July 19, 2005

No Offense

After yet another excruciating one-run loss that involved good pitching and precious little offense last night, I can't help but wonder if the Twins' postseason hopes are circling the drain. It's amazing how thin the line is between success and failure.

All five of the Twins' games since the All-Star break have been decided by one run. They've lost four out of five, putting them at 49-42 and a half-game back in the Wild Card standings. Had they reversed that and instead won four out of five, they would be 52-43 and leading the Wild Card standings by 1.5 games.

A few more timely hits in key spots and everything would be right in the world. But now the team is spiraling out of the postseason picture and blame is being thrown all over the place. The offense, of course, deserves whatever comes their way. With last night's 3-2 loss, the Twins have now scored 0, 1, 2 or 3 runs in a game 34 times this season, or 37.4% of the time.

Here's a breakdown of their game-by-game run scoring:

RS      G     PCT%
0 4 4.4
1 12 13.1
2 8 8.8
3 10 11.0
4 13 14.3
5 13 14.3
6 11 12.1
7 7 7.7
8 4 4.4
9 5 5.5
10+ 4 4.4

The American League average is right around 4.8 runs per game, which means the Twins have failed to come up with an average number of runs 51.6% of the time. If you stretch things a little bit and call five runs in a game average, they've failed to score an above-average number of runs in 60 of their 91 games (65.9%).

Remember that stat the next time someone tries to blame a pitcher for what's going on this season. Last night, it meant Carlos Silva not getting a win despite throwing nine innings of two-run baseball, and Juan Rincon eventually faltering in the 11th inning, his second inning of work.

On the subject of the struggling offense, here's a trade rumor from the Official Twins Beat Writer of AG.com, LaVelle E. Neal, in the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

The Red Sox have called the Twins looking for pitching. Boston is believed to be interested in lefthander J.C. Romero, who could help stabilize a bullpen that had a 5.51 ERA entering Monday -- the second-highest in the American League.

The Twins, of course, are looking for hitting, and the Red Sox might be willing to deal veteran third baseman Bill Mueller, who is batting .277 with four homers, 36 RBI and a .379 on-base percentage.

I am far from the world's biggest J.C. Romero fan, but I think a Romero-for-Bill Mueller deal would be a mistake. Mueller is a nice player who has done well with the Red Sox, but he is 34 years old, has had some injury problems, and is a free agent after this season. Plus, after a great season in 2003, he hasn't hit particularly well away from Fenway Park over the last two years:

YEAR      G      AB      AVG      OBP      SLG     2B     HR
2004 56 204 .225 .319 .319 10 3
2005 42 141 .261 .369 .366 6 3

Since the start of last season, Mueller has hit .241 with six homers, 16 doubles, and a .339 slugging percentage in 98 games away from Fenway Park. If anyone reading this has Terry Ryan's ear, feel free to pass that tidbit along.

Oh, and here's a nice quote from Ron Gardenhire about last night's homeplate umpire:

He's an (expletive). Hunter Wendelstedt's a big (expletive expletive). He can kiss my (rear).

Roughly translated, I believe that means "please fine me." Also, does a newspaper really need to alter a quote to remove the word "ass" and replace it with "rear"? What are we, three years old?

Today at The Hardball Times:
- Clutch Masters (by Dave Studeman)

Today's Picks (77-64, +$1,270):
Baltimore (Cabrera) -105 over Minnesota (Lohse)
New York (Mussina) -140 over Texas (Park)

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