Twins Have Horrible April – Saturday Minor League Notes

1 May

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The Twins are pretty bad right now. Brian Duensing actually pitched very well last night. Jason Kubel and Denard Span are doing their jobs. Matt Capps and Glen Perkins are doing very well in the bullpen.

That’s all I’ve got. Everything else is a struggle. Yes, I am an optimist, but it’s hard at a time like this. Joe Nathan and Justin Morneau aren’t back to the level that we may have hoped, or even expected. Joe Mauer hasn’t played in over two weeks. Delmon Young hasn’t played in nearly two weeks. Nishioka hasn’t played in the last 20 games. Excuses, yup! Explanation for horrific play? Certainly, to some degree. But there are still plenty of concerns.

Before the season, I predicted 94 wins for the Twins. Right now, put me down for 86. And yes, I still believe that will be enough to win the division, but we shall see. That is the beauty of the 162 game season. If this was a 16-game NFL season, the Twins would in the fourth quarter, about to fall to 0-3.

I just want to see the Twins play with their full arsenal of players for awhile and see what would happen. I want to see a lineup of: Denard Span CF, Tsuyoshi Nishioka 2B, Joe Mauer C, Justin Morneau 1B, Delmon Young LF, Jason Kubel DH, Michael Cuddyer RF, Danny Valencia 3B, and … pretty much anyone but Alexi Casilla at shortstop. Yes, even Matt Tolbert. Trevor Plouffe went 0-3 on Saturday and has three hits in his last 25 at bats in Rochester and his hitting .261. He’s not The Answer, but he’s a better answer. More on that in a bit.

Look at that lineup. There are solid hitters there one through eight. Right now, the Twins have nearly automatic outs in three or even four spots in the lineup. While Justin Morneau is struggling, Jason Kubel can hit fourth. Jim Thome can fill in off the bench. Drew Butera can return to playing once or twice a week. Steve Holm can go back to Rochester. Jason Repko can come in as a late-inning defensive replacement a couple of weeks. Hopefully that lineup could be used consistently over a month or two straight, and good things will happen.

On Twitter on Friday night, I asked if the Twins should just DFA Alexi Casilla? Would he be claimed by another team? Would we care? Well, at this point, we probably don’t care, but maybe we should, just a little bit. The biggest issue with the Twins middle infield decisions in the offseason, for me, was not that Orlando Hudson was let go. He was really bad in the second half last year offensively and defensively, and if the Padres wanted to give him two years, good for him. I honestly could care less about losing JJ Hardy. Hardy is an OK player. Can’t hit much, but terrific defense, when healthy. Of course, using Hardy with Healthy is kind of an oxymoron. The problem, as nick Nelson so eloquently pointed out, was that it left the Twins with very little depth. Very little margin for error. Last year, Casilla was the utility guy. This year, he would be counted on to start. Nishioka got hurt before he got a chance to relax and settle down. Casilla has been much worse than even his toughest critics could have guessed. However, somehow Casilla was solid in a utility role a year ago, and maybe he can be again. Depth was a huge concern, and despite his struggles, losing Casilla means even less depth.

Unless a better option is able to be brought in, of course. Jose Reyes’s name is certainly out there. The Mets most likely would not bring him back in 2012, so maybe he would be available. I’m convinced that to acquire Reyes now would take either Aaron Hicks or Kyle Gibson, at least one other top ten prospect, and more. There can be differing opinions on if that is too much or not. To those of you who believe that this 2011 Twins season is over, then why should the Twins give up a big chunk of the future for someone who will be here for a few months of the 2011 season? To those of you who have already given up on the 2011 Twins season, why would you want Kyle Gibson or Carlos Gutierrez brought up now?

Of course, if the pitching doesn’t get better, the added offense probably won’t matter much either. Scott Baker and Brian Duensing have been very good so far. Carl Pavano and Nick Blackburn have been really inconsistent. Francisco Liriano has been horrific. I was wrong. In the offseason, I suggested that the Twins offer him a 4 year, $40 million contract extension. Wow!! That would have been a huge mistake. One of the things that the Twins brass considers when thinking about a long-term contract is how the player will respond to it. Liriano didn’t even have that security and he refused to work in the offseason. I think he made the right decision to not pitch in Winter Ball in the Dominican, but he still should have been preparing for the season. Maybe I’m crazy, but I believe that he will be fine again, at some point, hopefully soon. He has too much talent. I know in recent days that it has been made known that if Liriano struggles in his next start, he could lose his spot in the rotation. In my humble opinion, if that happens, that is something that I don’t think that the Twins can overcome, at least not if if lasts more than a start or two.

And finally, the bullpen. Matt Capps, Jose Mijares and Glen Perkins have been good. Everything else is a question mark. I still do not believe in spending a ton of money on a bullpen, but unfortunately, despite a lot of quality arms in the upper levels, no one else has stepped up. Jim Hoey has had his moments. Guys like Jeff Manship, Alex Burnett, and Dusty Hughes have really struggled in their opportunities. Kevin Slowey got hurt. Joe Nathan has certainly had his ups and downs. I can’t help but believe that as the starters get more and more consistent and pitch later into games, the bullpen will clarify itself and players will adapt to their roles. Thinking that would happen right away was my mistake.

April was a horrible month for the Twins and for their fans. The Twins were just 9-17, worst in baseball. Their run differential is terrible. Fans? I have never seen such anger and irrationality. It’s difficult.

Hopefully May will bring upon much better days for the Twins and their fans!

Minor League Report

In 2009, the Twins drafted catcher Trayvone Johnson in the 30th round. He caught for the GCL Twins that season. When he reported to spring training in 2010, he found that the Twins decided to try him out on the mound. Before the short-season affiliates started, the Twins released Johnson. I chatted with him a bit last night, and he is excited to get the opportunity to play for an independent team in Maui, Hawaii, this summer. He will be catching for Na Koa Ikaika this summer.

Saturday SethSpeaks.net Minor League Hitter of the DayDanny Ortiz, Beloit Snappers 

Saturday SethSpeaks.net Minor League Pitcher of the DayLiam Hendriks, New Britain Rock Cats

Red Wings Ramblings

Saturday – Red Wings 0, Buffalo 3 – Jeff Manship made his first start of the season. He went four innings and gave up two runs on six hits. He struck out five and did not issue a walk. Eric Hacker came in out of the bullpen. In two innings, he gave up an unearned run on a walk. He did not allow a hit. He struck out three. Carlos Gutierrez struck out three in two scoreless innings. The Red Wings managed just three hits.  

Rock Cats Report

Saturday – Rock Cats 5, New Hampshire 2 – Liam Hendriks was tremendous again. The Aussie right-hander threw seven shutout innings. He gave up a run in the 8th, but his total line was one run on four hits in 7.1 innings. He walked two and struck out nine. Jack Stevens struck out two in 1.1 innings. He gave up one run on one hit and two walks. Cole DeVries picked up his fourth save by getting the final out. Steve Singleton knocked his 10th and 11th doubles. Yangervis Solarte went 3-4 with his ninth double. Evan Bigley was 2-4. Allan de San Miguel left the game early with an elbow injury.   

Miracle Matters

Saturday – Miracle 4, Charlotte 5 – With Ryan Mullins unable to pitch due to a bad shoulder, Edgar Ibarra was asked to step in. The lefty gave up just one run on six hits in seven innings. He walked none and struck out two. Blake Martin pitched a scoreless inning, allowing a hit and a walk. Bruce Pugh came in for the 9th. He gave up four runs on three hits and two walks and recorded just one out in the loss. Nick Romero went 2-4 with his fourth double and first triple. Brian Dozier hit his third and fourth doubles. Jhonathan Goncalves went 2-4 with his first double.  

Snappers Bites

Saturday – Snappers 8, Peoria 13 (10) – The Snappers have been carried by their starting pitching and two hitters this spring. On this day, those two hitters and several others powered the Snappers offense which included six home runs. Unfortunately, the pitching didn’t come through in this game. Andrei Lobanov started and gave up six runs (5 earned) on seven hits and a walk in 4.2 innings. Blayne Weller continued to pitch well with 2.1 scoreless innings. Michael Tonkin came in and gave up two runs on four hits in two innings. Martire Garcia pitched the 10th and gave up five runs (4 earned) on four hits and a walk. As I mentioned, the Snappers hit six home runs in this game. In the first inning, Oswaldo Arcia and Danny Ortiz went back-to-back. Then in the 8th inning, Danny Ortiz, Michael Gonzalez and Josmil Pinto went back-to-back-to-back. Ortiz led the way. He was 3-4 with a walk and his fifth and sixth homers. Arcia was 2-5 with his eighth double and fifth home run. Michael Gonzalez hit his third and fourth home runs. Derek McCallum went 2-3 with a walk. For Pinto, it was his first home run of the season.   

Feel free to leave your thoughts, questions or comments.

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31 Responses to “Twins Have Horrible April – Saturday Minor League Notes”

  1. toby May 1, 2011 at 4:19 am #

    Even though part of me kinda wants to take issue with some of your passing assertions – viz. that JJ Hardy’s current true talent can be summarized as “can’t hit much” – and make some sort of sweeping statement about the big league club’s travails (restrained, not optimistic but neither hopeless), but for whatever reason the much greater part just wants to jump up and down and shout: HOLY HELL ARCIA AND ORTIZ ARE TEARING IT THE FORK UP IN BELOIT!

    I mean, this is the Midwest League and it is a cold, wet, miserable April; you are not supposed to post offensive numbers like this in these conditions. If these two guys in particular were playing poorly it would be sooooo easy to assuage one’s mind by going with the conventional “well, these are Latin players used to warm weather” b.s. Instead they appear to be ass-kicking twin sons of different mothers (granted, manager Jim Cornette is nowhere in sight) and really, really interested in a ticket to go play where it’s much, much warmer soon.

    The obvious STRIKEOUTS! warning flag isn’t there AT ALL for Ortiz, while Arcia has actually improved his high-ish K rate vs. last year while walking at a well-above average clip. Both have wOBAs sniffing .500. Ortiz is 21 and shouldn’t be left in Beloit much longer.

    They’re killing it so hard right now I almost don’t have time to get excited over fellow injury-delayed guy Yangervis Solarte’s I-don’t-need-no-stinking-walks-and-you-can’t-K-me-neither AA tear. But I’m excited about that too.

  2. TT May 1, 2011 at 9:39 am #

    I think there was a lot of scapegoating of Casilla the other night because he was part of three critical plays. But the error was the only one that you could really attribute to him.

    It was Butera who threw the ball into the outfield and Hughes who was out of position to back it up. Casilla seems to be getting the blame because he didn’t save both of them from their errors.

    On the sacrifice fly, the Royals just made the kind of heads up play the Twins used to make. They saw Casilla going back full speed and realized he would not be able to stop and make a strong throw. Had he taken the time to set and make the throw, he still wouldn’t have got the runner. If he had somehow managed an off-balance, strong and accurate throw, it would have been a spectacular play. He didn’t. Had that been Hardy, it would probably have been a bloop single and no one would be blaming him for it.

    Now, Casilla’s bat is a different story. But he is hardly the only Twin scuffling in that department. The Twins aren’t a very good team right now and Casilla is the least of their problems.

    • USAFChief May 2, 2011 at 4:39 am #

      Scapegoating of Casilla? That’s rich, from someone who then claims it’s somehow Hughes fault that Casilla–who was covering second–didn’t at least knock down the throw.

      BTW, not only does Hardy catch that little popup behind third, he has the common sense to anticipate the runner might start, and therefore catch the ball, set his feet, and get off a strong throw. When he does that (as does every major league shortstop), the runner from third stops his bluff home, retreats to third, and the game is still tied.

      • TT May 2, 2011 at 11:03 am #

        “t’s somehow Hughes fault that Casilla–who was covering second–didn’t at least knock down the throw.”

        Casilla’s job was to catch the ball and make the out, not knock it down. He ended up missing a diving catch because the throw was bad. Hughes job was to back up the play and prevent the run from scoring. If Hughes had done his job, the runner would still have been safe, but the run wouldn’t have scored. What’s rich is blaming Casilla for Butera’s bad throw.

        “BTW, not only does Hardy catch that little popup behind third”

        Casilla was going full tilt when he caught the ball, I doubt Hardy gets to it. Neither one was going to have time to set his feet and make a strong throw to get the runner. The Royals obviously saw that as well. Which is why the runner was going.

        Of course, if you need a scapegoat, you can conclude it was a stupid play by the Royals that only worked because Casilla didn’t make the play. But it sure doesn’t look that way to me.

    • mike wants wins May 2, 2011 at 7:55 am #

      Casilla has over 1000 plate appearances to prove he’s bad. This isn’t about this year. He’s an awful baseball player.

    • USAFChief May 2, 2011 at 5:46 pm #

      “Casilla’s job was to catch the ball and make the out, not knock it down.” Casilla’s job was to catch the ball and make an out, AND IF HE COULDN’T DO EITHER OF THOSE, then knock the ball down so it doesn’t go into CF and allow two runners to advance a base.

      “He ended up missing a diving catch because the throw was bad.” He ended up not knocking the ball down because he’s a terrible baseball player, with a shaky glove and incredibly bad baseball instincts who seemed shocked the runner was moving, was late covering, and was therefore in no position to knock it down. It wasn’t a good throw. But it was only a couple feet off line, and it bounced so you can’t say it was over his head. How does he not knock that down?

      Those terrible instincts were on full display a short time later, when a run scored from third on a popup behind 3b. Every single major league player makes that play with no run scoring. Except Casilla, who was totally unprepared and reacted poorly to the catch itself and to the runner starting from third.

      You can’t possibly think otherwise, unless you’re distorting the facts intentionally.

      • TT May 2, 2011 at 8:55 pm #

        ” IF HE COULDN’T DO EITHER OF THOSE, then knock the ball down so it doesn’t go into CF ”

        Casilla could have taken a deeper angle and got the ball, but then he would have had no chance to get the runner. He tried to make the play, and failed. It was Hughes job to back up the play and prevent the runners from advancing. He was out of position. Its another one of those “little things” the Twins used to be pretty good at.

        “He ended up not knocking the ball down because he’s a terrible baseball player, with a shaky glove and incredibly bad baseball instincts who seemed shocked the runner was moving, was late covering, and was therefore in no position to knock it down”

        This is just plain nonsense and just reinforces the notion that this is pure scapegoating. Butera makes a throw at least six feet off the base, Hughes is nowhere near where he is supposed to be to back up the play and its all Casilla’s fault. So you just make up stuff to blame Cassilla. Casillas wasn’t late, he was at second in plenty of time. He had stopped and then had to dive to reach the throw.

        Here is a link to the video – but I have no doubt you will see what you want to in it:

        http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/gameday/index.jsp?gid=2011_04_29_minmlb_kcamlb_1&mode=box#/play?content_id=14299273

        “it bounced so you can’t say it was over his head”

        No, it wasn’t over his head, it was right into a runner who was sliding into the base and about six feet from where it was supposed to be.

  3. TT May 1, 2011 at 9:49 am #

    Arcia and Ortiz are doing great, but it is one month of a long season. The league will get better, will they keep up? We will have to wait and see.

    Joe Benson had a nice hot start, but for the last ten games he is hitting close to the Mendoza line and striking out almost one in every three at bats. That’s not likely to continue, but then neither was his hot start.

  4. DH in Philly May 1, 2011 at 10:11 am #

    And Ben Revere, after a tough start, is 10 – 15 in his last four games. I expect him to continue to revert to his mean at Rochester

    • mike wants wins May 2, 2011 at 8:03 am #

      And his slugging percentage is still below his OBP. He’s at best a 4th OF.

  5. swol May 1, 2011 at 11:33 am #

    “I have never seen such anger and irrationality”.

    Come now Seth. Fans are entitled to opinions and if they see “red” when they watch the Twins recent play, who can disagree with them. I think it is a very good thing to see this coming from the fans, it means they care, they want to see the Twins play better. They have high expectations from the Twins team and they feel that the team has let them down. We have listened to Twins management tell us during all of April that they are off to a slow start and things will get better. That is probably true to some degree but the results so far show that this team has some fundamental flaws and if the Twins want to play with the “big boys” in baseball they have to take some heat for their teams bad play. You can’t even say poor play because this team so far this year is just plain bad. Every year the team is different and we are talking about the 2011 Twins, not the 2010 or 2009 or any other year Twins. You can’t say this team is just going through a bad stretch because they have not played well at any point this season, they started badly and they continue to be bad. If you have not played good baseball for any period of time you can’t say you are having a bad stretch. That is not to say this team can’t play better, it probably will at some point but the Twins fans have gotten used to winning, expected to win again in 2011 and when the team starts the first month of the season as the worst team in baseball, they have good reason to yell and scream. Sure some fans may want to do things you think are “irrational” but that is the beauty of baseball blogging, everyone is entitled to their opinion.

    Just rattling your cage a bit here Seth, I have followed the Twins since 1961 and have seen the good and the bad Twins teams and I always will, but I have to tell you, this team is so bad right now it is becoming hard to watch. I keep thinking about how now and then all the players on a team have career years and the team goes crazy and wins the World Series. Right now I see the reverse here, everyone having their career worst season, all at the same time. Good or bad, I love baseball and the Minnesota Twins so I will continue to follow my favorite team and I will be out here giving my opinion on how the Twins are doing.

  6. DB May 1, 2011 at 5:22 pm #

    Hey Seth! I was just curious what you thought of a lineup that looks like this going forward: Span CF, Nishi SS, Mauer C, Kubel RF, Morneau 1B, Young LF, Cuddy 2B, Thome/Hughes DH, Valencia 3B.

    The order is subject to adjustment, but it seems to me these are our best players. I wouldn’t DFA Casilla. He’s our best utility man, and that seems to be the position that he excels in.

  7. scot May 1, 2011 at 5:25 pm #

    Twins just havn’t played bad this season, this terrible stretch actually started last season after clinching the division. This team is probably due for a shake up and guys like Cuddy, Nathan, Thome, Capps, and Possibly Pavano could be in different unforms sooner than later.

  8. Jim Reid May 1, 2011 at 6:08 pm #

    Hey, Seth… love your work as always, and am fully onside with the glass-half-full approach.
    I haven’t noticed any Alex Wimmer updates since his awful first game (might have missed some stuff). Do you have any info on where things sit with him? Thanks!

  9. USAFChief May 2, 2011 at 4:42 am #

    Seth: the other day you posted that the Twins couldn’t keep Morales because he would surely be claimed on waivers. You then said catchers like Morales ‘don’t have much value.’

    That seems kind of contradictory, no? If Morales had no value, why wouldn’t he slip through waivers?

    Wouldn’t it be more accurate to say Morales is no longer with the Twins because Bill Smith decided Drew Butera is more valuable than Morales?

    And wouldn’t it be fair to call that judgement into question?

    • mike wants wins May 2, 2011 at 7:59 am #

      It would for most people, but for some reason people think it is ok to have a catcher that hits like Butera in the league. They were wrong last year to make him the backup. They were wrong last year to trade Ramos for a guy that pitches 45 innings a year. They were wrong this year to get rid of Morales.

      • Ed Bast May 2, 2011 at 8:57 am #

        Bill Smith had the temerity to call out Casila and Tolbert in the paper today. If I were Casila and Tolbert, I’d call out Bill Smith. “We’re freaking terrible, we’ve been trying to show you this for years, but YOU are the one who failed to recognize it.”

        Curious, though, that he chose to single out these players, who are on major league rosters due to no fault of their own but because of Smith and Gardy. Where’s the disappointment for your veteran “leaders”, such as Cuddy and Morneau, being beyond terrible? Those 2 are a $20 million black hole. Mauer: $23 million black hole.

        Changes need to be made in a major way. Couple more weeks like this and the season is lost. Can’t wait much longer.

      • TT May 2, 2011 at 10:46 am #

        “for some reason people think it is ok to have a catcher that hits like Butera in the league. ”

        Some people are knowledgeable fans. There is more to the game than scoring runs.

    • TT May 2, 2011 at 11:13 am #

      There is a distinction between “not much value” and “no value”. Morales is not a good defensive catcher and not a particularly good hitter.

      So yes, the Twins preferred Butera for his defense at a defensive position. That meant there was no room for Morales on the roster. For a team with a weak hitting starting catcher, having a more offense-oriented backup might make sense. It doesn’t for the Twins.

      Would Morales be a better option than Steve Holm? Maybe, but that option didn’t really exist. And they likely would have lost another player on waivers this winter if they had kept him on the roster in the off-chance that something would change this spring. He simply wasn’t worth that much.

      • Ed Bast May 2, 2011 at 11:27 am #

        Dude, you realize you are defending a guy who’s hitting .111 right now? Sure, there’s more to the game than scoring runs, but scoring runs is, what, half of it, by definition? What other things does Butera bring to the table? “Calling a good game”? Pitching has become absolutely awful since he took over. That game-costing throwing error on Friday was defensively sound, eh?

        Sorry. Butera is the worst hitter in baseball, perhaps the worst hitter in the last decade or so. Easily the worst hitter I’ve ever seen (not including pitchers, but most pitchers are better hitters than him too.) He’s unquestionably a terrible player, and the front office blundered on designating him as the backup for a frail starter.

      • Seth May 2, 2011 at 11:38 am #

        both of you are right…

        1.) Butera is one of the worst hitters in baseball, and yes, probably over the last decade.
        2.) If Jose Morales was catching right now instead of Butera, the Twins would likely have no more wins or losses than they do now. Morales is not good either.
        3.) But clearly leaving a scenario where Butera (or Morales) is the starting option and Steve Holm/Rene Rivera are the backups –> If Joe Mauer is out for an extended time, things are bad. And we are seeing that.
        4.) Butera, Morales, Holm, etc., would be just fine on a roster if they play once a week, maybe twice.

      • TT May 2, 2011 at 12:55 pm #

        “scoring runs is, what, half of it, by definition?”

        Yes, but it is not close to half of what makes a good catcher. You get offense from your DH and corners.

        You have a first baseman who is hitting .225 with a .328 SLG, a third baseman who is hitting .211 with a .305 SLG, a right fielder/second baseman who is hitting .226/.365 and a DH who is hitting .214/.375. And here people are complaining about the catcher and shortstop not hitting.

      • Ed Bast May 2, 2011 at 12:58 pm #

        Seth, good points, all of them. If Butera starts once a week over the course of the season, okay. But given Mauer’s injury history, it’s just not smart to assume this is going to be the case. You’ve got to give yourself a better plan B (this would apply to the Morneau situation as well) than a player who, while a “gamer” and good kid and all these things, simply is not a major league hitter. It smacks almost of arrogance that the Twins thought, well, not only are we going to ignore Mauer’s past injuries, we’re going to trade every other viable catcher in the organization. Just doesn’t make sense (in the same way it makes no sense for any reasonable baseball mind to think it would be a good thing to hand the starting SS job to Alexi Casilla).

      • Ed Bast May 2, 2011 at 1:10 pm #

        Oh, TT, trust me, as my above post indicates, I’m not blaming the SS and catcher situations for where we are – those guys “are who we thought they were” and we shouldn’t be surprised by their awfulness. It’s just frustrating that the front office put the team in this position.

        But I agree, the big issue on the field right now – front office incompetency aside – is our veterans, well-paid stars, and “leaders” are either performing terribly or “hurt” (and in one prominent case, virtually disappeared from public view with “no timetable for a return” and no further information.)

        Cuddy, Morneau, Mauer, Pavano, and Liriano: $55 mil to guys who are hitting like Nick Punto, sitting like Marian Gaborik, and pitching like Kyle Davies.

  10. TT May 2, 2011 at 1:29 pm #

    Ed –

    I understand people would still be complaining about Casilla, Butera and “front office incompetency” if the Twins were 18-9 instead of 9-18.

    • Ed Bast May 2, 2011 at 2:08 pm #

      Hmm. Well probably they would because Casilla and Butera are terrible players who make fans’ eyes hurt when they happen to catch them playing baseball. But I’m not sure I follow your point. It seems you are saying:

      If the front office had not screwed up by robbing the team of depth, trading a terrific fielding, decent hitting SS for 2 terrible relievers with a SS who has proven to be a terrible MLB player when handed a starting job, going into the season with the worst hitter in MLB as a backup for your oft-injured starter and nobody as the backup for your oft-injured 1B, and going into the season with an awful bullpen, thereby making the team BETTER rather than WORSE, leading to an 18-9 start rather than a 9-18 start, we would still be complaining? I doubt it, because the front office would have done their job well.

      By the way, do you still think this team is better than last year’s team? You were pretty adament in the offseason.

  11. USAFChief May 2, 2011 at 6:01 pm #

    I do not hold the front office responsible for Cuddyer’s hitting. That’s on Cuddyer. I do not hold the front office responsible for Liriano having the highest ERA in baseball. That’s on Liriano. I don’t hold the front office responsible for the poor play of players who have, and should be, playing better. It was reasonable for them to expect better play from many of these guys, and I hold the players themselves responsible for their failures to date.

    However, everyone with half a brain looked at the Hardy trade and said “What??! You’re going to take a failed 2nd baseman and make him the staring shortstop? That doesn’t sound like a good idea.” THAT I hold the front office responsible for, and the truth is, no matter who starts playing better, or who returns to the lineup, the SS position is going to be a huge problem if you’re planning on having Casilla man it.

    I hold the front office responsible for dismantling the bullpen, and making no real effort to rebuild it. For blindly assuming Joe Nathan, 12 months after TJS, would be Joe Nathan. For arrogantly thinking “we had a decent bullpen last year, we can start anew and have a decent bullpen this year.”

    I also disagree with the notion that Butera is OK as a backup, as long as we only have to watch him ‘hit’ once or twice a week. Whether he compiles his .150/.150/.150 line in small doses, or all at one time, it causes the same damage to the lineup. To think otherwise is similar to saying “if I drink this poison really slowly, instead of all at once, I’ll be just fine.”

    Good teams do not play guys with Butera’s skill set. Not by choice, anyway. Not even bad teams give regular ABs to guys who hit that poorly. That’s not disputable.

  12. TT May 2, 2011 at 9:02 pm #

    “By the way, do you still think this team is better than last year’s team?”

    This team? No. I failed to anticipate Morneau, Mauer, Thome, Young and Valencia all hitting less than .230 with SLG under .400. But then none of the critics suggested getting rid of any of those guys.

    BTW – Hardy would have just added another body to the DL.

  13. TT May 2, 2011 at 9:08 pm #

    “Good teams do not play guys with Butera’s skill set. Not by choice, anyway. Not even bad teams give regular ABs to guys who hit that poorly. That’s not disputable.”

    Oh BS. Teams play guys who are struggling with the bat all the time. There are a dozen players hitting worse than Butera right now. Butera is getting more at bats than he should, but that is because Mauer is hurt.

    • USAFChief May 3, 2011 at 2:59 am #

      No, they don’t. Good teams do not intentionally play bad players. That’s sorta the reason they’re good teams.

      Butera is not ‘struggling.’ He’s performing exactly as one would expect. He will never hit significantly better than what you’re seeing right now. He didn’t last year, he didn’t in the minors, and he probably didn’t in little league. Butera is getting more ABs than he should no matter whether Mauer is hurt or not. ONE AB is too many for Butera.

  14. TT May 3, 2011 at 7:58 am #

    “No, they don’t. Good teams do not intentionally play bad players. ”

    Tell that to Boston who have been giving at bats to Jason Varitek who is hitting like Butera and catching like Matt Lecroy. Butera isn’t a bad “player”, he’s a bad hitter. Those are different things no matter what the roto-ball folks think. Some baseball people have even suggested he’s the best defensive catcher in the league.

    The worst player on the Twins right now is probably Jim Thome. He doesn’t play the field and he isn’t hitting. He clogs the base paths when he does get on base. Justin Morneau is probably second. He isn’t hitting either and his inability to pick throws has cost the Twins several runs.

    Complaining about the lack of offense from catcher and shortstop on this team is ludicrous. If you look at performance, rather than just rehashing long held opinions, then the players who need to be replaced are the first baseman, the third baseman and the DH. Those guys are supposed to hit and they aren’t. And, based on their performance before they got hurt, you can add the left fielder and the starting catcher to that list.

    Moreover, the Twins aren’t just not hitting. They aren’t pitching either. They are second in the league in runs given up, just behind the White Sox. The problem isn’t the bullpen, except for those stuck on last winter’s broken record, the problem is the rotation. Liriano has been terrible and Blackburn and Pavano just bad.

    For all the complaints about their defense, they Twins aren’t making all that many errors. They have 17, which is slightly better than the league average. Which doesn’t make them a good defensive team, but it makes the attention paid to a handful of errors overblown.

    There is a group of people who are focused on the things that confirm the narratives in their head. Casilla chases down a pop fly that looked like a bloop hit, and the focus is on his inability to get off a strong throw to prevent the runner from scoring. The offensive positions on the team aren’t producing and the complaints are directed at the lack of offense from the catcher and shortstop. The rotation melts down and the complaint is the Twins front office didn’t do more to strengthen the bullpen.

    This team can win the division with Casilla at shortstop and Butera as the backup catcher. It can’t win with the current production from the rest of the team.

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