Thursday, April 29, 2004

All the Negativity in This Town Sucks

Mid-day notes: For those of you still looking for it, the DTFC forum has moved to a new address. Our link on the left side is now correct (I know a lot of people were panicking!). Also, the Twins are on Channel 45 tonight so be sure and check out this page tomorrow for a new post from Ryan. We're going to plan on having new posts every day, even most weekends, quite regularly. Enjoy!

What is it with Minnesota Sports and nothing ever being good enough? The Twins are in first place and all some people want to say is, “yeah, but so and so is troubling...” Many parts of the team people worried about coming into the season, such as the bullpen, have worked themselves out. Yet, we focus on what's not working or even the problems that arise from what is! It's really too bad because this is a great team and we are stressing ourselves out over it's flaws.

Everyone is very worried about Lew Ford. Instead of reveling in his outstanding play we talk about his playing time. As long as he produces it doesn't matter. Gardy is going to find a spot for him. We don't need to trade Torii Hunter or any of the other outfielders yet. We should also stop searching for flaws in other players ahead of Lew and no he cannot play second or short.

The middle infield is troubling and is talked about more than anything. It's been 2 weeks of slumps. Both players have talent and can't possible play this bad forever. I'm not saying either of them are that good, but a certain two players in NY are having similar problems that no one thinks they wont pull out of. These things happen in baseball. It's not necessarily a bad time for both of them to struggle so badly with the rest of the lineup hitting the cover off the ball.

The starting pitching has struggled. It might not be as good as everyone expected. Carlos Silva has pitched pretty well though and the rest of the guys are at least keeping the Twins in most games. The team has been lucky that it hasn't suffered from its poor starts. The starters are working through their problems and seem to be making progress. In the meantime we should be grateful the bullpen has stepped up in ways no one expected.

Speaking of that bullpen, why are we so worried about Joe Nathan? He was a great set-up man before this year. Great setup men often become great closers. He is 6/6 in saves and averaging over a strikeout an inning. Not half bad! He makes the ninth a little exciting, yes, but he gets the job done. What more can we ask? The point is he is not LaTroy Hawkins of 2001 yet. His velocity is another complaint. This is normal for him and seems to be improving. This is something to cheer. Nathan had major arm surgery several years ago after which he became a better pitcher with low velocity. He is doing just fine.

Terry Ryan let Mike Nakamura go early in the season when the team needed another pitcher. We all worried, why he would do such a thing? Give up a young guy with talent: why? The team has talked more about Brad Thomas then it did about Nakamura. The team obviously didn’t think that highly of Nakamura. He is up with the Blue Jays and doing a very good job, which is great for him. For the Twins he was not the right option at the time, so they called up Seth Greisinger. The Twins front office has some very smart people, and know what they are doing. Nakamura had done nothing to prove himself and the Twin's bullpen has been great so far. It seems like a win-win situation for everybody.

So many positive things have happened for this team. They are fun to follow and hitting the cover off the ball. No one ever could have expected the kind of production some guys such as Henry Blanco, Juan Rincon and Lew Ford have given them. Instead of talking about the negatives, let's think about how lucky we are to have such a great group of players. The team has too much depth, so that isn't a problem. They are likely to hit a snag in the road at some point, naturally, and then some changes will have to be made. Nothing is ever going to be perfect. I love the intrigue but I also need to learn to be patient, take it all in and just enjoy this first place team. If a player is worth supporting when he is doing well, he is worth supporting when he is down.

Team Positives:
Best Record in the American League!
Lew Ford: Leading the League in Hitting
Joe Nathan 6/6 in Saves
JC Romero: Back to His 2002 Form (Wednesday nonwithstanding)
Juan Rincon: the "Vulture" with 4 Wins!
Carlos Silva: Solid 3 Wins
Jaque Jones: .329 4HR 17RBI
Doug Mientkiewicz: .312 AVG
Nick Punto’s Hustle
Mike Ryan: the Professional Hitter
The New Turf
Unlooked for Production From Veteran Players Jose Offerman and Henry Blanco
Muholland, Roa, Rincon and Roa All With Sub .300 ERAs
Johan Santana and Kyle Lohses’s Recent Starts
Hunter off the DL and the Rest To Follow Soon (hopefully)
If you would like to add your own positive takes on the team let me know in the comments section.


(Title copyright of the Common Man)

The Comeback Kids

Note: For those of you unable to access the DTFC forum, try our new link. The URL had been changed but you should be able to get there now. Enjoy today's entry!

Entering the 2004 season, a lot of so-called “experts” predicted that our beloved Minnesota Twins would falter this season and relinquish their AL Central crown to someone else, for a variety of different reasons. The main grounds for this argument stemmed from the Twins’ losses of key talents like LaTroy, Eddie G., The Gambler, and A.J. (not to mention my former favorite Twin, Milty). The other oft-cited reason was that this “transition” version of the Twins just wouldn’t have the same clubhouse comradery and chemistry as those back-to-back division championship teams. In fact, I seem to recall a certain current Twins player (*cough* Doug Mientkiewicz *cough*) expressing the same concerns.

I, along with many other Twins fans I know, scoffed at this sentiment. Unless you play for the Yankees, I believe that chemistry is something that comes hand in hand with winning. When you win, all of those intangibles inevitably fall into place. When you lose, things don’t run as smoothly.

Where the 2002-03 versions of the ballclub came to be known in some circles as the “Contraction Kids”, the 2004 version is quickly establishing itself as the “Comeback Kids”. I’m sure some of you have undoubtedly seen this statistic already, I think it is still extremely telling: the Twins have rallied for 11 of their 14 wins this season and are also 9-6 when the other team scores first. Of those 11 wins, I would consider about 5 of them to be bona-fide “comeback” wins: the first two vs. Cleveland, the 9-7 win over KC, and these past two wins over Toronto.

Tuesday and Wednesday’s wins have especially impressed me. I can imagine how easy it would be to roll over and lose faith in both situations. On Tuesday, you’re down by three runs going into the ninth, you’d been soundly beaten the night before, and Miguel Batista is cruising. I was as excited as anyone when I heard Gordo’s surprised voice say “…this one might have a chance to be a home run…and, it is! Touch ‘em all, Jacque Jones!” My roommate, a Bostonian, couldn’t quite understand why I was jumping around for joy. “Twins win! Twins win!”- I can’t imagine a more appropriate time for celebration than hearing those four words.

Wednesday’s game was one of highs and lows. I thought that the Twins had it in the bag when they took a 5-1 lead going into the eighth. Kyle Lohse had pitched his best game of the season (he bailed himself out big-time with that 1-2-3 double play in the sixth), and we had our best reliever in J.C. coming in to preserve the lead for our pseudo-closer in the ninth. Then, the roof caved in. J.C. loaded the bases with two outs, and Kevin Cash hit a sinking liner that bounced off Stewart’s glove (and then ricocheted off his body!), which turned into a three-run double. It would have been a difficult catch, but it didn’t seem like Stew got the greatest jump in the world. Jacque probably comes up with that ball.

The Comeback Kids never say die, however. Good ol’ Sweet Lew (who is still the official player of this blog) started to shift the momentum back towards the hometown nine with his leadoff single in the bottom of the inning. A couple clutch hits by Michael Ryan and Stew, coupled with some bizarre mistakes by the Jays’ Terry Adams led to 4 more Minnesota runs. What a game!

These past two wins have sent out a clear message to the rest of the American League: these Comeback Kids are here to stay.

Notes: I’ve got a couple of quick questions that I would appreciate an answer to in the comments section below: When is the DTFC forum going to be back up? Also, why can’t we get video highlights from Twins games over at Does anybody know?