Twins close out the worst April in team history
Maybe Pavano should hit in the number four spot.
It could be worse: Tornadoes could have ripped through Target Field.
Baseball-wise, however, it literally could not be worse: The Twins finish the month of cruelty with a 9-17 record, giving this year's club the dubious honor of having lost more games in those thirty days than any other team in their history. Ouch.
I keep repeating the following information thinking that the next time I post things will have improved, to no avail. They remain the most feeble offensive club, last in the league in virtually every offensive category, and have the worst ERA of any team in the AL.
Did I mention that they are literally the worst team in baseball?
The Twins 9-18 record is the worst in the sport by a couple of games, but their -64 run differential is epically bad--the next lousiest team, the White Sox, has a -36 run differential. Run differential is the difference between how many runs they score and how many runs they give up--a great indicator of the quality of a ballclub.
"It's not the way we planned to start out," Gardenhire said to the Strib's La Velle E. Neal III, which is the kind of statement that makes you wonder if he's tired or just thinks you're too dumb for further elaboration.
Things can only get better, right? Uh, right? Of course, friends, things should improve. Look, it's like the Apocalypse in the Central Division right now: Cleveland and Kansas City are on the top of the standings, while Detroit, Chicago and the Twins sit weeping and gnashing their teeth on the bottom. Someone on Lake Erie sold their souls to the Devil, and we all know that doesn't last.
So yes, please allow me to light a candle instead of cursing the darkness: the injuries to key players are far from permanent. Nishioka's healing at a swifter rate than we thought, Young should be in the lineup again in a week, and Mauer, well, who the hell knows, except that the last time the guy took a month off he beat the shit out the ball en route to 28 home runs and an MVP award.
At least the Twins suck with a lineup that includes Rene Tosoni, Steve Holm, and Luke Hughes.
Consider, too, that Joe Nathan's looking horrible, but then we retained Matt Capps, who worked the closer role well last season. If Joe's gone, and I hope he's not gone, but if he is, we're still in decent shape in the closer department.
Delmon Young? Injured or not, his Aprils typically suck. For the last three seasons he runs a .242/.291/.330 line, which improves to .274/.331/.390 in May before those numbers leap even higher as the weather improves.
Then there's Brian Duensing. Duensing pitched with his usual laid-back awesomeness, only to watch the Twins fail to score and then give up eight fucking runs in last night's game against the Royals. Despite the loss, in which he gave up two whole runs, he lowered his ERA to 2.91. Who would've thought that he'd be the staff ace?
Now consider middle reliever Glen Perkins. He's sitting on a sweet 0.66 ERA, 9 K in a little over 13 innings. You know, he's the guy that used to be a starting pitcher and could be one again.
Kubel, Cuddyer, Span... they're doing well (now at least--Cuddyer's bat has returned a bit), and Thome, like Young, always has to shake off his winter stiffness before his bat begins to connect. (Though last April was an exception to his rule--he had a decent first month for the Twins, then hit the skids in May before opening up again.)
Personally, I wouldn't mind seeing the Japanese phenom move to short, Cuddyer in at second, Kubel in left, and bam!, you've got last year's line-up with Morneau's bat and glove.
Problem is, that's a bat-heavy/iron glove team that runs counter to every one of Gardenhire's instincts.
Outside of second base, the biggest concern as I see it are the twin horrors of Nick Blackburn and Francisco Liriano. Those are two of your starting pitchers, whose numbers are as alarming as anything I've ever seen in baseball. Blackburn is not going to improve, and, well, I'm not sure Liriano is, either.
If there's one thing Gardenhire does well it's that he runs his team like a ship on a very long and arduous voyage. The Twins are 10 games back, but they're not behind the Yankees or the Rangers, they're looking up at Cleveland and Kansas City for cry-eye.
Those teams won't last. Chicago and Detroit won't continue to throw games away as they have. Come the All-Star break, I get the feeling this division is going to right itself. And if it doesn't, well, it's kind of exciting to see the Royals chasing the title, isn't it?
(And one other note: the 1987 World Series Champion Twins remain the only team in baseball history to win the title with a negative run differential.)
For your entertainment pleasure, here's a brief video of Carl Pavano doing his best 'roid rage impersonation:
Tip of the vintage Twins cap to Aaron Gleeman for the video link.
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