Remember how much fun it was being swept by the Yankees in the first round of the playoffs every season? A lot of people would take that over potentially finishing last in the AL Central, but not me. It’s been 20 years since the Twins have won the World Series. I don’t have to remind you of that because the Twins have a celebration about it every month. It’s been 20 years since the “Twins Way” has been able to produce a championship team. Sure they’ve been able to produce competitive teams —- competitive for the AL Central. While AL Central titles are nice and cute and ultimately punch you a ticket to the playoffs, what happens when the “Twins Way” meets the big boys? Annihilation. Humiliation.
What can the Twins do to finally get back to the World Series? That’s something for the big boy bloggers to write about. I just wanted to write about a few things that bothered me about the “Twins Way” of doing things.
Trying to win with a pitching staff that doesn’t strike people out is like trying to win at blackjack without counting cards. If you’re not striking players out, you’re relying more and more on chance to reach a favorable outcome. The more you strike people out, the less you have to rely on chance and the batter hitting the ball to one of your defenders. You increase your odds of winning the more you control of the outcome. Remember that phrase “pitch-to-contact”? I know it doesn’t mean “Lob it in there, Johnny. Let him hit it”, but it comes close. The idea of pitching-to-contact is to remain around the plate, throw strikes but not the ones down the heart of the plate. Keep players off balance by changing speeds. That idea is fine in theory however you’re putting a lot of eggs in the luck basket if you miss your spots (Pavano, Blackburn). If a pitcher like Verlander misses his spot, his “stuff” is nasty enough that he can get away with a few mistakes.
To say the Twins offense has been abysmal, is being too kind. Injuries are likely to blame but personally, it’s getting hard to watch other teams hit home runs while the Twins play small ball. Since 2007, only 5 teams have hit fewer home runs than the Twins — A’s, Dodgers, Giants, Royals and Mariners. Is this the “Twins Way” causing them to take more conservative hacks to ensure at least a run (productive outs) or just players not driving the ball over the fence? It’s probably both but it’s hard to ignore their lack of power, especially when your pitching staff is probably going to give up 3-4 runs a game because they can’t strike anybody out. (I know, it’s not just the strikeouts that win games, just ranting here).
I stated earlier that I’d rather finish in last place than lose to the Yankees in the first round of the playoffs again. Why? Because a horrible season like the one the Twins are having will force the team to do something. If the Twins keep making the playoffs and get swept, the front office is less apt to reevaluate the way they’re doing things. Why would they change anything if they’re making money, even if it’s not a truly competitive team outside the central? Maybe the “Twins Way” has run its course and it’s time to change it up a little. Make some trades that land the Ace starter or a big bat or maybe spend a little more on a free agent. Maybe not hang on to your prospects like they are the next coming Jesus. To land the big fish, you have to give up something in return. Time to be competitive outside the AL Central for once.
I leave you with this quote from Batman Begins. Ra’s al Ghul is talking about the “Twins Way” of doing things.
“When a forest grows too wild, a purging fire is inevitable and natural” –Ra’s al Ghul
What do you think?