Friday August 29, 2003
New Discussion Question of the Week
Most days, I spend a little time discussing my thoughts on the Twins. I’m not always right. Sometimes I may look like a genius! Other days, you may think I’m an idiot! And, some of you have even taken the time to e-mail me to tell me either… or both!
On Monday, I wrote that my dad told me that I was “long-winded”. Again, that’s OK, I’ve been called worse. Last night, he asked me if I had been receiving many e-mails about the web site. I said I receive a few each day and I try to reply to each in a timely manner. He said, “I like it best when you put other people’s thoughts into your web site.”
I’m not sure how to take that one. I guess it’s not really a compliment. But, I do receive a number of really good e-mails, and I hope that you will continue to e-mail me anytime, and I will reply to you, or occasionally may post your thoughts on this site.
Most weeks, we will have a Discussion Question of the Week. I want it to be a question that requires some thought, some analysis, and some reasoning to back an opinion. To date, there have been two discussion questions of the week. Check them out by clicking the below links.
Who Do You Want to Talk to?
This discussion regarded which former and current players you would most like to sit down and talk to. We had a number of players mentioned and some very interesting topics they would want to discuss with them.
All-Time Best Lineups
I asked you to send me your all-time lineup, the lineup you would play if you could use any player in major league history. There were many that appeared on most of the lists, there were some unique choices.
Here was the Discussion Question of this week, which originated on Monday.
The Twins have 35 games left in the season. They are in a very close race with the Chicago White Sox and the Kansas City Royals. What do you think will happen the rest of the season? Will the Twins win the division? Who will step up? What are the keys to their success? Who will fall flat on his face? You can be serious if you want. You can be funny! I’d just like to hear what the rest of you are thinking on this.
I got a number of very good e-mails that I will simply post. Then at the end, I will briefly summarize how I would answer the questions. So, let’s just start with them.
“I think that the Twins will win the division. Why? Because I think that the Sox and Royals will play around
.500 ball the rest of the way and the Twins have an easy schedule the rest of the way and should win 21 or
so more games. Who will step up? I don't think that anybody on the roster is going to step up. I could see
the bullpen pitch better. Maybe Balfour pitch well and Romero finally find his control, but I think that what
you have seen thus far is what you will get. Who will fall flat on his face? Gardenhire. I have never been a
guy who believed that a manager has played as large of a role as his talent available. I think that Tom Kelly
was a very good manager even when his teams smelled like Gary Busey on a Sunday morning for years. I
think that Dusty Baker is a good manager, but had those in the media realized just how great Barry Bonds
really was, there would be some manager of the year trophies on some other old men's mantles today. That
said, when I see Denny Hocking pinch hit in the late innings of a game just because the opponent brings in a
right handed pitcher in a pennant race, I have to wonder how something like that happens. Especially when
Jacque Jones and A.J. Pierzynski start in with May (a southpaw) starting for the Royals. I have often said
that if the Twins gave out roster spots based on merit, they would be in the lead and quite possibly by a
substantial amount. If Santana was piling up innings in the beginning of games in May and June instead of
in 7-2 games, the division race would look a lot different today. I am not going to pretend to know what
would have happened if LeCroy, Morneau, or Cuddyer would have gotten 500 PA's this year, but I do know
that it would have turned out better in the long run (probably in the short run) than it will turn out now.
Putting injured players on the bench instead of the DL doesn't make any sense to me. Especially when there
are people starving for major league AB's. The beauty of this game is that sometimes idiots like me can be
proven wrong in the short run (see Bobby Kielty for Shannon Stewart), and when I am wrong it's better than
wasting my time arguing with all of the "intelligent people" about who the next governor of California might
be. If you enjoy this posting, "I'll be back." If not, "Hasta La Vista, Baby." Can you believe that those 2
phrases can get you to become governor in the 5th largest economy in the world? That couldn't make you
that manager of the manager of the Dodgers. Who is really the "intelligent" circle of society?”
“I am not sold on them. I am glad they are playing to their potential, but it maybe too little too late. They
can't get the big base hits and their starting pitching is too unreliable. Joe Mays can't be trusted ever again. You know Radke will implode. Kyle Lohse is decent, but don't expect much from him. Their starting pitching
is an achilles heel and that's why I don't think they can win the division. I just don't like their starting
pitching and I really shudder when they go against the White Sox. White Sox finally got their offense going
with Frank Thomas leading the way as he vies for an AL MVP. Seeing the White Sox hitting against Twins
pitching is like putting gasoline on fire. It is not a good combo. Who will step up? I think Romero, Hawkins,
Guardado, Santana, Lecroy, Koskie, Rivas, Stewart, Jones, and even Hunter will step up. The keys to their
success is that the starters have to pitch well and the guys have to hit with runners in scoring position. Also,
the pen has to do well which they are at the right time especially Hawkins and Guardado. Who will fall flat on
his face? Mays, Pierzynski, Mientkiewicz, Radke, Lohse, Guzman, and Ron Gardenhire will fall flay. I know
Gardy is not a player, but I don't trust his decision making one bit.”
Kirk B from Fargo
The Twins are going to fall short--passing two teams is just going to prove to be too difficult. I know they
have the soft schedule and all. I just think this team lacks the brains to play well enough to overcome the
fact that they're not a team full of sluggers like the white sux. I think Chicago wins the thing, which will break my heart, as I hate that freakin' team more than I hate the Yankees. If the twins can't win, I'd love
to see the royals do it, but their pitching staff of old dudes and retreads isn't going to get it done. Fat
matt is going to lead the way and finish with 20 hr. Then he's going to be shut out of the dh spot again
next year for some gawd-awful reason. Jacque Jones and Torii Hunter will continue to have terrible at bats,
especially with runners in scoring position. Mientkiewicz will struggle with the bat through the remainder of
the season on account of his sore wrist. He'll get screwed out of the gold glove because he doesn't have 20
homers. Corey Koskie will get screwed out of a gold glove as well. I know you didn't ask for that, but
starting in Jacque and Torii gets me mad, and then I bring up everything that <upsets me>.
Mike – Chicago
Congratulations on some excellent analysis of the team. As a lifelong fan of the Senators/Twins and stuck here in Chicago for 35 years I'd be lost without the net to get a better feel about what other zealots are thinking.
So, to respond to your questions about the rest of the year, it should be obvious to all but the very naive that this is a third place, .500 team that overachieved last year and has pretty much settled back into the mediocrity that this lineup engenders this year. It's not a matter of who might get hot and who doesn't over the last month. They've just demonstrated their total lack of killer instinct by not putting the Royals away this past weekend; here's a team (Royals) that got swept by the Yanks, lost a very tough game on Thursday, and yet managed to eke out two of the biggest wins of the year on the road against the Twins. You can stick a fork in the twinkies if they couldn't take advantage of a decimated Royals team without a single starting pitcher who started the year in their rotation. Yes, hand it to the plucky royals, but it's more about the under achieving twins and the failure of their popgun attack - day in and day out. And if they couldn't put away the royals, what chance will they have against a far superior Sox team next week here in Chicago? The Twins junkballers (with the possible exception of Santana) stand no chance to keep the Sox from scoring at least 6 runs per game. And how many infield hits can the twins get to counteract a real power team? Sure, we'll get a lot of singles to keep the old batting averages high, but how many runs will they produce? Who is going to drive them in? The twins do not have one dangerous hitter in their lineup; the Sox have at least six. The race will be over on the 11th, if not sooner, when they drag their tails behind them after being swept here in Chicago. And believe me, just because I'm local, it doesn't give me any joy to prophesize this. It's just a conclusion that any realistic observer must make based not on being a fan but on looking objectively at the current roster.
So there you have it, folks. Some pretty negative thoughts on the Twins chances of winning the AL Central. And, to be honest, with each passing week of Twins play, it’s becoming less and less likely that the Twins will be able to overcome their season long lapse, and play well. It’d be just nice if they could play with the energy and enthusiasm that made them fun to watch the past 3 or 4 years (even when their record wasn’t as good.)
But, feel free to call me “the very naïve”, I still think that the Twins have a very good, very realistic chance of winning the division. First, they are just 1 ½ games behind the White Sox. They play said White Sox seven more times this season. These will be absolutely crucial games that the Twins will have to win 4 or 5 out of, if they want to win the division. The big reason that I think that the Twins could still win the division are their last 9 games. Seven against the Tigers and two against the Indians.
Let’s be honest, the White Sox, until the last week, have been the Twins equal in terms of not living up to the expectations that the players on their roster should warrant. They have been extremely inconsistent the past two years. So the fact that they are currently on a hot streak just means that they are due to go on one of their patented cold streaks. If that can coincide with that Twins trip into Chicago, that would help the Twins chances too.
The Twins definitely are a punch-and-Judy team with no big boppers. You’re right, the Sox have 5 or 6 guys who can leave the yard at any time. The Twins really don’t have any. Frank Thomas is an MVP candidate. Magglio Ordonez is one of the best hitters in baseball. Jose Valentin may be bad on defense, but he can hit! Carl Everett may be Crazy, but he can hit! Paul Konerko was terrible the first half, but he is coming back with a vengeance! Mark Buerhle started off poorly, but he’s back to his old self! Bartolo Colon doesn’t scare the Twins, but he’s good. And, Esteban Loaiza could win the Cy Young Award!
So, the Twins definitely have their money cut out for them if they want to surpass the Chicago White Sox.
But, we’re so easy to look past the Kansas City Royals. I still say that they won’t win the division, but I’ve been saying that for 3 or 4 months, and yet, as of today, they are tied with the White Sox, and a game and a half ahead of the Twins with about a month to go. So, maybe they will stick around. If they do, it’s the story of the year. Yes, Carlos Beltran and Mike Sweeney are better hitters than anyone on the Twins roster. Raul Ibanez is as good a hitter as anyone on the Twins roster. Angel Berroa is having a great rookie year. But how are they winning with their pitching staff in shambles!? I just don’t know.
They’re making moves. I don’t know if they’re helping. But, they’re making the impression that they’re going for it, and why not?!
But, as the Twins keep telling us, they can’t be scoreboard watching, they can’t worry about the other teams, they have to worry about themselves and how they’re playing. If they play well and win, they can win this thing.
Who will step up? I think Brad Radke is showing that he can be a good pitcher for this team. He’s not dominant, but he can make hitters look bad at times. If he can keep the ball in the park, he’s vital. I think Johan Santana is a staff ace, and I really feel like the Twins can win any time he takes the mound. Kyle Lohse has been good again of late. Don’t be surprised if he’s named the AL Pitcher of the Month for August! Kenny Rogers keeps the Twins in games and at times can be great. The #5 spot in the rotation is going to be big! Gardy wants to give Joe Mays the job. I disagree with that and would like to see Grant Balfour given the job.
Who will fall flat on his face? I totally agree with everyone above. Ron Gardenhire will mess things up for the Twins. I’ve documented already how he has ruined the seasons (hopefully not the careers) of some of the Twins best prospects. He has a thing against rookies and young players. How else can playing Dustan Mohr and Denny Hocking so much while three other players rot on the bench? How else can you explain Joe Mays going back to the rotation, while Grant Balfour or Carlos Pulido should have been given that shot!? (I know, money) Ron Gardenhire’s roster management AND game decisions have been awful this year, and hopefully won’t, but very well could, cost the Twins the division. (along with the pathetic play on the field and lack of execution.)
Seth’s Predictions – Twins will win the division, but it’ll stay very close to the end. The Twins will beat the White Sox by 2 games, and the Royals by 4.
Hey, for a little perspective on the White Sox, from the view of a White Sox fan, be sure to check out ChiSox Daily, a new blog set up by a loyal reader of this site, Michael Labuda, from Chicago. Yesterday was his first entry and it certainly looks promising!
And now for next week’s Discussion Question of the Week. For it, we go back to Mike from Chicago:
“Which brings me to the main point, now that I've answered your question of the week. I'm astounded how Terry Ryan has gotten virtually a free ride this year, not only from the press but from observers like you who follow the team a lot more closely than the so-called experts. Wasn't it obvious to everyone after the ALCS (no homers in 5 games) that this team was in desperate need for a thumper, a veteran who could bat in the four hole, drive in 100+ runs with 35-40 homers. I talked to Terry Ryan in spring training this year and asked point blank why he made no effort to fill this glaring void. His response was "what do you expect me to do, sign Barry Bonds?" I said no, but what about Frank Thomas who was very available this off-season or Jim Thome? Obviously, salaries are an issue for this team, but Pohlad says he wants to go out a winner, and I'm sure if Ryan could have put together a package of a couple of his "phenoms" plus throw in Mentkewiecz or one of the other average starters, he could have landed a big bat without a major hit on payroll. Look what Kenny Williams did to land Alomar and Everett or what KC did to get Anderson and <Rondell White>. They're smaller market teams than the Twins, but the difference is their GM's are unafraid to roll the dice. Terry still has the mindset of a scout and believes that his minor league system can produce future stars to keep the twins competitive. This might happen if he(or his scouting department) had any talent, but look at the crap we're left with, despite all the high draft choices we've had: does anyone even remember BJ Garbe, Adam Johnson, Ryan Mills, et. al. Have we developed internally one all-star during his reign? Does anyone think drafting Mauer (another non-power threat) over Mark Prior was a shrewd move? My point is the Ryan regime is a disaster. He's afraid to take risks, even when a couple of moves in the off-season could have built upon last year, rather than make 2002 a one year wonder. Executive of the Year! Organization of the Year! How many votes do you think Mr. Ryan and the Twins will get this year?
This is the real debate that should be going on among true, knowledgeable fans - not the sophomoric question of trying to imagine why anyone thinks this lineup can be expected to finish better than third or over .500. Forget this year and concentrate on the dysfunctional organization that's led to this one-year wonder. Maybe if enough of us put the microscope over this current management, even Carl Pohlad (or better yet, a new, more vigorous ownership unafraid to rock the boat) will realize that a complete overhaul starting with Ryan's firing is a necessity. But I'm afraid that's wishful thinking and we're going to fall to the same pre-2001 levels we had hoped were a thing of the past. Put these questions to your readers and we might get some real dialogue going.
So, here’s our Discussion Question for next week:
Looking at this e-mail, should Terry Ryan take some blame for what’s been going on with the Twins this year? From his lack of bringing in the power hitter they needed, so some of the roster moves during the season, to drafting, to scouting? Basically, how has Terry Ryan done as the Twins GM?
I can see answers to this question going all over the place, so be sure to think it over, and let me know what you think. As always, you can then e-mail me, then check back next Friday as I’ll include the e-mails that I receive regarding this question.
I also received a few other e-mails this week, not related to the question of the week:
Lee K – (regarding my posting on Pedro Martinez on Tuesday, and the analysis on the Boston Red Sox.
“I know you love the Twins but it was nice to see a different teams analysis. Not all the time but a
change up was nice.”
Thanks for writing, Lee. It’s good to hear an opinion on some of the stuff I write and that it’s enjoyed. I haven’t spent a lot of time on other teams. The next day, I also wrote about the trade of Brian Giles to the Padres. In the pennant race, I’ll probably discuss the Twins most of the time, but will try to vary it as well! Thanks!
And, I’ll leave you with this one from Mike M
“need more porn...
okay...need SOME porn!”
Well, Mike, I’m afraid I won’t be doing that. This is a rated G site, meant for baseball fans of all ages, so I don’t really see that becoming an option at any point. But, I would like to mention that I do appreciate any and all suggestions you may have for topics for this site!! E-mail me and let me know what you’d like to see!
Well, I will be in Northfield, MN, tonight for the Minnesota State Amateur Baseball Tournament.
They’re down to eight teams in a double-elimination format! Check out the below website for more information
on the tournament!!
Minnesota Baseball Association 2003 State Tournament
Good Luck to Wolf Lake and Clarissa!!
Everyone, I’ll be back on Tuesday! Have a happy and safe Labor Day Weekend!!
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