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Twins Have Great Potential But Can’t Get it Together

A quick look at the roster for the Minnesota Twins seems to indicate that they should be a great team and a World Series contender, but clearly they aren't.  To figure out why, here's a dive into the intricacies of the Twins roster that prevent them from living up to their potential. 

Let's look at starting pitching first, since that really seems to be a strength for the team dubbed the "Mini Twinkies".  The Twins have one of the best 1-2 starter combinations in baseball with Johan Santana and mini-Johan, Francisco Liriano.  Santana is (6-4) — his record would be better if he had more run support — with a 2.99era, and a MLB-leading 104 strikeouts.  Francisco Liriano, who seems to be a younger carbon-copy of Santana, started the season as a reliever, but has since become an amazingly effective starter.  His overall line is (6-1) with a 2.16era and 67 strikeouts in 58.1 innings in 18 appearances and 6 starts.  The pitching problem is not with the top-of-the-rotation, but rather with depth.  The Twins lack any effectiveness in their 3-4-5 starters (Brad Radke — 5-7 with a 5.83era; Carlos Silva — 3-8 with a 7.07era; and rookie Boof Bonser — 1-1 with a 5.81era).  Because of this, even if the top 2 starters earn wins, the Twins are most likely to finish each 5-game stretch at 2-3.  While Santana and Liriano make starting pitching seem to be a strength of the Twins, the 3-4-5 starters are so awful that they erase much of the Twins' potential to build a winning streak over 3 games. 

Moving on to the bullpen, in which the Twins have a few reliable arms, but way too many liabilities.  Closer Joe Nathan has been terrific, saving each of his 10 opportunities, while compiling a 4-0 record with a 1.93era and 36 strikeouts in 28 innings.  His primary setup man, Juan Rincon, has also been rock-solid, with a line of 2-0/1.51era/33K's in 35 innings.  Dennys Reyes, has been good, for the most part, at 1-0 with a 1.65era.  The problem is getting to these three, because the rest of the 'pen has been ineffective at best.  Jesse Crain, widely heralded as a future closer, is 1-4 with a 5.81era.  Willie Eyre is 0-0 with a 5.55era.  Unfortunately, manager Ron Gardenhire is a huge fan of Jesse Crain and Willie Eyre, using them in pivotal situations, despite knowing they've been ineffective of late.  For a team managed by a heavy reliever-user like Gardenhire, the bullpen needs to be solid all around, not just at the 8th- and 9th-inning spots.

Moving on to the hitting, which has been worse than the statistics would lead you to believe.  Catcher Joe Mauer is finally living up to his potential, leading the majors with a .380 batting average, and adding 5 homeruns and 31RBI's.  The two major power threats in the Twins lineup are Justin Morneau and Michael Cuddyer.  Morneau is batting .269 with 16HR and 53RBI.  All would be spectacular with Morneau, if he didn't have a relatively low (.327) On-Base Percentage, and a strikeout every 5 at-bats.  A similar situation goes for the EXTREMELY streaky Michael Cuddyer, whose major talent is being able to play six positions.  Cuddyer is batting .273 with 10HR and 35RBI, has a solid .370OBP, but the strikeout rate is huge at 1 per 4 at-bats.  The other talents in the Twins lineup are Luis Castillo and Torii Hunter; unfortunately, both have been just average in 2006, hitting well under expectations.  Everyone else on the Twins offense would be better served in a utility/bench role ; Lew Ford, Jason Bartlett, Rondell White, Jason Kubel, Terry Tiffee, Nick Punto, and Luis Rodriguez are nothing special and their troubles with Runners In Scoring Position are a big part of the Twins issues with scoring runs. 

Combine the lack of depth in both the pitching and hitting departments with the competitiveness of a division that also includes the White Sox, Indians, and Tigers, and it's easy to see why the Twins aren't performing to their expectations.  And it's a shame they're wasting the talents of Santana, Liriano, Nathan, and Morneau.

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No Responses to “Twins Have Great Potential But Can’t Get it Together”

  1. In short, the Twins suck more than a baby on a pacifier.

    Thanks for pointing out the grim details of my home team’s terrible roster.

    GOod start to the blog — I assume it’s new since your first post was in late-May.


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