Chinks in the ol’ Armor

May 4, 2010 at 11:43 pm Leave a comment

So the Minnesota Twins won again today to bring their overall record to 18-9. That’s pretty much how they’ve played; winning 2 out of 3 in every series (Save for 3 of 4 from L.A and losing a 3 game set to those despicable Tigers*).

*Why do I say the Tigers are despicable? Well for one, their players are hideous. Like, look at Joel Zumaya, he looks like a cow with a disgusting goatee. Magglio Ordonez looks like Yanni. Brandon Inge, Phil Coke, Jeremy Bonderman, Gerald Laird, all gross. The situation has actually gotten better from a few years ago. Beyond their outward appearance, though, the Tigers just suck. Their players almost always perform BELOW what is expected of them. The best example is Justin Verlander, who has perhaps the best raw stuff in the American League. His fastball is electric and also goes nearly 100 MPH. He pairs that with a ridiculous curveball he can throw for strikes. He recently caused Justin Morneau to miss a few games after he got the 1st baseman to strike out idiotically 3 times in a row and in the process tweaked his back.  And yet for every awesome outing Verlander has, he throws another 5 inning, 5 hit, 5 run, 4 walk, 6 strikeout game with 120 pitches. He had a 4.84 ERA and a ERA+ of 93 in 2008. It’s really remarkable that someone with his stuff could put up such poor results. But that’s Justin Verlander. He constantly amazes me with how mediocre his results are compared to how awesome his skills are. My conclusion is that Justin Verlander is stupid. This is merely a hypothesis, as Verlander has appeared relatively intelligent in all interviews I’ve seen of him, but I don’t know what else it could be. Beyond their ace, though, there are other examples of players either not performing to expectations, or simply falling off when all their momentum was on their side. Look at how Craig Monroe and Brandon Inge looked to be busting out after their ’06 seasons. Monroe is out of the league and Inge has become one of the most unpredictable players in sports. He followed his 27 home run season in ’06 with OPS+ ‘s of 79 and 76 the next two years. Last season he started with an .876 OPS in the first half, then hit .186 in the second. But at the same time, whenever a clutch situation came up against the Twins down the stretch, he would hit a ringing double, it seemed. Look at how Curtis Granderson, when he should have been in his prime, declined precipitously from being a complete player with speed, power, batting average and defense, to a player without range in center, a .249 avg and 30 home runs in 2009. When he was 28! Look at how Rick Porcello has an ERA over 8 on this young season. Jeremy Bonderman was supposed to be a budding superstar! Austin Jackson looks good now, but seeing as he plays for Detroit, I predict a final line for him around .240/.290/.380. And they won’t win the division. In fact, I doubt Detroit wins 80 games based on their poor performance (not poor talent) from their starters and the fact that Ordonez could flame out at any moment, and if/when he does, Cabrera is the only real force in their lineup. And the bullpen looks good now, but they walk a lot of guys, so we’ll see how that holds up, particularly when Zumaya goes down with his next injury (Also his curveball sucks!).

Well that was the longest diatribe ever. But you must understand my hatred for the Tigers. What this post is truly concerned with is the ever expanding list of problems facing the Twins, even as they continue to win at a 2/3 rate.

1- Joe Nathan’s absence. This has been a given for a while.

2-Injuries in the bullpen. Mijares and Neshek were expected to be important cogs in the bullpen machine. Alex Burnett has done a nice job, as has Ron Mahay, but you have to imagine the Twins are better with a healthy and effective Mijares and Neshek.

3-Joe Mauer’s heel injury. I’m not super concerned about this, particularly because it’s a soft tissue injury and not a bone bruise. But there’s always the off chance this could effect Joe’s performance. Although if last May is any indication, maybe it will just make him better.

4-Hudson and Hardy being banged up. Hardy looks really slow on the bases, and a lot of that has to do with his bad knees. Hudson has been injured everywhere, and although he is producing, I wonder if the injuries will start to take a toll on his performance. Hardy also looks bad against good pitching, and is just now approaching a .700 OPS.

5-Jason Kubel. He’s starting to lose at bats for his poor start. Delmon Young has hardly been better, but unlike Kubel he’s shown improvement. Jim Thome has been awesome, but I like Kubel and I really worry about him losing playing time after his breakout year last year.

But I will note a few new positives. The most amazing to me is Delmon’s 8 to 9 K/BB ratio. That’s a ratio of .89 walks for every strikeout he has. Compared to a ratio of .13 last year, that’s ridiculous. He also has a .254 BABIP whereas it was .338 the past two years. He may just bust out.

Also, the pitching looks great and for the first time in my life, the Twins are a patient team offensively. And if Morneau manages to maintain his walking frenzy, perhaps we could have three players on the team with OBPs over .400 (Along with maybe Span and Mauer).

But as I’ve made clear, the Tigers suck despite their record.. And so does everyone else in the division so start sizing up the Rays and Yankees.


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The State of Baseball April 28th Edition – Part Two Belated thoughts on Yankees and Fear

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