by Twins Geek
The following is also included in this week's Dugout Splinters, which is inserted in GameDay, the independent program sold outside of the Metrodome prior to Twins games.
We spend a lot of time in GameDay and here talking about the minutia of baseball. We’ll debate the impact of Tony Batista’s on-base percentage. We’ll ponder whether Jason Bartlett’s range is more important than Juan Castro’s quick release. We’ll write a 1500 word story comparing the relative merits of swapping Shannon Stewart and Luis Castillo in the batting order. It’s fun and somewhat worthwhile, in the sense that the pursuit of excellence is worthwhile.
On the other hand, it’s also worth noting that if the big dogs aren’t hunting, then nobody’s belly is full, and all the navel-gazing in the world isn’t going to change that. Right now the Twins have six big dogs that aren’t just struggling, they’re enduring some one of the worst stretches of their career.
The middle of the Twins lineup is an absolute mess. The Twins cleanup hitter, Rondell White, went 5 for 33 (.152 BA) on the latest nine game road trip – and improved his batting average. The next hitter, Torii Hunter, had just two hits in thirty at-bats on the road trip. Which equals the numbers of hits that #6 hitter Justin Morneau had. Combined, the three of them are hitting .177 on the season.
And things are even worse in the middle of the Twins rotation. The Twins expected Kyle Lohse to show he can be one of the better pitchers on the staff. They were right. His ERA is the 3rd best of the starting pitchers, but it’s still 8.77. Terry Ryan claims that Brad Radke has the best stuff he’s had in years, but is struggling with his “location”. That’s true, since the ultimate location of Radke’s pitches has been the outfield bleachers. Carlos Silva has matched Bradke in giving up home runs but has made them count a bit more as evidenced by his 10.31 ERA. He also leads the league in hits against.
So, how exactly does one fix all that? The Twins AAA club has as many options as any in major league baseball, but they don’t have three starters ready to throw 200 innings, and they don’t have three hitters that can be plugged into the middle of the lineup. Nobody does. Nobody ever has. There is no quick fix for 2006. The Twins are going to need to play the hand they have been dealt.
Alternately, there is just as little logic in rushing to look forward to 2007. Each of these dogs is going to improve over the rest of the season, simply because they can’t do a whole lot worse (or if you want a more statistical explanation, they’ll “regress to the mean”). The Twins have three months before the trade deadline, so it’s not like they need to be in a hurry to rebuild.
There comes a point where there are no bold moves left to make and where refinements and adjustments just don’t have any affect. Instead, one simply must wait and watch and see what happens. After a series of player meltdowns that defy all attempts at prediction, the Twins have reached that point. So must Twins fans.