Twins At The BreakPublished 9:17pm Tuesday, July 5, 2011
The Major League All Star Game is soon upon us and I am very happy for Michael Cuddyer who will represent the Twins in the game. With the Twins so-so season they will have just the one representative which is unusual for this team but it has been an unusual season.
The Twins have struggled so far this first half of the season and at the beginning of the year I wrote a blog telling why the Twins would win and then why the Twins will lose. Since the Twins are a number of games below 500 I would say so far they are losing so let’s look at what I said and see if I was right.
About the starting pitchers I said that they can be head cases and that they don’t seem to be improving enough. They also would not go deep into too many games. In this case I was a little wrong, at least so far. The Twins aren’t winning but at least since June it hasn’t been the starting pitchers fault. Scott Baker has really pitched well, he is starting to trust his stuff and attack hitters and he has the stuff to get big leaguers out. Now he knows it and could be another All Star from the Twins squad. As I right this Baker has gone out of the game in the 5th inning with a lead. I hope whatever it is isn’t serious.
Blackburn has been a typical Blackburn, struggle early and then pitch well for a streak. He is not over powering but he is doing the job. Liriano can be unhittable at times and then he will lose focus and struggle with his mechanics which he then loses the strike zone. Pavano has been pitching like the old Pavano so overall the starting pitchers have done well.
The bullpen however, has not done all that well. With injuries and poor performances it has been a revolving door with guys coming and going. I said that Slowey would be the key here and he was an absolute bust. He did not embrace the bullpen roll and then went down with an injury. Capps has been very inconsistent and looks like a LaTroy Hawkins as his pitches sometimes just don’t move. Nathan, early, looked old, then he went down with an injury and has come back a little so it will be interesting to see how he will pitch in the second half. Everyone else they have thrown out there has been pretty bad and they have cost the Twins more than a few games. The one highlight has been Glen Perkins who, unlike Slowey, has embraced the bullpen role. So I said the bullpen was suspect and that is what it has been so far.
I was concerned about Nishioka and Casilla and my concern has been warranted. Casilla started out bad in every respect, then he started to hit a little that covered up the fact he still wasn’t playing all that well. Now he isn’t hitting again. Nishioka so far has been a bust. He did get hurt so it still may be early, but he has shown nothing defensively, he isn’t as fast as we heard he was supposed to be, and he can’t hit especially from the left side. The Twins are still hurting in the middle infield department.
I said that at the other positions and the hitting the Twins have got to stay healthy. For the most part they have not. Mauer has been a total non factor in the first half as he has been hurt for most of it and is not hitting now that he is back. Morneau struggled out the shoot and although I give him a lot of credit for trying to stay in the lineup he is now hurt. Span and Kubel were hitting well but then they both went out with injuries and it doesn’t sound like they will be back anytime soon. Young was struggling then when he started to come around he got hurt and Thome has missed a lot of time. So the Twins have not remained healthy and they are losing.
The bench has been a revolving door like the bullpen. Guys have been going up and down as the regulars get hurt. I said the Twins had to stay healthy because they had no backups and that has proven to be right. One bright spot with the call ups has been Revere but all in all the back ups haven’t done the job at the Major League level and the Twins are losing.
I also said the Twins could lose because of Gardy’s decisions. Although I have to give him some props for trying to deal with all the injuries and he has done a good job keeping them all together, he has had his moments. One thing I can give him credit for is that he can be loyal, only sometimes that loyalty can lose ball games. He was loyal to Nathan early by making him the closer while coming back from a year missed by injury. Games were lost by that loyalty. Capps has been un-spectacular and Gardy has been loyal to him as well and it has cost us some games. Gardy falls in love with the one closer on a team role and that has hurt. Gardy did take Capps out of a game recently, so maybe he is figuring this out.
So pretty much all the things I said on why they may lose has happened so far in the first half. The one positive is that they are in the AL Central which means unbelievably the Twins are not out of it yet.