The Twins and a September run to playoffs

Published 8:19 am Thursday, September 4, 2008

 There has been a lot written about our Minnesota Twins these past few months. We’d probably be able to reforest Cloquet with the amount of paper inked. And in our new age that’s just a portion of words written about the Twins.

Those of you that ply the Internet know what I mean. There are dozens of bloggers out there filling the “net” with analysis, gripes and concerns. If you wish, you can spend all day either writing or reading Twins’ blogs. And that’s just Minnesota. If we want to increase our nation’s productivity, outlaw sports blog’s. There’s an idea for Obama or McCain. However, if they got the sports crowd against them they’d lose the election.

I’m not any better. I feel again compelled to write about the Twins. Soon it will be the Vikings and possibly the football Gophers that will grab our attention. But what a fascinating story the Twins are this summer. How can you not like our baseball team with their youthful, sometimes bumbling, fight for the pennant?

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What needs to occur to make that pennant happen? A lot is written about the daily wins and losses, but not much about the long term, if you can call one month the long term. What needs to happen? Let’s take the team position by position.

Catcher Joe Mauer needs to match his play through September and beyond. Gardy has done a good job in resting Mauer. The team is fortunate to have Mike Redmond available to step in during Joe’s absence.

First baseman Justin Morneau has to continue his slugging ways. He is the only power hitter on the team and when he is not hitting the result is felt throughout the team. The best thing that can happen to Morneau is having a right-handed stick get hot such as Delmon Young.

Second baseman Alexi Casilla has not hit as well after returning from his thumb injury. He needs to again start knocking in runs.

Shortstop Nick Punto is having a good year. If I had a complaint about Punto, it would be that he tends to overplay. He makes the difficult look even harder. He seems to crave additional recognition thrusting himself into the limelight. Visiting the pitchers’ mound etc. Relax Nick and just play the game.

Third basemen Brian Buscher has hit well for a rookie, especially in the clutch. He does need improvement in making routine fielding plays. That has cost the Twins.

Right fielder Denard Span has been a revelation and one of the reasons the Twins are in contention. The rookie provides very good hitting and fielding.

Left fielder Delmon Young needs to be consistent in the field and at the bat. A little more power couldn’t hurt.

Center fielder Carlos Gomez is exciting, but he has trouble going back on balls and his hitting has leveled off.

There is talk about where to play Michael Cuddyer should he come back. To me that’s a no brainer. Put him in right field, play Span in center and use Gomez as a super sub.

Starting pitching has brought the Twins to this point and I expect it to continue through next month. They have been a wonderful unexpected surprise and the young pitchers along with Casilla and Span have made the Twins a contending team.

The big problem the Twins have is relief pitching. They have lost games the Twins can ill afford to lose and stay in the race. The problem is known to Gardenhire and General Manager Bill Smith. They should have moved to correct it. It is a simple problem that evidently does not have a simple solution given the constraints they operate under. It looks like they have decided, other than Eddie Guardado, to sit back, cross their fingers and hope for the best.