Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Tuesday Notes

* Anyone get the feeling that the Twins are cosmically cursed this year? Practically every break has gone against them. Beyond all the injuries and the generally lackluster play, one can't help but notice that impending free agents like Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel have raised their value with good seasons while potential trade chips like Delmon Young, Kevin Slowey and Francisco Liriano have cratered their value with poor play and off-the-field issues.

On top of all that, and their best pitching prospect might be destined for Tommy John surgery.

* Oh, and it wouldn't surprise me if Scott Baker, one of the few bright spots of this season for the Twins, is headed for the same fate

* My hunch is growing stronger

* After surrendering six extra-base hits to righties on Sunday, including mammoth upper-deck homers by Paul Konerko and Brent Lillibridge, Brian Duensing has now yielded a .309/.367/.515 hitting line against opposite-sided hitters.

Properly utilized in the bullpen, Duensing would be a dominant late-inning force thanks to his otherworldly success against left-handed batters. In the rotation, where he continues to face righty-stacked lineups, he's a mediocre back-end starter on a team that's full of them. He's an asset that's not being maximized, and that's a shame.

Eventually, the Twins have to figure it out. Right?

* If you're interested in getting out to a game during this week's series against the Red Sox at Target Field, TiqIQ has the line on third-party tickets, which are in demand thanks to Jim Thome's chase for 600.


Drew Madison said...

"Anyone get the feeling that the Twins are cosmically cursed this year? Practically every break has gone against them."

This sounds familiar. It has been endemnic throughout the entire 22-year history (with 1 notable exception) of the Timberwolves. The 2010 Vikings were also cosmically cursed when the Metrodome caved in. I can easily think of several other occasions when the gods from the cosmos decided to scorn the Vikings at very inopportune times. Such is their fates.

This year's Twins are also headed in the same direction. Hopefully, the weather gods will not take their rath out on the young jewel of a ballpark near to the Farmer's market. Other than that, everything else that could have gone wrong this year has seemingly gone wrong.

Even on a night when the Twins have their best starter on the mound, take a 5-1 lead against what must have been a tired Boston club after getting into town at 5 a.m., lose the lead but were able to get to their 2 best relievers get in the late innings, but still manage to lose anyway. Even when things go right, something always happens to foul it all up. That's the definition of cosmic unluck.

Of course, another way to look at the Twins season is to look at the Red Sox and see what they have. Depth, not only represented in the veterans that dominate their lineups and pitching, but youngsters like Josh Reddick that actually make can make an impact.

The Sox have the wherewithal to wistand many of the obstacles that have tripped up the Twins this year. A lot of that is because the Red Sox are a rich organization and can paper over mistakes, but the Red Sox are more than competently run. They are a state-of-the-art Baseball organization in 2011.

I think their fans are too arrogant for a club that has won the same amount of World Series in the past 90-plus years as have the Twins, and I hate that the media have pushed the Sox and their "nation" down my throat. But I can't deny that the Sox are the best team in the American League. I also remember a time 20 years ago when that team was the Minnesota Twins. But that was a long time ago, and things have changed.

USAFChief said...

One could also look at it this way: with a competent GM, the Cuddyer/Kubel seasons would have resulted in a good haul at the deadline for expiring contracts, and the down seasons would make resigning people still under team control cheaper.

The Twins have been unlucky, for sure, but for the most part you make your own luck. When your GM has $110M for payroll to work with but starts the season without a bullpen or middle infield, I don't think luck or injury was the ultimate story of the season.

SoCalTwinsfan said...

Too bad the Twins don't have an established pitcher with a track record at the major league level to move into the rotation and bump Duensing into the bullpen. Oh, wait ...

Anonymous said...

I can't disagree with anything that's been said here - but it's too painful for me to pile on. All of this season's woes have been well chronicled. I hope they can use the rest of the season to sort out:
1. Justin Morneau - will he ever be the player he was?
2. Joe Mauer - Where's he going to play? I've advocated for RF all season, but with Valencia reverting to reality maybe 3B would be a better option.
3. Closer - not sure if Nathan will ever be able to hold it down again - we know Capps can't.
4. SS - As Nick has argued - it's time to put Plouffe out there and see if he can be the solution. Let him sort out the fielding part now because it sure looks like he's going to hit.
5. Starting pitching - well I'm not sure what they can do here this season with Kyle Gibson on the shelf - but we all agree that Duncing is not an effective starter.

This off-season should be one of the most interesting in Twins history and will make or break Bill Smith's career in my opinion. Who from this list (if any) will be back? Liriano, Cuddyer, Kubel, D. Young. Can't wait to get started!!

Demetri said...

@anonymous Didn't this year sort of break Bill Smith? (Maybe next year he can make it)

mgraves said...

On a good team Duensing is a LOOGY. On a mediocre team, he is a five starter. On this team, he is the third best starter (and second best for too much of the season). As bad as he has been against righties, he is only marginally worse than are Blackburn and Pavano against righties. Blackburn and Pavano back it up by being almost as bad against lefties. (Blackburn .820 LH OPS/.849 RH OPS; Pavano .731 LH OPS/.806 RH OPS).

Minor improvement to the bullpen while keeping those millstone in the starting rotation seems a bit of shuffling deck chairs. And I've got no faith in the wondrous Kevin Slowey (wondrous because he manages to remain upright while lacking a spine).

Last winter the Twins should have gone into a minor rebuild mode (and I said it at the time), now they've pushed it off for another year, without having given replacement parts the trial runs necessary to determine whether or not they are vital parts going forward.

Anonymous said...

It is becoming more and more apparent that the Twins have a lot of work to do post season. Bullpen is mediocre at best, starting pitchers are inconsistent at best, infield is extremely weak, and there are at least two regulars (outfielders)who really don't even look like they want to take the field.