The Twins showed that they actually have something in the tank this past week. The question is, will it ever come out again? I ask this question and more in the second Twins Whatnot.
Minnesota is known for offensive ineptitude. Scoring eleven and four runs respectively, how much do the consecutive wins against Detroit mean to the Twins?
Dan Wade:Anytime you beat a divisional opponent, its important. A sweep is awesome, but the fact that it came against the Tigers (with Granderson) makes it all the more sweet. Beating the team that had the consensus best offseason, while the Twins were largely panned for their deals, just shows that you never know how good a team will be until they get on the field.
The best part of the sweep over the Tigers was that we beat them at their own game. The bats came out early and often, and in game three, they weren’t scared away by the Tigers’ outburst. The Tigers can be beaten by good pitching, but the Twins proved they can be out hit as well.
Jon Grilz: It shows that the Twins actually have it in them to provide some consistency. Not only that, but it does volumes for the confidence of pitchers that now know that don't have to hold opponents to 1 or 2 runs.
Jon Bartsch: Huge wins, and while both of those were impressive, the comeback to sweep the Tigers was the biggest win. Anytime you down six runs to the Tigers in the first inning, you figure it is just one of those days where you can't stop them and they might set a record. However, the fact that Boof was able to settle down and give the Twins a chance to stay in that game was huge. The offense came through in the clutch and delivered a win. I'll get down on Joe Mauer periodically for his lack of offensive production, but he was arguably the MVP of that series sweep for the Twins.
Kelsey Hakes: This was a huge win for the Twins. It proves that they don't need the big names like Johan Santana and Torii Hunter to succeed. The series sweep gave the the over .500 mark and first place in the AL Central. Everyone is starting to find their groove at the plate and are coming out of their shell. We're looking sharp and hopefully we can remain in this spot for at least a while. This will give the Twins incentive to keep doing better. If they keep their bats hot and keep scoring runs, the team should be quite consistent.
Marty Andrade: Never make too much of the ups and downs early in the season season. The White Sox and the Indians are both scoring more runs than they allow and this means they are much more likely to win over the long haul than the Twins who are scoring fewer runs than they allow. By the end of the season, Minnesota will still have a reputation of offensive ineptitude.
Andrew Kneeland:While it shouldn't prove to mean very much in the long haul, this sweep is good for many other reasons. The Twins' mentality must have changed now that they showed that they can actually score runs. The pitchers must be more at ease now that they know they don't have to pitch a three-hitter to earn a win.
In addition to those, this is great for the Minnesota fanbase. Most Twins fans were resigned to a losing, rebuilding season. While that still may be the case, this sweep can be viewed as a message to fans that Minnesota isn't out of this yet.
Gomez has also shown improvement recently. Does this affect his future with the Twins in any way?
Dan Wade:Gomez is the future of the franchise, so I don’t see him moving around too much between the majors and the minors. As I’ve said in the past, his problem is with very good offspeed pitches, which most AAA pitchers don’t have. He needs to see the pitchers first hand and then watch tape to fix his approach.
His recent improvement has come as a result of his new goal of not striking out as much. Gomez knows what he needs to fix, and he is slowly starting to fix it. He is a work in progress, no doubt, but I think he will be the type of player who takes two steps forward and one step back. It’s a long road, but he is off to a pretty solid start.
Jon Grilz: It is still a waiting game to see what he is capable of. He still has to learn that he doesn't need to try and win games by himself. His recent attempt at a circus-style catch in the outfield and his misjudging a past ball at 3rd and being gunned down at the plate show that he still has a long way to go.
Jon Bartsch:I don't think so. He's been our choice at center field and leadoff since opening day. I didn't expect that to change unless he absolutely could never get on base. No one else on the roster can provide that kind of spark at the top of the lineup. Yeah, he will attempt to hit the ball through the Metrodome's roof from time to time, but he is doing more than most people expected. His defense continues to be solid, and he knows how to bunt. If he was swinging away in every at-bat I would be concerned, but he is showing that he knows how to use his speed to get on base and score runs.
Kelsey Hakes:Well if he keeps using his 'head', he can be around a long time. He is starting to swing the bat level and he proves time and time again how speed excels at this game. Anyone who has ever had any doubts have become a believer. He is proving himself a major-leaguer and is filling out his full potential. I expect to start seeing great things this year, possibly a new record for stolen bases?
Marty Andrade:A .678 OPS isn't exactly Mays or Mantle material. More worrisome for me is his .299 OBP and .029 Isolated OBP (ISoP, which is just OBP minus BA). He's a superb athlete and he could be a very good ballplayer for a very long time in a Twins uniform, but he should spend at least half of this season in AAA, I would prefer the entire season. This also preserves some service time and delays arbitration eligibility and free agency. With Jason Pridie hitting .292/.349/.416 and Darnell McDonald hitting .342/.400/.603 the Twins have two fair options ready to go. Even Denard Span has a higher OBP than Gomez and he would be good enough for the time being in CF. Gomez is clearly the CF of the future for the Minnesota Twins. Gomez needs to learn the strike zone and how to be as disciplined as possible at the plate. That's not going to happen at the MLB level. But the Twins aren't likely to send him down now at all, barring injury.
Andrew Kneeland: I have been of the opinion that Gomez should be sent down to AAA for quite some time now. Now, though, I think I am changing my mind. There is nothing that Gomez can't gain in the minors that he can't gain in the majors except confidence. That confidence will come with time, once he learns how to not strike out.
That ability will come with time, and it will come faster in the big league.
Mike Lamb has been struggling as of late. How soon could he lose his starting job to Nick Punto if he doesn't get into gear?
Dan Wade:Punto’s glove has earned him a spot on this team come hell or high water, that much is a given. He has not looked nearly as overmatched at the plate as he did last year, so that is a very good sign, whether he is starting at third, short, or coming off the bench.
Gardy LOVES Punto, serious man-crush territory. And Punto is clearly a better defender than Lamb, even with Everett making up for Lamb’s terrible glove. So, if Lamb continues to struggle, we may start seeing Punto making spot starts more frequently, especially if Tolbert continues to play well enough to take over as the Super Sub the Twins love having on their bench.
Lamb was a key addition this offseason, so I don’t see the Twins giving up on him completely anytime soon. That said, if we get into the summer months and Punto is around .260 to .280 and Lamb stays in the .220 area, we may see a switch. If they are close, I think they will start to share the job in some bizarre platoon based on the GB rate of the starting pitcher.
All this is contingent on Lamb continuing to look terrible at the plate. I’ve got a feeling that he will break out soon, but I’d say he’s got a month at the most to prove that he is a substantially better hitter than Punto.
Jon Grilz:Punto is a liability when it comes to his bat, but his ability in the field should overlook that at this point. We brought in Lamb primarily for his defense and to have a better bat than Punto, but if he can't step it up we need to have someone in the field that is as lights out as Punto is (wherever we put him). If Punto could even get his batting average around .260-.275 I would see him as a consistent All-Star with his ability to make headline making plays.
Jon Bartsch:I think it will take a lot more than a slow start for us to demote Lamb. After all, we let Punto keep the job for most of last year and his slow start became a season-long slump. Punto is great where he is right now, in the utility role. Lamb has the power potential (he has yet to show it) to hit 20-30 home runs. If he can start producing some power, this won't even be a question. His defense isn't great, which is the main concern in him keeping the job, but if his bat gets hot, he's here to stay. The Twins have needed a power-hitting third basemen for years. Lamb may not be the answer, but I don't think he is in danger of losing the starting gig anytime soon.
Kelsey Hakes:Recently getting moved up in the batting order to change things around, Lamb went 2-4. Perhaps he is finding his groove. As of right now, he is safe. Nick Punto has all of the material for a starter, but he can't handle the pressure. He proved that last year when he was full-time 3rd base. He went from batting #2 to batting #9. Lamb had a good year last year with the Astros batting .289. We know he can do it, its the matter of getting it done.
Marty Andrade:They should both be fired along with Adam Everett. Brian Buscher or Matt Macri could play third for the Twins and be just as inept as Lamb or Punto. I'd prefer Buscher at the moment but I'm flexible on the matter. Tolbert could play SS (though I worry about his .781 Zone Rating, which is lower than Punto's or Everett's) and we'd need another utility guy. It doesn't matter, I would take whatever replacement player I could find at SS over Punto or Everett and I'd take just about any of the guys with decent arms at AAA over Punto or Lamb at 3B. It's harsh but I'm tired of incurable offensive inferiority. Lamb might lose the job to Punto soon, like next week even, but the Twins will probably hold on to him far too long after he's been benched. I don't see him leaving the Twins until after the All Star break.
Andrew Kneeland:If the losing continues, I say bring up some minor league kid who looks promising. Matt Marci, Brian Buscher, or even Trevor Plouffe would be great additions to the team, and I would love to watch them play.
Gardenhire needs to get over his love for Punto, and he needs to let him go. Punto just doesn't have what it takes offensively to compete in the big leagues.
Now a fun one: if you had the choice, what would you rename the Minnesota Twins (team movement is allowed)?
Dan Wade:The Twins have got to stay in MSP, but they aren’t a team that belongs to just the city. So, the Minnesota part stays. Sadly, a lot of the good MN related names have been taken: The Wild, Wolves, and Moose are all great names. As far as the Fan Base is concerned, the Twins have very strong regional following, unlike the local followings common to more densely populated areas in the East and West. So I propose a name that acknowledges Minnesota’s preeminence among the Midwest states: The Minnesota Regional Hegemony!
Jon Grilz:I would have to be the Minnesota Casseroles or Minnesota Dontcha-Knows
Jon Bartsch: I'd steal the Lakers name back from that Los Angeles basketball team that's always in the headlines. They moved to the ocean and kept the best name a Minnesota franchise ever had.
Kelsey Hakes: First off they would move to Jackson, MN where I currently reside so I can go to all of the games and get season tickets and maybe a date ;) As to what they'd be called, to stick with a small town atmosphere: the Minnesota Corn-Growers or the Minnesota Hicks. Both are pretty catchy and would have awesome logos.
Marty Andrade:I'd like to see a return of the Minneapolis Millers or maybe something like the Minnesota Minneapolitans. I have a certain disdain for St. Paul and I never liked the term "Twin Cities" (where we get the present nickname "Twins") anyway as it's misleading, the two cities are nothing alike.
Andrew Kneeland:I would love to see the return of the Minneapolis Lakers, but I don't see that happening anytime soon. I would be in favor of some kind of animal. Enough time has passed since more than the Timberwolves and Gophers had an actual animal as their mascot.
Bobcats? Grizzlies? Eagles? Rabbits? Anything would do just fine for me.