Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Taking the Bad With the Good

Okay.  I have some good news, and I have some bad news.  Which do you want to hear first?  To be kind, let's start with the good: yesterday's 3-1 win over the Detroit Tigers, which was just the team's second victory in their last eight games.  Terry Mulholland continues to throw a wrench in the chain of the Twins' trade plans.  He had his best start in about a year and a half (since a victory over the Twins in September of 2002) and is 2-0 with a 3.11 ERA as a starter this season.  Just how is this guy doing it?  Last night, he kept the Tiger hitters off-balance with good command of his breaking pitches, change-up, and 89 mph fastball.  I didn't know Mulholland could even throw harder than 85, let alone almost 90!  For the second consecutive start he shut down one of the better hitting teams in the AL.  I wasn't a huge proponent of the Mulholland signing back in April, but in my mind, he's already earned his $600,000 paycheck.  The only downside to his recent performance is that it might cause TR to let up on his search for a viable 5th starter, which reports say he is actively hunting for.  As impressed as I've been with the old geezer in his short stint as a starter, I can say with some certainty that he is probably not the answer.  But who knows?  I've been known to be wrong in the past (on rare occasions), so I might be wrong here too.  We'll wait and see.
In other good news, it was none other than Jose Offerman who delivered Monday's game-deciding RBI hit, a two-run single in the seventh.  As I said yesterday, this guy has a knack for sticking around, doesn't he?  His stats are still atrocious (.228 BA, .731 OPS) but you can't argue with results.  Or can you?
Now that I've brightened your day with those two little positive tidbits, I'm about to bring you crashing down to earth.  As most of you have probably already heard, Joe Mauer once again went on the 15 day disabled list yesterday with knee soreness.  The Twins expected this a little bit, as it was assumed there would be some discomfort when Mauer came off his anti-inflammatory medication, but it seems that the soreness hasn't improved since.  The Twins were forced to call up Rob Bowen from AA (how lucky is this guy to have that 40-man roster spot?) to serve as the emergency/3rd catcher.  I talked a little about this topic the other day when it was revealed Mauer had the sore knee, but now the situation has become much more dire.  What should the Twins do with their prized rookie?  Personally, I think the team is being overly optimistic when they give 10 days to two weeks as a probable date for Mauer's return.  If he has any more setbacks, I honestly think that the Twins should just shut Mauer down for the rest of the season rather than risk mortgaging their future for the sake of a single playoff birth in 2004.  I'm glad that the Twins are being very cautious with their catcher, but Mauer's absence screws up the entire lineup big time.  Matthew LeCroy is only able to catch a handful of pitchers on the Twins staff adequately--Radke, Mulholland, and MAYBE Silva--and Henry Blanco can't hit his weight (although LeCroy is approaching that weight plateau as well--not that he has that far to drop).  Plus, the market for catchers is extremely thin right now (Reusse suggests Dan Wilson as a possible backup) and it seems the Twins will just have to make due with what they have.  It's a slippery slope, and I don't envy Ron Gardenhire.  He and Terry Ryan have some tough personnel decisions to make in the coming weeks.
Twins Geek also reported a rumor that the Blue Jays are seriously pursuing Justin Morneau right now, but I don't know how much truth there is to it.  I don't think that the Jays would give the Twins market value for one of (if not the) game's best power prospects.  I honestly don't know what to make of the rumor, but it is just that: a rumor.
That's all the jottings I have for today.  Thanks again for stopping by Twins Chatter.  Feel free to drop a comment below or zap me an e-mail at twinsfan21@msn.com.  Goodnight everybody.