) That cannot happen again. I just hope Gardy finally has confidence in this guy. LeCroy is a bigger wild-card because he has never really had a full-year of at-bats or been consistent all year with what at-bats he has had. There is no way to tell if he'll continue to be hot. But if he shows more patience like he has, he'll do fine and he'll provide a good model for younger sluggers like Morneau to follow.

3) Lohse, Mays: What will we get from them? - Mays won't be traded for Soriano. Sorry guys, but the Rangers don't want another sinkerballer who gives up homers in a home-run park. (Cough* Cough* Chan Ho Park anyone?) It just won't happen. So what can we do? Lohse deserves a spot for now because he's pitched very well his last few starts and gave Hernandez a run for his money both times. That's really impressive and shows what kind of talent Lohse has. On the other hand, Mays needs to be removed from the rotation so that our call-ups like Liriano and Baker can be given a chance. Long relief is a fine role for him to get his stuff back or he can just be benched if the Twins have now decided not to keep him next year. Lohse could be expedited to long relief as well so that Baker and Liriano get their chances, but we want him confident for the playoffs and in the rotation. Can't have mistakes like Gardy did in 2002. I just want Mulholland to pitch less and less and less. If that means more Mays, so be it. Better than Old Man Mulholland. So I conclude, why is he still on the team? They need to get serious there at least.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Twins 8, Mariners 3

Remember a couple weeks ago when you turned off the game after the Twins fell behind by one run? It was sad, but reasonable; it seemed that any lead an opposing team took was insurmountable with the lack of resilience being shown by the Twins' meager offense. Fortunately, those days appear to be gone, at least for now, as the Twins offense has stepped it into high gear thanks to gritty performances from guys like Lew Ford and Matthew LeCroy who, given regular playing time, have become forces at the plate for this team. It showed again today as the team beat up on Seattle to take the 4-game series, and they have now won 8 of their last 10. Let's analyze... bullet-point style.

*Ford came through today with yet ANOTHER three-run homer, and it was big. He drove it to the left field seats with the Twins up 4-3 to give them some insurance after and RBI single by LeCroy had given them the lead. As aforementioned, Ford and LeCroy have been downright excellent during the Twins current streak. Ford - who has homered in three straight games now - has really stepped up and picked up the slack left by the injury of Torii Hunter, offensively and defensively. And playing at DH most every day, LeCroy is just hitting the ball hard every time he comes up, and seems to be showing a little more patience.

*While those two have been good, it is clear that the heart of this offense is #7. Joe Mauer had a fantastic series, and he is pretty visibly starting to strike fear into opposing managers. It showed today when, after tripling and singling in his first two at-bats, the Mariners walked him three straight times. Mauer's on-base percentage is now .382, tied with Bill Mueller for 10th in the AL.

*Brad Radke had some early troubles, but settled down to get the victory as the offense finally provided him with some support. Radke is now 8-10 with a 3.78 ERA. Hopefully he can have some strong outings here over the closing stretch and surpass his win total of 11 from last year.

*Jacque Jones, returning from some time out with a strained oblique muscle, had an absolutely awful series. I realize he's playing hurt, but I don't see how that can cause one to swing at some of the pitches he's been hacking at.

*On another note, apparently the Twins have claimed Alfonso Soriano off waivers from the Texas Rangers. Don't think too much of it, because it is almost certain that they did it only to prevent another contending team from being able to acquire him, but reports were that the Twins and Rangers were working at a deal. Unfortunately, waivers prevent the Twins from being able to trade Kyle Lohse or JC Romero, so it's not too likely that this trade (which should have happened before July 31st) will go down. It would be nice to see the team acquire Alfonso, not only for this year but for next year as well.

The Twins have the day off tomorrow but then will be at home facing the White Sox once again. Johan Santana will look to continue his hot streak as the Twins look to continue their pursuit of the AL Wild Card, which is looking wide open right now. The reeling A's just lost their weekend series to the Royals (ouch), and Cleveland has overtaken the lead. The Indians open a series with the Devil Rays tomorrow (who have actually been pretty solid at home this year), so it is imperative that the Twinkies play well against Chicago to keep up with them.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Guerrier's Loss

Well, Matt Guerrier did have the best ERA on the staff, but not for long after he gave up a 10th inning Grand Slam to Seattle's Richie Sexson. Guerrier, in total, gave up six runs on four hits and two walks in the 10th with out retiring a batter. Terry Mulholland, who's services are needed only in such a situation, managed to end the atrocious inning without being himself. It was a game that begun much like last week's young starter duel, as Kyle Lohse and "King" Felix Hernandez went at it again. Last time, "King" Felix won the doubt, but this time they matched numbers, as Lohse pitched seven innings, striking out three and giving up five hits, while Hernandez struck out nine and gave up five hits in eight innings of work. Each gave up two runs to help send the game into overtime.

Lohse continued his streak of good starts, but didn't get a win for it. He seems to have definitely stepped his game up as of late and its shown well. He may be yet a legitimate 4th or 5th starter. Its just too bad he couldn't get a victory, as the Twins winning streak came to an end in a "grand" fashion.

Guerrier looked terrible in his outing as Seattle's big bats came out from the shadowns to pay divdidends. The Twins hitters had some positive spots, but only scored three runs on a Lew Ford homer in the tenth off Eddie Guardado and a Matthew LeCroy single that scored two. Beyond that, Joe Mauer is the only Twin who had a good night at the plate, as he went 2 for 3 with a run scored and raised his average above .300.

Brad Radke starts tommorow and lets hope the hard-luck loser of the staff can get a win and give the Twins another series win over the Mariners. Its time to start another streak and lets keep Guerrier and Mulholland's work to "mop-up" duty, whenever that comes.

Friday, August 19, 2005


Ron Gardenhire should set aside the ill feelings he has toward Lew Ford and kiss his cleats after tonight's game. In the bottom of the 7th inning, with the score tied at 4 and runners on first and second with one out, Gardy allowed Jacque Jones to bat against lefty George Sherrill. Sherrill is tough on left-handed hitters, holding them to a .133 average this year, and Jones has continually proven that he can't touch southpaws, posting a .214 average against them. In this situation, it was clear that a pinch-hitter was needed. Granted, the Twins are light on backup outfielders, but all of the Twins infielders other than Morneau had outfield experience so they could be shifted. Instead, Ron let Jones go to the plate, and Jacque very quickly struck out, going down swinging at three curveballs out of the zone. It was an absolutely pathetic at-bat, and another example of Gardenhire failing to make an obvious move. Fortunately for him, many people will forget about this atrocity because Ford came up next and smacked a Jeff Nelson curveball over the left field fence for a three-run homer. That would hold up, as the Twins would get the victory, their sixth in a row, and continue their late-season charge for the wild card spot.

Jones, who went 0/4 with three strikeouts and five men left aboard, was not the only veteran who struggled in this game. Shannon Stewart has really not looked like himself this year. He came in for the second half of the 2003 season and led the team to the playoffs with his outstanding plate discipline and knack for clutch hits and execution. He kept that up through last season, again helping to lead the offense with a high average and on-base percentage. This year, however, Stewart has been much like his Soul Patrol comrades: inconsistent and impatient at the plate. Tonight, Stewart came up with one out and a runner on third and struck out swinging at a pitch that was a mile outside. This lack of execution has been a running problem for this team, but usually it's from the young inexperienced players. If Stew can't put the ball in play in that situation, this team is going to have some problems, no doubt.

Negatives aside, this was a huge win. The Twins' offense overcame a shaky start from Carlos Silva and once again put enough runs on the board to win.


JC Romero had some quotes in the paper today about how he essentially wants to be traded because he thinks his career could be rejuvenated in another city. He cited David Ortiz and Casey Blake as examples. Okay, Ortiz maybe; but Blake is hitting .240. And what about Chuck Knoblauch, Eric Milton, Cristian Guzman, Bobby Kielty, Michael Restovich, LaTroy Hawkins and Corey Koskie? Didn't see any of them fit to mention, JC? Those guys all got quite the shot in the arm after they left Minnesota.

The fact is, Mr. Romero, that you are a bad pitcher. You have no control, and you let baserunners score. That ain't going to change no matter where you go.

I really wish Terry Ryan would've traded that dink. What an airhead.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Five Straight

This is getting interesting. Very interesting. I really hadn't believed or put much value into recent Twins victory, but there really is a shot at the Wild Card now. Even Joe Mays, who still shouldn't be in the rotation with his ERA and recent string of hideous starts, got a win after a mediocre start in which he gave up three runs and nine hits in six innings, with the support of the Twins offense and bullpen.

Shannon Stewart, who had been hurt, making terrible defensive plays, and not touching the ball, lit up the top spot with a 4 for 5 night. Joe Mauer went 2 for 4, Justin Morneau and Matthew LeCroy each drove in two runs, and the Twins offense spit out seven runs against steroid-popping, and increasingly bad, starter Ryan Franklin (gee, his velocity is down a lot, isn't it? don't think thats a coincidence) and the Mariners not-so-great bullpen before Eddie Guardado. It was great to see them dominate a team, even if it was the pitching-short Mariners, with their offense while getting decent enough pitching themselves.

Mays wasn't spectacular, but he didn't throw the game the way he has his last few starts. The streak would have been seven games if he hadn't pitched so bad in Oakland on Saturday. Tonight, he was good enough as the offense backed him up and the reliable bullpen studs like Juan Rincon helped preserve the lead.

Carlos Silva pitches tommorow and Twins fan should be excited, because now with some offense, Silva should win again in more dominating fashion then his great start Sunday. His 3.33 ERA and amazing walks per nine innings make him one of the better starters in the American league, along with teammate Johan Santana. With such a combination, mark the Twins for a sixth-straight victory tommorow night. Lets not count these persistent guys out yet.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Chi-Town Sweep

Earlier today, I made a somewhat negative post discussing the negative factors that will likely keep the Twins from being able to reach the post-season for a fourth straight year. However, after watching tonight's game, a 5-1 victory over the division-leading White Sox which completed a series sweep, I am in a much better mood. Now, I'm not going to sit here and say that this one victory is going to propel them into the post-season (although the prospect does seem a lot more realistic considering the Twins are now 4 games out and essentially every team ahead of them in the standings lost tonight), but the most important thing is that they have returned to respectability and have been fun to watch. All the 2-1 and 3-2 losses during the Twins' massive slump were not only frustrating for Twins fans to see, but boring. However, over the past week, the players seem to have started to loosen up and play their game rather than press so damn much all the time. The result has been play very similar to the play that won them three division championships. Over those three years, the Twins never had big power hitters, and never had guys hitting .320, but managed to find ways to score runs and win games. And that's what they're doing. Tonight was one of the best games I've seen the Twins play all year.

Johan Santana, for the second consecutive start, was absolutely phenomenal. After rough first where he hit a man, walked a man, and threw a total of 26 pitches before escaping undamaged, Johan carried a no-hitter bid into the seventh inning. It was broken up by a couple of wimpy bloop singles into right, but it was still clear that Santana was dominating much like he did in the second half of last year. Then Johan was sent out in the 9th to attempt to complete his second straight complete game shutout, a move that I'm not sure whether I agree with considering he had already thrown over 100 pitches and was clearly losing steam. He gave up a home run to Paul Konerko and then a double before being pulled for Joe Nathan to come in and finish the game. That's okay though, since I suppose with the 5-0 lead the Twins had it was worth the risk of giving up a run or two to see if Santana could complete another shutout. Johan has to be one of the hottest pitchers in baseball right now. His ERA since the break is below 2, and his last two starts have been amazing. If he can toss a couple more like this, Santana has to enter the Cy Young conversation again. And that's something I don't think anyone saw as a remote possibility a few weeks ago.

The five runs the Twins collected were scored in interesting ways. The first two came on solo home runs in each of Matt LeCroy's first at-bats. The unlikely hero has clearly proven that he can hit left-handed pitching, and you'll hear no complaints here if he's in the lineup vs. southpaws, I just think he needs to prove he can hit righties more consistently before he can be considered as a full-time DH. The Twins added three more runs in the fifth, thanks in large part to a balk that scored a run and then a Konerko error that scored another. The big cushion would easily be all Santana would need as he cruised to his 12th victory.

The Twins' lineup tonight was perhaps the most bizarre it has been all season. Brent Abernathy, an inexperienced second baseman who was just called up over the weekend, hit third in the lineup and played left field. Despite having no Major League experience in the outfield, Abernathy played well defensively. And while I don't think he's necessarily a number 3 hitter, I really like Brent's approach at the plate, his discipline stands out among the bunch of wild hackers that comprise the Twins lineup for the most part.

The starting outfield itself was one that I don't think many would've expected to see at the beginning of the season. The trio, comprised of Abernathy, Lew Ford, and Michael Cuddyer, was playfully referred to as the "Polka Patrol" by the FSN broadcast, contrasting with the "Soul Patrol" nickname for the trio of Shannon Stewart, Torii Hunter, and Jacque Jones.

The Twins tomorrow open a crucial four-game series with the Mariners, and a series win could bring them even closer to that coveted wild card spot. They're still very much the underdogs, but the excellent performances that Twins have had on the road in Oakland and Chicago, beating up on two of the league's very best teams, have given Twins fans reason to hope. And at the very least, it's been fun to watch.

Late Season Contention Issues

The Twins have won 5 of their last 6 games, and in the past two have gone up against the best-pitching team in the AL and put up 13 runs (granted, in 25 innings). Watching these games has given many Twins fans (including this one) a small jolt of excitement, and a feeling that maybe this team that is just five games out of the Wild Card spot could make a legitimate post-season run here in the last six weeks of the season. Johan Santana and Brad Radke have been pitching very well, Justin Morneau is starting to crush the ball again, Joe Mauer has been outstanding, and a lot of other things have been going well. However, there are a few factors that seriously limit the likeliness of a post-season run.

Lack of outfield depth.
Getting back to blaming Terry Ryan, the Twins' outfield is absolutely miserable right now. Shannon Stewart got hurt last night, and it apparently wasn't too serious but he might miss some time. If he doesn't play tonight, and neither does Jones, it means Nick Punto would likely have to start in the outfield, creating one of the lightest-hitting starting outfield trios (Punto/Ford/Ryan) any team in the league has probably started in a game this year. The fact that Mike Ryan is our primary backup and forced to start with Jones missing some time over the past several games is pathetic on its own... the kid is TERRIBLE. He looks more lost at the plate than any of the terrible hitters I have seen take hacks in a Twins uniform. And yet he continues to start because there are simply no other options. Ryan couldn't make a deal to add even some depth before the deadline, and now the Twins may pay dearly for that.

Joe Mays continues to start.
I have trouble believing that the T-Ryan and Gardy themselves even think the Twins have a shot at the playoffs, because they continue to start losing machine Joe Mays. The Twins pitching staff has been absolutely outstanding since the break, with the exception of Mays who has been worse than mediocre. It would be acceptable to have him going once every five days if it weren't for the fact that the Twins have two of the league's brightest pitching prospects - one proven in the Majors already - sitting in AAA. Even if they weren't in contention for the playoffs, there's no excuse for Mays continuing to start while continue to not get experience in the bigs.

The offense is still insufficient.
The Twins somehow won that weekend series in Oakland without scoring more than two runs in a game, a testament to some terrific pitching. That's not going to happen very often. It was nice to see the Twins burst out with some runs last night, but that was over 16 innings. The offense needs to gain more consistently and start scoring 4-5 runs on a regular basis if the winning is to continue. And why do the Twins have so much difficulty scoring? Really, it comes down to the final topic I will bring up, which is the main thing that separates the first-place White Sox from the third-place Twins...

The Twins CANNOT execute.
Even last night this fact was dreadfully clear. Whether it was Lew Ford's hideous bunt attempt pop-out or the team's inability to bring Joe Mauer home from third with one out, there are way too many players on this team who just can't do the little things. Every player on the Sox roster can make the plays they need to make, and that's why their record is what it is. Even our old friend AJ dropped a nice sacrifice bunt down the line last night to put the winning run in scoring position in one of the late innings. Executing doesn't mean bringing all the runners home with a big hit, it means doing the things that you should easily be able to do, and that any Major League player should be able to do regularly. While it is acceptable to screw up on execution every now and then, it is a rarity that the Twins' hitters are able to execute properly. That either comes down to bad baseball players or bad coaches.

I'm certainly not ruling out the Twins' post-season chances, although it is an extreme long-shot because they will have to overcome some pretty hot teams to get there, and they don't have any games left against Oakland or New York. That said, there's no way they're even going to come close if they can't turn around some of the above-listed issues.

If somehow they were able to sneak in though - with their pitching - who knows what could happen.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Sixteen's a charm

It took over five hours to do it, but the Twins mustered a long-fight victory in a mighty fashion Tuesday night. After tying the game against Dustin Hermanson in the ninth with a Michael Cuddyer homer, it seemed the Twins were doomed to fade in the game, with poor executions of easy plays and the traditional inability to drive in runs. But, things changed with a new pitcher in the sixteenth inning, Jon Adkins, who came in and gave up a total of five runs to the Twins to secure a victory for our club. With a Shannon Stewart RBI single to start of the scoring, a Joe Mauer double (his third in seven trips to the plate) and a Terry Tiffee bases loaded single, the Twins had a victory easily secured by Joe Nathan, who struck out the side to close the game.

So, who do we owe this win to and who do we not? Lets start with the positives:

* Matt Guerrier - Guerrier, who has been left largely unused this year, came in to relieve Radke in the eight and ended up pitching four innings of scoreless relief for the Twins, keeping them in the came and shutting down the White Sox. Taking on four innings certainly took the burden off the rest of the bullpen.

* Joe Nathan - Well, Nathan didn't do that much, but he had such a strong 16th inning, showing great stuff and striking out the side, that its hard to leave him off. He's just a stud.

* Michael Cuddyer - Yes, Cuddyer made a terrible bunt in the 16th that almost ended the rally if not for Adkins delayed throw to second. But Cuddyer made an amazing play in extra innings to keep the game alive for the Twins and he did send it to extra-digits with his homer in the ninth. An impressive night for a not-so-impressive player.

* Justin Morneau - Its easy to come down on Morneau for lack of production, but for a 24-year old, he's putting up numbers similar to Nick Swisher, whom everyone swoons over. But Swisher has the lower average but the solid production, which Morneau has also done. With a two-run homer, he has 17 HRs and 58 RBIs this year. Its a sophmore slump, but he is certainly coming around.

* Joe Mauer - Three doubles in seven at-bats. Best hitter in this hobbled line-up. Nuff' said.

* Brent Abernathy - Props for two things: A solid night with two hits and for the walk that set up the rally in the 16th. A very good at-bat by a player who just got called back-up again with the Castro injry. Much better to see him than Ryan at the plate.

The ugly:

* Lew Ford - Yea, he had an RBI single in the 16th, but he is a symbol of the Twins inability to produce with men on and simple execution. His bunt "attempt" in the 12th was hideous and embarrasing. It was more like a pop-up and on a pitch up near his eyes. Come on Lew. Whats the deal?

* Michael Ryan - Yep, he homered off of Rich Harden and that deserves a pat on the back, but the .177 average and 1 for 8 night aren't going to cut it in the bigs. Lets just hope Shannon Stewart isn't hurt, or else Ryan will be playing more and likely starting. Lets just hope that leads to a Baker or Liriano call-up. (Fingers crossed come on Ryan)

* Brad Radke - Everett gulfed that change-up in the sixth and that wasn't Radke's fault, but he's on here simply for giving up four runs in six plus innings of work. Radke has been solid all year and of course, is the victim of bad, bad run production, so i give him the benefit of the doubt. A 3.78 ERA isn't too bad in the AL, I just needed another victim to charge.

But, overall, its nice to see this win that ensures two straight series wins on the road, one against their top rival in the Central. Way to go Twins. A definite positive and step in the right direction. Its good that Johan Santana, who has been on fire again in the second half, is starting tommorow. Lets see the sweep boys.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Big 4th Boosts Twins to Victory

The Twins scored 4 runs in the fourth inning tonight in Chicago, and it was all they would need to collect a victory against the division-leading White Sox. Kyle Lohse pitched very well for 5 and a third innings, giving way to Jesse Crain, Juan Rincon, and Joe Nathan, who combined for 3.2 scoreless innings.

The offense came from Lew Ford, who hit a nice bases loaded double down the left field line, and Brent Abernathy, who poked a single to right with the bases juiced that scored a couple runs. Ford's double was just part of a great night in which he had a couple hits and also made a great defensive play in which he gunned out a runner at the plate from center field. Abernathy had a good game offensively as well, going 2/3 and looking better than most of the Twins' hitters at the plate. Nick Punto also had a terrific game, collecting three hits and stealing three bases. He also looked very good defensively at shortstop.

It was a nice victory for the Twins, and a good start to a tough road series. If they could win this series, they would make a nice statement in Chi-town.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Just slipping by

That pretty much describes today's win the best way possible. The Twins slipped by after being dominated all day by Oakland's Rich Harden. Harden pitched eight innings, giving up only one hit, a solo homer to Micheal Ryan (he got a hit? amazing i know) in the third, and striking out nine Twins. The Twins Carlos Silva, following my suggestion, went out and pitched a very good game, lasting seven innings and giving up seven hits and one run while striking out one and walking none. After posting the one measly hit off of the potential future-yearly-Cy-Young conteder Harden, the A's brought in Justin Duschurer, who was an All-Star this year, who proceeded to give up three hits and a run to the Twins in the ninth.

Joe Mauer lead off things with a double and *gasp* Matthew LeCroy came through in a battle with a tough righthander to get an RBI single. Don't expect that to repeat itself too often, but the Twins managed to scrape out a 2-1 on that hit and the pitching of Silva and relievers Juan Rincon and Joe Nathan, who put up great scoreless innings to give the Twins a chance.

Needless to say, there was no real offense this weekend, as the Twins scored a total of five runs while winning the series 2-1 in Oakland. That's impressive in and of itself becaues Oakland was on a historic winning streak, but lets be real and give the thanks and praise where it belongs: To the great Twins pitching staff. With Silva's performance today and Santana's great three-hit shutout on Friday, the Twins came out with a series win before they go into what seemed all year to be the great showdown between the Twins and the White Sox tommorow night. Everything this weekend and this month has been proof that the Twins are lucky to win, to be over .500, and definitely need to upgrade what is supporting one of the best pitching staffs in the AL. The staff won't change much I expect, besides the expected departure of Mays and the possible trades of Lohse and Romero that will give more good pitching prospects that chance they deserve.

Any money saved needs to be spent on a few reasonable good hitters to surround Mauer and Morneau. Hopefully, they can pull out some wins in Chicago and if not a wlid card chance, a spoiler role and a good end of the season to start things off right for 2006.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Notes From a Weekend in Cali

Well, I write this from a house in Sacramento, after spending the past couple days in San Francisco and seeing the Twins play across the bay in Oakland on Friday and Saturday. The experience was... well, mixed.

On Friday night, the weather in McAfee Coliseum was kinda crappy. It was clear, but very chilly, and I had only my Twins batting practice jersey so I was freezing. The game was great, while maybe a little boring. Johan Santana pitched a complete game shutout, and on the shoulders of a Michael Cuddyer RBI single, the Twins won 1-0. You better believe I was rubbing it in the faces of those A's faithful. Santana's performance gave me a boost of hope that maybe the Twins would be able to win the series and salvage some respect. Clearly I was mistaken, as the next day's events would prove.

Today, the Twins' terrible offense showed through. Outside of a solid two-run homer from Justin Morneau (who also hit a nice double), the Twins' offense did NOTHING. Does this team have ANY confidence?? In the ninth inning, three straight batters representing the tying run went down looking. I shouldn't say looking, because the latter two (Stewart and Tiffee) went out on embarrassing half-swings. Can't these guys take a confident hack at a ball and try to drive in these runs? It's utterly disgusting. I'm really on the verge of being finished with watching this team.

Why is Mike Ryan starting in right field?? I don't know what's wrong with Jacque Jones that Mike started Friday and Saturday in right (is Jacque hurt?), but Ryan looked absolutely lost at the plate and in the field. There's no way he should be in the Majors right now.

Also, WHY IS JOE MAYS STILL A STARTING PITCHER FOR THIS BALLCLUB???!! As usual, he fell apart in tonight's game and caused the loss. Can't Gardy and Terry Ryan get it through their incredibly thick skulls that we have two amazing prospects waiting in the wings who would pitch MUCH better than Mays and give us a much better chance to win?? I can't believe the guy is still starting. He should be cut.

Anyway, the experience here in Cali has been fun. McAfee Coliseum is not a great stadium by any means, it really has no distinguishing features, but it is still nice to be able to watch outdoor baseball. We were able to walk around SBC Stadium, home of the Giants, but unfortunately they were not in town. I could tell just by looking in that that is one of the best ballparks in the country.

Back to Square

Yea it seems we are right back in the same spot. Well, I shouldn't say that. Yesterday's win was a fluke that was almost lost by another Shannon Stewart bonehead play. It was only Johan Santana's great three-hit shutout performance that gave the Twins a win. But Joe Mays was on the mound today and once again, he couldn't control his pitches well and ended up getting knocked around for four runs in 5 and 1/3 innings. So naturally, there was no significant offense produced by the Twins. In fact, it was limited to four players. Mike Redmond had three hits in a great offensive day, Jason Bartlett went 2 for 3 with a walk, Joe Mauer went 1 for 4 with a run scored on the only really offense for the day, Justin Morneau's two-run homer in the sixth. Its nice to see Morneau's swing come alive here late in the season, but it clearly is not enough. More apparent is the lack of proctection Mauer and Morneau have in the lineup. Of course, with Redmond and Bartlett's hits in the 8 and 9 spots, we should have had more runs, but Shannon Stewart and Luis Rodriguez went 0 for 9 following them and Stewart personally had a total of seven runners left on base over the game.

So, there is very little to say other then this is the same failure of execution we have seen all year round. And, of course, Oakland is in the midsts of a historic winning streak. It seems to win tommorow, Silva will have to shutout the A's the way Santana did last night. That's because Silva has been great as of late, but has not won a game in nearly two months. Good luck Carlos. Your going to need it. It seems with these kind of wins, the Twins really will be lucky for a .500 season.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Lost Season

Well, I think its fair to say the season is officially over. Yes, I know there are many games left to be played, but I am not believing the Twins will take 10 of 13 from the Pact-with-devil-Ken-Williams' White Sox. It just won't happen. But, the Twins do need to make the right moves now to ensure a decent chance at contention next year. Do they have the talent? Yes, more than the White Sox do, but they are poorly coached talent.

So, here's a list of five things to-do before the season ends:

1) Fire Scotty Ulger

Yep. I still think this is a good move and I think plenty of others see it, just time to make Terry Ryan see it. Ulger, like Gardenhire, was a do-nothing player, except Ulger was worse than Gardy. He hit .190 with an OPS below .500 and he's coaching our hitters. I don't know about anyone else, but I'm pretty sure whatever advice he tells Morneau or Mauer isn't do much good because he never had a power swing. He couldn't drive balls with authority. But, do you know who could? Paul Molitor and Tony Oliva. Thery are both former Twins still connected to the organization, one a Hall-of-Famer and one easily could be. Lets get serious and give these guys the right direction. Its obvious that Ulger doesn't do much good when Jacque Jones and Torii Hunter exhibit the same problems they had in 1999.

2) Call up some young guy, get rid of the old guy

All right, the Terry Mulholland experiment has gone on long enough. Jettison him now and please let one of our great talents going to waste in Triple-A get a chance to get a little seasoned at the major league level. Scott Baker? Great. Travis Bowyer? Even more exciting. Boof Bonser? Why not he leads the internation league in strikeouts. To hell with it. Send down Michael Ryan too while your at it. He's hitting sub-.200. Bring up two of them and let them throw away. We have nothing to lose, but plenty to gain if they get experience for next year.

3) Fire Al Newman

Let Newman go to Kansas City or wherever, because I'm sick of his calls at third. He doesn't give runners the go when we need a run and when he does, his judgement is terrible. I know I haven't complained much, but thats only cause his uselessness has always been overshadowed by others mistakes.

4) Trade Kyle Lohse, J.C. Romero, Joe Mays, or all them, if you can

Lohse has been good, but we all know he isnt consistent like that, so lets be realistic. Lohse has the most value here and what the Twins need now is some offensive talent just about anywhere, and of course, it has to be cheap. Tampa Bay's Jorge Cantu is a good option, as he is inexpensive and the Rays always need pitching. Romero might as well be released. I honestly don't care if he gets any value back because he is the factor in the Twins 47% inherited runners scoring stat. Mays? He had one good season and I think that may have been a fluke. He probably isn't going to be traded because the Twins will just decline his option this offseason. Good that gives the young guys a chance.

5) Find Lew Ford a new role

Lew Ford is not a designated hitter. In that role, he has failed all year. The only time he puts up decent numbers in when he is on the field. If the Twins wish to keep him so badly, then he needs to become either a utility player or be traded. He won't be in the outfield next year because Jason Kubel will likely get that job, despite his offseason surgery. I like Ford. He hustles, plays fairly good defense, and is a good clutch hitter. But he needs a role that suits him, and that appears to be as a utility player. Of course....we have plenty of those...from Punto (can't bunt) to Cuddyer (can't field) to Castro (can't hit). What to do? Drop them all? Who knows. But the Twins do need to make some changes before the season is officially over.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Heading Out West

Tomorrow afternoon, I will be heading out to California, where I will be seeing the Twins play in Oakland a couple times. The trip seemed like a little more fun early in the season when I planned it, but I will have to make due going to watch the pathetic Twins most likely get their asses kicked all over the place by an Athletics team that has become FAR superior despite the fact that their roster is not as talented. And I most likely will have to live through the abuse that the A's fans unload on me in my Twins jersey and cap as our hometown boys post sticks and doughnuts on the scoreboard. Ah well, at least it's not the Metrodome. I've never seen a game in Oakland's stadium (formerly Network Associates Coliseum, I believe it is now called McAfee) so it should be a fun experience. I'm not sure if I'm going to have internet access out there, but I'm hoping that I will so I can post about the experience on my posting days of Friday and Sunday. If I can't, I will recap the whole thing when I get back.

Anyway, I will be busy packing tonight so I most likely won't have time to post about the game, in which Brad Radke and the Twins face Joel Pineiro in an attempt to leave Seattle without being swept. Unless this game particularly infuriates me, I don't think I'll be making time to post about it.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Same old Same old

Hmm yep not a pretty game. Far from it. The Twins went down without a fight againt 19-year pitching phenom Felix Hernandez, who easily dominated the Twins with 97 mph gas and late-breaking curveballs. Eight innings of work against us with no walks and six Ks and the Twins managed only five hits. Of course, Hernandez is the most highly-touted pitching prospect since Dwight Gooden, so it shouldn't come to anyone's surprise, but as usual, when the Twins had their chances, they failed. They had an good opportunity in the third with men on first and second, but Nick Punto killed the rally with a weak ground out on the first pitch he saw. Its just the way the Twins ended the game, when Jacque Jones popped up on the first pitch he saw from Eddie Guardado. The only Twin who had an ok offensive night was Shannon Stewart, who went 2 for 4 but also managed to get caught stealing for the fourth time this year.

And of course, it naturally came on the night the Twins had an almost flawless pitching performance of their own. Kyle Lohse, who seems to be the only member of the "could-have-been-traded" crew who is performing well as of late, was as dominant as he has been all year, pitching 6 2/3 shutout innings with 7 Ks before giving up a double and triple with two outs in the seventh to give the Mariners a 1-0 lead that would stick. He even managed to strike out Ichiro twice, which is an impressive feat, but all in vain as the Minnesota offense continues to remain in the shadows. The only question is will it ever return? We can't even beat the Mariners. How can we beat the White Sox, the As, the Indians, or any of the other teams down the road? Things just aren't looking any better any sooner.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Sleepy in Seattle

The Twins' offense came out of the gates strong tonight in their first game against the Mariners in Seattle, posting 4 runs in the third inning, but then just seemed to fall asleep. For the rest of the game, while the M's rallied to score 5 runs, the Twins' hitters could do nothing but fail and as a result suffered yet another loss. Carlos Silva pitched okay, allowing too many hits (9) and runs (5), but lasting into the 8th inning and struck out 5. He certainly would've won this game if the offense could have produced on one of several run-scoring opportunities after the third.

Everything came crashing down in the bottom of the 8th, when Silva let the first two runners get on base. Jesse Crain came in to relieve him, and managed to a get a couple outs but then with the bases loaded he walked Jeremy Reed to bring in the go-ahead and eventual winning run. Crain has been a mess ever since his hot start; in the first half of the season it seemed like he had a knack for coming in in stick situations and somehow digging his way out, but now he's turned into JC Romero, only worsening matters.

Just another ugly game for a team that can't seem to put together any pretty ones anymore.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Mays Fails Again

Is it me or did everyone involved in trade talks suddenly turned south completely? Joe Mays, J.C. Romero, Lohse (ok he's had some decent starts) haven't been too great since all the trade talks started and today was no exception. Of course, we can discuss Shannon Stewart's numbnuts play in the first, but rather, lets discuss what we held onto in these two pitchers. Since not trading them before the deadline, both Romero and Mays have shown their true colors and have been beyond terrible. Mays served up hit after hit today in the 4 and 2/3 innings he pitched, giving up a total of 13 hits and eight runs with Stewart's play making one unearned. Romero didn't have any inherited runners to let score, so instead he gave up a monster, two-run opposite-field blast to Manny Ramirez in the seventh. Having the chance to get rid of a pitcher like that is almost a dream now. Think about it. Some teams wanted to give up a player or two for guys like Mays and Romero when its clear now we are just as good dropping them, so a trade benefits no matter what. Get a minor league hitter or two ready to come up in a year or two and help the team as they were obviously conceding the season in July. Doesn't matter. Other teams wanted these guys and we are better off without them and their salaries. And to think, the Twins once again scored some runs today, but didn't have the fortune of Radke or Santana being on the mound. Terry Ryan, why didn't you just take a deal? Anything would have done....

But I'm spent on that account. Everyone knows how bad these guys are now so the value just isn't there anymore. And of course, Stewart made a bad, bad, embarrasing play in the first when he gave a fan the ball after getting the second out on a fly ball, allowing Kevin Millar to score from second. That didn't help at all, but hey, at least he did something at the plate, going 2 for 5 with two RBIs and two runs scored back in the leadoff spot. Beyond Stewart, the offense didn't come from any big guys. Nick Punto, Juan Castro, and Jason Bartlett all had two hits on the day, with Michael Cuddyer collecting the other. The 3-4-5 hitters of Ford, LeCroy, and Jones went 0 for 12 with 7 strikeouts (including an embarrasing four from Jones) with an RBI in the form of a LeCroy sacrifice. That was a pathetic performance from the middle of the order again and of course, two of the Twins seven runs were unearned, caused by Boston's continued sloppy defensive play.

Its grand to see the Twins take two of three from Boston, but only Friday was a convincing win. The Twins need consistency from their offense still and they need something better than what they are getting from Mays. Its time for some serious moves and time to get youngsters like Baker, Liriano, Bowyer, and even possibly Garrett Jones to the majors. Unless they are really convince they have a shot at the wild card, let these youngs get some experience to prevent this year from repeating itself. Its hard enough to watch now, so give us fans something we want to see, like the pleasure of watching Baker pitch over the horror of a Mays game.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Sloppy Sox

Tonight the Twins won 4-3 by virtue of two ninth-inning errors by the Red Sox. However, I am actually going to try to put a positive spin on this win since I am so tired of complaining about this team.

While it wasn't the most impressive victory in the world, I try to look at it this way: the Twins put themselves in position to win. After falling behind 3-0 early, the Twins were looking like their usual One Hit Wonder selves against David Wells. Then, in the sixth inning, their offense came out and strung together a bunch of hits (all singles) and tied the game. From then on, they had a few opportunities to take the lead, but they failed to take advantage. The most notable of these was when Justin Morneau came up with runners on first and second, and he hit a hard liner that would have snuck through between the first and second basemen and scored a run had baserunner Matthew LeCroy been watching the ball. Instead the ball hit Matthew and he was out.

In the 9th inning, Michael Cuddyer hit a grounder to third, and Bill Mueller's throw sailed over the first baseman's head allowing Cuddy to move up to second as the winning run. Nick Punto came up next, and - of course - bunted. It was a nice bunt, but pitcher Mike Timlin was there in plenty of time to make the play to first. He picked it up, took his time, and made a terrible throw that went into right field, allowing Cuddyer to score. It was hardly a run that the Twins earned, but they could have scored a few times in the preceding innings had they not made bone-headed mistakes themselves.

Boston, meanwhile, has looked really bad defensively in both of the games they have played at the Dome so far. Last night of course they had the first inning play in which they turned a double-play ball with the bases loaded into a bases-clearing double, and tonight they gave the Twins the winning run by failing to execute on routine plays. Know what the difference might be between this year and last year's World Series champs? Doug Mientkiewicz.

Friday, August 05, 2005


Good lord. Something amazing has happened. Don't look now, but the Twins scored runs. Lots of them. And yea, against an important contending team, the Boston Red Sox. A 12-0 blowout was the result of Friday nights game and based on the resulting traffic I dealt with exiting Minneapolis at 10:30, I'd say people were excited to see them win. Brad Radke had an impressive start and despite a bad start to the first, with a Johnny Damon triple, he got out of the first without damage after he struck out Edgar Renteria, Manny Ramirez, and Jason Varitek. Seven shutout innings and a season-high eight strikeouts gave Radke a much deserved win. Radke's 3.71 ERA and his impeccable control this year should overshadow his not-so-glossy 7-10 record, thanks to the otherwise worthless Twins offense.

However, tonight was a different story. Let's run through it all:

* Lets first get by with the easy runs. The Twins put a few runs up early after a hideous throw and error by Boston's starting pitcher Bronson Arroyo.

* The 3, 4, and 5 hitters produced for once. Joe Mauer went 3 for 5 with three runs and three RBIs after having a terrible last couple games. Matthew LeCroy, who's value is questionable, was 3 for 4 with an RBI double and Jacque Jones also was 3 for 4 including a two-run homer off of Jeremy Gonzalez in the eigth. And Terry Tiffee, who pinch-hit for LeCroy in the eigth, scored a run after an two-run double. So, in total, that's a 10 for 14 night with 8 RBIs and 7 runs from the 3, 4, and 5 hitters. Impressive night for sure.

* Otherwise, Lew Ford was the other big hitter of the night, going 3 for 5 in the leadoff spot with three runs scored. It would be nice if the Lew Ford of 2004 finally appeared on the Twins strastosphere.

* Micheal Cuddyer, on another note, didn't do so well offensively, going 1 for 4, but also made his 14th error of the year. Ugh. The defense has to be the core of the team with pitching if they want to go .500. I just don't see this kind of nightly production in the future. The core has to be solid and then they really need to get hitters. It was nice to see a win, but I don't know about getting my hopes up. Johan Santana has the ball tommorow and that should prove to at least be a ball in our court.

Thursday, August 04, 2005


The Twins lost 5-2 against Oakland today, completing a lost series and another totally embarrassing display of offensive ineptitude. The Twins have scored two or fewer runs in 6 of their past 11 games. That is bad news bears.

Not much new to report in this game. Another wasted quality start, as Kyle Lohse allowed just 2 runs over 7 innings of work, only to give way to Jesse Crain, who put a couple of men on with one out so JC Romero could come in and send home some inherited runners. Only one today. I wonder what his season total is for inherited runners allowed to score? It's gotta be around tops in the majors. He has played a major part in Crain's ERA rocketing up to 3.00.

The bats were silent again, aside from decent games by Matt LeCroy and Justin Morneau, both of whom had half of the Twins RBI total. After appearing to be catching on, Michael Cuddyer looked terrible, going 0/3 with 3 strikeouts. Jason Bartlett still isn't seeing Major League pitching well, I don't know what his deal is. He was great in spring training and in the minors, but he simply hasn't looked good in either of his trips up to the big leagues this year. Nevertheless, he does need to be starting regularly because this season is a lost cause and if he is the shortstop of the future for this organization then we need to get him all the experience we can.

Boston is in town this weekend. Will the Twins win a single game? Unlikely, but we shall see...

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Twist of Irony

After a post in which my associate blasted Michael Cuddyer's failures this year (we have often, and honestly, he hasn't convinced me he has made a breakthrough by any means), Cuddyer had a "breakout" game in which he carried the Twins with his two home runs and three RBIs. It was impressive mainly because not only was it Cuddyer's first multi-homer game, but he got his home runs off of two very good pitchers in Rich Harden (a future Cy Young winner most likely) and All-Star reliever Justin Duchscherer. It was, of course, certainly a huge positive to finally see some power out of Cuddyer, who has three homers in the past two games, after a long dissapointment of a season he has had. The hope is that Cuddyer can, like the Twins themselves, salvage the season and hope to improve for a run next year. Cuddyer has the swing and the tools to be a decent defensive infielder who could hit for power and drive in runs, but he so often underperforms and looks like a future utility player. I just hope he proves me wrong.

As for the rest of the team, there wasn't much going on. The Twins won on Cuddyer's bat, as they had only five hits to go with the four runs. The game was won when Morneau walked in the ninth and Lew Ford followed with an RBI triple caused at least partly by the misplay of Oakland outfielder Nick Swisher and catcher Jason Kendall. I suppose for once things went the Twins way and thats good, because luck certainly hasn't been on their side as of late.

The pitching,as it has been for the most part, was solid. Carlos Silva continues to be a workhouse, as he threw eight innings with only 88 pitches, as he gave up five hits and three runs (one unearned caused by a poor Nick Punto error that ruined a potential double-play) while striking out four and walking none. So in 145 and 2/3 innings this year, Silva has walked an amazing seven hitters! He didn't get the win, which is unfortunate, as he has been the ace of the staff, eating up innings and owning a very good 3.27 ERA. Joe Nathan picked up the win as he pitched a scoreless ninth, striking out two. He has looked very good as of late, despite limited save chances, and has been hitting 97-98 MPH consistently.

It was almost the usual story for the Twins, but fortunately, things went their way and a dissapointing player had a career night. Lets just hope its the start of better streak.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Who's On Third?

With the 2005 season quickly approaching the rearview mirrow as the Twins slump horribly and lose again and again to their post-season competitor's, it is becoming increasingly necessary to take a look ahead to next year. Are the Twins going to be able to bounce back and return to the playoffs next year? I have trouble believing that, because, as I have made very clear on this blog and others, I am strongly of the opinion that Terry Ryan shot this team in the foot by failing to pull the trigger on a trade Sunday. There are a lot of questions looking ahead to next season, one of which I am going to delve into today.

With the failure of Michael Cuddyer, who is the Twins' third base answer for the next several years?

If you watched any of his at-bats last night, you know it's not Terry Tiffee. I know Tiff isn't as bad as he has looked in his recent Major League performance, but I also know he's not good enough, offensively or defensively, to be a Major League starter. Alas, with Cuddyer's total ineptitude, the Twins are going to have problems at third base. Their classic philosophy of filling from within doesn't look like it will work here, as the only guy in the Twins minor league system who I could see being ready for the Majors any time soon is Matt Moses, and I believe he's in Fort Myers and a few years away. Terry Ryan might try to sign a free agent third-baseman in the off-season, but then again, when is the last time the Twins signed a starting position player?

If TR had been able to unload a Joe Mays/JC Romero type package for even a Bill Mueller or a Joe Randa, they would have a short-term solution at third base until their system can produce a legitimate player. As it stands, with Corey Koskie gone and Cuddyer and Tiffee proving to be backups at best, the Twins are going to have a troublesome situation at the hot corner going into the 2006 season.

Monday, August 01, 2005

More Proof

Well, here we go again. A great pitching performance, but the bats were even worse today. Two hits off of Oakland starter Joe Blanton and that was it. Yea, one of them was a blast off of the bat of Justin Morneau, who finally seems to be heating up. But beyond that, they made another decent pitcher look like Roger Clemens. Joe Mauer went 0 for 4 and his average is down to .298. Shannon Stewart couldn't produce either. The only other Twin with a hit was Lew Ford. It wasn't pathetic. It was like watching a Double-A play in the majors.

Johan Santana comes out, throws seven innings, strikes out seven, but gives up two runs and gets the loss. He did everything he could to stop the losing streak and it all went for nothing. And now, with no trade at all being made yesterday, the Twins will continue to start such a weak and feeble offense and thats just a slap in the face to fans in Minnesota.

The only really positive note today was the release of Bret Boone, which clears room for Jason Bartlett, who shouldn't have been set down in the first place. He was given the starting job and they should have stuck with him. A potential .300 hitter is just what the Twins need right now.

Notes From a Glum Monday Afternoon

Just a couple of thoughts to cover.

*Baltimore's Rafael Palmeiro, who adamently denied using steroids and lambasted Jose Canseco for his accusations in a March hearing, was suspended by Major League Baseball for testing positive for 'roids today. I was shocked and disappointed, because I believed Raffy, I really thought his talent was natural. Of course, Palmeiro claims that whatever he took was "unintentional", which every other player found guilty has pleaded as well. Being a Major League baseball player, surrounded by professional trainers, you need to be checking everything you are taking into your body to make sure it is legal. Run it by the team, whatever. I'm not really convinced that his intake was unintentional, he probably just thought whatever he was taking was going to be masked from the test, but it wasn't. This is either a result of a foolish lack of foresight, or cheating. Either way, Palmeiro may have just thrown away a sure shot at the Hall of Fame. I don't know what's more sad, one of baseball's legends being exposed as a probable cheater or more credibility being given to Canseco.

*When Torii Hunter went down in pain on Friday night after twisting his ankle against the padding of the center field wall in Boston, my immediate thought was, "He broke something". He couldn't stand up, and I've never seen the guy in so much pain. Initially, my theory was disproved by an X-ray that seemed to show it was a tendon strain and not a break, but today it has been brought to light from an MRI that Hunter did indeed break a bone in his ankle. The news is good because Hunter won't need surgery, but not great because he'll be on crutches for a month and still will probably miss the remainder of the season.

*Yahoo has an article cited from stating that the Twins have cut Bret Boone but since I read an article in Star Trib today similar to the Pioneer Press one they quote, and I can't find this news story anywhere else, I have a distinct feeling that they misinterpreted the article, which (at least in the Tribune) stated simply that Terry Ryan and Ron Gardenhire would be meeting up today to discuss Boone's situation. Maybe I'm wrong. In any case, I'm sure Boone will be cut within the next couple days, hopefully to make way for Jason Bartlett - whose AAA performance is earning Major League time.