After a wild weekend in Chicago, the Twins ended up right where they started -- two games above .500 and scratching their heads over a supremely inconsistent offense. The Twins racked up 32 runs in their two games on Friday thanks in large part to the 13 extra-base hits (including eight homers) they amassed, but in their next two games on Saturday and Sunday they managed just four runs on two extra-base hits (with the only home run coming off the bat of Justin Morneau in yesterday's game).
It's crystal clear that the Twins need to add another reasonably decent bat to the mix, because depending on Morneau, Torii Hunter and Joe Mauer to carry the load each game will continue to result in the type of ridiculously up-and-down results we've seen over the past couple weeks. There is little doubt that Terry Ryan will be working the phones hard over the next couple weeks in order to bring in a bat that can reduce the need to depend on Nick Punto and Jason Tyner as regular players.
Of course, bringing in one player won't turn around the team's fortunes single-handedly. Several players need to step it up at the plate in the second half. Contrary to popular belief, Michael Cuddyer's first half has been a bit of a disappointment in some respects. While he's getting on base at a good clip and is on pace for around 100 RBI, Cuddyer is the team's clean-up hitter and he's slugging just .433. After hitting 41 doubles and 24 home runs last year, Cuddyer is on pace for just 28 doubles and 18 homers this year. Cuddyer also hasn't been the lefty masher he was last year, with a .274/.349/.432 line against southpaws through the break this year after batting .297/.376/.518 against them last year. It's tough to be disappointed with Cuddy's overall game, as he's hitting for a decent average and his arm has been an asset in right field, but in the second half he really needs to get back to doing the things that made him so valuable offensively last season.
Another guy that really needs to pick things up in the second half is Jason Kubel. He seemed to have a breakout day on Friday when he went 4-for-7 with seven RBI and a pair of walks during the doubleheader, but he struggled yesterday, going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. While things have gotten better lately, Kubel enters the All-Star break with a .250/.302/.404 line with strikeouts in about 20 percent of his at-bats, and that's obviously got to improve. The good news is that Kubel slugged .469 in June and he's slugging .520 so far in July. Even though the batting average and plate discipline haven't come around, it's great to see Kubel flashing a relatively consistent power stroke, especially in this lineup. A big second half for Kubel could provide an immense boost for this offense as the stretch run approaches.
If the Twins can bring in a bat to provide some production at third base or DH while guys like Cuddyer and Kubel kick their game up a notch (which they're both certainly capable of), I like the Twins' chances of being competitive for a playoff spot right up until the end of the season, especially if Johan Santana goes on another one of his patented second-half tears and Matt Garza continues to pitch the way he did on Friday night.