September and the Minnesota TwinsPublished 12:00pm Thursday, September 2, 2010
Jon Laging, Talking Sports
“There is a tide in the affairs of men, which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat, and we must take the current when serves, or lose our ventures.”
As you may remember from your high school Julius Caesar, this is the passage where Brutus tells Cassius that now is the time to strike against their foes.
Now is the Twins’ time to put distance between their pursuers, the Chicago White Sox and themselves. As I write this, the Twins are 4 1/2 games up on the Sox. If they could add another 3 or 4 games, the race for the Central Division would be over. Now is the time to strike. I was disappointed when our team lost a very winnable final game against the Seattle Mariners. If they could have won their 2-1 loss, they would have been 5 1/2 games up. Strange, but 5 1/2 sounds a lot more comfortable than 4 1/2.
There is an argument that we are expecting too much from our injury laden Twins. That they are missing vital components: Justin Morneau, Kevin Slowey, Nick Punto, Jose Mijares and Ron Mahey. Although the absence of Slowey and Mijares hurts, by far the biggest missing cog is Justin Morneau. When Morneau went out he was performing above his MVP season. And although the Twins are not missing his entire output, his substitutes are contributing only 2/3rds of his hitting. Which is OK, but not Justin Morneau. Perhaps overlooked is his play at first base. When Cuddyer replaced Morneau he seemed to do well at the new position. Maybe it’s because of the low expectations. The adrenaline kicks in for the replacement, but eventually the true level of ability emerges.
Ron Gardenhire acknowledged that the other day saying that Morneau was an excellent first baseman and Cuddyer was a good one. I think that should be dropped a grade. Morneau is a good first baseman and Cuddyer is an average one. Which is certainly better than our current leftfielder whom I would rank as poor to fair, leaning toward poor.
Granted the team misses Morneau and the others, but a team plays with what is has.
The White Sox are hurting with the clock winding down and are close to losing confidence. It wouldn’t take much for the Twins to close the door on the Chicago season. The Twins have the tools to do it with Mauer and his supporting cast. Their pitching has shown an advantage these past weeks and can help them to an early Central Division title. The playoffs may be winnable if Gardenhire can pick out the hot hand. There is an inconsistency with the starters that is hard to fathom. One day world beaters, the next time out, disappointing. Maybe we can get Gardy a Ouija board. Bruce Smith, general manager, has been working hard and the acquisition of Brian Fuentes was huge. What an asset to have an all-star closer that can shut down left-handed hitters at any point in the game.
Cuddyer was saying it would be great to get Morneau back. That would be great, but recently I was talking with Bruce, a Twins’ fan from Spring Valley, who felt that Morneau would not be back this year. He is not alone. A lot of people feel this way. However, wouldn’t it be terrific if Morneau would rejoin the team in time for the drive through the playoffs. What a storybook finish. That may be wishful thinking and the fact remains that the flood is now, to quote Shakespeare, and it is time for the Twins to take advantage of the tide.