Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Minnesota Twins: Who is to Blame?

Minnesota Twins pointing fingersThe current Minnesota Twins team is the worst in Twins history, with the only team even coming close to how bad these guys are was in 1982 when they went 60-102 -- a .370 winning percentage. Right now, the Twins are boasting a .341 winning percentage.

Not only are we the worst in Twins history, but we have the worst record in baseball.

Since Ron Gardenhire, who won manager of the year last year, took over as manager in 2002, the Twins have only had one losing season which took place in 2007.

The next 20 games are becoming increasingly critical as the Twins look to win another ALC Division Title.

In 2011, Murphy's law applies in that everything that could go wrong, will and has gone wrong and, while pointing fingers is never fun and almost always done by artificial hypocrites, I find that I probably am not personally to blame and, therefore, am exempt. Let us take an in-depth look at who really is to blame.

Ron Gardenhire.

Is Gardenhire to blame? As the old saying goes, 'you can't fire the team', but can we really blame a manger with a .545 winning percentage -- a coach with a winning percentage better than Harris' (.485) or Kelly's (.478).

Perhaps expectations are greater because of Gardenhire's success. While that doesn't seem very fair, I guess we aren't in the business of being fair... have you seen the Yankee's payroll lately?

One critical aspect that I have noticed is all the Twins injuries. Yes, we have been plagued by them again this year, but in the past Gardy has always managed to work with such injuries and manage around them. I'm not sure if that is the case.

It is easy to blame the manager. However, I don't. Gardenhire has always been a players-manager and there has got to be behind-the-scenes happenings that such fans like myself aren't privy to. We can't blame Gardenhire.

Rick Anderson

The Twins are without the services of Jesse Crain, Matt Guerrier and Jon Rauch, who combined to appear in 204 games in the 2010 season. The 4.75 combined ERA for the Twinks starters is the second worst since pitching coach Rick Anderson joined the team in 2002 with Gardenhire.

However, in the bullpen alone, the 5.34 ERA is more than a full run higher than the 3.97 ERA of the 2004 Twins team... which is the next highest.

The return of Joe Nathan (who I almost allotted his own category) has not worked out like anyone thought. I respect the way the team has handled Nathan. More often than not Nathan has given up runs, but the team keeps him in because, without the confidence that results from working through tough situations, Nathan will fast become fruitless.

I would like to see more Anderson magic, as I'm sure he would like to see more bullpen talent. I can't point my finger at Anderson.

Bill Smith

Since taking over for Terry Ryan as the Twins GM in 2007, the Twins payroll has increased almost exponentially from $71 million to $112 million -- from 18th highest to ninth.

Do Smith and the Twins know how to spend money wisely?

I will concede that Bill Smith would have been run out of town, if not the state had he not signed hometown hero Joe Mauer to such a lucrative deal.

Further, I must submit that we cannot blame Smith for the decline in Twins pulling their weight in hitting, but we can address the issue of off-season bullpen assembly.

Additionally, the Minnesota Twins farm system, which has always been a symbol of pride for the organization and a money-generating machine, has dwindled in talent.

No longer are the farm system or bullpen reliable. Do we blame Bill Smith for this?

My point is... it is very easy to blame the coaching staff and front office. But with epically disastrous season plaguing the Twins thus far, there is no doubt in my mind that we cannot blame one person; no one person can be responsible for all this destruction.

For me, this season started with Spring Training. That's intuitive, right? Seasons are marked by the start of Spring Training, but what I am actually referencing is how our missteps began that early.

If we must blame someone (which I'm not certain we have to)...

Justin Morneau missed almost all of spring training -- perhaps he could have smoothed out the his current trouble with normally-easily-hit pitches sooner than later, with 1/4 of a season gone.

Tsuyoshi Nishioka barely played in games with any sort of consistency while in Ft. Myers -- its likely he would have learned that American baseball differs than that of Japan's in our sliding techniques. He could have developed the habit of moving out of the way of runners like Nick Swisher.

Michael Cuddyer missed most of Spring Training with a painful wart on his foot -- this is common sense. If you have something wrong that will likely disable your ability to play, see a doctor before Spring Training. Its likely Cuddyer wouldn't have started off so slow, utilizing the month of April as his own version of Spring Training.

Joe Mauer and his bi-lateral leg weakness -- I DON'T EVEN KNOW WHAT THAT IS.

It is easy to blame the coaches and front office. However, its much more fitting to blame the boys who are the face of the organization. Morneau, Cuddy and Mauer have made this team what they are over the past few years and I can't help but feel disappointment in their severely lacking performance this season.

For the fans and for the team... please figure out a way to pull things together. Even for die-hard fans like myself, this season is on the brink of unbearable.

Until then, I'm going to think about how good the Twins could be and, perhaps will be soon or next year. This is still Twins Territory.

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