Eleven Days In July

When I’m getting ready to draft a new post, I often do a quick check of what other Twins bloggers are writing about so I can avoid doing nothing more than adding one more post on the same subject others are already covering (and likely covering much better than I would, anyway). I did the same thing this morning and obviously there’s no shortage of material in the Twins blogdom about the upcoming series with the Royals, Indians and Tigers. So I should have come up with another subject to write about.

But I didn’t.

The Twins play twelve games over the next eleven days (thanks to a make-up game that turns next Monday’s scheduled game with Cleveland in to a doubleheader). All three series are against AL Central Division teams and two of those series are against the virtual co-leaders of the Division… teams that the Twins trail by about half a dozen games in the standings.

With the non-waiver trade deadline looming a week after the Twins wrap up this intra-divisional stretch, it’s certainly possible to conclude that by the time the Twins finish up their July 24 game with the Tigers, we’ll all know how the rest of the season will play out. We’ll know whether GM Bill Smith will spend the last week of July looking for bullpen help or whether he’ll be fielding offers for some of the higher-paid Twins that are free-agency bound at the end of the season. After all of the trials and tribulations of April and May and after the turnaround in June and, thus far, July, it all comes down to these eleven days.

Or does it?

It’s fun to think of it that way. It certainly generates excitement and enthusiasm among the fan base. It may even be healthy for the players if thinking along those lines helps them focus and give just that little bit of an extra effort. But let’s not lose sight of the fact that it’s still only 12 games… just under 7.5% of the season’s schedule.

Hey, the Twins certainly don’t want to lose 2/3 of these games and it’s always particularly helpful to beat the team’s you are trying to catch when you face them one-on-one. But this is hardly the last time our guys will be going head-to-head with their divisional competition. Even after they wrap up the next twelve games, they will have ANOTHER NINE GAMES EACH against the Tigers, Indians and White Sox during the final two months of the season.

My point is… yes, these three series are important and it would certainly be helpful to keep the momentum going and cut a bit more in to the deficits the Twins face behind the Tribe and Tigers. But if it turns out that they don’t… if it turns out they’re still a handful of games behind at the end of all this… it would still be premature to start writing obituaries for this team, as long as neither of the co-leaders rattles off about 15 straight wins to leave everyone in the dust.

Those of us who held off on declaring the season a lost cause at the end of May have been rewarded for our patience. The Twins are definitely still playing meaningful baseball.

Delmon Young rejoins the line up tonight

They have steadily improved. They are getting healthier and that means their bench is getting deeper (which has been so thin recently as to almost make one yearn for the days when the “bats on the bench” consisted of some combination of Jason Tyner, Lew Ford, Rondell White, Luis Rodriguez and Brian Buscher). And keep in mind that the teams the Twins are chasing are not exactly the 1927 Yankees… or even the 2011 Yankees, for that matter. The three teams ahead of the Twins have some flaws and those franchises don’t exactly have a recent history of strong second half finishes.

So… enjoy the next eleven days and let’s hope the Twins keep closing on the leaders, but let’s try to retain some perspective. There’s going to be a lot of baseball to be played in August and September, regardless of how these games shake out.

– JC

6 Replies to “Eleven Days In July”

  1. agreed – I choose to view this homestand as an opportunity to gain a serious amount of ground but not the be all/end all of the season.

    That being said, it’s a LOT more fun for the hometown fans to watch wins. 😀

  2. The great thing about this weekend is that every day the Twins win, they’ll gain a game on SOMEBODY, either the Tigers or White Sox, because those two teams play one another and one of them has to lose every day.

    And if you really want to look on the bright side, it also means that even on days the Twins lose to the Royals, at least there’s one team ahead of them that they won’t fall further behind!

    This is definitely one of those “wish they’d all just fall in a to big sinkhole” weekends with regard to the Tigers and BitchSox series.

  3. I liked your post. It’s only 12 games, but we’ll learn a lot about our boys between now and then. If we’re 10 games out in 11 days it’s going to be a long summer.

  4. After this series with KC, the Twins host the Indians and Tigers for 4 games each, then hit the road for 4 games vs. the West-leading Rangers, and go on to finish the month with 3 games in Oakland (where the A’s are a .523 team, so far).

    I agree, that is a small portion of the season, but it also seems like a pretty strong test of whether the Twins are ready to make a serious stretch run. If they stumble here, the schedule certainly doesn’t get any easier in August and on through September 11 (the last game vs. Detroit), when the Twins get to play 6 road games against the Angels, 3 road games vs. the Indians, 9 games against the Tigers and ChiSox, 3 games vs. the Red Sox, 4 games vs. the Yankees, and 4 games hosting the Orioles–serving as the one potentially “easy” series in that stretch.

    So, how close to the top in late July do you figure the Twins should be, if Bill Smith is going to bolster his roster for that August and early September gauntlet? If the Twins are still 6-7 games off the lead as the team heads for Oakland, would you like to see Smith buy, sell off assets, or just stand pat?

  5. Fair question, frightwig. Yes, if the Twins are 6 back after this stretch, I’d say get some bullpen help. In fact, I’d say do it now. It shouldn’t cost more than some top 40 sized prospect (Twins got Fuentes for Van Mil last year). Why wait?

    If they’re 9-10 back, which I see as unlikely, then go ahead and sell off parts.

    Getting Morneau back in August and Span/Kubel back before that (hopefully) should be all the offense they need to “add”.