Thursday, May 12, 2011

Frustration Mounts Over Struggling Twins

As I wrote last week, it's not like the Twins are doing one thing wrong in their hideous start to the season. They can't score, can't pitch, and don't play very good defense.

Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?

The Twins again sport baseball's worst record -- 12-23 -- after a loss to Detroit Wednesday. This five-game skid comes after a three-game winning streak that came after a six-game losing streak.

Two weeks before Memorial Day, the Twins already find themselves 11 games out of first place in the AL Central, and while you can argue Cleveland will come back to Earth at some point, the last-place Twins are hardly the team that will make them do that.

Joe Mauer isn't healthy. Justin Morneau isn't hitting like he is healthy. On Wednesday, Michael Cuddyer drove in a runner that wasn't himself for the second time this season.

If you want to know why this team is struggling so much, just look at these three guys. It's not to put all the blame on them, because it's not Mauer's fault he's hurt, and it's not Morneau's fault he got sick and lost a ton of weight he can't gain back. And it's not Cuddyer's fault that we've all probably overrated him a bit over the years.

But these are the Twins' three best and most consistent hitters. None of them are producing at a level they should be. Factor in that Delmon Young and Jim Thome are also on the shelf, and you have more than half of the team's best available non-pitchers who are either injured or so severely underperforming that you know it can't continue.

At least it doesn't seem that way.

Turning the pitching around is another story. Carl Pavano has never been consistently good, so a dropoff from a solid 2010 is not a surprise from him. Francisco Liriano is fighting every pitch in his arsenal, it seems, and all that does is make him question himself. Nick Blackburn and Brian Duensing are back-of-the-rotation guys on a good staff, and Scott Baker is the latest incarnation of Brad Radke to adorn the Twins' rotation. Nothing special, but a guy who typically throws strikes and doesn't get shelled.

Getting Joe Nathan right is a priority, too, but it starts and ends with the offense. The Twins have allowed 187 runs so far. While that's not acceptable, the offense has been much, much worse. Minnesota has all of 113 runs in 35 games, horrific when you consider the alleged talent on hand. Their minus-74 run differential is by far the worst in the majors, 31 runs more than second-worst Houston.

Think about that. The Twins are losing games by almost one run per game than the next-worst team in baseball.

You don't there because of one guy.

Getting Mauer back will help. Getting Tsuyoshi Nishioka back will help.

Getting everyone back playing at their expected level would help more. That means Cuddyer might want to get on a pace for more than 25 RBI this season.

No comments: