The frustrating part of being .500

Posted on May 26th, 2008 – 9:35 AM
By Howard

Coming into the season, we were supposed to understand that being .500 with the current collection of inexperience and low-budget fixes wouldn’t be such a bad thing. The Twins are .500 through their first 50 games and have created some cause for excitement about their future. Gogomez alone may make the Santana trade worthwhile down the road, especially if reports of Santana’s diminished velocity, reported at the start of the weekend by espn.com’s Buster Olney and discussed on Joe C’s blog, are borne out.

At the same time, however, I’m trying to figure out Gardy’s unwillingness to try different outfield combinations to prop up an offense that has been letting down the team.

Michael Cuddyer has three extra-base hits in his last 22 games and his numbers — .225 average/,296 on-base percentage/.310 slugging percentage are flat-out flat-line miserable. His pathetic strikeout in Sunday’s eighth inning, between Morneau’s walk and Jason Kubel’s grand slam, was a moment that woould have brought howls of derision had it been done by one of the Twins’ usual whipping guys.

Those offensive numbers are spectacularly feeble. For the statistically challenged, Cuddyer’s numbers so far this season are comparable to those of a good-hitting pitcher. (Livan’s career numbeers are .233/.241/.315, for example.) Nick Punto’s numbers this season are .265/.321/.347.

And it’s not like Cuddyer’s defense has made up for his offense.

Same goes for Delmon Young (.270/.327/.344.), who grounded into two rally-killing double plays on Sunday and botched an eighth-inning defensive play that would have snuffed some of the drama from that victory. (Face it, any time the bullpen enters the game these days, there’s drama — even with a five-run lead.) As Gardy rightfully pointed out, the infield single and ground-rule double that ended Glen Perkins’ fine outing in the eighth were plays that should have been made.

In 318 at-bats, Young and Cuddyer have combined for 1 home run (Cuddyer’s) and 30 RBI. In 238 at-bats. Kubel and Craig Monroe have 10 homers and 40 RBI. Monroe’s slugging percentage is .430, Kubel’s is .428.

I’m not suggesting that Cuddyer and Young suffer a Rinconian exile to the deep end of the bench. But the Twins having a day off today and then play for another 20 consecutive days, including three at Kansas City where the Royals are scheduled to start right-handers. This would be a good time for Gardy to get Kubel and Craig Monroe some at-bats while getting the current incumbents off the field for a game or two so they can work on what ails them and better contribute when they are in the lineup.

That could start the Twins on the road to staying on the correct side of .500.

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