Tuesday (Cuddyer at 2B and the big picture) edition: Wha' Happened?

  • Blog Post by: Michael Rand
  • June 1, 2010 - 9:16 AM

For as long as we can remember, the Twins have preached pitching, defense and doing the little things right. So when we read this quote after last night's game from manager Ron Gardenhire, we immediately thought it signaled a departure:

"He hadn't been out there in a while, but we were looking for runs."

The "he," of course, was Michael Cuddyer -- who got the start at second base, getting his first significant action at the position since 2005. The move made sense -- in fact, when we heard Cuddyer was going to be in that spot, we quickly warmed to the idea in the short-term. With Orlando Hudson on the shelf for a few games, would you rather sacrifice a pretty decent amount of offense (Cuddy, Delmon, Kubel or Thome sits) or a little defense (Brendan Harris, a decent but not great glove man, sits while the other four play)? Long-term, Cuddyer could be exposed in the infield (as he has been at third base in the past). Short-term, though, you can get by. It looked even smarter, of course, when Cuddy, Delmon and Kubel all homered in a 5-4 victory.

But let's get back to the big picture, even if this is a short-term move. What did Gardy's decision mean:

*He can see that offense is a vital third strength of this team. While the pitching has been solid and the defense has been other-worldly in terms of errors, the Twins' offense -- when loaded up the right way -- can be very dangerous. Unlike years past, when taking defense instead of offense might have been prudent because stealing runs was more likely than creating them, this year's team can slug its way to some wins.

*The Twins closing the book on Brendan Harris, at least as a somewhat regular player. The opening of Joe C's story was telling:

Michael Cuddyer and Nick Punto sat on the Twins' flight to Seattle late Sunday night, discussing the team's lineup options with second baseman Orlando Hudson out because of a left wrist injury. Together, they realized it might be best for Cuddyer to briefly return to second base. "Nick decided to go back and tell [manager Ron Gardenhire]," Cuddyer said. "I guess Gardy said he'd already been thinking about it."

Put another way: Cuddyer and Punto decided that, instead of Harris playing 2B or Punto playing there while Harris slid over to third, it would be better for the ballclub if someone who hasn't played the position in five years took a crack at it. Gardenhire not only agreed, but also had already been considering it.

If Harris can't get a start when the regular 2B goes down and another backup (Alexi Casilla) goes on the DL, that's pretty telling. He had 400+ at bats in both 2008 and 2009 for the Twins. He's at 88 right now and batting .170. None of this is a vote of confidence for Harris.

All in all, Gardy has seen what life is like when he has a threat like J.J. Hardy or Delmon Young (last night) down in the No. 8 hole. And while he still loves pitching and defense, he also looks like he loves having a good chance to score every inning.

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