Monday, July 25, 2011

Dose of Reality

After stumbling to a horrendous 17-37 start, the Twins were able to turn things around and win 24 of 35 games leading up to the All-Star break. Amazingly, just six weeks after standing 16.5 games out of first place, they had put themselves in position to potentially overtake first place with an extremely successful homestand to open the second half.

Unfortunately, the 12-game stretch against division foes that came to a close yesterday could not be described as extremely or even moderately successful. It can only be viewed as a bitter disappointment. Given the opportunity to gain vital ground on two AL Central frontrunners while playing at Target Field -- where they'd gone 14-4 since the start of June -- the Twins failed to take advantage, despite sporting a roster that is as close to full-strength as it's been in months.

They won only six of the 12 games and went 3-5 against the division-leading Tigers and Indians.

By avoiding total catastrophe in the homestand (which seemed possible after they dropped their first two against both Cleveland and Detroit), the Twins remain fringe contenders, but this was a costly whiff. They now sit seven games out, with three teams in front of them and a rough 10-game road trip through the AL West on deck.

At this point it seems far more plausible that the Twins will consider themselves sellers by the time July 31st rolls around than that they'll be close enough to first place to justify the expense of valuable resources for a short-term upgrade.

That's a tough dose of reality, but the Twins have no one to look at but themselves. When you get past all the excuses, there's one number that really stands out as the reason they find themselves in their current position: a 1-8 record against the Tigers.


Anonymous said...

I think the Twins should end the Francisco Lariano experiment.

Sure, when he is on, he is great. But he is almost never on, and the time has come to get something, anything for him.

The biggest thing for me as a fan has been watching his unwillingness to make any adjustments on the fly combined with a seeming lack of concentration on his mechanics -- which are awful, even after all the work he has put in.

Anyone who knows the game even a little can see him fly all over the mound when he starts throwing balls. It's infuriating.

Unfortunately, it probably means he has little value on the market.

Sending Nishioka to AAA ball wouldn't be terrible either -- give Plouffe the shot he has earned.

And, where is Gibson? What could it hurt to get him a start or 5?

Matt Groff said...

I agree that Liriano has been awful and that he should be moved, but with that being said the twins have to be serious about getting a Free Agent pitcher this Winter. Slowey is most definitely gone and Gibson isn't ready... more on that in a bit.

We should have expected growing pains with Nishioka, but with the twins being all but out of it, let him groove with his teammates so that next season he has something to build off of.

Gibson is breaking down this year, he's not even close to the innings he threw last year and his record and ERA have been terrible. He needs more work at AAA and shouldn't be brought up at all.

SadPanda said...

I agree with Matt about Nishioka. Getting him comfortable is the most important thing for helping him improve. I believe that he has shown the talent to be this teams short stop but he still makes too many dumb errors. Those dumb errors should go away as he gets more comfortable at the position and more comfortable with the team. Lets let him get used to the team/city/country.

Plouffe at SS doesn't seem to be a good fit. Even in the minors they haven't had him playing there.

Ed Bast said...

"the twins have to be serious about getting a Free Agent pitcher this Winter."

I've been saying this for years, but nothing ever changes. If the Tigers series taught us anything, it's that the Twins don't have the pitching the Tigers do. I am so tired of watching Frankie squander his talent on the mound and give his team little shot to win. But hey, to listen to the blogosphere last year it's like he was the second coming of Roger Clemens. Nope - he just doesn't have the mental fortitude to become a top line MLB pitcher.

Kyle Gibson? Said from Day 1 he's another one of these "Twins mold" pitchers who have combined for a whopping 0 playoff wins - a #3 starter who "pitches to contact" and can't get through 6 innings. The brief infatuation with his minor-league K rate seems to have subsided.

The Twins need to be sellers at the deadline and stock up on starting pitching/infield prospects. They are going nowhere this year - anyone who thinks they are good enough to erase 7 games vs. the Tigers did not watch the series this weekend.

Prediction? The Twins will overpay for middle relief at the deadline while doing nothing to improve the long-term outlook for this team. The year will be blamed solely on injuries, fans will fall right in line, and nothing will change going into 2012. What will next year's excuse be?

Nick N. said...

I'd agree that Liriano has been frustrating and hugely disappointing this season, but this is the wrong time to move him.

SadPanda said...

I'd agree that Liriano has been frustrating and hugely disappointing this season, but this is the wrong time to move him.

Agreed, you are supposed to buy low and sell high. Not sell low and buy high.

Mike said...

Even if the Twins were closer to 1st place, there is no reason to be a buyer. The team just has too many problems and holes to fill to think that trading away a promising prospect for a rent-a-player would actually make a significant impact (in a good way).

The Twins need to take a good long look at what moves were made in the offseason, why they were made, and who thought they would be a good idea. The Twins' problems were apparent even in the preseason- Valencia would regress, Thome couldn't back up his 2010 campaign, Pavano and Liriano were unlikely to match 2010, Morneau isn't quite right and there is no backup, Mauer has injury concerns (so don't trade away all competent backups), and as it turns out, the bullpen is actually pretty important.

Throw in that Punto signed for cheap in St. Louis and was probably a lot more valuable to the Twins than most fans will admit, while Casilla is extremely sketchy, Tolbert is awful, and Nishioka was entirely unproven. Hardy was solid when healthy (which he's been healthy for pretty much his entire career aside from his 50 games or so last year) and was hitting over .300 with power in Baltimore last I checked but was traded for the ever-dangerous Jim Hoey and other people who I'll never remember, and unfortunately, I'm not terribly surprised that the Twins are in this position.

Disappointed, yes. Surprised, no.

I think it's time for the Twins to be sellers. I would rather see what they can do with the players they know will be with the team next year so they have a chance of making some noise in the playoffs in the next few years.

Matt said...

I think it's time for the Twins to be sellers. I would rather see what they can do with the players they know will be with the team next year so they have a chance of making some noise in the playoffs in the next few years.
This disappointing homestand was actually a relief for me. I've seen what Bill Smith does as a buyer, let's see what he does as a seller...
I'd like to see the current roster plus some callups play out the year and see what they can do. Sell your veterans you know you won't have next year, and other guys not part of the team's longer term outlook.

Anonymous said...

I've been saying this for years, but nothing ever changes

That's weird, the Twins are usually good about checking comment sections of blogs for things to address in the offseason.

cy1time said...

Please tell me that is wrong and that the Twins aren't considering Denard Span for Ian Desmond. We already have a SS that can't hit, what do we want with Desmond?

mgraves said...

Bill Smith did not do a good job selling Santana. Weren't M. Cabrera and either Ian Kennedy or Phil Hughes on the table? And B.S. held out for the bad CarGo, Phil Humber (who seems to be doing rather well, though far better than his peripherals would indicate), and Delois Guerra? Good call Mr Smith.

I've got no faith that Mr Smith can be a competent seller. The Twins should be sellers, but I don't believe that Mr Smith is the man for the job.

J.F. Dulles said...

Here's a news flash. Cleveland and especially Detroit are considerably better than the Twins! Doesn't matter where they play them, they're likely to go 3-5 every time. I hope they sell and rebuild with the best they can get for 2012. It's what makes most sence. If they are sellers, teams will get desperate for arms like perkins and nathan or even D-young's bat. It's just not there this year lets look forward.

sol rosenberg said...

Liriano seems incapable of being consistant so I'm not sure when the "right" time to trade him would be. Teams are not waiting for him him to win 5 in a row. They know he is what he is and hoping they can help him turn the corner.
So using the pervailing logic here perkins should be getting traded soon. right?

mgraves said...

Sol-Perkins is cheap. I don't think anyone is suggesting that one sells off an inexpensive player. I'd imagine "sell" candidates are Capps (if anyone would take him), Kubel, Young, and Slowey. Possibly Pavano and Thome.

USAFChief said...

Interesting choice of headline for today's blog, Nick, given tonight's game.

"Dose of Reality."

Anonymous said...

The Twins need to find an ace....I have no idea how they will come across such a pitcher when they teach "pitching to contact". Without an ace they have much less security in their rotation and no chance at making a playoff run.

Back when they had Johan they could count on a probable win every 5 days and it helped stabalize their pitching as a whole.

They could have traded Young and prospets for Grienke earlier before the season but they always seem to pass up opportunities to get aces.....

I dont know maybe its just me but the Twins just cant go on without a good ace

Landon said...

The Joe Mauer contract is one of the worst Twins decision in franchise history. He makes way too much money and is not worth it. His value is showing itself this year. We cannot pay that much money for a guy who cannot even play the position we signed him for and now only hits singles.

I think the first thing the Twins should do is offer Joe straight up for one of the following three: Jesus Montero, Hank Conger or Devin Mesoraco. We would free up salary and get a guy who would perform as good if not better. Those 3 can play C more and could all hit far more extra base hits.

We got too emotional about the hometown player and now we are paying for it (no pun intended).

mgraves said...

Anon.-When healthy, this year, Baker has pitched like an ace.