We can start by diagnosing the problem. If you want a great offense, you need great offensive players. And right now, at several different positions, the Twins are average or below:
Rank by OPS (On-base Plus Slugging) of the Twins versus the rest of the American League at all positions:
Second Base – You would think that most of the lack of production at second base can attributed to Luis Castillo’s injury, and he is hitting the best of them all. But for all the praise Castillo is generating, he’s only hitting .289, and his on-base percentage is still below the league average at .330.
Even if Castillo’s had played every game at the position, the Twins would only end up one rank higher. The real issue is that second base isn’t necessarily a spot for speedy little glove men anymore. That’s not going to change for the Twins in the near future with Alexi Casilla coming up, but if second base is going to be staffed by a Piranha, it becomes more important a true shark plays someplace else.
Third Base – Nick Punto thrived for most of last year because Nick Punto was a .300 hitter for most of last year. This year, he isn’t (.229 BA, 622 OPS). There have been plenty of rumors of him battling through injuries, but the larger question is whether last year was a fluke, or whether Punto turned a corner at 28 years old.
Punto traditionally hits right-handers pretty well, so it hasn‘t helped that his possible platoon partner, Jeff Cirillo, had been almost all season (16 AB). And now, even when Cirillo is can be in the lineup, the Twins need to rely on him to play DH.
There’s not help in the minors, or at least not this year. The proverbial heir of the position, Matt Moses, is really struggling (.215, 548 OPS). Glenn Williams is down there, too, but he’s not really hitting a ton either (.256, 805). Terry Tiffee is hitting .264, but he’s doing it in Baltimore’s farm system.
Outside the organization, there might be some National League team’s willing to make a move a little later:
- 26-year-old Wilson Betemit has had a terrible start for the Dodgers, and may just be keeping the spot warm for prospect Andy Laroche. If LaRoche gets hot, Betemit would be available.
- Ty Wigginton’s name is always thrown around, but Tampa is competing this year, and Wigginton gives them a lot of flexibility.
- Colorado has Garret Atkins at third now, and 22-year-old Ian Stewart just starting AAA. They won’t give either one away, but might be willing to trade one for the right pitching.
- Morgan Ensberg has been rumored to be on the Twins wish list before, and Houston’s streaky (and injurr-prone) third baseman has been finding himself on the bench recently. Gawd knows Houston could use pitching…
The prospects that the Twins might be able to acquire are risky, and they would block the progress of Matt Moses, who is still only 22-years-old. Still, are some options, though and ENsberg or Betemit deal would likely take some time until things developed, so Punto and Cirillo will likely get another month to get things back on track.
We’ll talk about more tomorrow.
I gotta run…