4/16-4/19 Series Preview: Minnesota Twins

Fan Confidence Poll: April 16th, 2012
The Teixeira Analysis: The Right-Handed Batter
(REUTERS/Eric Miller)

Having watched the Twins play over the last week and a half, I’m pretty sure they’re not going to win 62 games this season. They’re that bad. The Yankees also completely own them, winning 63 of 80 games during the Ron Gardenhire era (including playoffs). They’re also 10-2 in new Target Field, but this series will be played in the Bronx.

What Have They Done Lately?

The Twins have won just two of their nine games this season, both against the same Angels team that just left the Bronx. They were swept by the Orioles in the season-opening series, and they were just swept by the Rangers over the weekend. Their 28 runs scored are the fewest in the league and their 48 runs allowed are the fourth most. That -20 run differential the worst in baseball. Yeah, they’re awful.

Offense

(Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

Only twice in nine games have the Twins managed to score more than three runs. They’ve mustered no more than two runs in six of ten games, and their team .311 wOBA is the fifth worst in the league. Joe Mauer (.307 wOBA) and Justin Morneau (.276 wOBA) are shells of their former selves due to injury, though they recently homered in the same game for the first time ever at Target Field. Jamie Carroll (.276 wOBA) is either going to walk or make an out, while Chris Parmalee (.262 wOBA), Danny Valencia (.238 wOBA), Ryan Doumit (.212 wOBA), and Alexi Casilla (.182 wOBA) have contributed next to nothing.

Only two regulars in Minnesota’s lineup are doing anything with the sticks. Josh Willingham (.579 wOBA) has four of the team’s seven homers while Denard Span (.433 wOBA) has been setting the table as the leadoff hitter. Recent waiver claim Clete Thomas took over the right field job from Ben Revere (.160 wOBA) and hit a homer in his first game as a Twin yesterday. You still have to respect Mauer and Morneau because of what they were, but this lineup isn’t scaring anyone.

Pitching Matchups

Monday: RHP Freddy Garcia vs. RHP Carl Pavano
Pavano has a special place in the hearts of Yankees fans thanks to his hilariously injury-riddled and ineffective stint in pinstripes back in the mid-aughts. Ironically enough, he’s turned into a innings eater since leaving New York, though he hasn’t always been effective. He owns a 4.39 ERA (4.05 FIP) over the last three years, ranking 12th in innings (656) but 35th in fWAR (9.8) among all starters. Pavano’s velocity has dropped off in a big way recently, as he now sits in the mid-80s with his sinker and low-80s with his slider, changeup, and splitter. He relies on ground balls and not strikeouts per team philosophy, and he is stingy with ball four. At 36 years old, Pavano is a junkballing righty.

(AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Tuesday: LHP CC Sabathia vs. LHP Francisco Liriano
The Twins have one guy in their rotation — really on their entire pitching staff — that can miss bats consistently, and that’s Liriano. He’s injury prone and enigmatic, two traits that are very likely to be related. On any given night he’s capable of a ten-run stinker or a two-hit shutout. Liriano relies very heavily on his offspeed pitches, specifically his wipeout mid-80s slider and mid-80s changeup. His two fastballs — two and four-seamer — are more low-90s now than the mid-90s they average two years ago. Liriano has traditionally piled up a ton of strikeouts and ground balls, but walks have been an issue in recent years. He’s been very hit or miss against the Yankees, with a few strong games and a few duds.

Wednesday: RHP Hiroki Kuroda vs. Jason Marquis
Marquis, a Staten Island-native, will be making his first start of the season after leaving the team to be with his family after his daughter suffered a near-fatal injury in a bicycle accident. She is recovering well, thankfully. Marquis threw a simulated game as a tune-up on Tuesday, and believe it or not, this will only be his second career start against the Yankees in his 12-year career. That’s what happens when you spend all 12 years in the NL. Marquis is a classic Twins pitcher, getting ground balls with an upper-80s sinker and no strikeouts with his mid-80s slider and low-80s changeup.

Thursday: RHP Phil Hughes vs. RHP Nick Blackburn
It’s a matchup of disappointing right-handers in the finale, though at least the Yankees don’t owe Hughes over $10MM from 2012-2013 like the Twins owe Blackburn. Like Pavano and Marquis, Blackburn is the prototypical pitch-to-contact back of the rotation dreck the Twins love so dearly. He gets ground balls (career 48.3%), doesn’t miss bats (career 4.33 K/9), and rarely walks anyone (career 2.20 BB/9). I feel like I’m repeating myself here. An upper-80s sinker, low-80s changeup, and mid-70s curveball are Blackburn’s weapons of choice. The Yankees have hit him very hard just about every time they’ve faced him through the years.

For what it’s worth, Blackburn left his last start due to shoulder discomfort, but the tests came back clean and he’s not expected to miss a start. There’s always a chance he could, however.

Bullpen Status
Minnesota’s bullpen has taken a bit of a beating over the last two days, with standout setup man Glen Perkins getting spanked for three runs in two-thirds of an inning over two games. He threw 23 pitches on Saturday and ten pitches yesterday, so it’s unlikely he’ll be available tonight. Right-handers Alex Burnett and Jared Burton have each pitched in three of the last four days, so I wouldn’t count on seeing either guy tonight barring an emergency.

The rest of the Twins’ bullpen is pretty well set. Closer Matt Capps is both terrible and well-rested, plus they have righty Jeff Gray and lefties Matt Maloney and Brian Duensing in reserve. Overall, their bullpen ranks 23rd in baseball with a 4.50 ERA, though their 3.83 FIP paints a rosier picture (13th in MLB). For the latest and greatest on the Twins, we recommend Aaron Gleeman and Twinkie Town.

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Fan Confidence Poll: April 16th, 2012
The Teixeira Analysis: The Right-Handed Batter
  • Annie Oakley

    If Freddy and Hughes can’t put up decent performances against these guys then there’s no hope for them against teams like Boston, Detroit, and Texas later in the month. This should be a good team for CC to turn it around against. There should be no reason why we can’t take 3/4 at home against a bad club.

  • Robinson Tilapia

    I hope we welcome back Glass Carl to the stadium with open arms and his glove shoved straight up his ass.

    The Twins do, sadly, look terrible, as I’ve always had a soft spot for them since I was a kid. This is a golden opportunity for the Yanks to get additional distance from the .500 mark at the start of the season.

    Hope to see better control from Mr. Sweaty today. Kinda hard to have worse control than what we saw from him last time.

    • David

      “… and his glove shoved straight up his bruised buttocks.”

      FTFY

      • Robinson Tilapia

        Your use of “bruised” violates the profanity policy. :)

    • Manny’s BanWagon

      I second your sentiment on Pavano.

      The Twins always seem to bend over for the Yankees and hopefully this will be no different.

  • http://www.hogwild.net/ HogWild

    I enjoyed the humor in this post such as “Closer Matt Capps is both terrible and well-rested” haha

    I look forward to booing Carl Pavano while rooting for a comeback performance from Garcia. These are the series where the Yanks usually stockpile wins.

  • RetroRob

    Liriano, the LH’d Burnett without as much career success.

  • Jonathan

    Serious question…where does Mauer’s contract rate on the worst contracts in the game as of today?

    • Knoxvillain

      Pretty damn bad. If he can stay healthy it won’t be terrible. But ten years for any catcher is just fucking stupid.

    • MannyGeee

      king of all albatrosses. say what you want about A Rod, at least he has earned some of that contract. Mauer signed that deal and went right into the infermary…

  • Havok9120

    I’d say that we’ve jinxed it but…I hadn’t realized their early stats were quite this bad.

    Yikes.

  • Bo Knows

    I never understood this so I’ll ask…why does everyone seem to suddenly write off Mauer like he’s some aging scrub now? Seriously the guy just turned 28, he has more baseball in him.

    He had one bad year due to injury; lots of players including many superstar players have had years that were shortened due to injury.

    • The Guns of Navarone

      I know I personally am not writing him off but I think it’s the contract that looks like a big mistake right now. His injury isn’t just a run-of-the-mill ankle sprain or oblique injury. It’s an injury that could very well keep him from remaining at catcher. The Twins have already started playing him at 1B in part because of the injury but also to keep him fresh. It also looks more and more like the power output he displayed in 2009 was a total fluke.

      So, while a healthy Joe Mauer is still one the best catchers in the game, giving him 8 years, $184 million was a BIG gamble for the Twins.

      • Manny’s BanWagon

        Maybe we can trade Arod for Mauer.

      • Havok9120

        Oh the contract will be a horrible move in all likelihood. But that doesn’t add or subtract anything to his performance on the field.

    • Havok9120

      I’ve never really gotten it either. As far as I’m concerned, he’s still Joe Freaking Mauer until he proves otherwise over the course of 2-3 years.

      That said, even if he AND Morneau return to form, that lineup is still pretty pitiful.

      • steve s

        I’ve said it when he was in his prime and I say it again; the next time Mauer hits 30 homers, knocks in 100 runs or scores a 100 runs will be the first. Let’s say he is to Johnny Bench what Mattingly was to Lou Gehrig. Great player but he is an old “28”, never had the stamina, even in his prime, and most likely will end up way short of the HOF.

        • Havok9120

          Counting stats? I mean, I use them too and am far from the disdain a lot of people here have for them, but that’s hardly the measure of a player.

  • Monterowasdinero

    Pavano the junkballing righty.

    Be ready for some Tex/Swish frustration.

    • handtius

      series hasn’t even started and you bring the negativity? come on man….always look on the bright side of life…do do…do do. always look on the light side of life…

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jHPOzQzk9Qo

    • Robinson Tilapia

      April is to Mark Teixiera as diplomacy is to Bobby Valentine.

    • Monterowasdinero

      Thanks for your comments. A “negative” comment based on righty pitchers, with good command of offspeed junk, handling Tex and Swish is just a statement of fact. Hope to be proven wrong.

      • handtius

        first off, i was being playful, second, bring the proof if you’re going to call it a fact.

  • bill

    On paper the yanks should sweep them but that worries me haha, just feels like after all these years the twins are due to not suck in yankee stadium. I hope I’m wrong though

    • What the Kruk?

      It’s a trap!

      *admiral_ackbar.jpg*

    • Havok9120

      I have the same feeling.

      But I’ve had that feeling every time we play them in the Bronx for 3 seasons now, so I’ve stopped paying any attention to it.

    • FIPster Doofus

      I’d agree with you if the 2012 Twins weren’t a dreadful team, but they are. The Yanks should be able to handle them pretty easily.

    • MannyGeee

      if anyone can screw this sweep up, its Sir Philip of Hughes, esq.

      • handtius

        if anyone is going to screw this up its the damn contractor who isn’t put a diffusion plate over that thermal exhaust port. not much bigger then a womp rat.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      It doesn’t matter who they’re playing, sweeping a four-game series is a very difficult thing to do in MLB. Winning 3/4 against a terrible team isn’t some kind of failure.

      • Pat D

        Though somehow I would feel like it is. Especially when you say they aren’t going to win 62 games.

        Wouldn’t you at least say that splitting the series is a failure?

  • jjyank

    I love playing the Twins. I feel bad for them though. A good friend of mine is a huge Twins fan, and when they were relevant, we had a good time with the banter back and forth. Unfortunately, the Twins’ general suckiness combined with the Yankee ownage of them have made those conversations rather one sided.

  • http://duckduckgrayduck.com Duck Duck Gray Duck

    Gale from ‘Hunger Games’ looks just like Joe Mauer – http://duckduckgrayduck.com/20.....joe-mauer/