April 26, 2004


We're four weeks into the 2004 season and guess who has the best record in the American League? That's right, the Minnesota Twins! (Actually, they're tied with the Red Sox, but "guess who is tied for the best record in the American League" doesn't sound as dramatic.)

The Twins are 12-6 right now, thanks mostly to an offense that is tied for second in the AL in runs scored. The Twins' pitching staff has given up the third-most runs in the league, which is where pessimistic Minnesotans like myself can go to find something to complain about.

The thing that came to me over the weekend is that the Twins currently have no fewer than four pitchers on the team that I could call "11th pitcher" types. You know, the last guy in the bullpen. The guy who gets shuttled back and forth from Triple-A to the majors all year and makes some spot starts and long-relief outings in-between mopping up.

Having one of those guys isn't a problem and there are quite a few good teams that might even have two of them. But four? The Twins are currently carrying Joe Roa, Carlos Pulido, Seth Greisinger and Terry Mulholland. Seriously. There isn't a guy in the group who can hit 90 with his fastball and I wouldn't want any of them on the mound in anything resembling a close game.

But not only do the Twins have four of them, they actually used all of them in a single game over the weekend. As you might suspect, the end result was rather ugly.

                     IP     H     R     ER     BB     SO     HR     PIT

Seth Greisinger 4.2 7 3 3 0 4 1 88
Terry Mulholland 1.1 2 2 2 2 0 0 36
Joe Roa 1.0 2 1 1 0 1 1 12
Carlos Pulido 1.0 4 4 2 0 1 0 29

For those of you without calculators, that's eight innings of pitching and 15 hits, two walks and 10 runs. As if that weren't enough, they needed 165 pitches -- 20.6 per inning -- to get destroyed by the Kansas City Royals.

Of course, their starting pitchers haven't been much better. In fact, Carlos Silva has the best ERA at 4.50. Still, I have some confidence in their ability to turn things around soon. I do not, however, have any confidence in Roa, Greisinger, Pulido or Mulholland to do anything other than supply other teams with hits and fans with souvenirs.

But enough with the bad stuff. Last year at this time, the Twins were 9-9 and right in the middle of a six-game losing streak. In their 19th game, they got embarrassed by the Yankees on ESPN, by a score of 15-1. It was a mess.

So, despite all the injuries and all the free agent defections and all the crappy pitchers on the staff, 12-6 is a pretty good place to be after 11% of the season.

No "state of the Twins" entry would be complete without me ripping Luis Rivas. At this point, stopping the madness at second base for the Twins is my life's goal. I don't care if it's Nick Punto, Michael Cuddyer, Jason Bartlett or an un-retired Chuck Knoblauch and his "Guess where's it going!" arm, it just has to cease being Luis Rivas.

Rivas is currently hitting .207/.233/.345. As I've pointed out in the past, Rivas' horrific hitting goes even beyond the obvious numbers. Despite being very fast, Rivas is one of the worst offenders in baseball when it comes to hitting into double plays. So far this year, he has hit into six of them, most in the American League

There isn't much that's more frustrating than seeing Shannon Stewart on first base with Luis Rivas coming to the plate. It's almost as if Ron Gardenhire has decided that Stewart is too good leading off, so the Twins need some sort of handicap. That's right, I just called Luis Rivas a handicap. Not handicapPED, mind you, since that would be an insult to them.

Here's something to chew on: Luis Rivas has 60 plate appearances this season. He has been responsible for 52 outs. That works out to .87 outs per plate appearance.

For the love of Barry Bonds, can we put an end to this?!

New article at The Hardball Times: Remember Him?

Today's picks:

Toronto (Lilly) +130 over Minnesota (Radke)

Total to date: $290

W/L record: 22-24 (1-1 on Friday for -25.)

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