May 3, 2012

Rock bottom? Twins no-hit by Jered Weaver, fall to MLB-worst 6-18

When the Twins are on a West Coast road trip I'll often get on the elliptical machine at the beginning of the game and force myself to ride until they score a run, however long that takes. I'm dead now. Please be nice to my mother.

The good news for the Twins is that many of their fans don't even stay up to watch these late-night games. The bad news for the Twins is ... everything else. Shut out by journeyman Jerome Williams one night, no-hit by Cy Young runner-up Jered Weaver the next night, and the saddest part is that I'm so numb to all the losing at this point that I'm not even sure which was more depressing to watch. I suppose the correct answer is "both." Or maybe just "sigh."

They're now 6-18, which is the worst record in baseball, and 71-128 dating back to the final 10 games of the 2010 regular season, which is the equivalent of a 58-104 record per 162 games. Their starting pitchers have allowed 102 runs in 125 innings and their offense hasn't produced a hit in 15 innings. At least they can't lose today. To paraphrase one of my favorite lines from one of my favorite books/movies: If this isn't rock bottom, it'll do until rock bottom gets here.

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  1. What DOES it take for the Twins to fire Gardy? OK, Gardy didn’t step into the batter’s box last night. Got it. My point is that he is the constant. Lots of things are wrong with the Twins but he is the focal point. I honestly thought the Mauer signing was a good move. Shows you how much I know. Need to dump that anchor contract.

    Comment by Large Canine — May 3, 2012 @ 6:42 am

  2. The baseball equivilent of a Freudian slip – the final score was the same as it would be if the Twins had simply forfeited the game. Sigh.

    Comment by mariettamouthpiece — May 3, 2012 @ 6:46 am

  3. Just as I was going to bed I got the final game score update of 9-0. I thought, “upsetting, but no surprise.” A couple of seconds late my brother texted me the the Twins had been no hit. I thought, “frustrating, but not surprised.”

    If this isn’t bottom then the bottom can’t be too far off.

    Comment by Andrew — May 3, 2012 @ 7:19 am

  4. I would be very surprised if the Twins don’t get no-hit again before the All-Star break. Was there even a difficult play in that game for the Angels defense? Casilla’s drive in the 9th was the closest anyone came, I think.

    Comment by RCG — May 3, 2012 @ 8:22 am

  5. I just don’t get the calls for firing Gardy. It goes beyond wishful thinking. Do you think there’s anything Gardy could have done to prevent Liam Hendricks from sucking or prevent the Twins lineup from being no-hit? Absolutely not. I can only think of one in-game call he’s made so far this year, that, with hindsight, may have cost the game. Talk about not the biggest problem.

    Comment by Jeff — May 3, 2012 @ 8:48 am

  6. The reason you fire the manager is when the team stinks, the players are not getting any better, they play poor baseball in all phases of the game. If you run a business and the manager is producing a poor product and poor service to the customer you fire them. With the best players he’s had he still hasn’t been good (understatement) in the post season, 8 years since the last win. 10 years is a long time, he had his chance, with at times some very good players, now is the time to move on. And that means somebody from the outside, a new opproach not more inbred “twins way” retreds.

    Comment by Mike — May 3, 2012 @ 9:09 am

  7. Canine, please explain to me exactly *how* we would be able to “dump that anchor contract”? It’s a guarenteed, no trade contract. So please enlighten us. There is *no trading* him, and unless he decides to retire and not get paid the rest of it, we’re pretty much stuck. Good luck with that.

    Comment by D-Luxxx — May 3, 2012 @ 9:10 am

  8. Don’t turn on Mauer. Please don’t turn on Mauer! Can we just not turn on Mauer?

    Also can we be real and say there is essentially no faith in the Twins front office? No individual player really should be blamed at this point. Maybe Delmon Young.

    Comment by Randy Moist — May 3, 2012 @ 9:20 am

  9. If Vernon freakin’ Wells can get traded, the Twins can absolutely trade Mauer. The questions would be, at what cost, and with what return? They’d likely have to eat some money, and depending on how much, could get some prospects in return. Or perhaps they could just eat some bad but shorter term contracts in return.

    But all of that is hardly worth discussing, as Mauer is not the problem. The pitching staff is horrendous. No ace, No #1. They don’t even have one guy in the rotation that they can look at as a solid #2 caliber starter. And their ‘pen is nearly as bad.

    To get back to respectability, they’re going to need to nail this upcoming draft, suck it up and sign a top FA starter to stupid money, and develop or trade for some decent, young projectable late inning arms. And then hope Sano develops quickly into a middle of the order MLB bat.

    Comment by BR — May 3, 2012 @ 9:23 am

  10. This teams issues stem way beyond Gardy, though he is an issue as well. Their inability to adapt and change their thinking is the result of their demise. Many many Twins fans have been bashing this team for the past 4 years, as power pitchers have emerged and clearly have brought their teams success. This Twins team philosophy, which we all know is pitch to contact finesse throwers, is obviously the root core to this teams issues. The offense just got no hit, yes, but as a whole this year they are the 15th ranked overall offense. It’s just like a business, if you don’t adapt to what your customers needs are and don’t come up with value added solutions, you won’t compete. Running a baseball team is no different, the front office refuses to adapt, refuses to draft, develop, trade for power arms.

    Comment by Kurt E. — May 3, 2012 @ 9:30 am

  11. “If you run a business and the manager is producing a poor product and poor service to the customer you fire them.”

    That’s just not a good analogy for baseball, because it’s a “business” where your employees – even in the case of a terrible team like the Twins – are already skimmed from the top of hundreds of lesser players. It’s a talent-driven problem. You can’t just tell them to do better.

    Comment by Jeff — May 3, 2012 @ 9:31 am

  12. The strib called. It wants its commenters back.

    Good grief.

    Comment by j. lichty — May 3, 2012 @ 9:43 am

  13. I, too, hate how we’re “stuck” with a catcher who hits .300 and OBPs .400 pretty much every year. He’s obviously the problem and we need to dump him ASAP.

    Gardy is a symptom of the problem, but the focus needs to come from the top. I’m reminded of a bit in Moneyball (the book, haven’t seen the movie) where Billy Beane talks to Art Howe (and I think some of the A’s minor-league managers) about how he wants guys to walk more. It basically goes like this:

    Beane: Our guys should walk more.

    Howe: I think our guys should be more aggressive at the plate and not walk so much.

    Beane: Our next manager will make sure our guys walk more.

    Howe: OK guys, let’s work that count and draw some walks!

    The reason the Nick Puntos, Matt Tolberts, Drew Buteras, and Nick Blackburns are/were on the roster is because the front office put them there. Unless that changes, we’ll keep using/developing those kinds of players. Maybe Gardy has unreasonable influence regarding those decisions, and that’s the issue, but until the organization’s top-level strategy changes, it doesn’t matter who we have as manager.

    Comment by Jason W — May 3, 2012 @ 10:09 am

  14. Totally agree with Kurt E. The problem is that Gardy and Rick Anderson’s philosophies just do not fit into the modern game or this team. The idea of getting pitchers that just throw hittable pitches over the plate and have a crap defense behind them is ridiculous. The Twins pitchers rarely miss bats and if they do have a pitcher that likes to strike people out he is then ostracized if he ever walks somebody (Liriano, Garza).

    Carl Pavano as your best pitcher is laughable. This whole team is a joke and this is honestly worse than the late 1990s because we have no hope for the near future. As I have been saying since early last year.
    Fire Gardy!

    Comment by Kyle — May 3, 2012 @ 10:14 am

  15. Part of a coaching staffs job is to make the players they have better. How many of the Twins players over the last several years have gotten better?

    Comment by Mike — May 3, 2012 @ 11:00 am

  16. The twins have nothing to trade except Span and unless they make a killing they should keep him. They have a top line lead off hitter and what would be the best #2 hitter in the game, Maurer and Willingham (who is a DH). How can they fill in around them. I would put Revere in left to help the overall D. Doumit is good as a hitting catcher but D is shaky. Pray for Morneau to play 1st and then probably cry a lot. Line-up Span, Mauer, Willingham, ?hopefully Morneau, ?Doumit, RF???(Plouffe,Thomas,Benson), Valencia,Casilla, Carrol. Pitching is a dumpster fire.

    Comment by Brad — May 3, 2012 @ 11:17 am

  17. Why oh why did I renew my season tickets? Hell, the even the Twins are selling all their tickets at the discounted season ticket holder rate (my $48-$55 seats are selling for $40 on their site). Blechhhhh.

    Although, I did say prior to the start of the season that the Twins would not win a game that they scored less than 5 runs in. So far, 1/6th of the way through, that prediction is holding up. I wonder how far into a season (any team, any season) that that would/will have held true for?

    Comment by JB (the Original) — May 3, 2012 @ 11:26 am

  18. Do the Gardenhire apologists think that he does nothing but fill out the lineup? That he is blameless because the only thing that matters is the players he is given? That all a manager can do is tell his players to “do better”?

    The talent on this team sucks, but Gardy is not getting anything out of them. Its time to clean house, and Gardy needs to be part of the housecleaning.

    Comment by Pedro Munoz — May 3, 2012 @ 11:40 am

  19. By the way, I’m certainly not hating on Mauer. Do I wish he’d hit for a little more power? Sure. But am I satisfied with what he brings to the table. Absolutly. Last year sucked for everyone. Period. This year looks to be more of the same, but I guess I kind of expected that considering the fact that the front office pretty much ignored our pitching staff. When Jason Marquis is your big free agent pitching addition, you are in big trouble. Jeez, now if only they hadn’t been so quick to chase Kevin Slowey out of town…

    Comment by D-Luxxx — May 3, 2012 @ 11:58 am

  20. Okay Pedro Munoz, I’ll listen. What exactly DOES a manager do other than fill out the lineup card and manage a bullpen? Honest question because I don’t know. The players are all grown men. Does he tell them to try harder? Does he threaten them? What more can he do? If the Twins get no hit and you’re blaming the manager you are watching baseball wrong.

    Comment by Drew — May 3, 2012 @ 12:07 pm

  21. “If the Twins get no hit and you’re blaming the manager you are watching baseball wrong.” But if Gardy calls out a relief pitcher that came in when they were already down 4-5 runs what game was he watching?

    Comment by Mike — May 3, 2012 @ 12:15 pm

  22. This is a bad team, so only a small portion of the blame rests on Gardy, but I think they will have no choice but to fire him if this trend continues. They are not officially rebuilding, and this terrible start makes last year look less like some baseball gods aberration. Morale must be awful (it should be at least) and a new GM can sometimes change that, if not by encouragement than by fear. The organization needs to show the fans they are doing all they can do to win in order to ensure tickets sold, and the usual decision in this type of situation is to sacrifice the MGR.

    Maybe they will give him until the end of May to turn things around, but if the team is still this bad at that time then Gardy’s time will probably be over.

    Comment by Buddy Grant — May 3, 2012 @ 12:19 pm

  23. Dola – I agree with Kurt E. as well. I think the whole “Twins Way” philosophy was founded on a near complete misunderstanding of how & why they succeeded during those peak seasons of the last 8 years.

    I think they did not take these points fully into account:
    1. They beat up on a lot of weaker division teams that are now much stronger.
    2. They happened to have 3-5 of the best players in *all of baseball* on their roster at the same time during many of their strong seasons, yet they seem to attribute much of the success during that time to scrappy utility player effort/grit and Radke/Silva (etc.) style pitching to contact.

    Comment by Buddy Grant — May 3, 2012 @ 12:32 pm

  24. It is universally accepted that Gardenhire plays favorites – is that the behavior of a grown man? Does that help win games? You don’t think the other players aren’t affected by that? The manager does make a difference.

    Comment by Hey Zeus — May 3, 2012 @ 12:41 pm

  25. you think the best manager in the world could do better with this roster? it’s the front office fault hands down. the front office has been bad for a long time and it’s finally catching up with them. they are too many examples too cite but it seems like each decision they make is the wrong one. the front office should take note from the Rays, one of the best (if not the best) front offices in baseball.

    Comment by jason — May 3, 2012 @ 12:42 pm

  26. Only problem, if they fire Gardy, the “Twins way” would be to promote Scott Ullger to replace him; I don’t know enough about him (other than his seeming ineptitude as a 3rd base coach), but it certainly doesn’t inspire me. I just don’t see them going outside the organization.

    Comment by JB (the Original) — May 3, 2012 @ 12:44 pm

  27. A three hit shutout by Jerome Williams is a far worse indication of this team than getting no hit by Weaver.

    Comment by mrgerbik03 — May 3, 2012 @ 12:58 pm

  28. What makes a manager in any setting (sports, business, etc.) good or bad besides the actual instructions they give? Motivation? Attitude? Open-mindedness? I don’t know, but some managers clearly do better than others if you control for player talent.

    Here is an article with player quotes about Joe Maddon of the Devil Rays:

    “We just relaxed and kept playing baseball,” pitcher David Price said. “He never presses, and I feel like that rubs off on us.”

    “He’s created a way around here that builds good chemistry,” pitcher James Shields said. “His attitude is contagious. That keeps us loose in here. We’ve got a lot of young guys, and the atmosphere around them is a big deal.”

    “It just feels like he trusts us,” rookie pitcher Matt Moore said. “He doesn’t always need to be telling us the little things. We understand the small things are what makes this team better than a lot of other teams.”

    Oh and there’s this:

    There’s one other thing that makes Joe Maddon unique. At a time when Moneyball has become a divisive topic, with disciples of traditional scouting methods blasting the data-driven analytics that began with Billy Beane and the A’s, Maddon embraces the new-school stuff heart and soul. Friedman and his staff give Maddon volumes of information on opposing players, teams and managers to help him prepare his defense, lineups and game strategy.

    Comment by Pedro Munoz — May 3, 2012 @ 1:44 pm

  29. I never thought I would be pining for the days of yesteryear when our mediocre ballplayers actually had heart.

    This team, not so much.

    Comment by Scott Stahoviak — May 3, 2012 @ 2:32 pm

  30. I have no problem with the “twins way” or “small ball” or “pitch to contact” or whatever you want to call it. The problem is that it’s been years since the Twins had the skills to successfully play this way. We now have average to below average defense, can’t move runners over, and can’t even steal bases consistently. If you’re going to play small ball you have to have small ball skills, and we don’t have them.

    Comment by Dave — May 3, 2012 @ 5:05 pm

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