Want a secure job? Apply with hapless Twins

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 27, 2011 - 6:52 AM

The Twins front office seems more concerned about not hurting anyone's feelings than it does about making people accountable for their failures.


Twins catcher Joe Mauer

Photo: Renee Jones Schneider, Star Tribune

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Matt Tolbert reached on an infield hit with one out in the first inning. Jason Kubel followed with a bouncer toward the shortstop hole, and Twins fans were left open-mouthed by what happened next:

Seattle shortstop Brendan Ryan backhanded the ball and, without a bobble or hesitation, whipped a throw toward second. Jack Wilson arrived on time for a perfect throw, made his turn with precision and fired a waist-high strike to first baseman Adam Kennedy.

Kubel was out and turning toward the dugout a few steps short of first base.

"What do they call it when the shortstop fields a grounder, and then outs are promptly recorded at both second and first?" someone in the second deck was overheard to ask.

Answer: Most teams refer to this as a double play, although if the 2011 Twins were to execute a 6-4-3 so crisply, it would be called a miracle.

This is beyond frightful, watching a ballclub that won 94 games transform itself at alarming speed into a team that's going to lose 94 games (or more) a season later.

Gary Gaetti had a tremendous knack for self-deprecating quips during his time with the Twins, starting as a rookie in 1982 when he said: "Every time we come to a new town, the first paragraph in the newspaper calls us the hapless Twins. I'm starting to think that's our nickname: the Hapless Twins."

That was the outfit that started 16-54 and was the only team in the Twins' first 50 seasons to lose 100 games (60-102). It was also a team that had 15 rookies and a future.

From here, these are the Hapless Twins II. I go back to Day 1 as a Twins follower and -- when you match expectations to performance -- this is the most disgusting team in franchise history.

First, we were supposed to blame injuries. Now, we're supposed to blame Kevin Slowey.

How about discussing the laissez-faire attitude that set up this mess and has allowed it to fester through 16 wins and 32 losses?

The Twins front office seems more concerned about not hurting anyone's feelings than it does about making people accountable for their failures. No matter the level of futility, it has become dang near impossible for a player to lose a job with the Twins.

We should start by mentioning the team's cowardly behavior in the case of Joe Mauer, the $184 million invisible man.

The Twins spent over eight months saying of Justin Morneau: "We just want to see Justin get healed, so that he can live a long, healthy life, and hopefully get back to playing baseball."

This worked with Morneau, since he was dealing with the mysteries that can accompany a serious concussion.

It doesn't work with Mauer, who has two sore legs and one sore shoulder.

What we have is an employee salaried at $23 million being allowed to work the slowest program in the history of rehab. And he's doing so with no apparent pressure from his employer to get back in the lineup, even as the fans' honeymoon with Target Field dissipates faster than a Larry King marriage.

Blame the players making the big bucks, yes, but it's an example of a systematic failure that so many other guys get to keep a spot on the roster for no apparent reason. For instance:

• Drew Butera, batting .122, is as secure on this roster as Troy Tulowitzki in Colorado. Drew's a good catch-and-throw guy -- and it's hard to find one of those who might hit, say, .202.

• Jason Repko. Where are you going to find an extra outfielder who can catch a fly ball and still hit over .200? Clearly, impossible.

• Alexi Casilla (.215) and Matt Tolbert (.162). A matched pair. When it's a tossup as to which player has done the most to get the axe, the Twins solve the problem by keeping both.

• Jim Hoey was given a shot in the bullpen. He allowed 19 baserunners and 13 runs (nine earned) in 8 1/3 innings and went back to Class AAA Rochester. And 10 days later, Hoey apparently will be the guy to replace Kevin Slowey.

Hoey for Slowey. Does that say it all about the 2011 Twins?

Not quite. I'm tired of Jim Thome and the Blue Ox. I want a new ad:

The ship Hapless Twins II is sinking into the deep. The captain, Ron Gardenhire, looks across the bow and urgently shouts, "Women, children and Joe first."

Free idea, Twins. Start filming.

Patrick Reusse can be heard noon-4 weekdays on 1500ESPN. preusse@startribune.com

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