Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Gut Check Time

Denard Span (.313/.352/.418)
Matt Tolbert (.214/.214/.321)
Jason Kubel (.311/.354/.492)
Jim Thome (.171/.261/.293)
Michael Cuddyer (.250/.308/.300)
Danny Valencia (.220/.313/.288)
Luke Hughes (.190/.190/.238)
Drew Butera (.174/.174/.217)
Alexi Casilla (.128/.190/.179)

That was the lineup for the Twins last night against the Orioles, a b-squad lineup in just about every way. Five of those players have OBPs below .265 and, not only that, SEVEN of those players also have SLUGGING %'s under .325. Hughes, Butera and Casilla have combined for 13 hits in 83 at-bats (.157) this year. Blah, blah, blah, I know, most of us are keenly aware of how much the Twins offense has sucked so far this year. The result last night was predictable as the Twins got shut out, managing only 7 hits (5 singles) and 4 walks along the way, while leaving 9 men on base and going 0-9 as a team with RISP.

What's my point with all of this? My point is that this team has lacked fire in the early goings, and I'm starting to question the toughness of guys like Delmon Young and Justin Morneau. I know that Morneau had his bout with a severe concussion, and that the Twins have been understandably cautious with him in his recovery...but this team is struggling hard at the plate and unless this flu is some sort of mega-disease, we need these guys out there, in uniform, doing as best they can. I'm not privy to the team like some are so who knows, Morneau's case of the flu might be a bad one, but on a night that the team is already without it's All-Star catcher and offensively-talented's gut check time guys...somebody has got to play through a little pain or come through in the clutch.

What I'm not sensing from the Twins is any urgency. It's easy to think, in the beginnings of a 162-game schedule, that these early games don't matter all that much, but they do, and the Twins have helped to prove that fact over the past several years. 2008 and 2009 were perfect examples. In many ways, the Twins have been lucky so far this year in that the Tigers and White Sox have struggled out of the gate as well. Sure the Indians and Royals have played well up to this point, but I don't think either team has the tools for sustained success. So the Twins are, in my mind, still "in it" but unless they start playing significantly better, and soon, then they may very well play themselves out of contention by June.

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