Archived Story

Frustrated Twins Fan

Published 9:28pm Saturday, April 16, 2011

Ok, so what the heck is going on with Minnesota sports? We lived through a bad Viking and Gopher football season, a bad Timberwolf and Gopher football season, and a bad Wild and Gopher hockey season, and then just when we were looking forward to the Twins, this happens.

I am writing this after the loss on Saturday when both our closers failed the team for the second time in three days. Tampa Bay wasn’t playing any better than the Twins were going into the series but with the Twins play they have given the Rays lots of confidence that their season could turn around. I wish I felt that way about the Twins, but I don’t as this looks like it may be a long summer.

To top off the bad week Joe Mauer goes on the DL. I am glad to here that what he has wasn’t as bad as it could have been but geez this guy is sure fragile for such a great athlete. I may also add that he is a very highly paid great athlete. It also shows how week the Twins are at catcher. I like Drew Butera but as a back up not a starter and this Holm guy I think is the same. Can we get Redmond out of retirement?

I don’t like to kick my team when they are down but this is getting a little to hard to take. I am a competitive guy and I like my teams to be competitive and right now this is pathetic.

Remember when I wrote about the reason that the Twins would lose? Most of them are coming true here in the early going. I said if Alexi Casilla and Tysoshi Nishioka couldn’t make it the Twins were in trouble because of lake of depth at those positions. Nishioka gets hurt and Casilla has not played well and we have Cuddyer playing second base against right handed pitchers and Matt Tolbert playing shortstop more than we had hoped.

Everyone was scared about the Twins relief pitching. I was a little more optimistic but I also said that Nathan would be the key and he has struggled. I like the fact that Nathan has all this confidence in himself but right now he is doing the team more harm than good. Of course it isn’t his fault that he is left in there to close games when he is struggling it is the coaching staff. Some of the relievers have had their moments but over all they have sucked a little bit. I was high on Slowey as a reliever but then he gets hurt.

The starting pitching has been up and down with Baker pitching a good game on Saturday and Pavano an exceptionally good game on Friday night. But as a rule they have struggled to get 5 innings in with Lirano a total basket case.

Speaking of Liriano, the coaching staff is attempting to make him in to a pitcher that he is not. The Twins try to clone all their pitchers into the same type which is not walk anyone and to pitch to contact. That is good for some pitchers but Lirano is not one of them. He is a strikeout pitcher and he thinks like a strikeout pitcher and there is nothing wrong with that. The coaches think if he pitches to contact that he will last longer in games but tiring out isn’t why he doesn’t last. It is because he has those innings when his mechanics and rhythm go out of wack which is what they should be working on, not turning him into something he is not. The Twins have always liked to clone their hitters too by wanting them to hit pitches the other way, which again works for some hitters but hitters like David Ortiz it does not, and we all know how well he did when he left the Twins.

Another reason they may be losers is if Justin Morneau can not regain his status. Justin has given it his all but he sure is rusty from lack of play. Mauer hasn’t hit either along with Delmon and Cuddyer. The only one hitting at all is Kubel. They put the pitchers in a tough situation where they think they have to be perfect to win.

Coaching was also a reason if they don’t do well and that hasn’t been all that good either. Our players are not running the bases well and are getting picked off. There are mental and physical mistakes in the field that we are not used to and I mentioned the hitting and the pitching. Gardy is to be commended for being a loyal guy but baseball is a business as they say and the business is to win. He may have to look at putting Nathan in some non save situations until he gets stronger and maybe he may have to raise a little heck with the players instead of being their friend.

The Twins organization is a very loyal group and that too is to be commended in these times but to say that their manager can stay as long as he wants and doesn’t have to worry about being replaced may not be the way to go. Gardy is too comfortable and so are the players. They may need a little edge to get things going. What other organization would keep their manager with the playoff won/lost record that Gardy has? With the poor play and poor record so far this season how come we never here any rumblings about changing the manager? Are the manager and coaches not held somewhat accountable?

Those of us who have followed the Twins since their inception have lived through some pretty lean years and the fact that the Twins have been competitive in their own division for so long I shouldn’t complain but I would like to see them advance to the next level and they haven’t been able to do that.

  • Tracy Mitchell

    Geez, Tom. With only eight percent of the season played you’re tearing the bed sheets into easy to waive surrender flags. You’re mad that there aren’t rumblings about firing the reigning Manager of the Year, you wish they’d leave Liriano alone, and you’re sick of that over-paid egg-shell Joe Mauer.

    It kills me to have to be the voice of reason. But here it is. The Twins are off to a slow start with an opening schedule that includes 15 of the first 20 games on the road against AL East teams. With improved play in Toronto and Baltimore, the AL East is generally viewed as the toughest division in baseball. And, like most teams, the Twins play markedly better at home. If you noticed, the Twins are done with east coast road trips by May, and after that have only 12 games left against AL East teams, all of them at Target Field.

    Now look at 3 of the teams that are off to quick starts – Kansas City, New York, and Cleveland. The Royals have played 9 of their first 14 games at home, with 3 off-days. Their opponents are a combined 10 games below .500. The Yankees have played 10 of their first 13 games at home and 4 of their 5 opponents have losing records. The Indians, with 9 home games, have played opponents cumulatively 14 games below .500. The schedule will even out, and the Twins will have plenty of kick-ass games at Target Field.

    As for Mauer, the Trib ran this snippet a couple of days ago: Joe had 584 plate appearances in 2010, 606 in 2009, 633 in 2008, 471 in 2007, and 608 in 2006. Quick quiz – name the AL catchers that had more over the last five years. Mauer is thought to have had somewhat of an off-year last season, but is the only AL catcher to have 500 at-bats, and he blew away the competition with his bat. Even with his perceived fragility, and Butera and Holm as backups, name the teams that wouldn’t trade their catching corps straight up for The Twins’ catching corps. There’s no reason to think that Mauer won’t be back in a couple of weeks and be tearing the cover off the ball again.

    As for Liriano, you note that the Twins are trying to make him something he’s not. You mean like a quality pitcher? You recall his second to the last spring training start where he struck out 9 guys in the first 3 innings and was out of the game in the 4th inning? That was classic Frankie, and really not what anyone wants. But that’s what you get if you let Frankie be Frankie. My impression is they are trying to teach him the art of pitching, which you used to think was a good thing. If he can trust his stuff in the strike zone, he could avoid those 30 pitch innings. Yeah, his mechanics are erratic, but I can’t believe they aren’t working on that too. Santana was a strikeout pitcher, but he learned to trust his stuff and was able to go deep into ball games. Is that such a bad model?

    Its frustrating that the Twins have let several winnable games get away from them. Blown saves really suck. Just ask the White Sox (6 so far). Overall, though, the pitching hasn’t been too bad. What has hurt the most is the lack power hitting. And that’s not going to last.

    Its tempting to look at what’s happened and get depressed. But recall Tom Kelly used to say that it takes about 40 games to know what kind of team you have. The Twins have played 14. And I imagine that when Willie Mays was a rookie and started 0-24 it was tempting to say “this kid can’t play, get rid of him.”

  • Tom Grout

    Ah Tracy, the eternal optimist. First of all I stand by what I said about Liriano. They didn’t make Santana into a Radke type pitcher and they shouldn’t with Liriano. You always say they must be working on the things that we see but if they are then why do the starting pitchers do the same things and never improve? If they can’t conform to the system then why are they still here. You say we are playing the strong east now, well isn’t it those guys we have to beat to advance into the playoffs? I know you are perfectly happy if the Twins win the division and don’t go any farther. I get it but I happen to want more and there is nothing wrong with that. Manager of the Year? I still stand by what I said about his playoff record. You are starting to talk like a company man, we can’t say anything bad about the manager, coaches or the Minnesota boy. It’s this complacent attidue that has prevented the Twins from advancing in the playoffs.

    • BaseballWiz32

      So we FINALLY get rid of Punto and we start off like this? Who woulda thunk it? I’m kind of on both sides here. True, we are only a couple weeks into the season. The 2 teams that will more than likely finish at the bottom of the division are currently leading it. The Red Sox who are starting off worse than us will eventually turn it around, so why not us? I think we will still make a strong push at division champs this year with the division we’re in. We need to start adding some pop with our bats. Morneau, Cuddy, Kubel, and Delmon have to start hitting some out of the park. Seems like we have no power threat right now.

      Liriano needs to be a strikeout pitcher. He can make guys miss, so why try and pitch to contact? The twins mold pitchers into their ideal pitcher, and for the most part it seems to work, but some pitchers just aren’t that type of pitcher. They need to let him go out there with the mentality of getting people out by K’s and if they hit it, his defense will do their job.

      The thing that worries me the most is if we do actually pick it up and start playing well and make the playoffs, who are we going to lose to? We are a regular season team with regular season players and a regular season coach. We have no guy in the clubhouse that will go in and get a spark going. All our players are to NICE. Nobody wants to be “that guy” and it is starting to hurt us a lot. I am sick of losing to the Yankees first round of the playoffs. We go into the series knowing we will lose, and it never seems to fail us. Our players seem to be, like you said, to comfortable with what they are doing. I don’t want a guy to sit there and start ranting to the press about how bad all their teammates are doing, but sometimes you need a guy to start getting upset about how their playing and get guys blood pumping so they go out there and leave no doubt who is the better team! We should have looked more competitive against Toronto, we should have beat up on the Royals, we should have taken more than one game away from Yankee stadium to prove we can win there, we should have won at least 2 of the 3 games against the Rays! I am very frustrated so far!

      With the rest of our division not playing well (the teams we know will be there in the end anyway) I think we still have a shot to take the division. I think we will be fighting until the very end like every year. But what after that? Playoff misery? Getting sickening to talk like that, but until they prove otherwise, that’s the way most will think.

  • Tracy Mitchell

    “Sepuku – ritual suicide by self-disembowelment , also known as hara-kiri”.

    Tom, trust me, its not time yet. There’s 148 games to go, plenty of time to right the ship, get the bats going, get some home cooking. I know its fun to go screaming off the cliff. But if you are listening to Gardy & Billy Smith this morning on WCCO, they’re not quite the blind, ignorant idiots you make them out to be, and that’s not just the “company line”. BTW: Nathan is being moved to a setup role.

    You’re nuts if you think I’m satisfied with the Twins recent playoff failures. I’m just not ready to set my hair on fire in the middle of April. Your rant sounds like a newbie card player, wanting to go all-in on every hand. You must be really, really frustrated because this doesn’t sound like you.

    Danny, I agree a thousand percent with your playoff-woes analysis (although not the remedy). But if you fixate now on some future anticipated October collapse you’re going to drive yourself crazy, and miss what can be another great baseball season. For right now, our bats need to heat up, and it’s a pretty safe bet that they will.

    When the corn is tassling out and we are complaining about the humidity, the Twins will be feasting on Seattle at Target Field while Detroit and Chicago are getting their butts thumped out in Toronto, Boston, NY, and Tampa. Things will look different then. Trust me.

  • Randy Larson

    The Twins play so far can be summed up with one word, “Ick!” Even non-diehard fans are seeing this one.

    There’s plenty of time to pick up their play but they have so far to go to pick it up! Their play has been totally uninspiring.

    Nathan is what I expected. Everyone else is doing less than expected. Tracy says things will look better when the corn is tasseling, I guess I’ll have to trust him as I’m not seeing it so far at all.

    My suggestion to the hitters is “see the ball, hit the ball!”. They’re being so cute with all these work-the-count at bats. I say just go play ball and let your abilities take over. I think the words “quality at-bats” should be banned from the Twins clubhouse.

    If only we had Punto!

  • Parker

    Now, where in the world did the phrase “Pitch to contact” come from? Good grief. In the good old days it used to be “throw it in there and let him hit it!!” Some of these new buzz phrases are dumb.

    There’s a lot of work to do for our beloved Twins, but we have to have a little patience here for a while. I have been impressed with the starting pitching so far (less Liriano). I can see why there were rumblings about trading him this past off season. Get something for him before everyone else figures it out, too. Our middle relievers have been pretty good as well. Perkins looks better than he did last year, and I think Dusty Hughes is pretty good.

    The bottom line is we need some offense, which I believe will come. Guys have been hitting the ball hard, but a lot of atom balls.

  • Tracy Mitchell

    Yes on Perkins — where did that 97 mph heater come from? Or was that just the Tampa radar gun?

    Nice dink ‘n dunk offense by the victorious JV on Sunday. Duensing had a real decent outing. He sure doesn’t have Liriano’s stuff, but he knows how to pitch. Why is it so wrong to think Liriano can learn to pitch? There’s a whole lot more wrong with Frankie than simply being messed with by the coaches, as some would suggest. I hope he can get it.

    AS for the big sticks, recall every time Puckett went into a slump he’d say “when I come out of this someone is going to pay!” Hope the boys have the same attitude. Its time to start clubbing on people!

  • Tom Grout

    There is nothing wrong with teaching Liriano how to pitch. I can only go by what I read and what the coaches have said and they say they are trying to have him pitch to contact which sounds like they are trying to get him to pitch like Brad Radke and everyone else they have in the starting rotation. The differance is he is a power pitcher and should be taught how to pitch like a power pitcher like Santana. He needs help with his head and mechanics to go along with it.

  • Randy Larson

    Liriano pitched fairly well last night given that the ump was not going to give him the outside pitch to right-handed hitters. You could almost see him trying too hard though when he’d get ahead of hitters. He wants the stikeout and it got him in alittle trouble last night.

    I wasn’t watching when Gardy got thrown out, what was that all about?

    • Dean

      Kubel and Thome got rung up on pitches that were a ways off of the plate. Not sure who was barking from the bench, but Gardy got tossed. Thome had to be restrained… a good sign! There may be a spark yet! Speaking of spark, I thought Repko did a good job in there…. I see Span (Mr Coma) is back in tonight though.

      Liriano pitched better… still would trade him. He’s got decent stuff, but he’s no pitcher… don’t think he ever will be.

  • Tracy Mitchell

    Eleven to Nothing! I recall years ago with an early morning hangover eating the full meal breakfast at McDonalds. Same feeling — I’m going to me McSick.

  • Randy Larson

    Don’t worry Tracy, I’m still trusting you!

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