State of the Union: A Non-Cohesive Team
by, 07-20-2012 at 03:28 AM (1253 Views)
The Orioles squeezed out a split in what could be considered a disappointing finish to a four game series that held so much promise. Looking to rebound after a brutal sweep at the hands of the fast rising Athletics, Minnesota stumbled in the final two games. It may be fair to start pointing fingers at this point because of how low the team has fallen in the season. Game 3: Offense scored 1 run off of a pitcher with a 6.11 ERA (who is also right handed). Game 4: Bullpen bounds, slips, and crashes in a 3 inning span. I hate to bash my favorite team when there are quite a few bright spots and promise present, but it's because of those bright spots, that this team SHOULD be winning more games. The Twins need to play well at the "House Joe Mauer built" to keep fans happy. They play more games here than anyone else which should be an advantage, but 19-30 says otherwise. Here will be a little analysis on the three groups that comprise a team: Bullpen, Starting Rotation, and Batting Order. Defense will get a brief mention as well, but it will be more of a team deal. The studs and duds will all be active players only.
Attachment 1600 Attachment 1601Pictured: Denard Span (left) and Adam Jones (right) because apparently close friends don't take pictures together.
(Credit to Wikipedia for Denard and ESPN for AJ)
Recently, the bullpen seems to have become a bigger problem than what we have once thought it was. This group simply lacks stability when Matt Capps isn't healthy. I don't expect perfection, but it is getting progressively worse.The "biggest victim" of these failures has definitely been Cole Devries. Last afternoon was the 2nd time in 3 starts that he received a no decision because of awful relief. Cole only conceded 1ER in 13IP with those starts combined. He also left with at least somewhat comfortable leads of 2 runs or more. Alex Burnett has lost his credibility and has stunk it up in his last 5 of 7 appearances. How much has changed since I was once having musings about him getting 'promoted' to closer in Capps' absence. This was well prior to those muffled missions when he was posting an ERA as low as 1.83, a BAA of .207, being right handed, and having quite a bit of youth. His K/9 rate was really the only reason I had second guesses about a plan like that. Admittedly, it was a little naive on my behalf. Overall, more positive than poor on the season despite recent mop-ups. Much of this write-up was negative, but the active group is decent.
STUDS: Glen Perkins, Casey Fien, Alex Burnett Part One, Jared "Cy" Burton, Tyler Robertson, Anthony Swarzak
DUDS: Alex Burnett The Sequel, Jeff Gray
Attachment 1596Pictured: "Ice Cold" Casey Fien, who happens to be a Tigers defector that says "no" to scoring, "no" to base hits, and curiously enjoys slamming doors shut.
I really think the starting pitching has improved vastly. Liriano, Diamond, and Devries (mind July 14th), have all been more than exceptional in contrast to the previous performances of the opening week crew (or should I say weak?). This 1/3 of the team deserves a little less spite than it's getting from fans. I know the average starter's ERA is still fairly high, but the outings the Twins are now getting aren't enough to warrant complaint. I'd really only throw Duensing and Deduno under the bus as far as the current rotation goes. Walters was pretty solid overall (take out last injured start for fairness please...he was throwing 82mph fastballs) when he pitched and hopefully he can provide a stable 4th starter soon. A fresh Carl Pavano, Hendriks, or a confident Deduno may be able to pitch reasonably in the last spot. These aren't sexy names we are dealing with, but a lot have had some success this year. I am actually pretty optimistic regarding the five possibilities here up until the conclusion of the season. If we're lucky, we may have all the question marks answered. It's unlikely, but this season is all about wishing thinking, right? The long-term is still in question; although, it's worth watching those questions answered as these players fight for a future with the club.
STUDS: New Liriano, Scott Diamond, Cole Devries
DUDS: Samuel Deduno, Brian Duensing
Attachment 1597Pictured: Cole Devries, a true Minnesotan proving Nick Nelson wrong one disgruntled face at a time (Credit to StarTribune)
The offense is extremely inconsistent. Duh. They never provide run support when the Twins starters pitch well and they come out in full force when the other team is scoring runs too. A good example of this oddity is that Nick Blackburn is 4-5 and Liriano is 3-8. Base hits and walks also seem to be divvied up between innings and it's difficult to string them together on some nights. The series the Twins were swept by the A's featured 10 runs on 33 hits. The majority of hitters are at least raising their batting averages collectively, yet we need to see some RBI (not RBIs..think about it). Trevor Plouffe has quietly gone on a 17 game hitting streak, Mauer has emerged into the chase for a batting title, and Ryan Doumit has been flirting with the .290s. The fault can truly be pinned down to the long ball and extra base hits. Minnesota ranks 20th in slugging at .401 and 9th in BA with a .264 clip(WOW!). That's a .137 ISO Power, in which, The Twins are 25th. They are only ahead of Houston, Seattle, San Diego, San Francisco, and the Los Angeles Dodgers. After doing a little math, the team slugging % is .382 without Josh Willingham and the batting average is .262. That yields an ISO of .120 which would put Minnesota at 28th without it's best slugger. I guess it just goes to show why we can't afford to trade this guy!STUDS: Span, Revere, Mauer, Willingham, Doumit, Butera (on his own terms), Mastroianni, Plouffe
DUDS: Carroll, NeauMor, Casilla, Dozier
Attachment 1598Pictured: This guy ^^^ (Credit to mnginteractive.com)
I love the way the Twins are playing defense and it's reminiscent of what they stood for before the 2011 season. There are a lot of players that can be moved around and it's nice to see things mixed up from time to time for Mauer's sake. Everyone fits in nicely, but I can't help but think the Twins would be better if Span and Revere swapped spots in the outfield. The extra range could do wonders in centerfield. That's nitpicking a little bit though. The Twins have a .984 Fielding % that is out-right #7 among MLB teams. The errors are becoming less frequent and it's all coming together. Twins nation has marveled at Ben Revere's spectacular shades of Willie Mays and Plouffe's day-to-day barehanded gun downs from the hot corner. Denard Span has been an issue since Minnesota dipped it's toes into the second half of the season, but it's clearly temporary. Brian Dozier looks comfortable now and it might have been the right call to let him work things out. This is generally the least of the Twins problems and fittingly it is.
In conclusion, the offense, bullpen, and rotation are just never on the same page and it is FRUSTRATING. The bullpen is just below par for league average (fault Maloney's dirty work) and while the starting core is no longer vomit-inducing, it still remains a problem much less. All thirds of this team need to play together to get wins and we just aren't seeing it. I am hopeful for the future and have a feeling that it will all work out and the pieces will fit. Patience is absolutely necessary.
Baseball Reference.com <------- These guys do a HELL of a job
*fingers crossed* that all pictures stay. I'm no photographer obviously. I tried to find popular sites pictures and I'm hoping the don't bother with this tiny hunky dunky blog post.