Twins celebrate '91 championship by throwing season away

There was a lot of fun at Target Field this weekend, from bizarre bobbleheads to championship reunions to kids running the bases on perhaps the nicest day of the summer. Too bad the game on the field was so damn bad.

The Twins were swept by the formerly reeling Chicago White Sox, dropping the home team from nine to ten games out of first, and twelve games under .500. Barring an epic, epic, epic collapse, epic even by the Tigers' and White Sox's standards, the Twins' season is over.

For God's sake, the Chicago White Sox had been in a free fall, losing five straight in which they gave up 44 fucking runs. Now, I'll grant you that they were playing the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees, who are the two best teams in the American League. The Twins are, well, the Twins.

But nothing worked this weekend, other than the fascination of watching the 1991 World Series club totally mangle "Take Me Out to the Ballgame".

Saturday's contest, with the score 2-1 going into the 9th, seemed tailor-made for excitement. But in the top half Joe Nathan threw a wild pitch, catcher Drew Butera tossed the second of his throws to second into the outfield, and then Brent Lillibridge blasted a long ball into the left-field seats and it was suddenly 6-1, time to get to your car early.

Nathan's ERA has now ballooned to 5.04, and it looks as if the Twins should perhaps consider someone like, say, Glen Perkins to close their games. Then, again, maybe Perkins should become a starter. Hell, put the guy anywhere--outside of Michael Cuddyer, he's our best hurler.

And don't tell me that Target Field suppresses the long ball: The White Sox had seven home runs this weekend, including four--four!--on Sunday.

2011 is a far cry from last year, and light years from 1991. Our boys have been swept at home four times. They were swept only twice, home or road, last season and the big one two decades ago.

So 2011 is looking like a year in which memories, sweet memories, will be what sustains the baseball-loving populace... who are probably already looking at the forthcoming Vikings schedule for needed relief.

As I wrote before, this season could also be witness to the Michael Cuddyer fare-thee-well tour. Personally, I don't think it makes sense to keep the guy (trading him for future prospects seemed wiser, in my opinion), though I know it would break the hearts of Twins fans around the globe.

The Strib's Joe Christensen has a great write-up in which he notices uncomfortable similarities between the talks with Cuddyer and the 2007 discussions with Torii Hunter, another clubhouse leader, who of course fled to California when the Twins made less-than-serious offers to their premier   center fielder.

Christensen points out that the Twins are taking a similar tack with Cuddyer:

So it was a positive sign when word leaked that the Twins had tried negotiating with Cuddyer recently. But once again, their trial balloon offer -- two years for $16 million -- was a non-starter.

Cuddyer, 32, almost surely will command a three-year contract on the free-agent market. He is making $10.5 million this year and having a big season, so the guaranteed money in his next deal could approach $30 million.

That doesn't look good. To make matters worse (worse if you want Cuddyer to remain a Twin), the Denver Post's baseball writer Troy E. Renck is envisioning our favorite pitcher/outfielder/infielder/future manager wandering the outfield in Colorado.

Cuddyer is what the Rockies need. He will be a free agent at season's end and already has a two-year deal on the table from the Twins. Cuddyer entered the weekend hitting .300 with 18 home runs, with almost identical splits at home and on the road. With Aaron Cook, Jose Lopez, Felipe Paulino and Manny Corpas coming off the books, it's time for the Rockies to be bold in free agency. Throw a three-year, market-value deal at the 32-year-old. He's known as a pillar in the clubhouse and as a guy who plays with passion. He's the type of leader that can help with the Rockies' obvious lack of mental toughness.

Granted, Renck does not make decisions for the Rockies. But like many scribes, he no doubt has his finger on the team's pulse. Furthermore, this means that there's people out there that see Cuddyer as a man willing, perhaps even eager, to make his departure to teams that will pay him what he believes he's worth.

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