Foul Tip: Wheels-are-off edition
Question: Can you lose a three-game series by a combined score of 33-1 and still call yourself a Major League Baseball team? Answer: No, you can't.
The best thing about the massacre in Detroit this weekend was that Sunday's game was mercifully short, clocking in at two hours, one minute. The rest, Twins fans, is so distressing that it's nearly impossible to fully articulate what trouble this team is in. But let's give it a try anyway.
"I'm not the type to panic so early under normal circumstances," writes reader and my favorite Twins-sounding-board-about-town Mike. "But we've never seen this from a team that we had expectations for. This is not filling a hole or weakness. It is rotten across the board."
And that about sums it up--there is something rotten on this team, and it's really not the talent. The talent, for all intents and purposes, is there on paper. What else is really going on with this club is anyone's guess, but it's getting pretty close to calling this season done already.
Or am I just full of panic? Maybe. The die-hards are saying that the Twins are a different team at the Dome, and tonight's series against Seattle will start bringing all sorts of victories. While that may be true in part, it's more important to note one fact: That's not good enough.
What we have here is the old drastic times, drastic measures scenario. Some suggestions from here on out.
1. Take Radke out of the rotation. I've been tough on Bradke Ball, and his streak of giving up a home run in the first three innings is still alive this season. Unfortunately. I'm starting to feel bad for the guy, and this is no way for a loyal, if middling, pitcher to end his career.
Radke looks plain-old worn-out: His physique belongs to a 14-year-old, and his fastball is popping in the mid-80s. Watching him pitch Friday in Detroit was one of the most embarrassing Twins moments in recent memory. In all honesty, I'm not sure if he can make it through the season at this point. Give the guy a break and skip him once or twice. I hear the team has at least one superstar-in-waiting who could fill his spot.
2. Bench Hunter and Morneau. All apologies to Huey Lewis, but the "heart" of the lineup is barely beating, thanks to these two. Hunter is a really great glove and nothing else--his pathetic showings at the plate obliterate that attribute. More than that, the self-proclaimed team leader has been anything but that this year, hacking away at the plate, producing decent numbers in exactly one game, and mouthing off on every topic under the sun.
Hunter's favorite refrain is that he won't be here next year and that he imagines himself in a major market, maybe even as a Yankee. It's a notion that would be laughable if it didn't also send a wrong message to his teammates: I'm out of here, and you guys aren't worthy.
Nice leadership. I say send the guy to the Bronx--or anywhere, really--while you can still get more than a batboy and a rosin bag for him.
Morneau is clearly not ready to face big-league pitching, and the Twins don't miss him a bit while he's on the bench. In fact, if anything, Michael Cuddyer looks like an upgrade at the plate and a straight-up swap in the field.
Besides, this will give Justin and Torii a chance to further their newly repaired relationship. It seems to be working, since they look like they're on the same page. Unfortunately, that page is the one that reads, "No matter what, just close your eyes and swing."
3. Shake up the rest of the lineup. I'm down on Lew Ford, but I'd take him over Hunter in center right now. And I'd keep Cuddyer at first and bring back Jason Kubel to start in right. While we're at it, might as well get Terry Tiffe some time at the plate and at third, since Phat Tony Batista is hardly a man for the future, as entertaining as he has been at some points during the year.
In short, forget about this season, start getting some experience on guys for next year. Because unless there's some kind of big change and now, I'm afraid that's all this team has got to offer: Next year.