Monday, May 9, 2011

Can the Twins rebound?

The bottom line is the Twins are not playing very good right now as their 12-20 record would attest to. It is not very hard to figure out why though as they are missing Joe Mauer, Delmon Young, Jim Thome, and Tsuyoshi Nishioka who combined for 55 homeruns and 246 rbi's in the 2010 season. Granted none of the guys just mentioned were off to a very good start in 2011, but you know they are going to come around. The biggest reason for concern though is the start of the pitching staff in Carl Pavano and Francisco Liriano as they both have era's over six. This is not something that should be sneezed at as we are five-six weeks into the season and you would think that you would know what you got at the top of your rotation. If it was not for Scott Baker and Brian Duensing the Twins would be in much worse shape than they are and that is saying something as the Twins currently trail Cleveland by 9.5 games. Another problem has been the dismal performance of Justin Morneau. Currently Morneau is only hitting .202 on the year after being a .284 career hitter including hitting .300 three times. The thing with Morneau is none of us know what he is going through as he suffered a serious brain injury last year and he was not able to work out this winter due to the concussion. He did not swing a bat for over 8 months so is it that big of a surprise that he is not hitting. I think we all myself including were expecting too much too soon for Morneau. This was a very serious injury and I am sure he is just thankful that he is even playing. A judgement on him can not be made over 32 games and those that have given up on him are going to be wrong. With all those things that have gone wrong so far in 2011 the important thing is there is still 130 games to be played so it is too soon to give up on this team. The question is what do the Twins need to do to get back in the race.

The first and last thing that needs to happen is for the Twins to get healthy especially Joe Mauer. The Twins can not and will not win without Joe Mauer. He is the biggest contributer for the Twins and they need him. When Joe Mauer is well Joe Mauer the Twins have the capability to beat anyone and get on a run of great play. It was obvious that Mauer was not right early in the season so just as important to getting him back is getting him back when he is healthy. With Drew Butera, Steve Holm, and now Rene Rivera holding down the catching position that has been an automatic out. Getting Mauer back would take the pressure off of everyone else. Getting Delmon Young back will be big as he is coming off a career year in 2010 and adding him just deepens the lineup. Getting Nishioka back really stabalizes one of the worst positions in all of baseball in middle infield whether he plays second or short. Really a key to things is getting the players healthy.

The biggest thing that needs to improve if the Twins can rebound is the pitching staff. Other than Scott Baker, Brian Duensing, Glen Perkins, and Matt Capps the pitching staff has been awful. That has to change or there will be no turnaround. Francisco Liriano's no hitter hopefully will be the beginning of a turnaround because he has way too much talent to keep pitching like that. Carl Pavano won't pitch like he did last year, but he is a much better pitcher than he has shown lately so he is a key to getting back. The bullpen needs to become more consistant as they move forward. Joe Nathan, Alex Burnett, Jose Mijares, Jim Hoey have all been so inconsistant and they need them to develop some consistancy. Another area that needs to improve is their defense as it has shoddy at best. A great part of past Twins teams has been their defense and it has not been good this year. A big part of it has been the changing of players with all the injuries so it could help with the return of health. If some of these things happen its possible for the Twins to get back in it. The Twins dug themselves quite a whole and probably will need Cleveland and Kansas City to come back to the pack some, but the Twins can't worry about them they need to get healthy and put together some better play. If those things happen I really believe that the Twins could be in a pennant race again this summer.