Gotta be honest. I don’t have a lot to write or say today. I know that the Twins are just 2.5 games behind the White Sox. I know very well that this team could do something very good in their next three games. I know that the AL Central race is not quite over. But losing two out of three to the Tigers at home this weekend was incredibly depressing. Why? Because the same issues that caused the losses on the road continued to happen at home in this series. The defense made some errors. The offense didn’t come through. The starting pitching actually wasn’t bad (that’s been pretty consistent), but the bullpen was bad again twice. And in those two games, they lost.
Those things, we kept telling ourselves, were only happening because they were playing on the road. Sure, bad hitting, fielding and relief pitching are only a road thing, those troubles won’t carry over and into the Dome, right? And Friday night, the Twins destroyed the Tigers, so the assumption was all was right with the world. And Scott Baker pitched great on Saturday. He got the first out of the 8th inning, then gave up a hit. With Curtis Granderson batting, Gardy brought in Dennys Reyes. You can’t blame him. It was the right call. Reyes just made a really bad pitch and Granderson tied the game. Matt Guerrier came in and gave up two hits, the second a two run homer to Magglio Ordonez. Sunday, it was Craig Breslow who couldn’t get the big out… and I only say that because again, Gardy made the right move by going to him and Breslow has been excellent.
One thing that is annoying to me though is the usage of the September call ups. The bullpen has been horrible, but instead of trying to use the likes of Bobby Korecky, Phil Humber and Jose Mijares, we continue to see the same chorus of relievers working in those same situations. Now, again, I understand it. Gardy is likely thinking, Hey, these are the guys that put us in this position for 140 games this year, I have to stick with them. Another theory is that you don’t want to put young or inexperienced pitchers into those situations. Well, if the veterans aren’t getting the job done, and haven’t been for awhile, why not give the other guys a try. In all honesty, who would you rather see come into a 7th or 8th inning situation right now… Eddie Guardado or Jose Mijares? Bobby Korecky or Jesse Crain? Phil Humber or Matt Guerrier? Does that mean those guys will get the job done? Not necessarily, but there would be a feeling of hope.
Likewise, the lineup hasn’t changed. I thought I had picked up on a trend last week when Matt Tolbert started at 3B two games in a row against right handed pitchers. I feared that Tolbert had taken over the 3B job from Brian Buscher. Thankfully, Buscher started all three games against the Tigers. But I wouldn’t mind seeing Jason Pridie platoon with Carlos Gomez in CF. I know Gomez is a huge part of the future and needs to play in a pennant race, but at the same time, who do you feel gives the Twins a better chance to win, Carlos Gomez or Jason Pridie? I know Pridie hasn’t had a hit yet, but I do feel that if he were allowed to play a full game, he might relax and really perform. Defensively, the reports are that he is every bit as good as Denard Span which isn’t terribly far behind Carlos Gomez.
Nick Punto has taken over the shortstop job. Honestly, that isn’t a huge deal. The other options are Adam Everett, Brendan Harris or Matt Tolbert, so Punto isn’t a horrid option. He had a nice stretch of games a week or so ago and that has kept him in the lineup. I would like to see a mix of the other three get a chance.
The rest of the positions, I get it. I know that people don’t want to hear it, but we again have to point out how young this team is. Those young players need to experience the successes and failures of a pennant race. Let’s not forget that the Twins don’t only want to be involved in a pennant race in 2008, but also in 2009 and 2010 and for years beyond that. Who are the key cogs to those future teams? Mauer and Morneau? Obviously. Jason Kubel? Alexi Casilla? Carlos Gomez? Delmon Young? The Five Young Starters? Jesse Crain? Denard Span? Matt Guerrier? In other words, this experience is so important to all of them, and they are keys to the Twins future. They need to play. I understand that.
It has just turned very hard to watch. When the Twins lost the lead on Sunday afternoon, I quickly changed from my Twins t-shirt to my Adrian Peterson jersey (from Walmart, thanks, bloggers don’t make much – or in my case any – money!). Could I turn away from the Twins? Of course not. I’m a die-hard. But there will be plenty of those fair-weather fans that started following the team in mid-June but now will be spending their Sundays thinking football.
I’ll be there through thick and thin, but this team gave us reason to hope. They were incredibly fun to watch. It’s not as much fun right now, when a late-game lead means very little. But here is a request – keep your heads up. Don’t bash the Twins out loud. There is enough of that going on. I know there is at least one person in your office that probably doesn’t know much about the Twins and doesn’t follow them as closely as you do, who will make a couple of remarks. You know they probably just watched a highlight on the news, or read a headline, or maybe just watched an inning or two. To those types, tell them some positives. Tell them that this team is worth watching and worth following, even if you’re biting your teeth through it! The truth is, there is a lot that this team has done, and there is a lot to be excited about regarding the future of the Minnesota Twins. I know I’m not ready to throw the white flag yet. I hope you’re not either.
If you want to hear a lot more of my thoughts on the Twins, please listen to last night’s Marty Andrade Twins Weekly Round Table podcast. He and I talked about several Twins topics, including the bullpen, the lineup, the prospects and much more for an hour. Please check it out and let me know your thoughts.
Maybe what we all need is to play hookie one day. Thursday the Twins play at the Dome at noon. Maybe a bunch of Twins fans/bloggers should all skip work that day and meet for a Twins game!! Sound fun?
The Ft. Myers Miracle came two wins shy of their ultimate goal. With a 9-1 loss to Daytona last night, the Miracle season comes to an end.
Last night, Cole DeVries got the start and gave up five runs in the first four innings. Joe Testa gave up a run in his inning. Oswaldo Sosa gave up a run in his two innings. Matt Williams came in and gave up two runs in his two innings. The Miracle managed just five hits. The run came on an 8th inning single by Whit Robbins. Steve Singleton was 1-3 with a walk.
On Saturday night, the series began quite well for the Miracle. Matt Fox started and threw six shutout innings. He gave up three hits, walked two and struck out ten. Rene Tosoni, who was 2-3 with a walk in the game, hit a solo home run that gave the Miracle a 1-0 lead. But Carlos Gutierrez – who in the previous series was highlighted as the team’s top performing pitcher – got just two outs before giving up three runs on four hits. Jose Lugo got the next four outs. But then David Shinskie gave up two runs on four hits in his inning to create the final score of 5-1. Juan Portes also had two hits in the game.
NEED TO MENTION
Jut wanted to post links to a couple of brand new Twins blogs that I would encourage you to at least check out and give a chance:
· Bradley’s Blog – talks Twins and much more.
· Rube Reads – Tackles topics on the Twins and the Vikings, and other topics in the world of sports.
LaVelle E Neal III posted his choices for the Top 10 Twins prospects on the Star-Tribune site and for the print version. I enjoy reading any and all prospect lists. I enjoy them because no one is right or wrong. Second, it creates discussion about the Twins minor league system and many of the players who work so hard to get to the Twins. I am sure there will be several differences between his Top 10 and mine. I know of two players right off the top of my head that I have in my Top 10 that he doesn’t mention. I know the order will be a bit different. Anyway, I am writing my profiles for the 50 Twins prospects I have selected for my Top 50 Twins prospects. I have finished twenty. I hope to start posting my Top 50 in the next two weeks. If you have seen any of the affiliates play in person, please let me know. Your input or thoughts would be very interesting. If you just want to weigh in on prospects or sleepers that you are following, please do so by e-mailing me. Again, I just enjoy the discussion.
With that, I’d like to wish everyone a great week!