Ugh. Just when I thought things might be looking brighter for our beleaguered Twins, the bullpen blows back-to-back games and they lose yet another 1-run game, managing to score only 2 runs in yesterday's loss. What gives. Seriously. I dared to watch Saturday's game as it was the late game on the MLB Network and I was pleased until the 8th inning. The Twins had a 6-3 lead and only needed 6 more outs to secure the victory. Then:
pitching change (Perkins for Nathan)
pitching change (Capps for Perkins)
Summary: 6 hits, 6 runs, 1 out recorded
Just like that the lead was gone. The culprit for this blown-lead was, once again, Matt Capps, who the Twins front-office IDIOTICALLY traded away THEIR BEST PROSPECT for last season. Capps is now worth -0.2 WAR this year while Wilson Ramos quietly has been having an absolutely stellar rookie season with the Washington Nationals, hitting .272/.347/.447 (1.1 WAR). I know, I know, I've mentioned this several times before, give it a rest, right? Ok, I'll move on...still makes me so mad when I think about it.
Alot of people on the big-box networks (ESPN, MLB Network) have said, "I don't understand why the Twins are so bad, they essentially have the same team as last year yet they are so much worse." This line of logic simply does not stand to reason:
A) The Twins have had a number of injuries this year that they did not have last year. So far the following players have spent time on the DL: Joe Mauer, Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Delmon Young, Jim Thome, Jason Repko, Jose Mijares, Glen Perkins, Kevin Slowey and I'm sure I've missed a couple of others.
B) The bullpen looks absolutely NOTHING like last year's bullpen. Last year the Twins had Jesse Crain, Jon Rauch, Matt Guerrier, and Brian Fuentes (for part of the year) and those are actually some decent relievers. Instead of letting Capps walk and signing a couple of those guys, they inexplicably decided to trade away a very good shortstop for a couple of mediocre relievers, move a starter to the bullpen and claim another also-ran off waivers. This strategy has, predictably, failed utterly as the Twins have Baseball's worst bullpen.
C) Because of the injuries and because of some ill-advised trades, the Twins middle-infield looks entirely different and folks, the 2B and SS positions are the two most important defensive positions on the baseball field. Last year the Twins had some excellent middle-infield defensive, even when Hardy and Hudson were out with injuries. This year it's been a circus, and that difference has shown up in pitcher ERAs.
More to the title of this piece, I was reading Parker Hageman's piece at Over The Baggy today in which he writes about an adjustment Matt Capps has made in his approach to left-handed hitters vs. right-handed hitters. As it turns out, Capps actually moves to the far left side of the pitching rubber when pitching to left-handed hitters. It really is a good piece, as Hageman's usually are, and it left me scratching my head. First the whole "pitching to contact" thing with Liriano, now this... As Hageman says in his piece, no one knows if this is an adjustment Capps has made on his own or whether it's something the coaching staff has tried to get him to do, but needless to say, the results have not been good at all.
What I want to know is 'why all the over-analyzing?' Capps pitched well for the Twins last year, so did Liriano...why make any adjustments to their approaches? "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." I think these guys are probably pressing enough as it is without having to think about making wholesale changes to their respective approaches to pitching. Let the pitchers pitch and try to find enough hitters who can hit...sometimes things really are simple and straight-forward.