I have season tickets for the Minnesota Twins. Every year in October or so, I send them money, and every year just before the season starts, they send me 81 tickets. I don’t even come close to using all of them (some get wasted, and others are given away; at $3.08/ticket, I don’t worry about it). (Note: This will change next year when the new stadium opens, and the Twins won’t let me have insanely cheap tickets). The seats are general admission, but I always sit with the same group. One guy mentioned on Tuesday that he ran into a casual fan on his way in, who was worried about the Twins pitching. My friend said that he wasn’t so worried about the pitching as he was the hitting. Looking at the scores (the Twins have been outscored 93-116), that might be surprising, but he’s probably right.
Look, all Twins fans know our bullpen is shaky at best. Some of the relievers have proved themselves to be good, but they’ve also proved themselves to be vulnerable, too. If their innings can be limited, the weakness should be protected from too much abuse.
The Twins starting pitching rotation for 2009 started 128 of 163 games last year, with a 3.96 ERA. Now, any one of them could fall apart, but their minor league records suggest otherwise. Will they do as fantastic as 2008? Possibly, but maybe not. But the odds favor more Baker and Liriano’s ERAs coming down than staying where they are.
The Twins haven’t had a right-handed hitter for a couple of years now. Sure, they’ve had guys who held the bat right-handed, but that doesn’t mean they’re right-handed hitters. Their most consistent hitters right now are all left-handed: Span, Morneau, Kubel, and presumably Mauer. Their best right-handed hitter for average and power is Brendan Harris who has 40 at-bats (Morneau has 88). Right-handed Joe Crede is up there in power, but his Mendoza-esque .212 batting average probably doesn’t inspire fear in opposing teams.
The Twins have been lucky that Mauer and Morneau (and Span) have shown they hit left-handed pitching not significantly worse than right-handed pitching. It slightly neutralizes the problem of opponents bringing in a left-handed pitcher, but it isn’t ideal. Ideally, they’d have a batter (or two) who killed left-handed pitching.
This isn’t part of the Problem Positions series of Ryan’s, because it’s not a particular position on the field, but rather a position in the line-up. (The Twins Position in Need is third base, pending how Joe Crede works out.)
Joe Mauer Injury Status: Reportedly, he’s back in Minnesota and will be activated from the DL tomorrow. Uncertain who will be leaving the Twins.