Monday, May 02, 2011

So we're already ready to blow things up?

There is consternation in Twins land, no doubt. It's been an abysmal start to the season, and it's tough in a franchise who has seen recent success, and perhaps even tougher on a franchise that has seen really terrible baseball in the not too distant past.
The result, of course, is A) a bad month leads to drastic overreactions, and B) that same bad month leads to some crazy overreactions on how to fix it. Let's make one thing clear. The difference between the bad Twins and, say, the Astros, is that this season's Twins are hampered by injury, not by a distinct lack of talent. Just be patient man. This is the same roster, basically, that had the top record in the central last year. Where the roster has changed, of course, it's been for the worse, but it's still no reason to panic. Crazy, pessimistic people around me have said things like "trade... Casilla, Morneax, and one of our starters for a reliable shortstop" or " a catcher will also have to be picked up in a trade, possibly involving Delmon Young and another starter." Easy buddy, hop off the ledge.
Let's get this out of the way, the injury bug has rendered this team to complete haplessness. The rotation has been off all season, no doubt about it, and Alexi Casilla has been really bad, so the team wouldn't be great, but the opinion on the team would be a lot higher if the team was closer to .500. Think about it. How would the offense be if Mauer, Morneau, Young, and Nishioka were able to get regular playing time. That's 44% of the every day lineup. If, let's say, they were able to get 44% more production, their runs would go from 85 to 122 (about). Using the Pythagorean win/loss method, basically an expected win or loss based on runs for and against, that would mean a record of 11-16. Not great, sure, but better than it has been. The pitching still sucks, but we'll get to that.
The nice thing about the roster is that almost everybody is locked up. The list of free agents at the end of the season is this: Michael Cuddyer, Jason Kubel, Jim Thome, Joe Nathan, Matt Capps. That's it. The core of the team will be here next year. Given that, what incentive does the team have to make a drastic change, especially since so much talent will be back, presumably healthy, next year? Players that the team doesn't foresee in their future, likely Cuddyer, Thome and one of Nathan or Capps may be traded near the deadline. But that is still THREE MONTHS AWAY, and the team can definitely play 9 games above .500 for three months. If they do, then perhaps it will be for some relief help going forward, or at the very least for salary relief.
As for the pitching staff, what more did you expect? The outfield defense didn't get any better and the infield defense got worse. Pavano's numbers are down thanks in part to the factor, and Liriano is struggling both because he isn't striking anyone out as well as the infield defense. Having Nishioka back will help that, with other returnees to the lineup will help with the offense.
If you want to make some short term changes, how about these that Set Stohs sets forth? Just stop panicking.

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