Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Proving a Point

The Twins are the three-time American League Central Championships for a reason and they continued to prove it last night. While the rest of the division continues to catch up in terms of talent the Twin’s organization continues to be one step ahead. What makes the Twins special is that they love being the underdog so much that they seem to swoon every summer just to give teams false hope and then pull away in the closing months. Comments made earlier in the week by a certain Tiger outfielder only served to fuel the fire of a team that has learned how to win. Last night the Twins beat the Tigers with a walk dramatic walk-off double by Shannon Stewart.

The Tigers are a much improved team thanks in large part to their willingness to overpay for just about every big free agent player (some of them actually even sign with the team!). In the next couple of seasons their payroll is expected to exceed $100 million, almost doubling that of the Twins. They also have a good manager in Alan Trammell. Both their lineup and bullpen have potential. Their ace, Jeremy Bonderman, is developing into an impressive pitcher and Mike Maroth has come a long way from his 20-loss season.

Despite all of this the Tigers are still a team that falls a couple of pieces short. Their veterans are old and injury-prone and their pitching is yet unproven. What this all means is that the Twins will no longer be able to beat up on them like they have in past seasons but they also wont have to worry about looking up in the standings to see orange come September. So while Dmitri Young has had a good start to his season, his grasp of reality remains a little off.

There were plenty of highlights for the Twins besides the way the game ended. Joe Mays finally started a game, and while he wasn’t great, it was a step in the right direction. Many people disagree with me but Joe Mays is a big key to this season, whether Carlos Silva is able to come back quickly or not. I continue to look for Mays to have a good year and prove his critics wrong.

Both Twins homeruns last night were impressive. Bartlett and Cuddyer showed how strong they are. Bartlett’s homer looked like he had got a little under it and yet he was still able to muscle it over the fence. Cuddyer just spanked the ball. It is easy to imagine Cuddyer someday bringing it all together to at least hit 30. With Morneau out of the lineup it’s important for others to pick up the slack.

Both Juan Rincon and JC Romero were electric last night. It’s scary to think how good this bullpen can set up. The team was even able to score a run off of Troy Percival for the first time ever.

If the team can figure out a way to get Craig Monroe out they will be well on their way to exercising all of their demons on the Tigers.

Linkin' It Up

I don't have the time or inclination to post any original thoughts on the Twins tonight (there was no game today, so I'm using that as an excuse). However, I would like to direct your attention to a few links/tidbits for your reading pleasure this Tuesday.

Maybe it's not all bad
There are actual some positive news coming out of the Metrodome today! Carlos Silva may (possibly) not need surgery after all, which would be by far the best news I have heard in a long time. Also, Justin Morneau may not have to go on the disabled list, as an MRI and CT scan showed there was nothing seriously wrong with him. Click here for the Strib article.

A tough start? What gave it away?
New York sportswriter and frequent ESPN.com contributor Buster Onley, a favorite of Aaron Gleeman, posted the following on his blog (available to ESPN Insider subscribers only) the other day:

Tough Start for Twins

The Minnesota Twins got through the first week with three wins in six games, right in the middle of the AL Central's five-team scrum. But they had the worst week of any team in baseball, unquestionably, losing pitcher Carlos Silva for at least a few months with a serious knee problem. And there are worries about first baseman Justin Morneau, still dizzy after getting beaned last week. The short of it is that Morneau has had four other concussions in the past, and feels foggy and light-headed. For the Twins, it is the equivalent of the Yankees losing Hideki Matsui and Carl Pavano, or the Red Sox losing David Ortiz and Matt Clement.

And at least one observer is predicting they won't be part of the AL Central race. No less an authority than Dmitri Young says the Tigers and Indians are the best teams in the division. This from MLB.com's Mark Sheldon:

Detroit Tigers first baseman Dmitri Young won't see the Twins until Tuesday's series opener at the Metrodome. But after Detroit finished its series with the Indians on Sunday, Young has apparently seen enough to make some predictions about the outcome of AL Central. "This is our rival right here," Young said of Cleveland. "Forget the other teams. I think it's going to come down to us and them. Just look at the different positions, look at the matchups. The matchups are pretty similar." The Twins have won the last three division titles and are many experts' pick to take a fourth-straight championship. When a reporter asked him about Minnesota, Young shrugged. "Us and Cleveland," he said.

Interesting quote from Young, I thought. Is this unjustified arrogance or simply confidence?

Well, I was planning on having a few more links, but I just couldn't find the right ones. If you're still hungry for reading, check out the other Twins blogs, linked for your convienience on the left side of this page. Tomorrow John will be back with some more Twins-related thoughts.

-Ryan M.