The following is from Dugout Splinters, included in GameDay.
Um, youth, for the most part. As if that’s fair.
The Twins top three starting position players in OPS (On-base Plus Slugging percentage) are Joe Mauer (986 OPS, .386 BA, 23 years old), Michael Cuddyer (901 OPS, .272 BA, 27 years old) and Justin Morneau (815 OPS, 47 RBI, 25 years old). On the verge of joining them is 24-year-old Jason Kubel, who has hit .351 with an 878 OPS in the month of June. I ask you, is that fair? It’s enough to make us old timers throw our tapioca in disgust.
That has prompted formerly curmudgeonly scribes from the fourth estate to suggest that it’s time for a youth movement, to “play the kids”. Great idea, but exactly which kids aren’t playing yet? For the most part, they’re already here, with the notable exception of Jason Bartlett, who’s .306 batting average, 23 doubles, and superior defensive range continue to support the Red Wings atop the International League’s North Division. (Psst, Gardy, some might say that’s a sign of leadership.)
Beyond Bartlett, it’s a little harder to justify playing time for players who have never risen above mediocre, even in the minors, like Terry Tiffee (who is 27 years old), Nick Punto (29 years old) or Lew Ford (also 29 years old). Upon Shannon Stewart’s return they could move Cuddyer to third base to allow Kubel to continue to play everyday in the outfield, but is that really necessary when the designated hitter spot is available?
The unexpected benefit of this season is that numerous injuries and collapses by veterans have allowed nearly every one of the Twins' major-league-ready players to solidly claim their stake on the future. That’s great news for Twins fans who are starting to look forward to 2007, or to a new stadium in 2010. On the other hand, it’s not realistic to think there are more answers in the minors that may bring immediate success. The reality is that most of this farm system has already been harvested.