Well, that was pathetic. Some of you who have followed this blog for awhile may remember former writer, "SR" who now writes for the YankeeU. He's a good friend of mine and as I watched the Yankees close out another postseason sweep of the Twins I sent him a text that read, "a painful hats off to you sir..." This time around, I didn't find the Twins' quick playoff exit as painful as in previous years. When they lost Game 1 I started to prepare myself and when they lost Game 2, I knew it was all but over. But, it still hurts. Those who follow the Twins on a daily basis, especially us bloggers, suffer the most I think. From Spring Training on I've been analyzing this team, lamenting tough losses, celebrating hot streaks and trying to glean the future from a screen filled with statistics. For 2 straight seasons now I've done this and both of past two have ended in exceedingly disappointing and short-lived playoff appearances. Here's pathetic:
Regular Season: .327/.402/.469 - 88Rs - 75RBIs
Post-Season: .250/.308/.250 - 0Rs - 0RBIs
Regular Season: .261/.331/.348 - 85Rs - 58RBIs
Post-Season: .308/.308/.308 - 0Rs - 0RBIs
Regular Season: .249/.323/.427 - 68Rs - 92RBIs
Post-Season: .000/.273/.000 - 0Rs - 0RBIs
Regular Season: .268/.320/.394 - 44Rs - 38RBIs
Post-Season: .100/.100/.200 - 0Rs - 0RBIs
Regular Season: .283/.412/.627 - 48Rs - 59RBIs
Post-Season: .100/.308/.100 - 2Rs - 0RBIs
Regular Season: .311/.351/.448 - 30Rs - 40RBIs
Post-Season: .222/.273/.333 - 1R - 2RBIs
Everyone knows these numbers and really, they don't come as much of a surprise considering how anemic the offense was in the three games vs. New York. What has me baffled is how these players, particularly Mauer and Thome, can be such consistent performers in the regular season and be absolutely shut-down come the playoffs. I mean yeah, New York threw two lefties in the first two games of the series and we should have expected less output from those two guys, but in reality the Twins got zero production from those two guys and without it, the offense sputtered, to put it mildly.
Us Twins fans can lament all we want, but the simple fact is that 6 out of the 9 guys in the lineup pretty much didn't show up for this series. Your "stars" were Delmon Young, Michael Cuddyer and Orlando Hudson. That's not going to get it done and against the Yankees, Twins pitching can't be expected to hold leads when the offense only scores 4, 2 and 1 runs.
So, where's the hope for next year? The Twins team next season will look very similar to this year's team aside from (hopefully) the return of both Justin Morneau and Joe Nathan. Notable free-agents include Jim Thome, Carl Pavano and Orlando Hudson, but aside from that, the Twins aren't slated to lose any of their key players. I would expect the Twins to at least make an effort to re-sign Hudson and Pavano and I wouldn't be surprised if they let Thome go, the track record of 40-year-old hitters isn't that spectacular.
Plain and simple, the Twins need another shut-down pitcher in the rotation. Pavano started the season nicely, but gave up way to many hits down the stretch. Liriano will be even better next season I think, this year he seemed to wear out as the season went on, more than likely because he'd never been used quite as much to this point in his young career. Baker and Slowey also broke down in the last month or two of the season; hopefully the Twins staff can figure out how to keep them healthy for next year. Duensing was once again impressive over the last month of the year and I expect to see him in the rotation to start next year. All that said, aside from Liriano, none of the other starters are that dominant which is why I think the front-office needs to focus on landing another front-line starter in order for this team to really compete in the post-season.
The lineup will be fine next year, I would like to see the Twins re-sign Hudson because of his good attitude and his excellent defense. If the Twins do that and do not re-sign Thome, you could make Kubel a DH again and your outfield would look much better with Delmon in left, D-Span in center and Cuddyer in right.
I suppose it's a bit too early to start talking about next year and speculating what the Twins will do in the off-season, but well, I need something to hold on to. Thanks, Twins, for a great regular season and those many satisfying victories over the White Sox, I was hoping for a little better showing in the playoffs, but I guess I'll have to wait for a post-season that doesn't feature a first-round matchup with the Yankees.