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  • Twins Reversing Some Ugly Trends

    Ron Gardenhire has the Twins playing betterOn Sunday, the Minnesota Twins played their 54th game of the season, meaning that they are now officially one-third of the way through their 2013 schedule. This milestone presents a good opportunity to review what has taken place thus far. How has the season matched up to expectations, and to the club's stated initiatives?

    The most noticeable trait of this team has been the brutal starting pitching. Improving last year's horrendous rotation was frequently called out as the front office's top priority during the offseason, but so far this reconfigured unit has, astoundingly, proven worse. The lineup has also mostly failed to live up to its potential, even with Joe Mauer at the top of his game.

    Still, compared to the last two seasons, the positives in this campaign have been almost overwhelming. Even after enduring a 10-game losing streak, the Twins are on pace for 75 wins, which would put them within shouting distance of .500 -- the unspoken goal for this bridge year.

    This improvement has been made possible in spite of the rotation's struggles because the Twins have been remarkably successful in three areas they have heavily emphasized. I think these impressive strides deserve recognition.

    1) Better Start

    Last year the Twins lost seven of their first nine games and by the end of May they were already 15 games below .500. In 2011, they went 17-36 over the first two months. Digging those kinds of holes is a fast path to irrelevance.

    This year, although they've been far from great, the Twins have been able to offset their bad stretches by bunching victories. Few would call them contenders in the AL Central, but then again, they are only 4.5 games out of first place.

    Terry Ryan said he wanted his team to be playing meaningful games in September, and at this point they're on track to do so.

    2) Better Fundamentals

    Above and beyond the recent losing, you got the sense that the miscues and mental gaffes from players young and old really began to grind on Ron Gardenhire and Co. An organization that has long prided itself on doing "the little things" had drifted a great distance from it's previous identity.

    Whether it's personnel or coaching, the difference this year has been stark. Playing smart and avoiding mistakes can be difficult things to quantify but, by the eye test, the Twins have been markedly better in execution and are on pace to commit 41 fewer errors than in 2012.

    3) Better Health

    Cutting down on injuries is a tricky task since they are more a function of luck than anything else. Sometimes, players get hurt. And sometimes injuries happen in rapid succession. That's been the story of the past two years, so perhaps the reduction of injuries this season is simply a sign that the Twins' run of bad breaks has come to an end. They also shook up their medical staff during the offseason, dismissing head trainer Rick McWane and promoting former assistant Dave Pruemer, so perhaps that too has been a factor.

    Either way, the Twins have (knock on wood) avoided the disabled list almost entirely this year. Darin Mastroianni's broken foot has been the only truly significant injury, and when your backup center fielder is the only guy missing extended time you can count your blessings.

    The improved health has been apparent in the lineup, where Trevor Plouffe recently became the first regular to land on the DL (he expects to return after the minimum). The improved health is even more evident in the rotation. The Twins have three starters on pace to reach 150 innings, which would match their total from 2012 and 2011 combined.
    This article was originally published in blog: Twins Reversing Some Ugly Trends started by Nick Nelson
    Comments 64 Comments
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by Willihammer View Post
      Only 4.5 games out. If there had been a guy available this past offseason who A. filled the Twins need for starting pitching and B. was coveted by the Tigers, they might have made a direct, albeit "marginal" dent in that gap. A shame no such free agent pitcher fit both of those criteria.
      Signing Sanchez would have been a shot across the Tigers bow. Though they are clearly odd-on favorites, there are chinks in their armor. Their closer is awful, their #5 starter is awful. Their defense is better than last year, but still sub-standard. They are getting negative WAR results from the DH and Catcher. They still would be likely AL Central winners, but Sanchez fronting the Twins rotation from April 1, with Gibson and later Meyer coming in to bolster him, and at least we're talking about more than Joe Benson on June 3.
    1. twinsnorth49's Avatar
      twinsnorth49 -
      Quote Originally Posted by jokin View Post
      Signing Sanchez would have been a shot across the Tigers bow. Though they are clearly odd-on favorites, there are chinks in their armor. Their closer is awful, their #5 starter is awful. Their defense is better than last year, but still sub-standard. They are getting negative WAR results from the DH and Catcher. They still would be likely AL Central winners, but Sanchez fronting the Twins rotation from April 1, with Gibson and later Meyer coming in to bolster him, and at least we're talking about more than Joe Benson on June 3.
      Right, but we'd probably be talking about Hell freezing over or all those pigs flying around everywhere.
    1. Aaron Cross's Avatar
      Aaron Cross -
      Quote Originally Posted by greengoblinrulz View Post
      Bullpen as a whole has been solid but how long wil that last at the rate they're bein used/overused by Gardy's reluctance to let pitchers go deeper.
      I've actually been impressed with Gardy trying to get an extra inning out of his starter whenever he can. The casual fan who's incapable of looking past the current game screams at their TV for gardy to pull him after 5 or 6 innings, with no regard for the long term health of the bullpen. Kudos to gardy. One of the few areas where I support him.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Quote Originally Posted by twinsnorth49 View Post
      Right, but we'd probably be talking about Hell freezing over or all those pigs flying around everywhere.
      why? Why is this scenario so hard for the Twins' fans and FO to imagine/do?

      One big FA signing, call up your best pitching prospect. Imagine if they had kept Span, had Sanchez instead of Pelfrey, and Gibson up nowish......you don't think Span's offense and Sanchez instead of Pelfrey gives you 5 more wins right now?

      You don't think Sanchez and Gibson and Diamond as your top 3 is a legit starting rotation? Add another median FA next year, or maybe Wimmers or Baxendale or a trade target to move in front of Diamond?

      It isn't that hard to fix this rotation, if you are willing to spend money.
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      Quote Originally Posted by Aaron Cross View Post
      I've actually been impressed with Gardy trying to get an extra inning out of his starter whenever he can. The casual fan who's incapable of looking past the current game screams at their TV for gardy to pull him after 5 or 6 innings, with no regard for the long term health of the bullpen. Kudos to gardy. One of the few areas where I support him.
      You mean like when he pulled Diamond after 6 innings when he was cruising and had a lead of 8-0. Don't think he could have gotten an extra inning there?

      Oh, also, Twins starters are 28th in innings pitched per start.
    1. SweetOne69's Avatar
      SweetOne69 -
      Quote Originally Posted by ThePuck View Post
      You mean like when he pulled Diamond after 6 innings when he was cruising and had a lead of 8-0. Don't think he could have gotten an extra inning there?

      Oh, also, Twins starters are 28th in innings pitched per start.
      While Diamond did cruise through 5 innings, he got hit hard in the 6th and his PC was up to 95 after the inning. I had no problem pulling Diamond after the 6th.

      I wanted to add that while I wish they let Diamond go out for the 7th, with how Seattle was hitting everything hard in the 6th (luckily it was at somebody), there was no point in ruining his great outing just to give the BP some rest. That being said, I wished that Gardy didn't feel the need to use 3 relievers. Especially with the off day, I would've like to have Pressly or Roenicke pitch 2 innings and have Perkins finish (if the felt he needed the work).
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      Quote Originally Posted by SweetOne69 View Post
      While Diamond did cruise through 5 innings, he got hit hard in the 6th and his PC was up to 95 after the inning. I had no problem pulling Diamond after the 6th.
      He gave up one hit after the first inning...in the 4th...and, again, had a 8-0 lead. If there was ever a time where an exta inning could be had from a starter...that was it.
    1. twinsnorth49's Avatar
      twinsnorth49 -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      why? Why is this scenario so hard for the Twins' fans and FO to imagine/do?

      One big FA signing, call up your best pitching prospect. Imagine if they had kept Span, had Sanchez instead of Pelfrey, and Gibson up nowish......you don't think Span's offense and Sanchez instead of Pelfrey gives you 5 more wins right now?

      You don't think Sanchez and Gibson and Diamond as your top 3 is a legit starting rotation? Add another median FA next year, or maybe Wimmers or Baxendale or a trade target to move in front of Diamond?

      It isn't that hard to fix this rotation, if you are willing to spend money.
      Correct, which they will do when either Hell freezes over or pigs fly, possibly both.

      As for the rest of your post, all sounds good except I'll still take Meyer's potential over Span (and it fills a greater need), Diamond as a top 3? Still a little shaky and Alex Wimmers?.......what the......? Now we're really reaching.
    1. twinsnorth49's Avatar
      twinsnorth49 -
      Quote Originally Posted by SweetOne69 View Post
      While Diamond did cruise through 5 innings, he got hit hard in the 6th and his PC was up to 95 after the inning. I had no problem pulling Diamond after the 6th.

      I wanted to add that while I wish they let Diamond go out for the 7th, with how Seattle was hitting everything hard in the 6th (luckily it was at somebody), there was no point in ruining his great outing just to give the BP some rest. That being said, I wished that Gardy didn't feel the need to use 3 relievers. Especially with the off day, I would've like to have Pressly or Roenicke pitch 2 innings and have Perkins finish (if the felt he needed the work).
      Why? As Puck stated it was 8-0 and lord knows the BP could use the rest.
    1. howieramone's Avatar
      howieramone -
      Quote Originally Posted by jokin View Post
      Yes, the starting pitching staff situation has not been adequately addressed for yet another year. Unlike many on this board, I don't think it's reasonable to have to wait until 2015- in a brand new ballpark, with a core of 2 former MVPs and 3 potential All Stars trying to bust the doors down to get into the lineup, and crying poor and selling to the public that coming in at around 60% of potentially available payroll dollars is an acceptable trade-off to having "patience" until 2015 or beyond.

      I noticed you left the Red Sox out of your response. I'll take what Cleveland did, at least they are making the effort to get relevant with an intelligent plan and intelligent management to implemet the plan. I would be far more forgiving of the Indians if I was a fan if they fail this year than I am for the Twins for barely make an effort at competing this year.
      Not me.
    1. Oxtung's Avatar
      Oxtung -
      Quote Originally Posted by jorgenswest View Post
      Park factor trends after 54 games...

      2013 1.055 (11th)
      2012 1.044 (10th)
      2011 0.944 (21st)
      2010 0.962 (19th)

      Do we still think Target Field is a pitcher's park?
      Given that half of that data comes against the Twins pitchers I'm not sure that tells much of anything....
    1. Aaron Cross's Avatar
      Aaron Cross -
      Quote Originally Posted by ThePuck View Post
      You mean like when he pulled Diamond after 6 innings when he was cruising and had
      a lead of 8-0. Don't think he could have gotten an extra inning there?

      Oh, also, Twins starters are 28th in innings pitched per start.
      No question. Pulling diamond was dumb. Diamond probably said he was gassed. Thats one of my many beefs with gardy. He doesnt call the shots, the players do. I still think gardys made an effort to get more innings from his starters, its just not so easy being they're all so terrible.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by howieramone View Post
      Not me.
      But that's just you...
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by twinsnorth49 View Post
      Right, but we'd probably be talking about Hell freezing over or all those pigs flying around everywhere.
      Right... But I like Willihammer's stating of the unmentionable obvious about "the elephant in the room"...it didn't, and it doesn't, have to be this way... where pigs and ice are concerned.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      why? Why is this scenario so hard for the Twins' fans and FO to imagine/do?

      One big FA signing, call up your best pitching prospect. Imagine if they had kept Span, had Sanchez instead of Pelfrey, and Gibson up nowish......you don't think Span's offense and Sanchez instead of Pelfrey gives you 5 more wins right now?

      You don't think Sanchez and Gibson and Diamond as your top 3 is a legit starting rotation? Add another median FA next year, or maybe Wimmers or Baxendale or a trade target to move in front of Diamond?

      It isn't that hard to fix this rotation, if you are willing to spend money.
      And how about not letting Torii Hunter sign with the Tigers for 2 years? Back-up center fielder, starting RF and the #2 hole in the lineup taken care of, and a set of huge holes shot in both the Tigers defense and a set-up guy in front of Cabrera and Fielder.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      why? Why is this scenario so hard for the Twins' fans and FO to imagine/do?




      It isn't that hard to fix this rotation, if you are willing to spend money
      .
      You capsulized my frustrations with the current situation in 2 sentences. Why, "why?", indeed. We need an "imagination" infusion in Twinsland.
    1. snepp's Avatar
      snepp -
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      Quote Originally Posted by Aaron Cross View Post
      Diamond probably said he was gassed. Thats one of my many beefs with gardy. He doesnt call the shots, the players do.
      Those are a couple assumptions I'm not willing to take.
    1. boylan's Avatar
      boylan -
      Quote Originally Posted by ThePuck View Post
      He gave up one hit after the first inning...in the 4th...and, again, had a 8-0 lead. If there was ever a time where an exta inning could be had from a starter...that was it.
      Totally agree.

      Gardy has lost several games this year by WISHING his starters could go longer. I don't think he notices Corriea, or whoever, are mentally fried iin the 7th even though they have only throw 85 pitches. Or 107. Pick your favorite game that he has booted.

      Now, they are carrying 13 pitchers and have every monday in June off. July isn't a lot different. USE THE BULLPEN!.
    1. Aaron Cross's Avatar
      Aaron Cross -
      Quote Originally Posted by ThePuck View Post
      Those are a couple assumptions I'm not willing to take.
      He's a players manager to a fault.
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