Monday, September 17, 2007

A Weak End to the Weekend

The Tigers came into Minneapolis this weekend and walked all over the Twins, winning 6-4 yesterday to complete a sweep that was very important from the Tigers' standpoint. The sweep has little effect on the Twins, except for that it significantly decreases their likelihood of being able to finish the season above .500.

Things have been ugly lately for the Twins. Since heading into Cleveland with a 5.5 game deficit in the standings and a chance to move within a few games of the division lead back on August 27, the Twins have gone 5-14 and watched that deficit expand to 15 games.

That the Twins are losing steadily and falling farther out of the race is not really all that upsetting, because most of us have known for some time now that this team wasn't going anywhere this year. What is maddening is that at-bats continue to be given to the wrong players. I wrote yesterday about how frustrated I have become with Ron Gardenhire's continued habit of holding Brian Buscher out of the lineup in favor of Nick Punto and Luis Rodriguez. Thankfully, Buscher was in the starting lineup yesterday, and -- not surprisingly -- he had himself a nice game, going 0-for-1 but drawing two walks and collecting a pair of RBI.

Yet, even on a day where Buscher finally managed to find his way into Gardy's starting lineup (for just the fifth time this month), Rodriguez was still in the lineup over Alexi Casilla. This marked the eighth time in 14 September games that Casilla has been held out of Gardenhire's starting lineup, which just doesn't make much sense. I realize that Casilla has been bad; there's no denying it, he has been a major disappointment this season. But by all accounts this is a kid that the Twins are going to be counting on to man second base next year, and with that being the case, there is no reason not to give him lots of time to work on things here in the final month of this lost season.

As I mentioned yesterday, I have sponsored Buscher's page at Baseball-Reference.com, and I'd happily sponsor Casilla's as well if someone else hadn't already done so. These young players need support from the fans, because they just aren't getting it from the manager.

5 comments:

Andersklasen said...

I know both Casilla and Buscher are having trouble finding their way into Gardy's lineup, but Casilla was removed from the lineup when he overslept and didn't show up 'til 11am to a 1pm game.

http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20070916&content_id=2211886&vkey=news_min&fext=.jsp&c_id=min&partnered=rss_min

beth said...

First, I'm amused that you're complaining about Punto and Rodriguez being in the line-up on a day when they both went 2-4--and on a day that the team didn't collect a hit until the sixth inning, that's not too bad. ;)

Secondly, Buscher's defense is a little suspect (I won't go as far as another girl I know who has informed everyone she knows that he "SUCKS" at defense and will never be any good; I think he's okay, but I'd like to see a little improvement). The Twins are working with him on it, and I hope he gets things figured out.

Nick N. said...

Anders, I too heard that story, and yet I can't help but feel that Gardenhire would not have carried out the same punishment against one of his veteran players.

Beth, what Punto and Rodriguez do in games isn't all that important to me, because like I said the games don't really matter at this point. What's more important at this stage is giving some valuable experience to the players who need it. Besides, even after their two-hit days, Punto and Rodriguez are hitting .205 and .225, respectively. I just don't see what is being accomplished by repeatedly inserting both of these players in the lineup; they aren't generally helping the team win and I'd be surprised if either of them were to play a significant role on the offense next year.

Regarding Buscher's defense, I think it's way too early to make any bold statements about his ability after seeing him play 23 major-league games. I've read minor-league scouting reports that dubbed him to be an above-average defender. Most players are going to carry some jitters onto the field during their first handful of big-league games.

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