The conventional wisdom, spouted incessantly by DickNBert, is that the Twins are struggling this year because they're so young. According to Bert, young players are more prone to mistakes, and, more often than not, these mistakes cost the team ballgames. While this makes sense, I'm not so sure it's right. There are four reasons why it's not entirely true:
Mike Lamb Looking for an offensive scapegoat? Look no further. Lamb is easily the biggest disappointment of this season. He had one good stretch when we hoped he would turn a corner. But then he went into the tank. His line (.225/.262/.305) is comparable to Punto's last year, which was why we got Lamb this year. But his defense is much worse.
Fortunately, the Twins are adjusting their personnel to match his struggles. Matt Macri is now taking every start against lefties. And after Brian Buscher gets up here today, he'll start taking some starts against right handers. If Lamb--the oldest position player on the team--doesn't start hitting, he'll be relegated to a bench role, used mostly as a pinch hitter.
Juan Rincon The longest tenured pitcher on the Twins staff has been just putrid this year. Inexplicably, Gardenhire let him try to pitch his way into form in close games for the first two plus months of the season. This cost the Twins several games, though Rincon did not take the loss in many of them for two reasons: First, he came into a lot of one- and two-run games when the Twins were behind and proceeded to put the game out of reach for the opposition. Second, when he came into games with runners on base, he let all 9 of them score, leading to additional losses for starters such as Nick Blackburn.
Coming into the year, the bullpen was supposed to be the strength of this team. Pat Neshek got hurt, leaving a big hole that they tried to let Rincon fill. He has failed miserably. It is no exaggeration to say that 90 percent of the bullpen's failures are on Juan Rincon. He has singlehandedly turned a solid unit into a disaster. He will be DFAd today to make room for Buscher. He'll probably reject the assignment to become a free agent. Good luck in the Mexican League Juanie.
Adam Everett This guy was supposed to soften the blow for losing Jason Bartlett in the Delmon Young trade. Unfortunately, he's been hurt most of the year. That's the trouble with aging veterans, they're more injury prone. When he's tried to play with the injury, he's been really bad. He appears to have lost at least a step after breaking a leg last year. And his arm is just a noodle. Nobody expected Bartlett's bat out of Everett, but we did expect him to catch the ball. He hasn't,and the shortstop position has been a revolving door all year. For a sinker-ball staff, that's not a good thing.
Livan Hernandez We can blame Twins management for expecting this guy to be the staff ace. I'll be honest, even with his recent struggles, he's exceeded my expectations this year. But that's not saying much. I expected him to be a fifth starter. Whatever he is, he's not an ace. An ace is supposed to stop losing streaks. Livan has perpatuated them. I found it laughable that Bert would blame the young pitchers like Blackburn and just ignore that Livan has been really bad lately, to the point that many of us are calling for Liriano (a youngster) to replace him.
Those are the four biggest disappointments of this year. And they're all veterans. So Bert, how can you blame the youngsters constantly? They're the ones making the plays that lead to improbable victories, or putting the team in a position to win. Sure they make mistakes, but they make more plays than veterans can even with their mistakes.