Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Twins Should Rest Mauer, Morneau, Span, etc...
It's over. It's been over for awhile now - and as of today it looks like Detroit might run away with the division. I suppose that's ok, seems like every 3 years or so they ride Justin Verlander/Miguel Cabrera to a division crown. The Twins can't win the division every year, right? Now that everyone's on the same page about "it" being over, the Twins should be shifting their attention to the off-season and, ultimately, to next season. There isn't much they can do right now to change up their personnel besides throwing people on waivers and hoping that someone bites. That said, they can take steps right now to make next year's team better and I think that starts with giving banged up guys like Mauer, Morneau and Co. some major rest during the last painful month of the regular season.
After spending 2 months on the DL to start the season, Joe Mauer hasn't looked his old self this season and coming into tonight, Mauer has a .287/.347/.349 hitting line through 285 PAs with only 14 of his 74 total hits going for extra bases (13 doubles, 1HR). One possible reason for his poor hitting could be that he has been playing a couple of different field positions than he's used to - but that's unlikely to account for much of it - especially for a guy who came into this year with a career .888 OPS. The more likely culprit for Mauer's poor season at the plate is that he isn't fully healed yet and though Mauer has made a valiant effort up until now to "grind it out" (his words), there isn't much point to it now so why not give the guy an extra month to heal up.
As for Justin Morneau, call it rust if you must but he's looked pretty terrible as well since coming back from the DL on August 12th. In the 9 games since then, he has only 5 hits in 37 PAs and he's walked 2 times against 7 strikeouts. Morneau has been belabored by injuries for well over a year now, why make the guy grind it out during a lost season when you can give him ample time off down the stretch and have him back next year closer to 100%.
It hardly stops with Mauer and Morneau. Just having both of those guys back near 100% would make a huge difference next year, no doubt about it. If I'm the Twins front office, I think about shutting down Denard Span and Scott Baker (and Blackburn) for the rest of the season as well. There is simply no point in trying to get these guys back because at this point, it is more beneficial for this team to lose games than it is for them to win games...
I'm not suggesting that this team purposely tank games, but why rush your star players back just so you can win a couple more games than you otherwise would have? I'm suggesting that the Twins should rest their ailing stars, maybe this team loses a bunch of games, but hey, they get a better draft pick next season. If that player ends up being important to this ballclub down the line, wouldn't it have been worth it? It's a convoluted way of looking at things I know, but it's a reality the Twins might as well embrace. At this point, there is no benefit to having Mauer, Morneau, D-Span, or Bake out on the field. Obviously the Twins aren't going to come out and say, "hey, we're gonna give the M&M boys 2-3 days off per week in September", but if they just did it, I would understand and even be in support of it. I want this team to be a contender in 2012 and I don't think I'm alone there and I think resting these semi-injured players gives them the best shot at that.