Column: Gardenhire’s Hobson’s Choice

Published 5:12 pm Friday, May 23, 2008

It’s fun writing the column. It’s helped me be precise in my thinking when matching the knowledge of the readers. I’ve also learned on the job. I now know the meaning of Occam’s Razor, Deus Ex Machina and The Ninth Wave. I’ve used Wikipedia on the Internet which is like having a friendly neighborhood professor on the premises.

Another interesting phrase came up the other day: Hobson’s Choice. I consulted my Internet Guru and learned that when two choices are presented with one being unattractive and the other impossible, it is Hobson’s Choice. For example: Riding an old horse or riding no horse. A little later on we’ll discuss Gardy’s Hobson’s Choice.

Our Twins were in first place for a couple of weeks and as I write this are still hanging around first. Given their showing to date, do they have a real shot at the pennant? Some good things are happening, Joe Mauer is challenging for the league lead in hitting and Justin Morneau looks to be recreating his MVP season.

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In addition to the M and M boys, Carlos Gomez is playing well. He is hitting, stealing bases and the other night made perhaps the game saving catch.

Delmon Young has started to come on and recently has looked like the player the Twins traded for.

Cuddyer will be Cuddyer as the year wears on and while that’s not spectacular, he is an average to good hitter and plays a strong right field.

Well, that’s encouraging, the lineup could include Gomez, Mauer, Morneau, Cuddyer and Young. Sounds good to me. All young and all good.

Bert Blyleven says it all comes down to pitching. Blyleven being a pitcher makes one somewhat leery of that statement, but he is joined by other respected analysts.

If true, how does the Twins’ starting pitching stack up?

Like Blyleven’s analysis, somewhat suspect. That was true at the beginning of the baseball season and remains true today.

The reason I hoped that the Twins wouldn’t trade Santana was the possibility of the Twins contending this year. I didn’t think they would get the job done without Santana. However, he was traded. I’m not saying it was a bad move, only that the pitching staff needs him. The Twins do not yet have an ace and we are over a fourth of the way into the season. Hernandez has looked good, but his record indicates he is a .500 pitcher. Blackburn has pitched well, but one wonders about his consistency. The Twins don’t have an ace and it appears there will not be one this year. However, one thing the Twins do have is pitching depth. They have seven starters. Who knows, an ace may poke his head up.

In addition to starting pitching there are other holes in the lineup. A shortstop with only an adequate arm hitting below .200 and a fair-fielding third baseman is hitting below 250.

Earlier we talked about Gardy’s Hobson’s Choice. He is faced with such a choice with Lamb at third base. A less than major league third baseman or playing somebody else. Punto and Tolbert are both hurt so there is really no other reasonable choice other than a minor leaguer. At this time it is either Lamb or nobody. Punto will soon be back, but Gardy’s choices are not that much improved as far as hitting is concerned.

The lack of money or the willingness to spend it has hurt the Twins both this year and last. A big question for the Twins organization is: Can they surround the young nucleus of the team with adequate support players? We have already lived through a decade of the Timberwolves failing Kevin Garnett.