Thursday, May 3, 2007

Devil Rays Sting Back

For the second time this season the Twins have allowed promising starts to road trips to fall apart. On the last road trip against Seattle and Kansas City it was the sweep of the Mariners followed by a series loss to the Royals. This week its a 2-1 series victory over division rival Detroit followed by a series loss to the pathetic Devil Rays. But the one thing both series' have in common is that the Twins have been woefully inconsistent in almost every facet of the game.

Before I delve into yet another rant, allow me to begin by saying how pleased I've been with the Twins rotation. Even with the failures of Sidney Ponson, and the disappointing start by Boof Bonser, the staff has held it's own, giving the Twins a chance to win almost every night. Guys such as Ramon Ortiz, who had his first (and surely not his last) rough start of the season tonight, and the much maligned Carlos Silva have more than held their own. If not for their performances the Twins would be 5-6 games from first place, or worse.

On to the ranting phase...

Over the course of this entire season, be it home or away, the Twins offense has been unable to put together strong innings and the past two nights are just another example. Wednesdays game will mostly be remembered for Joe Nathan's ninth inning collapse, but its a collapse that would never had had the opportunity to happen had the Twins converted on any of their multiple chances to drive home runners in scoring position earlier in the game. I know I've been a broken record about this issue but its the single most glaring problem this team has, and last night just further proves the point as the Twins went just 1-10 in that situation. Its perfectly conceivable that had they recorded just one more hit, we win last night game. What makes that loss so tough to take was that it was also Boof Bonser's best start since his first outing of the season against the Orioles.

While many of the Twins early failures this season could be attributed to the lack of hitting coming from the likes of Nick Punto and Jason Bartlett, they're bats have really seemed to come alive of late, but the problem is the bats of Joe Mauer, Michael Cuddyer, and most notably Justin Morneau have gone comatose. Morneau in particular has been nothing short of a complete miserable failure. With all due respect to his decent .275 batting average and his (tied) team leading six homeruns, his inability to produce in run producing situations has become a running joke at my household, and there is no way to make the comedy more bearable. In 36 at-bats this season he has exactly six hits, all but one of which was a single. This off-season and spring Justin turned down the Twins contact extension offers. While I was disappointed at the time, I'm thankful now as he's fallen right back into his old impatient, try-to-do-too-much self. Hopefully he'll have another mid-season epiphany, but I wont be the one holding my breath.

The good thing is that the bats of players like Nick Punto and Jason Bartlett have finally started to come to life after an extended winter slumber. With both of their averages back up near the .250 mark I'm hopeful for another good season from the left side of our infield. While it would be nice to have any power from our 'Piranha's' they can be effective if they all consistently hit at or above .280.


Nick M. said...

Corey, you see to put a lot on the big three and not on the piranhas. Lets be fair. The problem with the Twins lineup is just that. There is a TON of pressure on Mauer, Cuddyer, and Morneau, as well as Hunter, because the rest of the guys in the lineup have no power what so all.

You get some guys on and most of the time, there is no hope for a home run. Kubel has home run power, but he hasn't shown it yet. The piranhas--you know what, screw that name. The weak hitting, fast guys that dominate our lineup need to hit over .300 to be truly effective, unless they are drawing a lot of walks.

But its hard to really set this too much on the shoulders of our 3-4-5 hitters. In other lineups, there isn't as much pressure, cause at least other guys in the lineup can actually hit a home run.

Anonymous said...

They need Pedro Munoz back

Anonymous said...

If Pedro Munoz had been there, they might have won.

Let's start a petition to bring Pedro back!

Corey Ettinger said...

Nick, I couldn't agree more that having another power bat or two would help, but it isn't going to happen. Perhaps if we complained more...

I don't mean to come across as condescending, which is precisely what Im about to do but... In all honesty I don't see any chance TR trades arms for bats. He's said he wont do it, he's never done it, and I don't think this will be the first time. He has always built for next year and never done anything to risk the future of the franchise. And with the team likely to be in a state of flux with the possible departures of names like Hunter, Nathan, and Santana I don't think this will be that time.

He probably thinks he can put a decent team on the field this year, but one which will most likely not win the division or make the playoffs. I also dont think he believes trading for a Cliff Floyd type player (old, with power and no chance to resign) is a move he'll make. I for one am thrilled that the Twins almost never make that deal.

Also Nick, in mentioning the middle of the lineup and power threats, you incorrectly list Mauer as a power threat and don't list Hunter. Mauer is really just a super-piranha. He's a line drive singles hitter but may very likely never hit 20 home runs. Actually I'd be surprised if he hits 20 homeruns more than 3 times in his career. I project him out to be a Tony Gwynn minus, which certainly isn't a bad thing, but he's no power threat. Hunter on the other hand has consistently hit 25+ and seems to be finding his power stroke as he ages.

I also don't believe that the Twins need a power bat because when 2 or three of the little guys are getting consistent hits this team does just fine. And yes, all the pressure to produce does fall on guys like Cuddy, Morneau, and Hunter. Thats why they earn the big bucks and right now guys like Cuddy and Morneau are major disappointments. Right now Im just thankful TR didn't throw 8 million a year at Justin More-not.

And anonymous... as long as your not spamming my site with profanity or trying to belittle me, I'll respond to you by saying this...

Yes, we could definitely use Pedro Munoz's bat in this lineup. While he may have been a liability in some ways, his career homerun per 25.49 at-bats would be greatly welcome. Too bad he's 49. But I'll work the phones with my 'people' and see if we can get him back in uniform.

Nick M. said...

I take power to mean more than home runs. Mauer slugged over .500 last year, though in large part to his batting average, but it wasn't "empty" because he hit 36 doubles.

Tyner, Castillo, Punto, Bartlett. None of these guys has that power either. And I left Hunter in the equation as a power guy. I commented on the 3-4-5 guys because that was your focus. As I said, "There is a TON of pressure on Mauer, Cuddyer, and Morneau, as well as Hunter..." So wasn't trying to leave Torii out.

Ray Felix, III said...

did you see ubelmann's post at Stick and Ball Guy about the struggles with guys on base?

Morneau is in the top 1/3rd of qualified AL hitters in the "clutch" stat.

Corey Ettinger said...

Thats so bogus. His hitting with runners in scoring position is atrocious. How do they come up with these numbers?

Ray Felix, III said...

Actually, looking at the numbers, you may be right...

From, these are the formulas:

Clutch = WPA - (OPSWins*Leverage)

OPSWins = .025*(1.7*OBP+SLG-1)*PA

Morneau's numbers:
OBP, .341
SLG, .482
PA, 129
OPSWins, 0.199
Leverage, 1.07
WPA, -0.12
Clutch, -0.333 (fangraphs has it at 0.13, I can't figure it out, can someone show me where I went wrong?)