What Am I Missing Here?

I try very hard to avoid overreacting to decisions that the people running the Twins make. Ron Gardenhire, Bill Smith and the others running the club have tough jobs. I appreciate that, so I tend to give them the benefit of the doubt on most issues, even when I don’t agree with specific decisions. That said, I’m beyond confused about a number of things right now. Maybe some of you smart people can tell me what I’m missing.

Joe Nathan pitches a few successful innings in Florida and proclaims himself ready to rejoin the bullpen, but Gardy says “no… you need to go to Rochester first and prove you can get someone over the age of 19 out.”

Joe Mauer gets a few hits off of 19 yr olds in Florida, but he’s activated straight away, without having to prove he can hit AAA pitching. He promptly proves to be less productive at the plate than Drew Butera or Rene Rivera… a feat that most of us didn’t think was possible.

Not only does Gardy keep putting Mauer in the line up, but he keeps putting him in the 3-spot in the order… exactly the spot where his impotence can do the most damage to his team.

Yeah, Joe, I'm scratching my head, too.

Friday night, after another oh-fer, Gardy tells reporters that he’s considering using Mauer at 1B or even 3B. Why? Well, the announcement earlier in the day that Justin Morneau will miss at least six weeks for surgery on his neck (a topic I will revisit shortly) is a valid reason for looking for another 1B option. But that’s not Gardy’s reason… instead he’s intent on finding ways to keep Mauer’s bat in the line up (apparently even if it means he replaces the current third baseman, who has actually finally started hitting the ball with some success)!

So… if I understand this correctly… for the past few years, when Mauer was consistently hitting well over .300, Gardy steadfastly refused to even listen to anyone who dared to suggest that perhaps it might be a good idea for Joe to learn a position he could play part time in order to keep him healthy and in the line up more often. But now… when Mauer isn’t even coming close to making good contact… NOW we want to find creative ways to keep his bat in the line up???? Wouldn’t it make a little sense to worry about that some other time… like maybe if/when Joe remembers how to hit a baseball?

The Twins have 3 catchers, none of which can hit his way out of a wet paper bag right now, and the manager is trying to come up with creative ways to get TWO of them in the batting order? I don’t get it.

Butera and Rivera were actually occasionally coming up with some clutch hits during the team’s recent winning streak. They also were doing a good job behind the plate. I get that Mauer might need some time to get his timing back at the plate, but why the hell wasn’t he told the same thing Joe Nathan was… “show us you can compete with AAA players before we activate you”? If nothing else, after the way the Twins have had to leave Rochester with yet another crappy team, I’m sure they would have appreciated a couple of nice attendance nights at Frontier Field with Mauer on hand.

As for Morneau, I don’t have much more to add to what everyone else has been writing and tweeting. It dumbfounds me that someone let his neck issue go three months without appropriate treatment. I’d like to go back a couple of years and count the number of times one of the Twins players had an injury or illness, set out on an initial course of treatment with disappointing results, then got a second opinion which resulted in a different course of treatment, which essentially caused the recovery process to start over and thus delay the player’s return to the field. I don’t know how many times it has happened, but it sure seems to happen a lot.

So often, in fact, that one has to wonder… if these guys have to get second opinions so consistently in order to finally get the appropriate course of treatment, what kind of witch doctors are the Twins employing to hand out the worthless FIRST opinions? It’s bad enough when your $23 million a year catcher can’t hit .200, but when the doctors you employ can’t seem to “hit” on their diagnoses any better, that’s something that someone should be able to fix, isn’t it?

Is Rachel Phelps running the Twins these days?

The frustrating thing is that so many of these questionable decisions are being made just as the team was fighting its way in to contention. It really makes one wonder whether Rachel Phelps has somehow taken control of the ballclub and is doing everything in her power to make sure this team DOESN’T win more games.

Implausible? Yeah, probably.

But if the Twins find themselves without hot water for their whirlpools and being forced to take WWII vintage turbo prop planes or even buses on road trips… remember I told ya so.

– JC


6 Replies to “What Am I Missing Here?”

  1. The Twins make money from fans attending games, not necessarily from wins. The fans want to see Mauer in the lineup when they come to the stadium – not the Rochester Red Wings. I also think Morneau has played with a serious injury because of the losses in the lineup, and that it was a decision to bring Mauer straight up from FL so that Morneau could have his surgery.

  2. Oh boy, things are getting bad again.
    Mauer looks just as bad as he did 2 months ago when he went on the DL- – maybe even worse. You are absolutely right, the player should not be calling the shots on the issues of when, and to what team, he returns.
    Also, it’s rare to hear one player (Mijares) calling out another (Mauer) in the press after a game. Maybe it was too many fastballs in a row, but I’m pretty sure Mauer didn’t set up for a belt-high fastball, middle in.

  3. Thanks, both of you for your comments.

    Marda, I don’t think the Twins would lose much money if they had had Joe spend a few days in Rochester before rejoining the Twins. And I think they DO make money from wins. If they’re not winning enough games to be in contention come August-September, it won’t matter if Mauer is in the line up or not… fans won’t be showing up. They’ve also been selling out almost every game, without him, since he’s been on the DL (and they’ve been winning!). The only valid reason for having Joe in the lineup is because they think he gives them the best chance to win games and I just am not convinced that’s the case, right now.

    AW, I think both Mijares and Mauer were speaking from frustration last night. Neither guy is playing well. Mauer’s priority was not letting Fielder have a pitch he could hit. Worst case, he walks, but there’s a base open so at least he doesn’t beat you. Mijares was probably thinking how he wanted to get Fielder out and throwing 6 straight fastballs isn’t usually a good idea when that’s your goal. The two were clearly not on the same page. That’s not good and they both share responsibility for that.

  4. I am one who gives team leadership the most leeway as a rule but even I have been recently doing some questioning out loud of all the injuries. Who is running the regular workouts – not just the diagnosis of actual injuries. We see a LOT of similar injuries happening that just seem… statistically odd.

    After awhile, you just have to say, ‘something’s not right here’ and start trying to find out what it is.

  5. The only conclusion I can reach is that his new contract somehow gives Mauer managerial control. As I understood it, Gardenhire wanted Mauer to go to Rochester — where was Front Office support for their manager? Is it any wonder that Mijares called out Mauer? My guess is that he vented a lot of the tension in the Twins clubhouse right now.

  6. That should have been “vented a lot of the FRUSTRATION in the Twins clubhouse right now”. I doubt that it really eased the tension.