Wednesday, August 16, 2006

It’s Easy to Grin

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lt's easy to grin,
when your ship comes in,
and you've got the stock market beat.
But the man worthwhile
is the man who can smile
when his shorts are too tight in the seat.
- Judge Smails

There’s nothing like scoring a single run over three games to make fans wonder about their favorite team. That’s especially true for Twins fans, who have obsessed about their lack of offensive firepower since Tom Brunansky was traded for Tommy Herr. We’re probably especially sensitive right now, since the trading deadline passed, leaving nothing more than rumors about unreasonable demands for big bats.

Also, looking at the lineups this weekend, it’s easy to find room for improvement. On many nights, the Twins string together Jason Tyner, Jason Bartlett, Luis Castillo and Nick Punto, and that foursome would be lucky to hit fifteen home runs in a year, combined. One could also make a pretty good argument that three of those four players are playing way over their head. If it pleases the court, I’d like to submit the following as Evidence A: As Jason Bartlett strode to the plate on Sunday, my wife turned to me and said “Hold it – the scoreboard says he’s hitting .356? Is that right?”

A more obvious deficiency is the “production” the Twins have received from their designated hitter over the last two years. Last year, the designated hitters for the Twins hit just .254. This year, all designated hitters combined have just five home runs. There isn’t another American League team with less than eleven. Heck, there’s a National League team who nearly has that many from their designated hitter (the Phillies, with three home runs).

But there’s a problem with picking apart the individual pieces of the lineup. At the beginning of June, the Twins added Bartlett, Punto and Jason Kubel to the everyday lineup. About that time, Justin Morneau started hitting with power, and Michael Cuddyer staked out the fourth spot in the lineup. So, how has the Twins revamped lineup performed since June 1st?


Runs from 6/1 - 8/10
357 Chicago Sox
339 Minnesota
334 Boston
331 Detroit
328 Texas
327 LA Angels
323 Cleveland
322 Kansas City
310 NY Yankees
310 Toronto
284 Tampa Bay
283 Baltimore
278 Seattle
270 Oakland

The problem with picking apart this lineup, is that for all of its faults, it’s working. One can argue that given their history, this group can’t hit like this forever, but after two-and-a-half months, maybe a little faith is in order. Or at least enough faith to carry fans through an impotent three-game stretch against Toronto.

4 comments:

JimCrikket said...

Having a little faith is fine and nobody should discount the effort and results of this group. But that doesn't mean a little extra pop wouldn't have helped. I wasn't too disappointed that TR didn't overpay to get someone at the deadline because I felt it was quite possible that getting Hunter back would be as good as almost anything available on the market at the time.

Maybe the everyday line up, as is, can keep their run producing numbers up through the last few weeks of the season but when you look at the bench and you read that Cuddyer and Redmond are taking ground balls at third base, I think there's some legitimate cause for concern.

SBG said...

On many nights, the Twins string together Jason Tyner, Jason Bartlett, Luis Castillo and Nick Punto, and that foursome would be lucky to hit fifteen home runs in a year, combined.

Fifteen? Methinks you are too kind. Try 10!

BD57 said...

While the offense has produced over the past 2.5 months, there's reason for at least a little concern, because we weren't sound last homestand, we started this homestand so poorly and even the past two games, both victories, we've done nothing special offensively. And we can't blame it on facing great pitchers.

Last season was "Exhibit A" for the truism that teams which have to string 2 or 3 hits together in an inning to score will have some horrific dry spells.

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