Monday, May 2, 2011
Diary of a Last Place Team
It has been a rough month to be around the Minnesota Twins. There have been injuries, bouts with the flu, and many other failures that have lead to the worst month of April in franchise history.
The month started off with so much hope. A new season was beginning and with that beginning there was eternal optimism. The team was ready to defend it's Central Division crown for the third year in a row. There were many veteran players that returned to a team that won over 90 games a year ago. There were new players at key positions that had the chance to prove they belonged in the majors.
Every night I lay my head down on my pillow with positive thoughts about how the Twins will be able to rebound. I found excuses for every lose and for every bad thing that was happening on the field:
We are playing the AL East and we never do well against those teams.
Liriano and Pavano aren't pitching well, but some of the others have looked okay.
We play so much better at home, so things will go better when we get there.
Mauer is hurt, so some of the other big bats will step up.
It was cold at Target Field, so it will get better when we are back on the road.
Casilla just needs more time.
Nishioka is going to take time to adjust to the big leagues.
The pieces will fall into place in the bullpen.
The bats will come to life once we start playing teams in our division.
Many of those excuses have been used multiple times at throughout the first month of the season. Now May is here and the Twins find them in last place in all of baseball. The Twins are also ten games out of first place for the first time since 2007. They are also nine-games under the .500 mark for the first time since 2000.
Every game seems more painful then the last. Each lose seems to be worse than the last. There are close loses that don't go the Twins way and there are blowouts that eat up the pitching staff. The Twins aren't scoring runs, the pitchers are giving up too many runs, and it is time for changes to occur.
The air of change is in the air around the Twins as the loses continue to mount. The one things that is saving some player's jobs is the injury bug that hit the Twins in recent weeks. There is only so much the team can do at this early juncture in the season but look for some of the following changes to occur as the calendar flips to May.
Slowey will enter the rotation: As part of his rehab process the Twins are stretching him out to get him ready for the rotation. At this point it, he could be in line to take a variety of starting pitcher's jobs. The rest of the starts this week could determine who he replaces in the rotation. It sounds like Liriano is the likely candidate to be replaced but he will still get one more shot against the White Sox this week.
Casilla will become a bench player: The Twins are forced to give Casilla as much of an opportunity as possible, but that opportunity is coming to an end. There is the possibility that when Nishioka is healthy he will become the SS and Cuddyer will stay at 2B. The Twins also have Trevor Plouffe in the minors to step-in, but he needs to continue to improve his numbers at AAA.
The middle of the line-up will start hitting better: There are too many proven hitters that are not hitting at their level to start the year. Morneau got his first homerun of the year yesterday. Young, Mauer, and Thome have all been dealing with different injuries. A healthy middle of the line-up is the difference in many of these close games for the Twins.
Diary, all that I ask of you is that May will be a more pleasant month than April.
Thanks for listening,
NoDak Twins Fan