Posted by: Jeff | August 25, 2010

Are the Twins Good or Great?

I don’t write about it often, but I love baseball.  I watch it pretty closely – MLBTV is my favorite television channel, and the first thing I do at work in the morning – after checking my fantasy baseball line from the night before, is check the Minnesota Twins blogosphere.  I find a lot of what’s written on the web about the Twins to be very insightful and interesting, which is partially why I rarely feel the need to add anything myself.

This post on Around the Horn, however, I don’t really understand.  Basically it states the Twins are a very good baseball team, but that because Carl Pavano is their only good pitcher and he couldn’t possibly be imagined to be successful at Yankee Stadium – past performance notwithstanding – the Twins won’t be able to win with him as an ace.  So we should have traded for Cliff Lee, even though the Mariners wanted more than just our expendable catching prospect, in order to have a better pitcher than Carl Pavano.

I agree that the Twins may not be good enough to get to the World Series (though a guy can certainly hope!), but this analysis is just confusing.  So I commented, and thought it worth sharing here:

Anyone who has followed the Twins this year knows that Pavano has been very impressive. Nobody expected to get this kind of production from him, and his ability to go into late innings consistently has really helped the bullpen. But he’s no ace – that distinction still belongs to Liriano, who has re-emerged as an elite pitcher. So our pitching doesn’t rely on one arm like this article suggests.

Second, who says Pavano needs to win at Tropicana or Yankee Stadium? The Rays and the Yankees are the best teams in baseball this year, but that doesn’t mean that they’ll both have home-field advantage. Depending on where they end up record-wise, one of them will be the Wild Card. Which means that if we can beat the Rangers for a better record, we’ll have home field advantage against the Yankees or the Rays. So the scenario of Pavano having to go to Yankee Stadium to beat the Yankees won’t have to exist. Last year, given the streak we needed to even make the playoffs, that wasn’t a possibility – this year, it definitely is.

This is a pretty likely scenario (if the playoffs started today, we’d have home-field advantage against the Yankees).

I do still think that we’ll struggle to make it out of an ALCS, and an ALDS victory is anything but a sure thing. But if we don’t make it, I think inconsistent offensive production will be to blame. With Morneau possibly shelved for the season, and Delmon Young no longer on his insane hot streak, the Twins consistently need production from Cuddyer, Kubel, and Thome. Span continues to really struggle, and regular plate appearances down the stretch from Butera, Repko, Valencia, and Casilla make me a bit nervous.  Without Hardy and Morneau in the lineup, we’re depending a lot on players who haven’t really proven themselves in big moments – or on Thome, who is already exceeding expectations as is.

A healthy Twins team could really make the Yankees or Rays nervous, even on the road at their respective stadiums. Alas, without Morneau or Hardy, I’m still a skeptic.

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Responses

  1. The Twins are good. But not great. The White Sox have been out of this world since the All Star break.


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