Why do they keep these bums around?

I try to avoid reading what the Twin Cities papers write about the Twins, since the columnists there seem to have a permanent case of dyspepsia (also know as bellyachin') when it comes to the team. But I did click on links to a couple of Souhan columns recently that seemed to say we'd be better off with the cast of the Bad News Bears than our current roster. That got me to thinking how stumblebums and crybabies have always been a burden on the Twins.

I remember a guy, for example, who I am sure Souhan would agree couldn't play a lick. For one thing, it seemed like he was out injured every every other year - elbow, hamstring, quad - you name it, he broke, pulled, snapped or strained it. Coming back from these "injuries" was used to excuse his lousy offense. More than once he barely managed to break .200 in May and June. One year, he it just .210 for the entire year! If that wasn't bad enough, he was in the top 10 in the American League in strikesouts eight times and GIDP five times.

We could have handled that kind of failure if he had just been an adequate fielder. The Twins tried him in left field, third base and first base. He was in the top five in errors committed at every position more than once. Obviously the Twins of the 1960s had the same culture of personal loyalty to mediocre players that bedevils the team to this very day. Who was this pathetic journeyman? Check it out after the jump ...




If Souhan were writing back in 1968, I believe he would have been howling for Calvin Griffith to dump Harmon and find a first baseman who was a better fielder and could stay healthy. And he would have been terribly wrong.

I didn't write this to denigrate Harmon or excuse the current Twins who are playing a truly horrible brand of baseball this year. I just want to point our how easy it is to construct a bad argument against even the best players by cherry picking stats (like ignoring Killer's power and BBs), exaggerating weaknesses, underestimating the seriousness of injuries and focusing on one bad season. We tend to forget that superstars almost never maintain their high level of performance over an entire career and often a player's worst year can come in what should be the prime of their career. Harmon had a lousy year in 1968, as did the team as a whole. Harmon also had flaws in his game that he probably could have corrected. But that didn't stop him from having a Hall of Fame career.

I realize Twins baseball is about as attractive as pigeon poop right now. Just keep in mind that bad seasons come and go, but our devotion to our ugly duckling franchise continues. Try to avoid magnifying flaws in players' games into personal and moral failings. Calling players stupid or lazy isn't analysis, it's just being mean spirited, especially when a player has played less than two dozen games because of injuries. (say it together now, small sample size) Baseball is a game played for our entertainment. Don't try to make it more than that.

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