Sunday, April 30, 2006

Twins torched; Fire Sale next?

I have been a fan of the Minnesota Twins since 1978.

Before they would win two World Series titles (in 1987 & 1991), I witnessed some pretty pathetic baseball. From a 102 loss season in 1982 to the team nearly relocating to Tampa, FL prior to 1984, this franchise went through some dark times before reaching the proverbial Promised Land in ’87 &’91.

However, shortly after capturing a second championship, the Twins fell into an abyss of eight consecutive losing seasons (1993-2000).

Yup, in my time as a Twins fan I have seen some pretty porous baseball.

And then, there was this past weekend in Detroit.

(See that big red button with the word “PANIC” engraved on it? Don’t just press it; STEP ON IT!!!!).

Whatever delusions the Twins had to making the playoffs this season have officially been imploded; obliterated; blown to smithereens. Much like the pitching offered up this past weekend by the trio of Brad Radke (2 1/3 innings pitched, 9 hits, 6 earned runs), Carlos Silva (2 2/3 IP, 9 H, 9 ER) and Kyle Lohse (5 2/3 IP, 8 H, 6 ER). What was supposed to be the strength of the team (starting pitching) has become its’ Achilles heel.

How low are the expectations for this ’06 Twins club? Twins TV announcer Dick Bremer on Friday, after Radke gave up a run on three hits in the first inning, proclaimed “All in all, not a bad first inning.”

After being outscored by the Detroit Tigers in three games by a whopping 33-1 (yes that’s THIRTY THREE to ONE!!!), how will manager Ron Gardenhire say with a straight face “We battled our tails off”? After all, that’s Gardy’s usual pithy explanation for every tough stretch this team has gone through in his four-year tenure.

OK, Gardy. Let’s say for argument’s sake that the guys did “battle their tails off” this past weekend. Heck, the game was scoreless all the way until the fifth inning in today’s contest. If this is the best you can hope for from your current crop of players when they give their all, what chance do you have for a winning season?

Torii Hunter (making $10.75 million this year), Radke ($9 million), Shannon Stewart ($6.5 million) and Lohse ($3.95 million) are all in the final year of their contracts. All (with the exception of Stewart) have had an absolutely dreadful month of April. I say, cut your losses now. None of those four players will be back next season anyways. Why not have the July “fire sale” a few months early? Just go ahead and trade that collection of veterans. You might even receive in return some promising prospects who can get a year or two more of seasoning in the minor leagues.

That way when the new ballpark opens in April 2010 the Minnesota Twins might actually have a credible franchise once again.

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