Siberian Baseball

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Twins Territory Update - Hitting

The second half of the double-headed monster that is holding back the Twins is a lack of offensive production to start the season.

Injuries to Joe Mauer, Jeff Cirillo, Rondell White and others have smothered the offense at times and it's to the point that even Johan Santana is at .500 for the season. Let's take a look at his season so far, given he's the new gold standard for pitchers - if he's at .500, what chance do any of the Twins' other arms have?

The breakdown looks like this:

4 ER - 2-2
3 ER - 0-1, 1 no decision
2 ER - 0-3,
1 ER - 3-0
0 ER - 1-0

In other words, if you're looking for a win from the team with the AL batting champion, AL MVP and a center fielder known for hitting for power (comparitively) you'll need the perennial Cy Young winner on the mound, hopefully giving up a run or less.

Just for giggles, let's check out Carlos Silva - at the other end of the ERA spectrum, but one of the only other pitchers who's started consistently for the big club.

7 ER - 0-2
5 ER - 0-1
3 ER - 2-1, 1 no decision
2 ER - 1-0
1 ER - 0-2

While you shouldn't need to outslug teams to rack up five, six or seven runs every night, the run support being shown is pretty weak. While teams tend to lean a bit more on their aces for wins and other pitchers seem downright unlucky when it comes to run support, this helps to highlight the power outages seen in Metrodome.

Sure, Mauer has been out and came back this weekend, but when you're waiting patiently for Cirillo and White to return, it's not like plugging Albert Pujols back into the lineup.

This has been my pet theory for two years now - with the talent on this team and a new ballpark in the works, there's no good reason why the Twins should shy away from signing a big bat to get steady work as a DH.

Right now, it's almost like filling the utility spot on your fantasy team. I understand the small-market mentality, but that doesn't mean that being clever is going to dig the Twins out of that hole.

Frank Thomas was available for pennies on the dollar last year when he signed with Oakland. National league vets are looking to play out the string yearly (Jim Thome springs to mind). There's no good reason why Minnesota can't trick someone into coming for a visit before the snow falls in October and get them to sign on for a few years as a solid DH.

Meanwhile, the Twins lack power from traditional spots in the order, mainly at third (Nick Punto, who makes Little League managers scream in disgust as he slides headfirst into first base on a weekly basis) and in the outfield, where Torii Hunter is flanked by Michael Cuddyer and a rotating cast of Jason Tyner, Jason Kubel and Lew Ford.

When you're hoping for career years every season - like they got in 2006 from Punto and the Piranhas - that's a simple recipe for failure. So far it's only good for 29-31 and third in the AL Central.

(Note: In my Sunday surfing, I'm not the only one who's noticed the recent skid for Minnesota. Not that it's difficult to see or anything, but still.)

(Photo from MinneapolisRedSox for Siberian Baseball)

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