Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Are You Positive?
I was watching the Twins game last night, happy with another win. Much credit for the win has to go to the bottom of the lineup for coming up with some big hits. Nick Punto had three hits. Brian Buscher had a big run-scoring hit. Orlando Cabrera hit a game-tying home run. Getting production from guys like that will be key down the stretch. The Twins have won three games in a row, all without Justin Morneau. They got good starting pitching, and the bullpen has been very good of late. Sure, Joe Nathan is fighting through struggles (on his way to another 40 save season, mind you!), but the rest of the bullpen has been much improved. Meanwhile, Detroit has been playing quite poorly of late. They have certainly left the door open, at least a little bit. Why am I not getting excited? I mean, the Twins are 4.5 games back of the Tigers with 17 games to go. The odds of the Twins making the playoffs are not good, something like 11%, but they are technically still alive.
So why am I not excited? Is it because they havenít had that extended run that we all thought they were capable of? Well, in reality, they did. They won 12 out of 15 games. And, letís be honest, if they can win twelve or thirteen out of their remaining games, there is a realistic chance that those games in the Dome on the final weekend will be bigger than just a farewell to a stadium.
Itís mid-September. The Twins are technically still in this thing. Help me out! Is there reason to be positive and excited? I think there are.
1.) Those infamous seven games remaining with the Tigers provide an opportunity.
2.) The Tigers have been bad. Their pitching situation is arguably worse than the Twins. Yes, they have Justin Verlander, Edwin Jackson and Rick Porcello, but their bullpen has been a mess.
3.) Maybe the Twins front office did know what they were doing in NOT acquiring Jarrod Washburn. We are so quick to be negative on the guys that got away that we often forget to say thank you for all the cases in which that is a good thing (See also, Joe Nelson, Juan Cruz, Eric Gagne and too many more to mention in this).
4.) The Twins have Joe Mauer.
5.) The Twins have Denard Span.
6.) The Twins have Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel.
7.) Scott Baker has been very good of late.
8.) Carl Pavano has been as good as expected.
9.) Nick Blackburn had his struggles, but he has also shown a propensity for pitching really well in really big games.
10.) Brian Duensing is still doing something to keep hitters off balance.
11.) The Bullpen is much improved, now making the 7th through 9th innings a little easier to breathe in.
So what else do you have? Letís start being a little more positive! Why not? Worst case, weíre wrong, but we still get to enjoy only three more weeks of baseball before the long winter offseason. Are there other reasons to be positive about?
I have to be honest and ask, arenít you (like me) tired of being negative? This is a .500 team, why canít the positive at least equal the negative? I mean, I too can look at the bottom of the batting order and see Nick Punto in the lineup. Last nightís lineup had Buscher, Matt Tolbert and Punto at the bottom. That doesnít create much excitement. But it is what it is. We can complain as much as we want about Danny Valencia (or Brock Peterson) not being up here right now, but that isnít our decision, so no need for us to dwell on it. (No, I donít get it either!) We can complain when Mike Redmond catches, as he likely will today, but we need to get over it. Itís easy to look at Michael Cuddyerís WPA, but I prefer to look at the .270 with 25 homers.
Seriously, sometimes itís much more fun to just step back and enjoy the baseball. I know I need to do that. Letís just enjoy these final three weeks or before we know it, itíll be gone. And then the offseason starts and we can all analyze away!! †
World Cup Update:
o Nelvin Fuentes pitched a scoreless inning for Mexico.
o Luke Hughes hit a home run.
o Matt Willams got a win for Australia. He went 1.2 innings and gave up an unearned run.
o Rene Tosoni went 3-4 with his second homer and second steal of the tournament.
o Trevor Plouffe went 2-3 with a walk, a double and a stolen base.
o Trevor Plouffe was 1-3 with a walk and another double.
NFL ďExpertĒ Picks Update
††††††††††† Although the page is still a work in progress, I have set up the 2009 FB Picks web page. It will include the bios, updated standings and the weekly picks. Our panel did well in week one. As a group, our selections went 13-3. Six participants went 14-2 (Jeff Manship, Phil Mackey, Nick Nelson, Parker Hageman, Josh Johnson, Brian Pietrzak and Andrew Kneeland). With no Thursday games this week, the Week 2 picks will be posted on Friday.
If you have any opinions, comments or updates, please leave them in the Comments section.