A problem running in the background

Posted on August 22nd, 2007 – 10:41 PM
By Howard

Yes, the Twins cruised to an 8-4 victory over Seattle on Wednesday afternoon. But was it really a cruise, even though they jumped out to an 8-0 lead after two innings and Carlos Silva (who now seems like the No. 2 starter) pitched seven strong innings?

Well, the Twins bats returned to dormant after the first couple of innings and the lack of bullpen depth caused Gardy to use Pat Neshek in the eighth inning and Joe Nathan in the ninth. You’d like to think that, heading into a seven-game road trip, the two most effective relievers could have gotten a day off.

Bullpen depth is an issue that could well be problematic even if the mystery of the bats is solved, which I wouldn’t bet on.

In 2006, Gardy had six relievers he could call on with relative confidence — Nathan, Rincon, Reyes, Crain, Neshek and Guerrier, although Neshek didn’t join the team until the second half of the season.

Right now, he has three — Nathan, Neshek and Guerrier. Crain has been hurt, Reyes has been unsteady and Rincon has been horrid. Even though they still have very, very solid season numbers, Neshek and Guerrier have been more hittable lately, which is yet another reason why being 6 1/2 games outĀ of first place (with 36 to play) seems more like 16 1/2.

I could trot out the numbers and break them down in all different ways, but you can see ‘em for yourself by checking out their gamelogs at baseball-reference.com.

Bullpen depth, which was supposed to be a strength, simply doesn’t exist right now. That’s a problem, even if it’s being obscured by the unbearable offense and the lack of action in the front office.

Outslugging opponents, Detroit style, simply isn’t part of the Twins’ profile.

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