Jettisoning one underachieving pitcher and adding a bat is a start, but the Twins are more likely to turn this ugly swoon around with better production from the pieces already in place.
This position is about as fashionable these days as cell phones the size of Cornish hens, but I agree with Twins General Manager Terry Ryan.
Ryan has responded to cries for the acquisition of a righthanded bat by arguing that one hitter would do as much good for the Twins as a Dixie cup of water would do for the Boundary Waters conflagration.
Ryan addressed one problem Sunday, cutting pitcher Sidney Ponson, who earned a character reference from his manager. Ron Gardenhire praised Ponson as a teammate, but I'd recommend the other kind of teammate -- the kind who prevents dancelines from forming on the basepaths.
Ryan replaced Ponson on the roster with designated hitter Garrett Jones. By the end of the week, the Twins are expected to call up righthanded pitcher Scott Baker to replace Ponson in the rotation.
Anyone looking to Jones, Baker or a potential trade for salvation is not paying attention. The Twins lost eight of 10 games before Sunday not because they lack one hitter or can be transformed by one roster move, but because they have displayed moments, games, even weeks of ineptitude in just about every aspect of the game.
Adding one hitter wont tighten up Jason Bartletts fielding or loosen Nick Puntos death grip on the bat, or quicken the healing process of Joe Mauer and Rondell White, or remind Jason Kubel not to run to third base when the third baseman has the ball.
What the Twins need is not to have the worst player on their team replaced but to have their best players rediscover their baseball senses, as they did Sunday night while pounding the Tigers 16-4.
Of their nine expected everyday players, only center fielder Torii Hunter has stayed healthy and played to his capabilities, and even he has had to shrug off bruises (most notably to his mouth and back) that might have cost lesser players a day or two.
The rundown on the other positions:
1B: Justin Morneau has given the Twins almost half of their home runs and is playing with a broken nose, but he knows he can take better at-bats, and he will.
2B: Luis Castillo has had his usual myriad leg injuries, missing almost a third of the Twins' games. His health and savvy are vital to a team with a weak bench and no desirable alternative in the leadoff spot.
SS: Bartlett has struggled with his footwork and throwing. The bat has come around; now the Twins need to see the shortstop who made every conceivable play last year, and Bartlett made a beautiful play behind the bag Sunday night.
3B: Punto's body language is unprintable. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said Punto stayed late to work on his swing with hitting coach Joe Vavra on Saturday. Punto's desire is always there, but this is a results business, and a slugging percentage of .289 and on-base percentage of .301 (through Saturday) won't keep you in the lineup.
C: Mauer and Mike Redmond remain the best catching combo in the business; Mauer is required to set up the heart of the order.
LF/DH: Kubel, Jeff Cirillo, Jason Tyner, White, Lew Ford and Josh Rabe have combined for -- let's see, carry the two, divide by the hypotenuse, multiply by Pi -- zero home runs.
CF: Hunter has been outstanding; he took the team RBI lead with seven Sunday night.
RF: A freak back injury to Michael Cuddyer may have hurt this team as much as anything that has happened this year. When he's not available and effective, the Twins' weak bench is exposed and the team flails against lefties. The Twins went south about the time he left the lineup in Tampa.
Since the beginning of the 2005 season, the Twins are 166-40 (an .806 winning percentage) when they score four runs or more. They are 31-124 (a .200 winning percentage) when scoring three or fewer.
|Minnesota - LP: V. Worley||3||FINAL|
|Atlanta - WP: P. Maholm||8|
|Cincinnati - WP: A. Simon||7||FINAL|
|NY Mets - LP: B. Parnell||4|
|Los Angeles - WP: H. Ryu||9||FINAL|
|Milwaukee - LP: W. Peralta||2|
|Oakland - LP: J. Parker||1||FINAL|
|Texas - WP: R. Wolf||3|
|Arizona - LP: T. Cahill||1||FINAL|
|Colorado - WP: J. De La Rosa||4|
|Washington - WP: T. Clippard||2||FINAL|
|San Francisco - LP: J. Affeldt||1|
|Tampa Bay - LP: C. Ramos||3||FINAL|
|Toronto - WP: A. Loup||4|
|Chicago Cubs - LP: J. Samardzija||0||FINAL|
|Pittsburgh - WP: F. Liriano||1|
|Detroit - WP: J. Verlander||11||FINAL|
|Cleveland - LP: U. Jimenez||7|
|NY Yankees - LP: H. Kuroda||3||FINAL|
|Baltimore - WP: J. Hammel||6|
|Seattle - LP: B. Maurer||1||FINAL|
|LA Angels - WP: C. Wilson||7|
|Philadelphia - WP: C. Lee||3||FINAL|
|Miami - LP: K. Slowey||0|
|Boston - WP: C. Buchholz||6||FINAL|
|Chicago WSox - LP: H. Santiago||2|
|Kansas City - LP: J. Shields||1||FINAL|
|Houston - WP: J. Lyles||3|
|St. Louis - WP: T. Lyons||5||FINAL|
|San Diego - LP: B. Smith||3|
Poll: Who should be the next Twins starting pitcher to lose his job?