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  1. Don’t underestimate the White Sox/Tigers ability to implode and keep the Twins in it until the end.

    Comment by Mike H — April 15, 2011 @ 11:57 am

  2. its tribe time in 2011

    Comment by albert freaking belle — April 15, 2011 @ 12:05 pm

  3. I thought the Twins would win division even with the diminished defense they run out every day because it would be somewhat mitigated by favorable park factors. I knew they had a good amount of depth in the rotation and I expected Liriano to put up similar numbers from 2010 and I was bullish on Nathan coming back and they could always hit… Injuries and underachievement (and let’s face it a terrible bullpen) have me thinking this is not a playoff team even in the Central.

    Comment by Ryan — April 15, 2011 @ 12:06 pm

  4. Unfortunately for the Twins, their best players have had histories of injuries and so enter every season as question marks to stay healthy and contribute all year. Mauer, Morneau, Thome, Nathan, Liriano and Hardy used to be on that list as well. The Twins way seems to be getting by with deep pitching reserves, but they lost most of their bullpen from last year and their soft tossers who rely on defense for outs won’t be helped by the defensive ineptitude the team has built up recently. If Nathan can regain his old form, Mauer comes back quickly and dominates as usual, Morneau manages to stay healthy and Thome and Liriano can reenact their incredible 2010, the Twins can be a playoff team, but that’s a lot of ifs with very little insurance.

    Comment by phoenix2042 — April 15, 2011 @ 12:09 pm

  5. *sigh*
    Yeah. Poor Joe.

    Oh well. I’m OK with not winning this season – I’m just going to enjoy baseball.

    Comment by Patrick — April 15, 2011 @ 12:14 pm

  6. Maybe… Each team in that division has glaring weaknesses, but, as for the White Sox, I’d take their bullpen problem over anything else. I’m not seeing any long term fear of the Tigers at this point.

    I can still see the Indians and Royals stealing away some wins from that division, but their rotations are too bare to be a legitimate threat.

    Morneau’s situation should still be of some concern. It’s clear that there are some issues dealing with this strange recovery. It may just deal with shedding some rust, but I’m not trusting his return to normal right now.

    Are Liriano’s Spring arm issues going to be a season long issue? He’s down 2MPH on his fastball and he’s looked helpless at times.

    The Twins are definitely in a bad place, and I would be extremely concerned. Playing in a ballpark like that with absolutely no power production so far… It might be a really long season.

    Comment by baty — April 15, 2011 @ 12:24 pm

  7. Way too early for these types of doom-and-gloom columns.

    Comment by Joey Belle — April 15, 2011 @ 12:41 pm

  8. I think most assumed some regression/problems with Liriano … so it’s not terribly surprising. The disparity between DET, CWS, and MIN for one of them to get too far back or to experience a lot of setbacks. The Twins won th edivision 2 years ago when mauer missed the first month. But, he also came back to have a career year, and the “OF Clones” also had great years. IIRC, something like 4 guys with 30 HR, 100 RBI seasons.

    I think we discussed it here, that the offseason would have been a great time for them to move him … especially with NYY losing out on Lee.

    Morneau’s situation is especially troubling because we don’t know, from previous experiences, how that will play out. It sort of an unknown.

    Needing or hoping for an implosion from DET and CWS is not likely a probable event.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — April 15, 2011 @ 12:46 pm

  9. If losing any single player you drafted leads you to believe you can’t win, you weren’t going to anyway.

    Comment by descender — April 15, 2011 @ 12:48 pm

  10. I agree, and I don’t agree. Of course there is a reason why they play all 162 games. But injuries are worth note, especially in areas where backups are thin to begin with. It’s not like most teams have many above-replacement level backups on hand at second base and backstop.

    Comment by shibboleth — April 15, 2011 @ 12:52 pm

  11. Everyone, or nearly everyone, seems to be assuming that Mauer’s physical issues are directly related to playing Catcher, when, at least the way I read the linked infromation from this post, it is likely that there is not relationship at all.

    It sounds to me like he’ll either be back behind the plate in relatively short order or the Twins will be cashing an insurance check.

    Comment by bisonaudit — April 15, 2011 @ 12:56 pm

  12. I’m no doctor but i read leg weakness can come from the flu..and he’s recovering from the flu. Just saying

    Comment by Alex — April 15, 2011 @ 12:57 pm

  13. The White Sox, to this point at any rate, seem to have one of the league’s best offenses to go with top 2 or 3 starting pitching (possibly better if Peavy comes back and pitches decently), I don’t think we’ll manage to blow 40 saves the entire year or something ridiculous like that, while it might be an issue it shouldn’t prevent them from winning around 90 games which could well be enough to take the division.

    Comment by Fred — April 15, 2011 @ 12:57 pm

  14. There is a surplus of hysterical early analysis this year.

    The Twins are 4 games back of Cleveland and Kansas City, two teams playing way over their heads, at an unsustainable .667 pace. Meanwhile the Twins are also winning at an unsustainable .333 clip.

    It is called small sample Mr Cameron. Look into it.

    The Twins have dealt with annual DL stints for Mauer and won, last year they overcame Morneau missing the last half of the year.

    Relax. Calm down people. The stats geeks are losing their minds.

    Comment by LionoftheSenate — April 15, 2011 @ 1:11 pm

  15. Stats geeks are being blown away by the scouts this year. It appears the stats geeks were ahead for about 7 years, now that most of their information has been digested, scouts run the show again, as it should be.

    The fact is, being able to measure something accurately is the exception, there are far more things we can not measure or don’t even know exist to even consider measuring. Scouts are way ahead of the curve on these areas.

    Comment by LionoftheSenate — April 15, 2011 @ 1:14 pm

  16. If the cardinals lost pujols they wouldn’t contend. If the giants had lost bonds they wouldn’t have been in the W.S.

    Comment by steve-o — April 15, 2011 @ 1:24 pm

  17. So now that scouts are using advanced statistics they’re better at their jobs? Score one for stats geeks.

    Comment by steve-o — April 15, 2011 @ 1:27 pm

  18. Thank you! I thought I was the only one who was thinking this, but the symptoms in the linked article sounded very unusual and not necessarily anything to do with the wear and tear of being a catcher.

    Comment by hunterfan — April 15, 2011 @ 1:27 pm

  19. And if the Twins move Mauer, who’s the catcher? Drew Butera? Meanwhile, Wilson Ramos is having a nice start with the Nationals. Their rotation, with the slip of Liriano, is all #3 and #4 starters. Delmon Young and Cuddyer aren’t all that good, defensively. Span is fun to watch and good. As a KC fan and having seen the Tigers, Twins, and Sox play, already, I would say the Sox look poised to win, with Detroit giving chase…until the Detroit Police give chase to Miguel Take-a-Cab-rera. The Sox will straighten out or trade for a solution to their bullpen issues (Thornton may not be the guy to close, but he’ll still be good), and BP are the easiest pieces to pick up.

    Comment by Jason — April 15, 2011 @ 1:29 pm

  20. Yeah, that right there is really dumb, descender.

    Because Joe – who’s been worth something like 6 WAR a season in his career – wasn’t likely to be the difference in the division.

    They’re called Stars for a reason, and losing one can be more than enough to make or break a season.

    Also, why do you think I’m saying that just because of Joe Mauer?
    We’re also out Nishioka and Liriano may be broken again.

    That right there is a loss of anywhere from 2 or 3 WAR up to 12+ WAR, depending on how badly it goes.

    Comment by Patrick — April 15, 2011 @ 1:30 pm

  21. Lion…

    What? How does that relate to this article?

    Comment by Patrick — April 15, 2011 @ 1:32 pm

  22. Come on… It’s clear that the Twins current situation prompts a legitimate reason to write an article like this.

    While I doubt the Twins continue their pace towards hammering an historically low number of home runs (40) for the year, these small sample sizes do expose certain flaws… How real or unreal they become, is another story.

    In addition to that, it has been a very strange season so far, so why should it be out of the to discuss?

    Comment by baty — April 15, 2011 @ 1:32 pm

  23. If I was a Twins fan I would be terrified right now by Mauer’s diagnosis. Depending on its etiology, this is something that could easily be career-limiting for him, a chronic back condition that cannot be cured, only controlled.

    Chronic back problems can be devastating for a baseball player. A good example of this is what happened to Mike Sweeney’s career (remember, also a big guy who played catcher).

    Comment by Blue — April 15, 2011 @ 1:33 pm

  24. Luckily for the Twins the next 2 weeks have them facing the Rays, Orioles, Indians, and Royals, so there is ample opportunity to get back on track, even without Mauer.

    ESPN reported this morning that Mauer was hospitalized with “flu-like symptoms” and abdominal cramps, so this leg weakness thing might just be a virus and 2 weeks on the DL will fix him right up. Who knows. It seems unlikely that his knees would be giving out when he’s only played in 10 or so games so far this year.

    12 games in is never time to panic. They did start with a brutal road schedule in Toronto and New York. Let’s see where there are on May 1.

    It’s funny that about 3 weeks ago when the story came out that the Twins might want to trade Liriano everyone thought that was insane. I still think it’s just a typical slow start for him, but it does not look like it was such a crazy idea now.

    Comment by Craig — April 15, 2011 @ 1:35 pm

  25. Don Mattingly seconds this concern.

    Comment by cwendt — April 15, 2011 @ 1:43 pm

  26. If I were Joe Mauer I’d be terrified right now. From the article: “…it can lead to total flaccidity.”

    Comment by Dexter Bobo — April 15, 2011 @ 2:04 pm

  27. Read a book.

    Comment by LionoftheSenate — April 15, 2011 @ 2:13 pm

  28. Sure the slow start can be discussed and examined, but the tone was overly hysterical for two weeks.

    I was given so little evidence to be alarmed….

    Comment by LionoftheSenate — April 15, 2011 @ 2:16 pm

  29. Troll on dude.

    Comment by Davy Crockett's Hat — April 15, 2011 @ 2:51 pm

  30. The article wasn’t inferring there should be worry by citing somebody’s batting average over a two week span. It was more about the fact that the two cornerstone players of the franchise now both have injuries with concerns and cloudy time lines for their return to play, or in Morneau’s case, return to form.

    Additionally, the depth of last years team in the bullpen and middle infield that helped mitigate injuries are now gone. You also probably can’t count on a 39 year old Jim Thome to take someone’s at bats and put up a 313/448/710 post AS break line two years in a row.

    Comment by JK — April 15, 2011 @ 3:17 pm

  31. Go away.

    Comment by Small Sample Goodness — April 15, 2011 @ 3:29 pm

  32. They wouldn’t be sending him to Baltimore to see the guy who treated his back a couple years ago if they thought this was a result of his flu.

    Comment by Yinka Double Dare — April 15, 2011 @ 3:39 pm

  33. Well, while he’s no Joe Mauer, at least they can call up Wilson Ramos… oh wait…

    Well at least they have Matt Capps at a ‘cheap’ 7.15mil this year.

    And yet another reason why that deal last year was not a good one (even if some folks were slightly down on Ramos at the time)

    Comment by joe — April 15, 2011 @ 3:39 pm

  34. Totally agree that the Tribe and KC will not keep doing this, but do not kid yourself in regards to the Twins being able to climb out of this hole. The injury bug is hitting them hard. Remember what the White Sox had to do last year in order to get back into contention? Do you really think the Twins have this capability with this team?

    I think you are underestimating the improvements Chicago and Detroit made. Its crappy to think that a season could be out of reach already, but it does happen. Twins fans have become very confident in a team that has shown a little bit of success over the past few years. It is not like they have a payroll that allows them to buy out of this problem.

    So I just think that your suggestion that it is “hysterical” to discuss these things actually reeks of hysteria more than any other comment.

    Comment by Steve from Rockford — April 15, 2011 @ 4:33 pm

  35. Every time the Twins look like they should suck they get a bunch of good innings out of mediocre pitchers and end up in 1st.

    Comment by Ender — April 15, 2011 @ 5:58 pm

  36. Trading JJ Hardy and Wilson Ramos for relief pitching seems like such a great idea now.

    Comment by BX — April 15, 2011 @ 6:29 pm

  37. You can’t read obviously.

    I said it was fine to discuss these things, the opposite of what you claim……I said the tone was hysterical. I find that the tone detracted from any salient points Mr Cameron might have had.

    Just poor writing.

    Comment by LionoftheSenate — April 15, 2011 @ 6:35 pm


    Comment by alex — April 15, 2011 @ 7:57 pm

  39. JJ’s on the DL

    Comment by alex — April 15, 2011 @ 7:58 pm

  40. This is especially true vis-a-vis Mauer. People have been writing Mauer’s catcher obituary since before he he was drafted and it’s amazing how fast people run “I told you so” columns the second there’s even a hint of injury (like, say, he goes 1 for 10 over two games). A hint of injury is exactly what we have here, but Baseball Prospectus was basically laying a wreath at his tombstone this afternoon. Not sure if you beat them to the punch Cameron, but let no one say that anyone suggested dismantling the team to accommodate Mauer’s enfeebling before you. Despite supposedly being injury prone, only four guys have caught more innings since 2005. And now he has…the flu (which I’m sure is somehow more likely because he’s 6’4”).

    Comment by Luke in MN — April 15, 2011 @ 9:55 pm

  41. They lost their MVP catcher and starting 2Bman, their closer is not 100% after surgery, and their ace starter looks to be pitching hurt, while their star IBman looks to have residual effects from his concussion.

    Yes, I would say panic is in order, or at least acceptance that this will be a rough year.

    Comment by pft — April 16, 2011 @ 12:09 am

  42. Since there in a hole the size of the shovel probably doesn’t matter.

    Comment by CK — April 16, 2011 @ 10:18 am

  43. Since they’re in a hole the size of the shovel probably doesn’t matter.

    Comment by CK — April 16, 2011 @ 10:18 am

  44. While 13 games is too early to write off a team, the amount of injuries to key offensive pieces and a mediocre pitch to contact rotation that give up a ton of foul balls it appears to the naked eye it will be tough.

    I’ve been down on Cleveland but if their offense can hit and Masterson, Talbot have good years they will be better than people think.

    Tigers have arguably the best hitter in Baseball right now in Miguel Cabrera with some protection in V-Mart. Porcello or Penny haven’t looked great thus far but their pitching is capable of great things.

    The White Sox look like the class of the AL Central, there is no way they are going to have a bullpen bad enough to keep them from winning this division. They add a legit closer or Sergio Santos seizes the role they will win. And what is Chris Sale doing the bigs as reliever? To draft a pitcher to close in the 1st round is a waste of money.

    Comment by Faux Joe Orsulak — April 16, 2011 @ 10:48 am

  45. To write off any team this early in the season is crazy. The AL central is filled with flawed teams, the Twins deserve the benefit of the doubt.

    Comment by BRIAN — April 16, 2011 @ 11:04 am

  46. “Needing or hoping for an implosion from DET and CWS is not likely a probable event.”

    Have you watched the white sox the last decade?

    Comment by adohaj — April 16, 2011 @ 2:16 pm

  47. He sees that doctor yearly for a checkup on the kidney surgery.

    Comment by Twins33 — April 16, 2011 @ 3:07 pm

  48. Logical, well reasoned article. However, as a Tigers guy, I can assure you that the Twins are still the AL Central favorites. No matter what happens, they can always conjure another 2 WAR guy out of thin air and win the division. It’s both ridiculous and predictable. Not quite enough talent to win? Drew Butera will contribute 1.3 WAR in 48 games. Duensing will become a 4 WAR starter. I still don’t know how it happens, but it will happen.

    Comment by RPS — April 16, 2011 @ 6:01 pm

  49. Totally agree with Lion, being able to filter through numbers is easy. That’s why there are so many of us that do it. It’s the scouts who have the unique ability. Scouts ca/have been easily taught the numbers game and have adjusted. Also agree with the point about the ability (or lack there of) to predict outcomes. The cause of this is discussed thoroughly in the Black Swan by Nassim Taleb.

    Comment by Clark — April 16, 2011 @ 9:19 pm

  50. Heh Heh.

    I’m not saying it’s impossible, but needing in order to gain some hope is possible, but not probable.

    CWS and DET are better organizations than FG often gives them credit for.

    The worst part of the Twins not winning the division is that the NYY are going to have to play more than 3 games in the LDS. *grin*


    The real issues in this are not necessarily what is happening “right now” … but all of the things that need to go right for MIN to get right back in the mix …

    [1] Liriano is going to ned to have a career year … again
    [2] Mauer needs to get healthy … and have a rebound like he had after his 2009 injury.
    [3] Morneau needs to come back from concussion and be as good as he was before.
    [4] Their middle infield is going to need to over-perform.
    [5] The OF’ers are going to need offensive production like 2009.

    Then they need the ChiSox to experiences injuries or continue the horrific late game situations/luck.

    They also need DET to have injuries, especially to Verlander or Cabrera.

    Taken individually, each things is certainly possible … but when start to combine them, one starts sounding like a Cub fan listing the “If These Things Go Right List”, where they could actually win a World Series.

    Technically, my Cardinals could win the division. But, it ain’t looking pretty now … and it may soon be time to panic. I’m not sure what “panic” means in this article. Does it mean trading some players? Signing some players? Accepting a non-division champ reality? Needing an 8-game win streak?

    Comment by CircleChange11 — April 16, 2011 @ 10:02 pm

  51. Duensing will not be a 4 WAR starter, but he might put in as many quality starts as most of the 4 WAR starters.

    Comment by Barkey Walker — April 16, 2011 @ 10:24 pm

  52. This team won one and lost two to the Yankees, which is typical. Except that the last the two by only one run. Then they lost three to the Rays (not typical) but again lost by one run. They are not that far off the mark.

    Pavano again looks like a #1 or #2 starter despite the fact that nobody on FG will admit it. Nathan is not completely back, but good news: they have a second closer. Calling a pen that has a solid quality closer is silly. Yes, a lot of work had to go into the middle, but the whole foundation is there. Plus, middle relievers do not contribute much WAR, it is a theme of this website. Put it this way, I’d rather have Capps as the closer and not know about the middle relief than have great middle relief but not have any good ideas about a closer.

    Mauer will be fine, Morneau may not be. But if he isn’t I wouldn’t be surprised to see him retire and open up some salary room for the team. Obviously trying to fill a vacancy at first will be difficult, but maybe Hughes could play it in 2011 and contribute 2 WAR.

    Look, the team’s BA is 0.234 and their OBP is 0.284. A lot of that is luck, it will come up. Also, the pitching (perhaps not including Liriano) will improve. Again, good news: they have a sixth starter. Small sample, there is time to adjust. Not that big a deal.

    Comment by Barkey Walker — April 16, 2011 @ 10:35 pm

  53. Yes, it does.

    Comment by Barkey Walker — April 16, 2011 @ 10:36 pm

  54. They get those because they (traditionally) have great infield defense and pitch to contact. This is not the typical way of pitching so FG tends to say that they aren’t very good pitchers and are all #4 or #5 type guys.

    The question is: is Casilla actually a good SS and is Nishioka actually a good second baseman? If they are not, then I wouldn’t expect this to happen. But I’m not going to conclude that they are not after this many games.

    Comment by Barkey Walker — April 16, 2011 @ 10:39 pm

  55. The problem with Ramos was that everyone wanted to see him after he had been the #1 catcher in MLB for awhile. Obviously, with some Mauer dude in the catching slot the Twins couldn’t give him a month before trading him, plus their DH slot is already too popular.

    I think they had to deal him below his value. Trading him to a NL team was probably about as good as they could do. Plus, Capps is a good closer and 7.1 mil for a closer isn’t that bad.

    Comment by Barkey Walker — April 16, 2011 @ 10:43 pm

  56. Going to be a pain, but the fact that you separated your first two “paragraphs” confused me on who the subject of the second one was. Figured it out, eventually.

    Comment by My echo and bunnymen — April 16, 2011 @ 11:59 pm

  57. You need to get 27 outs to win a game, and unless you have a lot of starters who go deep in games, you need to get some of those outs from the middle relief.

    The win against the Yankees was gifted and won on a bloop hit that cleared the bases.

    Don’t be too sure to right off Mauers illness/injury given his back problems. Worst case you could be looking at something close to career ending, best case is it is nothing but the flu. He sees a specialist next week.

    I would not count the Twins out, but there certainly is reason for concern.
    The AL West may be a bit stronger than last year if the Indians and Royals can play close to 500 ball, which will make wins harder to come from within the division, which is where the Twins pick up most of their wins.

    Comment by pft — April 17, 2011 @ 4:16 am

  58. 7.1 million IS that bad when you’re robbing more important areas of your team to pay for it.

    They gutted their middle infield to keep him around.

    Comment by Small Sample Goodness — April 17, 2011 @ 8:53 am

  59. You’re new here aren’t you?

    Comment by Small Sample Goodness — April 17, 2011 @ 8:55 am

  60. The Yankees have Jesus Montero sitting in the minor leagues, of which they have no use,. The Yankees need a pitcher, with Hughes out. What about a trade between these two teams? Maybe Montero for Scott Baker?

    The Twins are calling Mauer’s weakness a “viral illness”. There is a disease “guillen Barre ” disease which causes temporary muscular illness. The newesa says he will be out “for about a month”. That would be perfect for Guillen Barre” Prisoner

    Comment by prisoner — April 17, 2011 @ 9:39 am

  61. Prisoner I hope you are joking about trading Montero away for Baker.

    Comment by Epy0n — April 17, 2011 @ 11:29 am

  62. He has a yearly checkup with the doctor in Baltimore every time the Twins visit the Orioles.

    Stop over-reacting.

    Comment by Erik — April 17, 2011 @ 2:57 pm

  63. I will answer that for you right now – Casilla is not a good SS. He is your typical utility player; that just hasn’t been figured out by the Twins yet.

    Comment by Erik — April 17, 2011 @ 3:07 pm

  64. Twins pitchers don’t throw Ks, so they don’t get low WARs. They do have a surprising number of quality starts for their WARs.

    Comment by Barkey Walker — April 17, 2011 @ 3:31 pm

  65. you really want to face the red-hot indians, rays, and royals with this joke of a twins team right now?

    Comment by fredsbank — April 17, 2011 @ 4:03 pm

  66. SSG, you are living up to your name if you are already so sure they gutted the infield.

    Comment by Barkey Walker — April 17, 2011 @ 7:30 pm

  67. Morneau is just too soft. I thought Canadians were kind of intense players, but Koskie quit, and Morneau is a shadow of his former self now. I’ve read that he doesn’t even hit home runs in BP anymore. They shouldn’t have given him that contract; he’s defined the epitome of “choke artist” now. With concussions, I think you just have to push through it, suck it up, and play. He wanted to sit out until things were perfect. Well, they’re not going to be.

    Comment by Ingy — April 17, 2011 @ 10:35 pm

  68. Gifts from poor fielders are sometimes known as wins, it is a fact of life. If you don’t want to count them, that exact same hit cost the Twins a win this weekend, so I think it is a wash.

    Comment by Barkey Walker — April 18, 2011 @ 10:12 am

  69. Huh?

    Comment by MetsKnicksRutgers — April 18, 2011 @ 1:04 pm

  70. Good troll job, I applaud you

    Comment by MetsKnicksRutgers — April 18, 2011 @ 1:08 pm

  71. To Ingy,
    I am shocked bu your utter lack of any resemblance of intellect. I will gladly give you a sports concussion and see how well you hit 95 mph fastballs that are inches away from your body.

    Comment by Justin Morneau — April 18, 2011 @ 2:10 pm

  72. Eh, I don’t mind them using him as a reliever, it’s not a terrible way for the guy to learn to get major league hitters out (just as one example, the Twins did it with Johan Santana) and get the best coaching they have, and with an expensive rotation of Buehrle, Danks, Floyd, Jackson and Peavy there really wasn’t going to be a chance for Sale to start consistently in the bigs this season. May as well use him in the pen and get some useful innings out of him and let him work with Don Cooper. I think they still plan to give him a shot at starting next year — Buehrle and Jackson are both free agents after this season, and no one will be shocked if Buehrle takes a pay cut to play in St. Louis.

    Comment by Yinka Double Dare — April 18, 2011 @ 6:26 pm

  73. Pardon me for trusting what Will Carroll had to say.

    Comment by Yinka Double Dare — April 18, 2011 @ 6:28 pm

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