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Thursday, May 3, 2012
What happened to my Twins?

What happened to my Twins?  Iím writing this the morning after they were no-hit, and nearly victims of a perfect game, by the Angels Jared Weaver.  They are now 6-18, and 7 games back, 1-month into the season.

It wasnít supposed to be like this.  The Twins had some pretty good teams in their final years at the Metrodome.  They had talent (or so we were told) in the minor league system.  They were supposed to move into Target Field, with its new, expanded revenue streams, and create a dynasty around the M & M boys, Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau. (For the record, I donít like the M & M boyís moniker, but I hear some guys and ESPN call them that.)

Why hasnít it worked out that way?  Letís look around.

Can we blame the former G.M., Bill Smith?  Yes, he deserves part of the blame.  He made several questionable moves (The big on for me will always be Delmon Young for Matt Garza and Jason Bartlett, but there are to many to go into here), and as a result, he was demoted and replaced by his predecessor, Terry Ryan.  I thought Ryan had his own rough start as a G.M. back in the 90ís, but seemed to find his niche as he helped put together a decade of good teams through the 2000ís.

Can we blame ownership?  Yes.  I understand the Twins arenít going to be a free agent destination for the top-line players.  I get that.  Iíve learned to live with it.  But one move made last year, by another team, exemplified the Twins problems.  The Milwaukee Brewers traded for Zach Grienke, a talented, young, affordable pitcher who happened to win a Cy Young Award in 2009.  They gave up some good minor leaguers in return, but they made the deal.  Now, heís the ace of a contending team.

When is the last time the Twins made a deal like that?  Carl Pavano?  Really?  You can go back to 2003 when Shannon Stewart came in a trade and made a HUGE difference for the Twins in winning a Central Division title.  Any others you can think of?  Rick Reed?

Ownership has never been willing to pull the trigger on a big deal for an ďover the humpĒ type of player that might have helped win another division title, or help get past the 1st round of the playoffs, or (fingers crossed) win a World Series!  You canít always play for the future by hanging on to every top prospect.  Sometimes, those prospects donít pan out.  MAKE A TRADE once in a while, and not just the kind that looks like cleaning house.

How about on the field, or in the dugout.  I really like Ron Gardenhire, but is it time for a change?  Is his message getting lost in the clubhouse?  I donít know about that, it seems like a question they like to ask on T.V.  Iím not in the clubhouse, I donít know how the players listen, or respond to him.  BUT, I think thereís a reason managerís and head coaches donít last 10+ years very often.  Teams just need a change once in a while.  A new voice.  A new philosophy. 

Two of Gardyís assistantís, hitting coach Joe Vavra and pitching coach Rick Anderson, should be fearing for their jobs.  Take a good look at the prospects that we have brought up.  How many have improved at the major league level?  How many pitchers over the last 3-4 years have shown any degree of improving and making a difference.  Why canít the Twins hit for power?  Is it Target Field?  Is it the players?  Is it the hitting coach?  Is it the training staff? 

Now, on the field.  With a 6-18 record, following a 99-loss season, there are obviously problems with this roster.  Granted, injuries have played a part.  That said, I think weíve seen Morneau and (gulp) Mauer have their best career seasons.  I love both of these guys, and I hope Iím wrong, but I donít think either will be the same player they were 3-4 years ago when both were legit M.V.P. candidates.  Both are still capable of good seasons, but I sadly think both are on the downside of their careerís.

So, who do we build around?  Any pitchers on the 40-man roster that you can hang your hat on?  Not in my book.  Danny Valencia?  Chris Parmalee?  Ben Revere?  All have nice up-sides, but are they guys to build a team around?

It wasnít supposed to be like this.  My 8-year-old son was supposed to have a better team to cheer for than I did at his age in the late 70ís.  Target Fieldís money was supposed to bring banners, not empty seats.  We were supposed to build the model ďsmall marketĒ franchise, not a Triple-A team in ďa cold OmahaĒ to paraphrase old Calvin Griffith.

Iím not bailing on the Twins like I did with the Vikings, I could never do that.  The Twins are my team, win or lose.  Iíd just like them to win more often, or this could be a long summer.

Posted By John George
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