It has been a while since my last write up on the Twins, their play, organization, moves, and outlook. No excuse except that they have not been fun to watch or write about.
For the 4th year in a row now the Twins will be rolling into the All Star break effectively out of the running of the postseason. As of my writing of this, they are 8 games under .500, 10 games out of the division lead and 8.5 out of the Wild Card. And the worst part is that while they are hosting the All Star festivities this summer, there is little reason that any Twin should be playing in the game. Now before anyone jumps on me for that comment here me out first.
Hitting has been atrocious. After the outbreak that they had in April, the Twins regressed back to their more normal positions these last couple of years, the bottom third of teams. I really hate when I am right about these things but I just knew that the team couldn’t keep up the over 5 runs per game average that they started with. Their hitting with runners in scoring positions was up for just about every hitter in the lineup. People were starting off at paces that would have been career bests. Now everyone is returning to their averages and it shows.
Pitching has seen an uptick in numbers thankfully but still not enough to win more than they lose. Correia is still struggling, Nolasco has been a disappointment so far, Deduno couldn’t replace Pelfrey effectively, Hughes and Gibson have been okay and deserving of a middle rotation spot, Yohan Pino made a 30 year old debut and has been good in the 2 games that I watched but very poor in the other 2 games. The starting rotation is still a huge need. Looking in the Minors and both May and Meyer have been pitching very well with a typical hiccup every couple of starts. Jason Wheeler in New Britain has been doing pretty well enough over the last month to get the promotion from Fort Myers. I am just ready at this point to cut the bigger money that isn’t getting the job done in Minnesota and begin the next round of development.
Fielding has been meh. I wouldn’t say that the guys have been great but not horrible either. As a team, the Twins are 5th overall at this point in the season just in the AL. No one is sticking out as being a liability yet but we have players out of position it seems like everyday. We have had a SS start almost as many games in CF as a true center fielder has. We have let go 2 CF to waivers so far this year partially to keep a reclamation project that retired as soon as he got hurt. Parmelee, who is a 1B by trade even made a start in Center this year. Mauer at 1B is still a learning process. He hasn’t been horrible but at times has looked uncomfortable and according to him, the move there has affected his bat. Plouffe has played pretty reliably at 3B for a SS and the same can be said about Dozier at 2B. The Twins at one point in the season had a player that is currently listed as a SS or was a starting SS at one point for the Twins playing at 5 different spots on the field. Dozier at 2nd, Plouffe at 3rd, and then some combination of Nunez, Escobar, and Santana at SS, CF, and LF. It is hard to win consistently when you have that many people that are required to play new spots. But again it hasn’t been too bad in actual performance so far.
Is there any help on the way? Well I would say, my first move would still be to change managers. I am done with Gardy as the man in charge and even more fed up with Andy as the pitching coach. Crazy stat that I heard during today’s broadcast, Bruno is now 5-0 as the acting coach when Gardy is either not there or has been ejected so far this season. Now does this mean I want Tom Brunansky as the head coach. No. Nothing against Bruno just don’t like Gardy. As for player help, I think that is the only attempt at a fix that we will see. The Twins signed Kendry Morales and he is bound to start hitting like he is supposed to, he just hasn’t yet. Mauer is on the DL with a strained oblique and hasn’t been the Joe that we know. I think once he is back to 100% that he will improve his batting average as long as his chase percentage returns back to normal. Arcia is having some issues with his swing that Im hoping Bruno can fix or at least make him aware of. Santana before his injury was the brightest spot, and could have just secured a starting spot for the rest of the year at Target Field. Now if it is CF or SS (his natural spot) that is going to be the real question. Right now, as long as he is comfy in CF, I keep him there, release Fuld (who was never a longterm solution), and start either Escobar or Nunez at SS. The Twins did just bring Colabello back for Mauer during his DL stint.
Farm help though is a little harder to determine and very unlikely to get an opportunity this year. The best hitting prospects right now seem to all be middle infielders. Polanco got the call for a couple of days all of the way from Single A Fort Myers. Vargas is hitting well but his spot is a little crowded with Mauer at 1B and 3 other guys in MN that can play there also. Walker has had huge power but his average is lacking and he is still at Single A. Kvasnicka has been hitting better over the last month but I think still has some work to do. Rodriguez has been positive of .300 and has some pop so far this year. Romero has good at the dish but needs work in the field. If Plouffe goes down again, I wouldn’t be heartbroken to see him get a shot. I see Bernier get the call in September as a super utility guy off the bench. Ortiz tore up New Britain but has struggled so far in Rochester. Ultimately though, nothing off the Farm really has much of a chance to contribute too much this year. The guys hitting right now are either just too far from being Show ready, need work in the field, or have too many people in front of them right now. That is all including Sano and Buxton who have been nonexistant due to injuries so far.
All Stars will be very scarce after the break because between being small market Minnesota and the stats that the Twins guys are posting, you will be lucky to see 2 guys get to call themselves Allstars this year. Honestly the best chance as of right now is probably Kurt Suzuki. He has been a solid addition behind and at the plate. He has hit above his career levels and done well with the pitching staff. After him you have options in Perkins but his ERA is hurting for a closer, Dozier but 2nd is really crowded with Cano, Pedroia, and even Altuve, oh and he is hitting under .250, and Hughes had a chance but has had a couple of consecutive bad starts that just killed any chances. So ultimately, I don’t see anyone but the required 1 rep from the team getting to officially be a part of the festivities. But we will have 3 players in the Futures game. May, Barrios, and Vargas have all been invited and if I were in charge, I would keep at least May in Minneapolis after the game. Also while I had everyone in town, I am also shopping the hell out of Willingham if anyone is still interested and keeping Vargas in town also.
At 38-47 so far this season, the Twins are 1 game ahead of 2013, 2 ahead of 2012, and even with 2011. That doesn’t bode well for the team. That gives us an outlook of somewhere around 95 losses for the 4th year in a row. At what point does the ownership get tired of bad ball? At what point do the ticket sales decline enough for management to get off of their asses and make some changes? I am not sold on the recent problem solving that Minnesota has employed. For the better years in franchise history the team has developed talent that played solid to great defense, great situation hitting, good averages, and above average pitching. Got free agents in the off season that fit their system and personality while also not being highly sought after. Just cause the Twins have some money now doesn’t mean they should be spending it on retreads from other teams. Reinvest it into our own players that we have developed. Put it into better coaching or scouting cause at least one if not both have been lacking in the last decade. 3-12 record in the last 15 games when every eye in baseball is looking towards your city makes it look almost as bad as a couple years ago when KC hosted All Star week.
Now to try to be a little positive. I am positive that we will see some bright spots through the rest of the year. Santana hopefully continuing his growth. Gibson keeping the good starts number positive compared to the bad ones. Hughes maybe developing into the sole good starting pitching pick up over the last 6 years. Hoping that Buxton gets some time during the September call ups if he is healthy. The MLB debut of Kennys Vargas. Maybe May and Meyer both getting sometime this year. One last thought for tonight though before I go: Baseball is one of the few things that you can be considered one of the best in the biz at a 30% success rate but not as a head coach.