Gardy pretty much summed up stuff after the game when he said that Sunday’s game was “embarrassing for the organization, and for our fans.”
I have a couple of ideas.
First of all, any fan from Minnesota who went to Denver to follow the Twins this weekend should show up at the Dome this week and demand free tickets for a home game. If the performance was that embarrassing — and it was — the fans who showed their loyalty are entitle to a make-good. We’re probably talking hundreds of fans and it wouldn’t really hurt the bottom line to make such an offer. It would hurt the bottom line even less if the players, Gardy and the coaches agreed to pay for the tickets as punishment.
The other thing is that Gardy and the media and everyone else have been going on and on and on about the mistakes that are being made and how major-leaguers simply shouldn’t run into outs, drop balls and kill rallies with lame at-bats with the frequency that the Twins have been doing those things.
Talk ain’t action.
How about if management does an imitation of 2006 and lets someone go, just like it did with the Batista/Castro purge of that June. I think it would get the attention of players who might be getting a bit complacent about their misplays and the “young team” excuse for players who aren’t so young. (No, that’s not Delmonic word play!)
The Twins are a crossroads where they could go one of two ways — understanding that they’re not good enough to win while playing mistake-enhanced baseball or benignly accepting the mistakes because nobody seems interested in doing anything more than talking about them.
Even when the Twins won on Friday night, Juan Rincon managed to make things more difficult than they should have been, entering in the eighth with a two-run lead and walking two batters before Dennys Reyes bailed him out of the mess. Sunday, for those of you who found other things to do, Rincon entered with the Twins trailing 3-2 and walked two more batters as the Rockies, with the help of Mitt Harris’ brick glove (he dropped a routine throw on a bunt) and Jesse Crain’s inexcusable walking of Colorado’s pitcher with the bases loaded, scored their final three runs.
Rincon’s raw numbers aren’t terrible, but it has reached a point where he can’t be brought into close games without expecting the worst. When Pat Neshek blew out his elbow earlier this month, everyone in the bullpen became faced with the challenge of stepping up and taking on more responsibility. It was a reasonable thing for the manager to give them that chance.
In other situations this season, there’s been some modest stepping-up.
The troubles with keeping middle infielders healthy allowed Matt Tolbert to show some promise — until his ill-chosen dive left him with an injured thumb. Denard Span showed some potential when he got a major league look after Cuddyer’s injury and, given some chances recently, Monroe has shown his value, if a bit inconsistently.
In Rincon’s case, though, he’s walked seven batters in the six innings he’s worked since Neshek’s injury. Almost half the pitches he’s thrown in that time (48 percent) have been balls. That’s a big number.
I’m going to cut Crain some slack because he’s in recovery from a major arm injury. In Rincon’s case, the fact that the Twins tried to unload him on Tampa Bay as part of the Young/Garza deal tells me that nothing would be missed if he were to be sent away. The sample size, dating back to last season, has been sufficient to push that button.
Obviously, Rincon isn’t the only one making mistakes. And while it’s not time to panic, it’s a good time to make a statement and eat a ($2.5 million) contract.
And one more thing, as long as I have your attention. Based on Slowey’s starts so far, when he was trying to get through the sixth inning, how many of you were yelling for Gardy to manage like a National Leaguer — bring in the reliever and make a double switch after Todd Helton’s home run tied the score at 2 and the next two batters doubled and walked?
Dick ‘n’ Bert were talking about how Slowey was due to bat third in the next inning, which they saw as a contributing factor to keeping him in. But Mike Redmond had made the third out in the top of the sixth and there was a guy on the bench named Mauer who could have come in to catch at the same time Gardy could have gone to his bullpen.
That way, Mauer bats third in the top of the seventh, Matt Guerrier stays on to pitch the bottom of the seventh (with a better chance of a 2-2 tie instead of inheriting a 3-2 deficit) and things have less of a chance of going all to Hades.
One more reason to ask for refunds, huh?