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  • Twins Season Takes Another Dismal Turn

    Scott Diamond was going to be the carryover success from a 2012 rotation that completely imploded around him. Aaron Hicks was going to be the rookie phenom who served as the harbinger of the bright future ahead. The Twins, configured with a mixture of productive vets and talented youngsters, were going to be an improved club that alleviated the doubts formed by two straight years of utterly awful performance.

    The best laid plans…

    On Thursday, Twins Territory received perhaps its biggest gut punch of the season when Diamond and Hicks were both sent to Triple-A in the wake of an ugly sweep at the hands of the Royals.

    The general sentiment is that these demotions were long overdue. And who could argue? Diamond has barely resembled the pitcher he was last year, when he was a strike-throwing ground ball machine with a potent curveball. The distilled version we've seen in 2013 is not major-league caliber.

    And Hicks, while flashing promising power at times, generally seemed overmatched, and never found sustained traction. After raising his average to a season-high .205 with a 4-for-4 effort on July 8th, he sunk back into oblivion with a .152 average and 19-to-4 K/BB ratio in 75 plate appearances since.

    If you look in the right places, you can find points of positivity in these developments. Hicks is still only 23 and has plenty of time to mature into a quality hitter. The demotion will almost surely delay his service clock, giving the Twins an extra year of control. With a good month against Triple-A pitching he should be back in September, and he'll likely remain a strong bet to open up in the 2014 Twins outfield.

    It's a little tougher to see the bright side with Diamond. He walked a fine line last year as one of baseball's lowest strikeout pitchers, leaning on elite BB and GB rates to suppress opposing lineups. This year he has deteriorated in basically every way imaginable. His walks are up, his grounders are way down, and his already anemic K-rate has plummeted to an absurd depth. At 3.8 K/9IP, he is averaging a full strikeout per game less than the next lowest qualified big-league starter (Bartolo Colon is at 4.8).

    At 27, Diamond is hardly over the hill. He showed the skills last year to be a solid rotation piece -- albeit not a front man -- and it's hard to believe his drastic regression is not related to lingering elbow issues. Can he rebound and return to form? It's the same question being asked of his once-again teammate, Vance Worley, and unfortunately the answers are now as unclear as ever.

    To be sure, the Twins have had plenty of reaffirming successes in the minor leagues this year. Oswaldo Arcia, who will now get another animated hack at the majors after unleashing a merciless onslaught on International League pitching for a couple weeks, is one that stands out. Andrew Albers, whose expected promotion is well deserved after a thoroughly impressive season in Rochester, is another nice story with potential dividends.

    But until we see some of these favorable outcomes play out in the majors, it's tough to feel any measure of satisfaction. As things stand, the Twins appear headed toward a third straight 90-loss season and the signs of progress on the field have been painfully few.
    This article was originally published in blog: Twins Season Takes Another Dismal Turn started by Nick Nelson
    Comments 109 Comments
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Quote Originally Posted by Willihammer View Post
      I disagree. Ryan might have that mindset but some GMs are clearly more willing than others to improve already playoff-bound teams.
      You are right about Smith and we may still have him as GM had Ramos' injury not derailed a Cliff Lee deal, but I am not a believer in the "all in" trade philosophy. I think the Rauch, Pavano, etc type of deals are wiser, cheaper, and ultimately more productive moves.

      though Ryan has even shown hesitation on those moves historically. So not sure it's all that comforting a thought.
    1. Mr. Brooks's Avatar
      Mr. Brooks -
      Quote Originally Posted by Riverbrian View Post
      I just want to say... Personally... I will not slam Moore from the Royals... he needed pitching and he had a surplus of youth... he made a trade to go for it... Steep price but I can see the logic... I wouldn't have done it but I see the logic.

      Nor am I going to slam Terry Ryan... I wasn't expecting a parade this year. It was gonna be a long road and it still is.

      However... I do agree with Rogers's earlier post... Morneau, Willingham, Doumit and Plouffe have been big disappointments and I think that a large part of 2013 should be placed on their shoulders.

      Those guys had 100 dinger potential combined. We will be lucky to get 50 combined!!!

      We have 2 guys leading the team with 10 homers and its August. Pedro Florimon is 3 home runs off the home run lead and that kinda speaks volumes.

      If you are getting that kind of power output... You need to reach base a lot. That ain't working either.
      Anyone who was expecting anything from Morneau this year was wearing blinders. This is who he is post concussion, period.
      I got quite a kick out of people coming into the season who thought he was suddenly going to become the Morneau of old, and even more baffling as that in this thread there seem to be people who are surprised he didn't!!
    1. Riverbrian's Avatar
      Riverbrian -
      Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Brooks View Post
      Anyone who was expecting anything from Morneau this year was wearing blinders. This is who he is post concussion, period.
      I got quite a kick out of people coming into the season who thought he was suddenly going to become the Morneau of old, and even more baffling as that in this thread there seem to be people who are surprised he didn't!!
      Justin had 19 Homers last year.

      I don't think it's a leap for anyone to believe Morneau was capable of 20 homers at age 32.

      I think it's OK to be shocked at Justin's 2013 thus far... 9 homers in 430 at bats is a bit low.

      Are you under the impression that we or I or some were expecting his 2006 numbers?

      Speaking for myself... I know that I wasn't.

      Besides... My comment was based upon Willingham, Morneau, Plouffe and Doumit HR collective output.

      Those 4 hit 96 home runs combined in 2012... This Year they have 38 Combined.

      I believe it's possible that Terry Ryan wasn't planning on 38 homers combined from those four into August. I'd be shocked if anyone was.
    1. Oxtung's Avatar
      Oxtung -
      Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Brooks View Post
      Anyone who was expecting anything from Morneau this year was wearing blinders. This is who he is post concussion, period.
      I got quite a kick out of people coming into the season who thought he was suddenly going to become the Morneau of old, and even more baffling as that in this thread there seem to be people who are surprised he didn't!!
      I'll just second what RB said mostly. Morneau looked so much better in 2012 that it seemed possible, with a fully healthy off season, that he could OPS >.800 this season. I don't think anyone was expecting MVP type numbers but a step forward wasn't out of the question, IMO. I have no problem saying that, to me, his lack of production this year is unexpected.
    1. howeda7's Avatar
      howeda7 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Major Leauge Ready View Post
      With the exceptionof Houston, the three teams with the lowest payrolls in baseball are the best teams in the MLs. Houston is going to be very good but they will have to go through the rebuilding process which takes time, just like the twins.

      The answer is not overpriced FAs, especially for a team in the middle of the pack revenue wise. The model for the Twins is not the Yankees, Red Sox or Angels. It is a version of the Rays and As where they are able to hold on to some of thier stars instead of trading them away before they hit free agency.
      The model for the Twins isn't the Yankees, but it doesn't have to be the A's or Rays either. That would be true if they were still stuck in the Dome. There's no reason the Twins can't be the Cardinals of the AL. Should they sign FA's just to do it? No. But they need to go out and get at least one legit starter this off-season and probably a 1B. The starters coming up are not ready, nor sure things, and unless Parmalee turns it on, there's no 1B in the pipe and they need another bat. The current offense is pathetic.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Again, the As did sign cespades.....so they have spent big money on free agents.........not spending money is no guarantee of winning anymore than spending money is.
    1. LaBombo's Avatar
      LaBombo -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      Just a couple of thoughts:

      1.) Another example of why jobs should really not be up for grabs in spring training, at least not when still-young players are involved. Hicks had a great spring, and did everything to earn the job... in spring. But the regular season is different.

      2.) Thought removal of bone chips is generally considered pretty minor, and it is, Diamond, Worley and Hendriks all had trouble in their returns from that surgery. Diamond's down-and-in-on-righties slider just wasn't as sharp this year as it was last year. Maybe they needed to allow more time for recovery...???

      Second guessing sure is easy, isn't it?
      Totally agree with your first two very good points, but... second-guessing?

      There were plenty of reasons before the season started to believe that Hicks wouldn't be ready, and that Diamond would regress and/or struggle to return to form.

      For that matter, most of what's currently ailing the Twins has been utterly predictable to this point. And most of it was predicted, before the season started. That's not second-guessing, that's just pointing out that the front office was basically doing this to itself:

    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      Quote Originally Posted by Oxtung View Post
      I'll just second what RB said mostly. Morneau looked so much better in 2012 that it seemed possible, with a fully healthy off season, that he could OPS >.800 this season. I don't think anyone was expecting MVP type numbers but a step forward wasn't out of the question, IMO. I have no problem saying that, to me, his lack of production this year is unexpected.
      Part of me wonders if he isn't tired. When's the last time he played this far into a season without significant time on the DL?
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by drjim View Post
      That was a couple years ago and he was pretty poor at it then.

      But yes he is a functional mlb player so he could hypothetically do it.
      Hypothetically, functionally and actually, McLouth would be our best OF, in LF, RF or CF.
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