Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Jim Souhan's logic trouble

My absolute favorite columnist in the history of Minnesota journalism penned another masterpiece Monday, which appeared in the Tuesday paper. Yes... Jim Souhan is at it again! Let's see what this day's installment brought us!

Souhan: Six weeks of slop brings blame, concern

Yes, it's another post on the Twins! Souhan is usually rational and well reasoned when it comes to sports in general and the Twins specifically. Let's see what he has to say!

Remember the good ol' days of Twins baseball? Remember back in ought-10, when Minnesota's most likeable franchise opened Target Field, the Happiest Place on the Prairie, and frolicked through a near-perfect summer of glowing sunshine and inspirational play?
That celebratory season seems long ago and far away as a childhood beach vacation. In 2011, the Twins are endangering everything they've built, from their huge season-ticket base to their long-held reputation as a resilient and hyper-competitive team.

This is mostly just here to show you that there was a two paragraph, poorly written intro. Remember when the Twins were good? That was great. Got it.

Sun-warmed sellout crowds cheering for a division champion have yielded to smatterings of damp and angry fans wondering why their model franchise can't throw strikes or run the bases

I'm not sure anyone is wondering at this point. Injuries, bad management, and bad luck. But do continue.

Sunday, in their 11-3 loss to Toronto at Target Field, they fell to a baseball-worst 12-26, continued to perform at a historically inept pace at the plate, and offered the sad spectacle of left fielder Delmon Young refusing to chase after a baseball while pointing at center fielder Denard Span for help.

Three paragraphs! It took to the third paragraph before he decided to blame Delmon Young for the world's problems! Denard Span is a good outfielder who was already probably running to back Young up, and Young is coming off the disabled list and probably isn't at full speed yet., so Span getting the ball may just has well have been the best play. The fact that Young was in the lineup the next day tells me it wasn't a huge deal.

Their problems raise two pointed questions: 

Let me answer them!

1. Who's to blame? 

The fickle finger of fate!

2. Where do they go from here?

Oakland! They have a two game set!
No? You have different answers? Please, indulge me.

The vocal public seems to be blaming manager Ron Gardenhire

"The general population finds it readily apparent that Ron Gardenhire is not managing well, however ...

...he has operated in exactly the same way that won him the AL Manager of the Year award last year. 

He won manager of the year last year, so obviously everyone on the planet is wrong"
Also, the "same way" he managed last year was to abuse the bullpen, make bad decisions and get tremendously lucky. So, really, he IS managing the same way as last year, but that isn't a good thing.

The front office is more culpable, because the plan of rebuilding a bullpen from spare parts and extracting a competent season out of Alexi Casilla at shortstop has backfired.

So just so we're clear... last year, the fact that the front office went out and added Jim Thome so there was a big bat to come off the bench when Morneau was hurt, and the fact that they added Orlando Hudson and JJ Hardy last year to man the middle infield is not cause to give the front office any credit, however now that the manager wanted a speedier infield (including Alexi Casilla every day!) it's THEIR fault that the Manager got exactly what he wanted and is being proven that his is an entirely unsound strategy? And yes, the bullpen sucks, but again, bullpen use, and the horrible management of the rotation is on Gardenhire's shoulders.

At a recent team meeting, after Gardenhire spoke and opened the floor to players, there was protracted silence before Span finally rose and said something like, "I have never lost in this jersey, and I'm not going to start losing here now."

And also, he said "This is some bull junk!"

While Twins officials have cited the remarkable comeback of 2006 as hope for this season, that team featured two of the most dominating starting pitchers in baseball -- Johan Santana and Francisco Liriano -- and received exceptional seasons from four everyday players -- Morneau, Mauer, Torii Hunter and Cuddyer, as well as their All-Star closer, Nathan. The 2011 team lacks aces, dominant relievers and position players compiling career seasons.

Everyone first note that Souhan cites Liriano as a dominant starting pitcher. This will be important later. As for the relievers, Glenn Perkins ERA is under 1, and Joe Nathan and Matt Capps are former all star closers, it's just that Nathan is still recovering and Matt Capps was acquired for Wilson Ramos (A decidedly mediocre catcher at this point, but that doesn't mean anything, right?).

What's more intriguing than the current, sad, state of the team is the murkiness of its future. By next spring, the Twins might be without Nathan, Matt Capps, 

I thought you said the bullpen sucked? Surely we won't miss these two


Good to take his salary off the books

Jim Thome

He's 40, and his production was bound to slip anyways. Brett Favre anyone?

Jason Kubel

I really hope he gets traded. Kubel is having a great season, and the Twins could probably get a pretty good haul from a team looking for a left handed bat.

and might be looking for a new position for Mauer, all while dealing with a dearth of big-league-ready prospects.

In my opinion, I think Mauer will still be a catcher at least 2 more seasons, but that's just hearsay. And the Twins have nothing but outfield prospects. If Cuddyer and Kubel (and Thome) are gone next year, that might mean Aaron Hicks and Ben Revere are up here full time next season. Also, Kyle Gibson will certainly be ready to step into the rotation Not too bad right?

Just as alarming, they might be forced to pay two key, underperforming players -- Young and Liriano -- hefty salaries via salary arbitration one year after both proved untrustworthy.

Let me help you follow Souhan's jump to conclusions: Delmon Young and Francisco Liriano (WHOM HE ALREADY SAID WAS AN ACE F&#$&B PITCHER!!!!!) are off to a slow first month and a half of the season. Despite the fact that they were exceptional last year, as well as in spurts during previous parts of their career, it is a travesty that they will be paid based on their cumulative career rather than this 6 week sample size.
And that is how things work in Souhanville, where everyone is smiling, white, and gritty.

To conclude, In Jim Souhan's world, the problems are with the front office and Delmon Young. I don't know that there has ever been a piece that Souhan has written that didn't disparage Young. Even when he is playing well, Souhan wants the Twins to dump Young. This is what we call a "bias".

I'm terrified to think what will happen when Young starts hitting again, and people start coming back from injury. Souhan's ego might explode.

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