Friday, May 27, 2011

Fairweather Blogging

So this is what it must feel like to be a Royals blogger. Or a Pirates blogger. Or a Nationals blogger. For my generation of Twins fans, sustained stretches of losing haven't been a part of our baseball experience since our middle school and early high school years, before most kids are very interested in keeping up with the team on a daily basis, let alone trying to do advanced statistical analysis. This type of losing is something we haven't seen in over a decade, and it's frankly getting hard to watch. I have no desire to be a fairweather fan, and still care a great deal about this team, but as a blogger, there's not much left to say that hasn't been said already about the atrocious start to the season. I'm not trying to make excuses for the lack of content around here lately, but the reality is that my energy level for churning out Twins-related posts has taken a dive along with the team's record.

Does this make me a fairweather blogger? Does my lack of enthusiasm for churning out 1,000 words about why the Twins have somehow managed to have both the worst offense and worst pitching staff in baseball mean that I'm failing in my duty to the Twins blogosphere? Should I add another to the long line of "what's wrong with [insert name of almost any Twins player here]?" posts? What about a feature on the Marvelous Imploding Bullpen? (Worth their weight in negative WAR! Able to blow huge leads in a single inning!)  This feeling serves to solidify the respect I have for those people who have kept up blogs for losing teams even when it didn't appear that there was much light at the end of the tunnel. For the Royals, that light may be fast approaching. For other teams like the aforementioned Pirates and Nationals, the future maybe doesn't look quite so bright, but both are playing better baseball than the Twins at the moment. My point is that I'm getting a good sense of the dedication that it takes to write about a team that seems to be making mistake after mistake, each one compounding the next.

The situation in Minnesota for the future isn't necessarily all gloom and doom. There should be a good chunk of money coming off the books next year, Target Field should continue to provide a good revenue stream (although that shouldn't be taken for granted given the current quality of the on-field product), and the farm system has at least some glimmers of impact talent. However, the front office will certainly need to start making better personnel decision than the ones that contributed to this predicament in the first place (perhaps most notably sapping the organization of depth at middle infield and catcher), and if it gets to the point where we're looking at a firesale come July, it will need to be managed in a way that isn't getting pennies on the dollar in return. Potential changes using in-house options and teams that make logical trade partners are certainly worthy topics for posts in and of themselves, and I'm sure that at some point I'll be able to muster up some analytical willpower to try and produce some constructive suggestions for how to move this team forward. I just don't think that point is now. I'm headed to Target Field to see the Twins take on the Rangers on June 9th, and I have no doubt that I will enjoy every minute of it. I hope I'm not a fairweather fan, but bear with me as I figure out what it means to not be a fairweather blogger.

Monday, May 23, 2011

What's With the Over-Analyzing?

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)
2-Run Double
Fielder Choice

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.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Start of Something Better?

Though his velocity is still not quite where it was last year, Francisco Liriano took a major step forward last night against the Mariners, striking out 9 batters while only walking one. Granted, yes, it was the Mariners, whose offense is pretty much triple-A level, but the major takeaway I'm seeing is that Liriano's control was improved, which really is the key to his success. Here are a few other highlights:

- 65% of his pitches were strikes (72/110)
- He threw first pitch strikes to 17 out of 26 batters-faced
- He tallied 18 swinging strikes (16.3%) which is a vast improvement over the 10.9 swinging strike percentage he has averaged so far this year
- Induced 7 groundball outs vs. 5 flyball outs which means he was keeping his pitches down

Over his last three starts, Liriano has a no-hitter, a 3-hitter (last night) and one dud game in which he was pulled early due to illness. His ERA over 19 innings so far in May is 2.37 compared to an April ERA of 9.13. I'll need to see a couple more quality starts to say for sure, but it looks like Liriano is slowly settling in and I think his start last night could be the start of a good run for him.

In other news, Joe Mauer is headed to Ft. Meyers for extended spring training which is a positive sign. Though no timetable has been set for his return, the fact that he is moving his rehab there suggests that he is getting much closer to playing in some minor league games. Jim Thome and Tsuyoshi Nishioka are also down at Ft. Meyers and by all accounts, both of them are progressing would be a boon to the Twins offense to have all three of them return...hopefully they will all be back soon.

Michael Cuddyer is having himself a pretty good May so far. In 49 May at-bats, he is hitting .327/.400/.408 with a healthy 8:6 K:BB ratio. Meanwhile Danny Valencia's "season of regression" continues. After hitting just .217/.294/.315 in April, he has followed that up with an equally poor May (so far), hitting .220/.304/.340. Despite an excellent 18:16 K:BB ratio, Valencia simply isn't getting as "lucky" this year, watching his BABIP drop from .345 last year to .231 so far this season. Basically, for as lucky as he was last year, he has been equally unlucky so far this year...

This stretch in the Twins schedule might be a good place to turn things around. Tonight they start a two-game series at Oakland, then it's off to play 3 with the Arizona Diamondback (18-23), before coming home to play 3 more against the Mariners and Angels. After that the Twins have a slew of division games against Detroit, Cleveland and KC. Here's to hoping anyway...

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Remembering Harmon Killebrew

Just as I was getting set to unleash an angry rant about the joke that is the 2011 Twins, I heard that Harmon Killebrew passed away after a long battle with esophageal cancer. Sometimes I need a reminder that baseball is, well, baseball, and that there are bigger and more important things going on in the world than a game. Killebrew's death, like that of Kirby Puckett in 2006, gives that perspective. Whereas Puckett was the icon of my childhood, Killebrew was that icon for Twins fans growing up in the 60s and 70s, my father included. I obviously wasn't old enough to remember Killebrew's playing days, but I've heard plenty of stories about what he meant to Twins fans during his 14 seasons in Minnesota, and his presence within the organization even after his playing career was over will be missed. I was lucky enough to see him take the field (not to play obviously) during the old-timers' game in September of last year alongside plenty of other Twins legends, an experience that I won't soon forget.

Although Killebrew posted numbers that make him one of the greatest power hitters in baseball history, his greatness extended off the field as well. He hit 573 homers and topped 40 in a season eight times, but was known by friends and fellow players as much for his sportsmanship and kindness as for his tape measure blasts (the longest being a 520-foot moon shot at the old Met Stadium, now commemorated by the huge bronze glove at Target Field). When Jim Thome, who mirrors Killebrew in many ways (both as a player and a person), passed him on the all-time home run list, Killebrew recorded a congratulatory message that played on the stadium video screen and seemed genuinely happy for Thome. Although his nickname was the Killer, it had more to do with what he did to baseballs than his demeanor.

As a player, perhaps his best season was 1969, where he clubbed 49 homers and knocked in 140 runs with a 1.011 OPS, earning MVP honors and guiding the Twins to the ALCS. There are plenty of other places and collections of statistics that dive further into what he did and didn't do well as a hitter, but I don't feel like this is the time to nitpick where he should be ranked among the all-time greats. It's safe to say that he has a well-deserved spot in Cooperstown as the first Twin to be enshrined there.

Regardless of the quality of play of the current squad, reflecting on the life of Harmon Killebrew is a good reminder of why we love baseball and what makes our sports heroes such a big part of many of our lives. Although hearing the news of Killebrew's death didn't affect me the same way that Kirby Puckett's death did, I still mourn with Twins fans everywhere at the loss of a Minnesota legend. By all accounts, it sounded like he died peacefully with his wife at his side, and I'm glad to know that he's no longer suffering the pain of cancer. My prayers go out to his family and friends. I'll be going to a game at Target Field in early June, and I'm going to make sure to pause at Gate #3 to reflect on a great baseball player and a great man.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

How One Small Trade Could be the Un-Doing of the Mauer Deal

I have Joe Mauer on my fantasy baseball team. My fantasy baseball team was recently named "All Hail Joe Mauer" until I recently changed it to "Bilateral Leg Weakness". I have reached in each of the last two fantasy baseball drafts to assure that I would get Mauer. I DVRed his Head & Shoulders commercials...ok, that last one is made up. Needless to say I like the guy, as a player and as a person, so you can imagine the angst that his injury has caused me, especially with the continuing mystery as to when we might see him back on the field. I was reading around the Twins blogs yesterday and came across this piece by Nick Nelson. It's a very honest look at the Joe Mauer situation...but it's hard to read because of the truths it contains.

Nick's piece got me could the Twins have gotten themselves into this situation when less than a year ago, they had an effing logjam at catcher that every team would have been envious of. For those of you who've forgotten: 

Jose Morales - C - Age 28
The Twins drafted Morales in the 3rd round of the 2001 draft and his arbitration eligibility would have started in 2012; he would not have been a free-agent until 2016. The Twins decided to trade him for a minor league pitcher, Paul Bargas, in December of last year. Morales has been a back-up for the Rockies this year and hasn't exactly lit the world on fire, but his .630 OPS, as paltry as that is, is still 280 points better than the Twins best option so far this season. Meanwhile Paul Bargas, the guy the Twin traded Morales for, has tragically been diagnosed with brain cancer and is currently undergoing chemotherapy. My point here is that the Twins could have kept Morales, passed on the rather average young lefty and been a lot better off right now. 

Wilson Ramos - C - Age 23
The Twins signed young Wilson Ramos as a free-agent in 2004 at the age of 16. Ramos went on to develop nicely in the minors, posting a .285/.332/.431 triple-slash in ~1,600 career MiL plate-appearances. Last year, in the midst of a playoff run, Bill Smith and the Twins front office decided to use the organization's most valuable trade piece to acquire closer Matt Capps from the Washington Nationals. Ramos didn't play much for the Nationals last season (54 total PAs) but this year he has had regular playing time and is hitting .319/.377/.493 so far in 77 PAs with 2HRs and 7 RBI. Like Morales, Ramos won't be a free-agent until 2016. Ramos has accumulated 0.9 WAR (wins above replacement) so far this season while Capps, in his entire time with the Twins to this point, has accumulated about 1.0 WAR.

So, just to make my point glaringly obvious...The Twins had two offensively capable catchers, both of whom would have been under team control through 2015, and traded them FOR RELIEVERS.

More to the point of my overall piece, I believe the Ramos for Capps trade has the potential to ruin the Mauer contract. I have to imagine that the Twins were at least aware that the likelihood of Mauer finishing out his contract as a catcher were slim to none. At age 28, Mauer simply doesn't have many years left behind the plate if he a) wants to remain healthy and b) wants to remain productive. So, knowing that, why did the Twins feel that Ramos was an expendable piece? Wouldn't you plan for the worst-case scenario, especially when it virtually costs you NOTHING to have that insurance in your back pocket? As things stand now, the Twins have no one in the farm system who could play an offensively-competent everyday catcher role and to me, that's a travesty.

During this past off-season, which saw the Twins budget-strapped under the weight of several large contracts, many pointed towards next season when the expiring contracts of Joe Nathan and Michael Cuddyer will free up some extra-cash. Ostensibly the Twins would have used that money to fill some holes in the bullpen and perhaps in the middle-infield as well. Now they need to strongly consider getting a competent back-up catcher as well, a need they would most likely not have had if they had simply held on to Ramos...or even to Morales.

I've been vocal in my criticism of the post-Terry Ryan front-office and my criticism continues. Aside from the moves to bring Orlando Hudson and JJ Hardy on-board following the 2009 season, Bill Smith has made stupid ill-advised move after ill-advised move and now we are seeing the results of that on the field. A team obviously can't anticipate having as many injuries as the Twins have had, but when your depth at key infield positions (2B, SS, C) is as shallow as the Twins have had this season, the blame falls on directly on the General Manager, there is simply no way around that. By trading a valuable organizational asset for an also-ran reliever, Bill Smith has put the future of this team in jeopardy. Time after time he has shown zero foresight and folks, that is major reason why this team is 12-21 coming into their game tonight. Short of a miraculously good run later this year, the Twins will likely finish 3rd or worse in the division this year when they were thought to be a contender for the division crown when the season started.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Re-post: Jon Marthaler's Venn Diagrams

I don't have too much energy to write any new content today, so I'm just going to go ahead and leave this here.

Kudos to Jon Marthaler for a brilliant post. At least someone still has a sense of humor about this team, I'm more prone to cringe than laugh these days. Let's hope the Twins can pull off a split at Fenway, but I'm probably not holding my breath.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Series Preview: Twins vs Red Sox

In the latest of the Twins' early season road games against AL East foes(I've said it before, but who made this schedule?), they're shipping up to Boston to take on the Red Sox. Like the Twins, the Red Sox had many of their fans in early-season panic mode after limping out to a 2-10 start. However, they then went on to win eight of their next nine and have shown some signs of playing up to their talent level. The Twins are catching them on a bit of a down note after they dropped their last two against the Angels, with last night's loss coming in an 11-0 beatdown. The Red Sox are more towards the middle of the pack in terms of offense than the Twins and have scored 40 more runs on the season, but, like the Twins, have also struggled with their pitching, ranking near the bottom of the league in ERA, FIP and xFIP. That said, we all know that Fenway is a tough place to play, and the Twins have dropped seven in a row there, so they've certainly got their work cut out for them.

Pitching Matchups:

Scott Baker (1-2, 3.16 ERA, 4.01 FIP) vs Tim Wakefield (0-0, 4.08 ERA, 5.05 FIP)

After a shaky start to the season that saw him give up four home runs in his first two games, Baker seems to have found his groove. He looked good against the Rays, dominant against the Orioles, and slightly less overpowering against the Royals but still effective. More importantly, he's allowed no home runs in those three starts. His peripherals look mostly in line with his career averages (except for a slight uptick in walks, which seems to be some sort of disease infecting the normally strike-throwing Twins rotation this year). The Red Sox batter that he's faced most often is the currently-scuffling Carl Crawford, who owns a monster 1.286 OPS against Baker in 14 career ABs, but I'm usually not one to put much stock in these batter vs. pitcher stats over such a small sample.

Tim Wakefield will be making just his second start of the season for the Red Sox after spending most of the year coming out of the bullpen. In his only other start against Seattle on May 1st, the veteran knuckleballer was effective, allowing only one earned on three hits and striking out three. You know you're getting about 85% knuckleballs from Wakefield on any given night, and it's always a bit of an adjustment for hitters (especially the youngsters, who likely haven't faced many knuckleballs in the minors).

Brian Duensing (2-1, 2.91 ERA, 3.54 FIP) vs Clay Buccholz (2-3, 4.81 ERA, 5.87 FIP)

After earning a rotation spot during spring training, Duensing has picked up where he left off last year as one of the Twins' more consistent starters. Thus far, he's the only Twins starter to have both increased his strikeout rate (to 6.09 K/9) and lowered his walk rate (2.38 BB/9). His 3.54 FIP is the best on the team and four of his five starts have been quality starts. He obviously doesn't have the most overwhelming stuff, but for a staff in desperate need of consistency, Duensing has been a rock so far. He's been death to lefties (1.79 FIP, .222 BAA) and has yet to walk one in 45 batters faced, so hopefully he'll find success against a somewhat lefty-heavy Red Sox lineup.

Needless to say, Clay Buchholz has been a disappointment for the Sox this year. He had a monster year last year, going 17-7 with a sparkling 2.33 ERA, but much like Liriano, his command appears to have completely deserted him. He's walked 4.81 batters per nine this year, and (like Liriano) he's one of only four pitchers in baseball who have walked more batters than they've struck out. His swing percentage is down, his contact rate is up, and nothing seems to be going right for Buchholz at the moment. Some of his struggles may be due to the fact that his BABP sits at .313, whereas he had a "luckier" rate of .261 last season. He's been a solid pitcher over his still fairly young career; I just hope Saturday isn't the night he gets back on track.

Carl Pavano (2-3, 5.48 ERA, 4.41 FIP) vs. Daisuke Matsuzaka (2-3, 4.33 ERA 4.58 FIP)

This matchup actually has a few intriguing side-stories. The first side-story is that Dice-K is pitching on short-rest, having been forced into action during the 7-hour debacle that the Red Sox played against the Angels on Tuesday night. While it's true that he only threw an inning's worth of pitches, it might have used up his savings (lulz) rendering him less effective come Sunday. In all seriousness, Dice-K has pitched well against the Twins during his career holding a 2.30 ERA in 27.1 innings with a 26:11 K:BB ratio. After a couple of brutal starts to start the year, Dice-K settled down a bit and had a couple of dominant outings before against struggling in his last start and again in the inning of work he put in against the Angels.

As for Dice-K's counterpart, Pavano doesn't have much to hang his hat on either, coming off a brutal start against Kansas City in which he gave up 7 runs (6 earned) in only 5.1 innings of work. The story gets even worse when you look at Pavano's career against the Red Sox...he holds a terrible 6.09 ERA and 1.676 WHIP in 34 innings of work and an even worse 11.70 career ERA at Fenway Park (10 IP). I think the best the Twins can hope for in this one is a slug-fest, though with the way the offense has been going I'm not sure a slugfest favors the Twins either.

Francisco Liriano (2-4, 6.61 ERA, 5.62 FIP) vs. Jon Lester (4-1, 2.33 ERA, 3.47 FIP)

I suppose my impression of this one is tainted by the fact that I wasn't very impressed with Liriano's no-hitter against the White Sox. While I'm hopeful that it's a sign that Liriano is turning things around, the jury is still out on my mind. Ron Gardenhire originally came out yesterday saying that he though the Twins might decide to move Liriano's start back a day to give him some extra rest, but now it's looking like he'll start this one. I personally think this is a mistake and one need look no further than his stat sheet to see why. In 19.2 career innings against the Red Sox, Liriano has a 7.78 ERA and 1.678 WHIP and in his career at Fenway, Liriano has a 12.46 ERA and 1.846 WHIP over 8.2 innings. It makes more sense to start him at home against the Tigers on Tuesday, but hey I'm not the manager, I just write for a blog.

On the bump for the Red Sox is 27-year-old lefty hurler Jon Lester who has been absolutely lights-out lately. Let's all have a collective groan. GROAN... Ok, now that that's out of the way, we can focus on numbers. Over his last 4 outings, Lester has pitched 27 innings, given up 4 earned runs, struck out 29 batters and only walked 9. In those 4 starts, hitters have a triple-slash of .208/.276/.323 against the lefty. Lester is pretty much the 'ace' of the Red Sox rotation at this point and with the way he's been going, he's one of the best pitchers in baseball right now. Liriano might have to throw a second consecutive no-hitter to keep the Twins in this one.

Regardless of how the pitching matchups shake out, the Twins are going to need to come up with a way to score some runs to have any chance of taking a few of these games. A few suggestions to make this happen: a) have some of whatever Jason Kubel's having before tonight's game, b) run the bases at a higher-than-Little-League level, and c) secretly change out the baseball for a softball. That or just start hitting better. That'll work too.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


I'm not sure if I'm the first one to get to this particular headline, and I probably won't be the last, but I'm going to go for it anyway. In a season that has not provided many moments for Twins fans to cheer about, we finally have something to celebrate. Amidst one of the worst stretches of his career, Francisco Liriano turned an a very unlikely no-hitter against the White Sox on Tuesday night, marking the Twins' first no-hitter since Eric Milton in 1999. It certainly wasn't the prettiest no-hitter of all time, and the cynical part of me might want to point out that Liriano walked six batters while striking out only two. However, Liriano didn't come close to the most walks issued in a no-no (the Reds' Jim Maloney in 1965 walked 10, not to mention Edwin Jackson's 8 from last season) or the least amount of strikeouts (the Cubs' Ken Holtzman in 1971 didn't strike out anyone). Other Debbie downers might like to point out that the Twins were only able to scratch out one run,  a solo shot by Jason Kubel in the 4th inning. But you know what? Screw that. For a team that's been playing some of the worst baseball I can remember a Twins team playing (and this includes the late-90s), I can't think of many things that would serve as more of a shot in the arm than a no-hitter against a hated division rival.

That said, I don't know if this will be some sort of turning point in the Twins' 2011 season. I don't know if Liriano will suddenly regain his 2010 form. There are still plenty of questions surrounding this team, and it's highly likely that we may see some significant changes coming in the next few months. All I know is that for right now, beating the White Sox while sending them momentarily to the cellar of the AL Central feels great, and beating them on the first no-hitter in 12 years feels even better. I was actually try to find a video of Hawk Harrelson dejectedly calling the final out with his typical complete lack of emotion for anything related to the opposing team, but it's obviously nowhere to be found (on the White Sox site at least). Regardless if this ends up having anything to do with this season's eventual outcome, I'm basking in the moment. Go Twins.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Our Only Hope: The Law of Averages

Ok, I'll be honest, "law of averages" is a meaningless term. But right now this Twins team is so bad that we all need something to put our hope in, and this is the route I have chosen to go. I thought to myself, "ok, the Twins have been bad, as a whole, but how well would they have to perform to get back to their respective career averages by season's end?" Naturally that won't happen in every case, but it will in a few and so that can give us hope that yes, this team will improve. I'll start from the top of the order, give you their current hitting line, give you their career averages based on the stated number of PAs/ABs, and project what their hitting line and production-level would need to be to meet their career averages. I will clearly state how many PAs and ABs I expect them to have at the end of the year, obviously making the assumption that they will stay healthy for the rest of the season. I'm not bothering to project Slugging % because I don't have that much time.

1.) Denard Span - CF (700PAs/600ABs) - 150-160 games played
Current line: .284/.339/.367   13Rs   6RBI   1HR   2SB
Career line: .288/.365/.390    90Rs   63RBI   5HRs   24SB
Future line: .289/.370             77Rs   57RBI   4HRs   22SB

2.) Alexi Casilla - SS (540PAs/500ABs) - 120-130 games played
Current line: .190/.257/.286   10Rs   3RBI   0HRs   2SB
Career line: .246/.303/.324    60Rs   42RBI   4HRs   15SB
Future line:  .254/.313            50Rs   39RBI   4HRs   13SB

3.) Joe Mauer - C (500PAs/440ABs) - 115-120 games played
For Mauer, I'm making the assumption that he returns within the next 2-3 weeks...if that's not the case then obviously you have to adjust these numbers, but 2-3 weeks sounds reasonable at this point.
Current line: .235/.289/.265   2Rs   4RBI   0HRs   0SB
Career line: .326/.406/.479    65Rs   70RBI   6HRs   2SB
Future line: .333/.413             63Rs   66RBI   6HRs   2SB

4.) Justin Morneau - 1B (600PAs/540ABs) - 135-145 games played
Current line: .225/.287/.338   6Rs   9RBI   1HR   0SB
Career line: .284/.356/.507   80Rs   95RBI   24HRs   1SB
Future line: .296/.370            74Rs   86RBI   23HRs   1SB

5.) Jason Kubel - RF/DH (585PAs/535ABs) - 140-150 games played
Current line: .354/.406/.510   11Rs   10RBI   2HRs   1SB
Career line: .274/.338/.465    75Rs   90RBI   23HRs   1SB
Future line: .257/.322             64Rs   80RBI   21HRs   0SB

6.) Delmon Young - LF (575PAs/525ABs) - 130-140 games played
Again, with Young I'm assuming his stay on the DL is not an extended stay and that he'll return to the lineup in 1-2 weeks.
Current line: .228/.286/.281   3Rs   6RBI   0HRs   1SB
Career line: .291/.324.431     76Rs   91RBI   16HRs   7SB
Future line: .298/.327             73Rs   85RBI   16HRs   6SB

7.) Michael Cuddyer - Utility (650PAs/575ABs) - 150-160 games played
Current line: .226/.287/.355   8Rs   4RBI   3HRs   2SB
Career line: .269/.341/.448    86Rs   81RBI   20HRs   6SB
Future line: .277/.351             78Rs   77RBI   17HRs   4SB

8.) Danny Valencia - 3B (600ABs/550ABs) - 155-160 games played
Current line: .211/.292/.305   8Rs   13RBI   2HRs   1SB
Career line: .287/.336/.414    55Rs   77RBI   13HRs   5SB
Future line: .303/.343             47Rs   64RBI   11HRs   4SB

9.) Random Player - 2B/SS
With Nishioka coming back eventually, and this role being shared by Drew Butera, Luke Hughes, etc, etc., it's pretty meaningless to try and project this slot in the lineup. Most of the guys who fill the 9-hitter role for the Twins don't have enough Major League at-bats to give us a reliable career-average.

So what does all this mean? It means that most of the Twins regulars, aside from Span and Kubes, are going to have to play above their heads (in some cases way above their heads), just to finish with an average year. 27 games (the number the Twins have played so far) represents about 17% of the total 162 game schedule. In some cases (Morneau, Cuddyer, Mauer) these guys are going to have to fit 90% of a year's production into just over 80% remaining on the season....and I haven't even touched the pitching!

I assume there are other people out there who listen to Mike & Mike on ESPN Radio in the morning and every Tuesday morning they have Jayson Stark who is a baseball guru and loves stats and baseball history. Anyway, they were talking about the Twins and White Sox this morning, and it was mentioned that the Twins are 10 games out before 30 games have been completed. According to Elias (via Stark) only 3 teams in baseball history have ever won the division after trailing by 10 or more through 30 games. Only 1 (!) team in the modern-era has done it, and that was the 1987 Tigers. I'll never stop hoping as a Twins fan, but things are getting serious now, to the point where if they don't turn around soon, we'll be looking at a fire-sale come July...mark my words, you heard it here first. At least 7/9ths of the lineup are performing far below their career-averages...and we've said for awhile now "ah, it's going to turn around soon" and it hasn't. Now would be a great time to start...I'd love to hear a bunch of "dad-gummit's" from Hawk Harrelson this week.