Monday, June 28, 2010

Still (barely) in first place

The photo above illustrates in a literal way what is wrong with the Twins right now: No pitching.

Interleague play for several years has been good to the Twins, or at least not harmful. This season has seen a once comfortable six-game lead over the Tigers dwindle to almost nothing and seen the White Sox arise from the dead.

Part of it has been a wildly uneven schedule — the Tigers played, in succession, the three last-place teams in the National League while the Twins saw none of them — but that's only part of it. The Twins won one of three from Atlanta; the White Sox won three of three from the Braves.

And now the schedule pits the Twins against the Tigers. The Twins need to get on track again, preferably immediately.

Two aspects of the past couple of weeks have struck me as significant: Ron Gardenhire's willingness to shuffle Michael Cuddyer around from position to position, and the collapse of Nick Blackburn.

On Cuddyer: I think playing him at third is a short-term thing that will end when or if J.J. Hardy returns. The best defensive infield the Twins can field has Hardy at short and Nick Punto at third, and Punto this month has even been an effective hitter (.300/.395/.400).

Cuddyer in June: .225/.286/.296. Cuddyer playing third base: .174/.240/.174. Small sample size to be sure — just 24 plate appearances — but I don't discount the possibility that playing the more difficult defensive position is undermining the rest of his game.

On Blackburn: The broadcasters have been talking the past couple of days about the possibility of pulling Blackburn from the rotation. He's still scheduled to take Tuesday's start against Detroit.

One of the regular commenters this weekend drew a parallel between Blackburn and Joe Mays, who like Blackburn got a multi-year deal despite red-flag statistical markers. There's merit in that comparison.

I think Brian Duensing is a better long-term bet as a starter than Blackburn. But the Twins have a fairly significant financial investment in Blackburn now.


Yes, the blog has a new header. I've got others on the way; it gives me a reason to play with cameras, memorabilia and computer software. Feel free to tell me why you dislike this one.


  1. New header-

    A- for this one.

    Like memorabilia, old team logos/photos, 70s baseball card type things, Lyman Bostock, pics of magazine covers...

    dislike: generic baseball shots

  2. I like the header - very definitely Twins and memorabilia.

    The Twins will be a much better team when Hardy and Hudson are both in the game and off the DL, and Punto is too good a fielder to be kept out of the lineup somewhere.

    Cuddy is to be commended for being willing to play numerous positions, but he's certainly best in the outfield. I think playing third probably did affect his batting.