Monday, March 3, 2008

Twins Season Review

Well, Season 7 turned out to be a major disappointment for the Minnesota Twins. The Twins lead the AL North for 3/4 of the season only to see the team go into a major funk and finish a distant seven games behind the Pawtucket Patriots. Here's a grading out of each area of the Twins Franchise.

Starting Pitching: It all starts with well...starting pitching and for the Twins it starts and ends with Fonzie Bailey. Bailey has been a stalwart for the franchise since the very beginning and once again "the Fonz" put together an All-Star year going 19-6 with a 4.08 ERA and striking out 170 in almost 230 innings. No.2 starter Peter Washington has never been the same since being traded for Damion Klesko and leaving Toledo. Despite never putting up an ML season in which his ERA was over 4.5, Washington has put up back to back 6+ ERA's in his prime no less. The Twins organization is obviously befuddled with his development, or lack thereof and the prevailing thought around the organization is that he is not welcome back. No.3 starter Charles Fisher was a sort of bargain bin Free Agent signing. The aging star cost the team only 3.2 million but put up a 5.58 ERA, despite never having an ERA higher than 4.15 in any of the prior six innings. Go *!$#ing figure... The last two rotation spots belonged to youngsters who had stretches of genius accompanied by longer stretches of exceedingly poor pitching. Former 1st round pick Vinny Jones regressed as the no.4 starter and former controversial International signing Andres Andujar came up and won is first 5 games while maintaining a sub 2.5 ERA...only to end the year with a 6+ ERA.

Overall Grade: D

After a horrendous showing from the bullpen last year, the Twins organization decided to promote from within and let their young guys pitch. Surprisingly it turned out to be a mild success. Closer Sam Kennedy was an All-Star converting 23 of 28 saves and keeping a neat 3.24 ERA. Setup men Jerry Nelson and Rudy Harnisch both pitched extremely well until the last quarter of the season at which time their ERA's blossomed a full point a piece. The most surprising player out of the 'pen was Jose Gardel, a long reliever without a lot of god-given talent, he managed to throw 80+ innings of good baseball, keeping a 4.15 ERA. Bullpen Workhorse Pablo Soriano took a step back after eating a 100+ innings as a rookie and posting a 5.30 ERA he also managed to give up 6+ runs per 9 innnings.

Overall Grade: C+

The Twins lineup has been revamped under new GM pic27, with the former GM's draft picks playing major roles. Leadoff hitter Brian Sterns was phenomal at 2nd base and was an All-Star himself, hitting .312/22/112. No. 2 hitter and 3rd baseman Todd Miller really regressed and was shuffled all over the lineup and ended up in the lower half as his averaged dropped 40 points and his RBI's were 30 off last years mark. No.3 hitter Bill Sheffield remained one of the best hitters in the game, with only his durability a question mark. Clean-up hitter Slim McDowell had a season for the ages (despite no one taking notice). McDowell finished with an OPS of .976, while hitting a whopping 78 HR's (that led the league) and 176 RBI's (2nd in the league). If only the Twins had made the playoffs, McDowell would have had a chance to be in the MVP discussion, heck maybe he'll even get an All-Star invite one day. 1B Arthur Robbins, a former supplemental pick, fell into the sophomore slump as well, with his average dipping 50 points while hitting only 4 more home runs than last year, despite almost 33% more at-bats.

Lineup: B+

Twins baseball has always put an extra emphasis on fielding properly and staying away from errors. For the first time since new GM pic27 took over, the defense slipped out of the top 10 and finished 11th in the league. With added emphasis on offense this was bound to happen but it is still displeasing to an organization that prides itself on double plays and outfield assists.

Overall Grade: B-

The Twins had a golden chance to take the division but the team's nosedive towards the end of the season has their GM on the hotseat. Much more is expected of this team, and with several pitching prospects in the minors, the Twins could try to play the trade game and find themselves more rotation help before the start of season 8.


Heater1121 said...

Well written. I enjoyed that. I think if every team had a post season review like this along with a season preview also, it would create alot more interest within the league. That way everyone can get too know more players within the world and get to know the different philosophical approaches by each GM. Great job on this one!

Psuedonym said...

Thanks Heater! I like to call myself a freelance sports writer on the side, looking forward to season 8!