The Final Countdown: 60 Games

The last ten games have not been kind to our Twins and after Monday night’s fiasco, I’m not sure this countdown exercise is even worth doing any more, but we’ll give it one more shot.

With eight of the last 10 games coming against the two teams at the top of the AL Central Standings, they had an opportunity to make some real headway, but the lack of anything resembling MLB-caliber hitting in those series pretty much ended any chance of closing ground.

I still maintain that these series weren’t as critical as others made them out to be, but there’s no doubt it was an opportunity lost. And what’s particularly disheartening is just how flat-out BAD the Twins have looked in virtually every aspect of the game of baseball.

We started this countdown when the Twins had 100 games remaining to their season and trailed the Tigers by 10 games. The theory was that they need to gain one game every ten games through the rest of the season in order to win the division.

Once again, since I’m maintaining my stance that Cleveland will not remain in contention throughout the season, let’s check in on the REAL AL Central Standings with the Twins having 60 games remaining.

TWINS GAMES REMAINING: 60

TEAM RECORD GB
Tigers 54-48 -
BitchSox 50-51 3.5
TWINS 47-55 7

Not surprisingly, the Twins lost ground over the past 10 games to both the Kitties and the BitchSox. They’ve now fallen behind the pace they needed to set when we started this… gaining an average of one game every ten games played. They’ll need to make up some ground over the next ten games to get back on pace.

– JC

GameChat – Twins @ Rangers, 7:05pm

The Twins start a pretty important road trip tonight in Arlington, where the temperatures are reportedly above 100 degrees (and I’ve been there often enough to know it is most likely NOT a “dry heat”).

I think there’s a lot of angst among the Twins faithful right now and rightfully so.

It’s time for this team to quit screwing around and get serious about playing good baseball again.

Ben Revere gets his first night off in quite a while (and, frankly, it’s about time).

TWINS

@

RANGERS
Repko, CF Kinsler, DH
Casilla, A, 2B Andrus, SS
Mauer, C Hamilton, LF
Cuddyer, 1B Young, M, 2B
Kubel, DH Cruz, N, RF
Valencia, 3B Davis, C, 3B
Young, D, LF Napoli, C
Plouffe, RF Moreland, 1B
Nishioka, SS Chavez, En, CF
  _Blackburn, P   _Holland, D, P
  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Minnesota 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 3 1 6 11 3
Texas 3 3 3 5 4 0 2 0 x 20 27 4

The thing we have to keep in mind after something like this is that it still only counts as one game in the standings. The Tigers lost to the White Sox tonight, so despite this abomination, the Twins actually lost no ground to the Division leaders.

And we did have the entertainment value of seeing Michael Cuddyer take to the mound! He loaded the bases but worked out of the jam, so despite a 3.00 WHIP, he escapes with a perfect 0.00 ERA! He hit 88 mph with his fastball, that had some late movement. That’s more than some of the guys in the Twins bullpen can say lately!

Tomorrow’s another day… let’s get a win!

Let The Trade Rumors Begin: Denard Span

And so it begins.

This afternoon, the Twins hit the rumor wire as word spread that they were talking to the Washington Nationals about a trade involving centerfielder Denard Span.

Denard Span

At first, I thought this had to be some kind of joke. Certainly Bill Smith wouldn’t be looking at the results of the past two series and think, “We seem to have too much offense on this team right now, especially at the top of the order… there’s no way we have room for Denard Span when he’s ready to return.” Would he? Ken Rosenthal at FOX seems to think so.

Is it possible Smith has looked at Ben Revere’s hitting lately and figured he’s just what a contender needs leading off? Yes, the guy is great to have in the outfield, but he’s almost been the worst looking hitter in the Twins’ batting order lately.

Almost.

The worst, of course, has been shortstop Tsuyoshi Nishioka. I’m 55 years old and I’d be willing to bet I would at least look better swinging lefthanded than Nishi has and I’d have almost as many hits. NONE would be “almost as many” as Nishi’s had lately. In last night’s game wrap-up, I mentioned that if I were the GM, I’d be looking for a shortstop who might sniff at getting a hit occasionally. And therein lies the rub.

The Nationals need a centerfielder and they apparently feel they have an extra middle infielder. Word is, they’re shopping shortstop Ian Desmond and would shift their current second baseman to shortstop in order to make room for a rookie they think is ready to come up to the Big Leagues. (That rookie’s name is Stephen Lombardozzi, by the way… a name that should sound familiar to Twins fans. Yes, he’s the son of THAT Steve Lombardozzi). The Nats also have a couple of right handed relief pitchers that they may be willing to part with.

So… if you got Desmond and a productive reliever for Span, would you make the deal?

Not me.

First of all, if the Twins don’t score more than two runs a game, all the relief pitching in the world won’t help. They need more offense and the most likely way they can get it is to get Span back in the line up and let Revere take over 4th outfielder duties. Second, Desmond’s stats aren’t all that much better, if at all, than Nishioka’s and they certainly are nowhere near Span’s. Rosenthal mentions that Desmond’s .584 OPS is the lowest in the National League… but I guess it’s still better than Nishi’s .544 OPS, right?

I don’t blame the Nationals for wanting to make a deal with Bill Smith. They clearly are fondly recalling the deal they got in return for Matt Capps a year ago and if you’re in their front office, there’s no reason to think you shouldn’t be able to get a favorable return from Bill Smith and the Twins again.

That doesn’t mean Smith has to oblige them.

Ben Revere may be a legitimate full time MLB player some day. Joe Benson could, too. Rene Tosoni has similar potential. Aaron Hicks and Angel Morales? Sure… some day.

Some day, the Twins won’t need Denard Span in their line up. Today is not that day, unless Bill watched the half-assed efforts his guys put forth on the field against the Tigers over the last few games and has decided it’s time to hold a fire sale. In that case, Denard’s name won’t be the only one we see showing up in MLBTradeRumors this week.

– JC