I am going to drop some numbers on you today to expand your understanding of how bad this team is right now. .250, that is the winning percentage of the Twins which is tied for the 5th worst all time and the worst in the modern 162 game season. 40, games that they are projected to win as of right now over the entire season. .289, opponents batting average against the pitchers and .486 is the slugging percentage as of right now. The slugging number means that almost every other batter reaches base as a result of a hit. We have the worst record by 2 games to both KC and San Diego.
Now the Twins are almost out of their ridiculously difficult schedule to start the season and things should start looking up for the organization. I have heard and agree with some that say the scheduling process needs to be researched and revamped. How the Twins play the Angels 9 games in the first 30 is just stupid. Or the fact that one of the worst teams in the league last year opens with series against the Angels, Rays, Red Sox, Yankees, and Rangers, every team which is expected to compete for a playoff spot, in the first 30 games is dumb. Throw in the opening series against one of the biggest surprise teams of the season in the O’s and the hits just keep on coming. The Twins have won only one series (first Angels series), split 2 (Yankees and KC), and have been swept in 4 of the other 6 series. Much is do to the worst in the league starting pitching and the rest is due to the lack of timely hitting.
Pitching has been bad but our starters have been atrocious. Liriano is 0-5, 9.45 after last night. Our “ace”, Pavano, is doing the best at 2-2 with a 4.62 ERA. Tonight we will have our 7th starter of the season take the mound in Scott Diamond who was just brought up to take Liam Hendriks’ place in the rotation. Our pitchers who have only started have given up 100 runs in 133.1 innings which equals an ERA of 6.75. That does not bode well for the Twins because that puts the burden on the bullpen and the hitters to play from behind and the fielders to make every play. When an error is made, then the player is going to put even more pressure on himself to make up for the bad play. Our team is under immense pressure to start performing and its not just the pitchers.
Hitting isn’t as bad as it appears to be. Team average is dropping fast because of a historically bad run over the last couple games but it was in the upper half before that. They had a 4 game stretch that set the record for fewest hits in that span with 9 but 1 of those games was a 3-2 win over the Mariners with 5 of those 9 hits. Weaver alone has 3 starts against the Twins hitters and in 21 innings given up only 11 hits and 6 earned runs. That translates to an average line of 7 IP, 4 H, 2 ER. We can do better than that, we just haven’t yet. Now I understand that we aren’t ever going to be a power hitting team but our lack of power, average, and speed is appalling. We are now last in HR, bottom 5 in AVG, and bottom 10 in SB. Every analyst has started laughing and joking about us saying that we are the “slumpbusters” of the MLB right now. We helped the ailing BoSox right their ship by letting them come in and sweep us to break a 5 game losing streak. The Angels were racing us to the bottom of the AL until we went to Anaheim and got swept and no hit. We helped the O’s get off to one of their best starts ever and leading the AL East by getting swept in the first series of the season.
What this all comes down to is one thing: MANAGEMENT. There is no way that this team goes from clinching the AL Central early enough to rest their starters and winning their division 6 of 9 years, to almost losing 100 games last year and getting off to a historically bad start to this season. We have been swept out of the playoffs the last 3 times and only won 1 game in the 3 before that. That is a playoff record of 3-18 in the last 6 times that we have gone to the post season. We have already used 30 different hitters and 13 different pitchers and we are only 28 games into the season. We have claimed 2 players off of waivers and 1 of those has cleared waivers and been sent to AAA Rochester already after he struck out 15 of his last 18 at bats (the last that I heard). We also let one of our best hitters from this spring go to Oakland to make room for a player that started in AAA even though he was a starter at the end of last year. Terry Ryan coming back this year had given me hope but so far it seems to have gotten worse this year. It is still early though and I am hoping that the more current moves are his calls and not just relying on info being fed to him by others. I love the move of bringing Dozier up and putting him at SS and moving Carroll over to 2B and hope it stays that way. Nothing against Alexi Casilla but he has had opportunities to win a starting job the last 3 years and never secures it and makes it his own. Dozier is the future at SS as far as I am concerned and last night was a great debut. Some nice plays in the field and his first hit (late in the game too). Plouffe has a great eye at the plate but just seems to keep getting robbed in the field.
Overall the team has potential but it reminds me of my favorite college football team last year UCF. They had no clear leadership from the players and seemed lost on the field. The Twins remind me of that every night. Mauer is a great player but he is what everyone calls “Minnesota Nice”. That is also a label that they put on our front office. Now that is not always a bad thing, right now it is. Joe needs to get more assertive with his pitchers when he is behind the plate. I trust his pitch calling before any of the pitchers that we have out there right now. And in the front office, it has caused us to basically become one of the easiest coaching jobs in the league. We have had 2 managers since the end of 1986. How many other teams can claim that? Especially with only winning the AL pennant twice in that same period.
With everything that I have said though I am not proposing whole sale changes in the organization yet. Gardy needs to feel the heat from the higher ups. We need some vocal leaders in the club house to stand up and replace the closest thing that we have had to one in Cuddy. That same leader needs to start showing the passion in the field also. In our better years we would get into some scuffles with other teams in our division, especially the Indians. No I don’t condone fighting and have never swung a punch in my life, but we have become pushovers. We can’t let managers take a leave of absence for an entire series for a graduation, especially getting shut out in 2 straight games. Give him a day or maybe even 2 off but when your “company” is performing so poorly, your manager shouldn’t be granted a vacation. He could have celebrated his daughter’s graduation with many different solutions.
That is enough venting for the day. I hope people read all of the way though this. I love talking about sports and really enjoy it when its about one of my favorite teams. Tell me if I need to start shortening the posts for ease of reading.