Just Keepin’ It Real

Wow, that game last night was kinda fun… the way it ended anyway. Not so much the first seven innings, but in Big Boy League, they play nine (or in this case, 10) and it was great to see our guys show some backbone and scratch out a W in the Bronx.

And it’s fine that we were all giddy last night… including the players, if some of their Tweets are any indication.

But today brings another game and the reality that not too much should be read in to that win. Just as I’d caution people not to think Monday’s loss was an indication that the season is going in the toilet or that the Yankees will continue to forever dominate the Twins, let’s not jump to the conclusion that last night’s win gets King Kong off the Twins’ backs, either.

As our old friend Nuke LaLoosh so profoundly stated, “Winning is like, you know, better than losing!” But as the Twins learned last season, pulling off one come-from-behind win over the Evil Empire in that Mausoleum in Bronx (and seriously, that’s all the better Yankee fans can do in terms of showing up for a ballgame? I don’t care what the weather was… that’s a joke. They call themselves baseball fans?) does not, in itself, constitute a reversal of a trend.

I have to kind of like the pitching matchups for the next two games and I’ve held the minority view that the Twins bullpen is actually better than the Yankees’ overall, despite how “vaunted” it is by the media (especially the YES network broadcasters, apparently). I mean really… how many fans would have been screaming for the heads of Bill Smith, Ron Gardenhire, and/or pitching coach Rick Anderson if the Twins would have left Ft. Myers with Luis Ayala in the bullpen (again)?

But we can debate pitching and middle infielding until we’re all out of breath (or our typing fingers fall off) and it really won’t matter in the long run. Yes, the starting pitchers need to stop giving up early gopher balls. Yes, Casilla and Nishioka need to step up their games a bit.

It's time for Mauer, Morneau, Cuddyer and Thome to show up

But no matter what anyone else does, this team’s fortunes are going to be tied to how the heart of the batting order performs with the bat and, so far, they flat out haven’t performed well. If and when Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Delmon Young, Michael Cuddyer and Jim Thome start hitting with some consistent authority, this team will win a lot of baseball games. It’s really that simple.

At this point, none of those guys has been able to accumulate as much as a .150 batting average. Yes, I know BA isn’t the be-all and end-all of offensive statistics, but I think it’s safe to say that if you aren’t hitting above .150, chances are none of your other fancy in-depth sabremetric offensive stats are going to be looking too good either.

If all people want to fret about is whether your middle infield or 4th and 5th starters or middle relievers are performing up to standards, then everyone is missing the giant elephant in the room. It’s only five games in to the season, but the problem right at this moment is not the middle infield… it’s the heart of the batting order.

Pardon me for continuing to channel my inner Nuke today, but it’s time for the studs on this team to start announcing their presence with some authority.

– JC

5 thoughts on “Just Keepin’ It Real

  1. hehehe… you seem to channeling your inner Annie more than your inner Nuke. Just saying.

    :D

  2. This is exactly right. Although it was disappointing the manner in which the runs were given up the last 2 games, it’s not unrealistic to give up 4 runs to the Yankees in New York. In fact, if you ignore WHEN the runs were given up, our pitchers, in the aggregate, have not had an awful series so far.
    But I think we’re to the point now where it’s reasonable to expect your offense, and especially the 3, 4, 5, and 6 guys in this lineup, to hit the ball hard.

  3. I guess I’m not worried that the heart of the order will come around (although I never felt like the line-up played to its potential for extended periods last year). I was very pleased with Matt Capps (six stars) and Joe Nathan (three stars) last night. I think it really will come down to whether the starters can go 6 (or preferably 7) so the BP stays fresh.

  4. I have heard speculation that the slow start for Mauer and Morneau and Cuddyer is that they didnt get as many reps in Spring Training because of injuries. So really, this is like the latter half of ST for them

    Anyway, Im not worried yet. The Twins have a tough schedule the first part of the year (no days off for almost 2 weeks) and the weather is warming up (supposed to be in the 60s this weekend) things will be fine.

    I just want our pitchers to stop giving up 1st inning homer runs..or homers in general

  5. JB and James, it’s not so much that I’m worried these guys won’t start hitting. They will.

    But I keep hearing/reading about how Casilla isn’t doing his job and Nishioka isn’t looking good and some starting pitchers, in their first and only appearance of the year, got touched a bit… as if those are the reasons the Twins haven’t won more than two games so far. When in fact, the bigger reason for the early 2-3 record is that the big boppers have been bellyflopping.

    People are being so quick to criticize the “marginal” players… the middle infield and middle relievers… while giving the guys who are supposed to be driving in runs a free pass because we’re “not worried” about them? Why should they avoid being held accountable while we jump on the friggin #9 hitter for not doing more?

    As I wrote, if and when the heart does start hitting, this team will win a lot of games. Until then, they won’t.