Jason’s Blog: Code Red for Twins
Posted By: Jason Iacovino
After a promising 15-15 start to the season, the Minnesota Twins had a very bad week. It’s not simply that they lost 3 of 4 at division foe Cleveland, it’s that their roster has turned into an embarrassment in the process.
Let’s see if we can sort all of this out…it started when Joe Mauer exited Sunday’s game at Target Field early with back spasms. The Twins have been taking their usual wait-and-see approach to this injury since, holding out slim hope that Mauer won’t land on the disabled list, but the All-Star hasn’t played in the 4 games since and he still occupies a roster spot.
With Aaron Hicks still recovering from the 7-day concussion DL and Josh Willingham slow to return from his early April injury, the outfield has been a circus for the team this week. The Twins have been forced to use Chris Herrmann and Eduardo Escobar in the outfield and the results have been detrimentally comical. Herrmann, frankly, doesn’t even belong on the Big League roster for the simple fact that he can’t hit.
In fact, he’s never hit–not at Triple-A or in the Bigs. He was here (The Twins have since optioned him back down) only because manager Ron Gardenhire can never have enough catchers. Then came the news on Tuesday that Sam Fuld would be scratched due to concussion-like symptoms, which gave rise to the Escobar experiment in centerfield.
Then, for added fun, the Twins had to make a snap decision on promoting veteran bullpen arm Matt Guerrier due to a clause in his contract that allowed him to opt out as a free agent early this week. The Twins’ loyalty to former players being what it is, they moved Guerrier up to occupy a roster spot that in all honesty should have gone to an outfielder.
So to recap: No Mauer. No outfielders. Kubel isn’t hitting anymore. The Twins regularly used multiple sub-.200 hitters in the lineup vs. Cleveland (Herrmann and Pedro Florimon). Oh, and division-leading Detroit happened to get a four-game home series with the Houston Astros–themselves a collection of minor leaguers–at the same time.
Despite the fact that Houston was able to comeback and salvage the fourth game of their series in Detroit, the Twins still find themselves 6.5 games behind the Tigers as they prepare to face Justin Verlander in Game 1 of 3-game weekend series in the Motor City tonight.
How did things go this far South in just one week?
The good news is the Twins are finally getting consistent starting pitching (Kevin Correia’s short outing on Thursday notwithstanding). The bad news is if they lose 2 of 3 to red hot Detroit this weekend, they will find themselves in the deep early hole they managed to avoid for the first five weeks of the season.
And of course there’s the Mauer factor. The face of the franchise insists he’ll do everything he can to return to the lineup by Friday or Saturday, but if history is any indication, there’s a better chance of you winning the Powerball. The smart money is Mauer will land on the disabled list.
It’s a long season and there are ways out of this box. The starters can continue to improve, for one. Kubel and Colabello’s return to reality was inevitable, but there’s enough punch in this lineup to make it work with the solid bullpen if the high-salary starters can provide consistency.
The other way out? Find a way to take 2 of 3 from Detroit this weekend, or, in the alternative, get Mauer healthy and hope that he takes the bull by the horns and gets this team back on track.
Jason Iacovino can be heard Tuesdays and Fridays on KRFO-AM 1390 at 3:50 p.m. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @JasonIacovino.