August 12, 2005
In fact, the pitching has exceeded expectations. But almost everything else about the Twins' big plans has gone wrong since March.
Replace Corey Koskie with Michael Cuddyer? Cristian Guzman with Jason Bartlett? Doug Mientkiewicz with Justin Morneau?
That was the plan. The low-revenue Twins had cycled out veterans for young players the year before, and the year before that, and continued to win divisional titles - getting better along the way, some argued.
But with less than two months remaining in a season that appears headed toward one of the more disappointing finishes in recent team history, the Twins are faced with deciding how much of that two-year plan still makes sense.
"It's caught up with us offensively this year, with a lot of young hitters,'' said manager Ron Gardenhire, who also said he is more focused on trying to correct that in the next few weeks than focusing on changes for next year.
Now, no one is going to argue that Michael Cuddyer, Jason Bartlett, and Justin Morneau have had great seasons, but take a look at this:
FIRST BASE AVG OBP SLG OPS
Doug Mientkiewicz .247 .332 .428 .760
Justin Morneau .248 .318 .455 .773
SHORTSTOP AVG OBP SLG OPS
Cristian Guzman .188 .233 .270 .503
Jason Bartlett .226 .299 .330 .629
THIRD BASE AVG OBP SLG OPS
Corey Koskie .246 .310 .396 .706
Michael Cuddyer .268 .344 .425 .769
If you want to argue that the Twins replaced Doug Mientkiewicz, Cristian Guzman, and Corey Koskie with the wrong players or that the replacements haven't produced the same sort offense that those three provided in the past, that's one thing (well, actually two things). But to argue that replacing them, period, has in any way been a mistake is silly.
Guzman is hitting .188/.233/.270 for the Nationals and has been one of the worst players in all of baseball this season. Koskie has a .396 slugging percentage for the Blue Jays and spent much of the year on the disabled list with a broken thumb. And Mientkiewicz has a .760 OPS for the Mets, has been in and out of the lineup, and is now on the DL himself.
As disappointing as you may think Morneau, Bartlett, and Cuddyer have been this season, they've all been better than the guy they replaced. Oh, and you also can't overlook the fact that Morneau, Bartlett, and Cuddyer combine to make about $1 million this season, while Mientkiewicz, Guzman, and Koskie will make about $12 million.
Today at The Hardball Times:
- The Day The Music Died (by John Brattain)
Today's Picks (86-73, +$1,180):
Chicago (Buehrle) +125 over Boston (Wells)