Last season the Twins hot a major league best 305 with runners in scoring position. We discussed this many times in this space. Was it sustainable? Was it luck? Some argued that it could be repeated, while many argued that it could not. You always regress to the mean, so there was a lot of room to fall from that 305 mark. The Twins are proving that this year. Through 20 games they are hitting 265 with runners in scoring position. In the Twins last two loses (Sunday and Monday) the team was 1-18 w/RISP. That is unbelievably bad. When I saw the 265 number, I though that was too high. It seems as if we are hitting much worse than that. As an entire team we aren’t doing so hot at the plate. Our right handed batters in particular. While I think we will eventually bring that average w/RISP up, I don’t think we will hit nearly as well as we did in 2008. Can you imagine if Morneau and Kubel didn’t start the year so hot? We would probably be sitting at 5-16 instead 10-11. Yes, the math is right.
Now, you can say “but we are doing all of this without Joe Mauer, we just need to tread water”. Do you really think inserting Mauer into the lineup will make Cuddyer not be terrible? I for one do not. I think it will help, but when Mauer is sitting on the bench (after doing something awesome, no doubt), Cuddyer will probably still be prone to strike out. This brings me to my next point: Cuddyer isn’t good enough to be an everyday player. He simply doesn’t have the track record that people claim he does. That throw he made to the plate yesterday had a better chance of hitting me in the face, than getting the runner out (no seriously, I was sitting first row behind the plate, no big deal). I think it is better for the team to get our young outfielders (Young, Gomez) at bats than it is to stroke Cuddyer’s ego by letting him play everyday.
Next point: Who goes down when Mauer comes back? Conventional wisdom says Morales. But with the way Gardy has been using Gomez, I say send him down. I mean he has been nothing more than a defensive replacement for the past week or so. He should have been in the minors most of last year. The arguments for sending Gomez down are a lot stronger than sending Morales down. While I don’t advocate carrying three catchers, Morales has been hitting lately, and if Mauer needs to be eased back into the lineup it will be nice to have him for those first few weeks.
When Crain comes back I think the best idea is to try to get Morillo through waivers. He would be a nice project, but isn’t worth a major league roster spot at this point. Yes, 97 MPH fastballs are cool, but not when they have your recently back from the DL catcher running all over the place trying to keep runners from advancing.
Does anyone else think that the shift Maddon used last night turned out to be a bad idea? I’ve never like those shifts, because I think having five infielders creates a “too many cooks in the kitchen” problem. Especially when you put a backup right fielder in charge of helping turn a DP. I guess hindsight is always 20-20.
Also, if we win tonight (knock on wood) we will be 11-11 without Mauer. I believe that was the collective firegardy.com goal. Even 10-12 isn’t terrible without our best player.
So feel free to leave your hopeless defense-of-Cuddyer arguments in the comments section. Or suggestions as to how Gardy and co. should handle the roster in the next few weeks.22 comments