There were a lot of positive about last night's game (the first few were all Carlos Gomez) and I'll let other people post about those and then participate in the comments. I want to submit an open question and then give my best answer (and hopefully others will comment).
Why did Ron Gardenhire start Craig Monroe, clearly the worse of the two options for DH, also clearly the most right-handed of the two options for DH, instead of Jason Kubel?
The easy answer is that he wanted to give a nod to the veteran and show he believes in him after Monroe suffered through a terrible 2007. If so, then fine. The club still won and Monroe probably appreciated the start.
My belief is that there is more to it than that. I believe that what is at work is the same perverse risk aversion that has led Gardy to carry 3 catchers on the major league roster.
There is no question that starting Jason Kubel, who is left-handed and a better hitter, gives the team a better chance of winning against a right-handed starter. But it removes an option for Ron Gardenhire late in the game. Having a left-handed power bat on the bench in the late innings is just good baseball wisdom, and Ron Gardenhire wants that option. If Jason Kubel starts, he gets more at bats and thus more chances to help the team win, but if Ron Gardenhire wants a left-handed pinch hitter, he doesn't have a good option. Since he can't stand the idea of not getting to exercise his conventional baseball wisdom, he sacrifices what is obviously better for the team to give himself the ability to make the type of decision late in the game that he likes to make .
This is a similar sort of situation to his catcher fetish. The chances of a Mauer pinch hit followed by an injury to Redmond are so incredibly low that they will probably never cost the Twins a game. But Gardy's risk aversion gets the better of him, and he uses a bench spot on a guy who will never play a major league inning instead of a deserving hitter. The outcome is the same; it is worse for the team, but allows Gardy to make the types of decisions that he is comfortable making.