Monday, May 09, 2011

One step up and two steps back

With 20% of the 2011 Major League Baseball season gone for the Minnesota Twins, they find themselves with a record of 12-20. Extrapolate that out over a 162-game stretch, you have a record of 60-102. While I don't believe the Twins will be that awful, I'm having a very difficult time conjuring up any positive aspects of this team.

A lot have fans have asked if it's time to hit the proverbial panic button for this season. My response is simply that when one has a feeling of resignation about something, the feelings of "panic" almost seem rather moot.

When I think of the performance of the Twins in the first five weeks of this season, what immediately comes to mind is that Bruce Springsteen lyric "one step up and two steps back." It seems that whenever there's a glimmer of hope of the Twins finally snapping out of their funk, they suddenly come crashing to Earth and sink lower into despair.

After a 6-12 start, the Twins beat the Baltimore Orioles in the finale of a four-game series in Baltimore, which gave them their first multi-win series of the year. Upon returning home to Target Field, the Twins swept a brief two-game series from the Cleveland Indians after two solid games from their starting pitchers as well as some rare offensive outbursts (14 runs, 23 hits in the two games combined). But then came a season long losing streak of six games where they were swept at home in three games by the Tampa Bay Rays (outscored 29-6) and on the road against the Kansas City Royals, where the only thing hit hard that series was starting pitcher Carl Pavano beating up a trash can after a poor outing in the series finale.

Sitting at 9-18 last Tuesday, the Twins sent struggling starter Francisco Liriano (he of the 9.13 ERA going in to that start) to the mound against fellow cellar dwellers the Chicago White Sox. But Liriano stunned Twins fans (as well as the baseball world) with a no-hitter in the 1-0 win. The Twins completed a two-game sweep with a 3-2 victory the next day and then won the opening game at Fenway Park against the Boston Red Sox Friday evening. Ah, but reality bit them again as they mustered only three hits Saturday in a 4-0 loss against the Red Sox and then turned a 3-0 first inning lead (with "ace" Pavano on the mound) into a 9-5 defeat on Mother's Day.

As of this post, the only two players performing consistently well have been Jason Kubel (Second in the American League with a .351 batting average, 10th in OPS) and Scott Baker (Top 20 in the AL amongst starting pitchers in ERA and WHIP). THAT'S IT!!

At this point, the 2011 Minnesota Twins can be placed into two categories: Woeful underachievement (Pavano, Liriano, Justin Morneau and Michael Cuddyer) and injury prone (Joe Mauer, Delmon Young, Tsuyoshi Nishioka and Jim Thome).

As long as those labels stick, there's no sense in panicking over something which appears to be a forgone conclusion.


No comments: