Final score in the Twins blame game: 99 losses means many had a role

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 29, 2011 - 12:32 AM

Who gets the blame for the Twins' 2011 mess? Glad you asked.

hide

Twins catcher Joe Mauer

Photo: Richard Sennott, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

The Twins went into the 2011 season as the two-time defending champions of the American League Central and talking up the strength of a lineup 1 through 9. On Wednesday night, they finished with the second-most losses (99) in the 51-year history of the franchise.

Who gets the blame for this mess? Glad you asked.

Joe Mauer: He showed up at the Lee County Sports Complex with pitchers and catchers in mid-February. He arrived early on a daily basis to spend hours working on machines but very limited time with his cleats on dirt or grass.

There are informed sources -- including the Twins manager -- who will tell you a player (particularly a catcher) isn't getting his legs ready for the grind of a season if he's not playing games and laboring on the surfaces required for his work.

There was a suspicion dating several years that Mauer was more likely to leave the lineup than deal with a vague injury or ailment. This season that went from suspicion to fact.

Even worse than what he did to his reputation as a player, Mauer was chiefly responsible for an attitude that took hold in spring training -- "If the big-buck guy's not playing, why should I?'' -- and was never eradicated.

Blame to Mauer: 20 losses.

Bill Smith: The general manager allowed himself to be talked into trading Wilson Ramos, a certified catching prospect, last July for reliever Matt Capps.

What made it a huge risk was Mauer's history of fragility -- and that slapped Smith and the Twins upside the head this summer. Ramos had a strong rookie season in Washington, as Mauer took his long leaves of absence.

There's much more on Smith's rap sheet: trading shortstop J.J. Hardy for little in return, bringing in Tsuyoshi Nishioka as his replacement, and on and on.

Blame to Smith: 18 losses.

Mike Radcliff: He was promoted from scouting director to vice president for player personnel four years ago. He is Smith's chief evaluator of talent. He signed off on Nishioka and on bad trades. Earlier, he spent key draft choices on pitch-to-contact guys who guaranteed a mediocre starting rotation (at best).

Blame to Radcliff: 15 losses.

Medical/training staff: LaVelle Neal's long interview with Jim Pohlad that appeared in Tuesday's Star Tribune included this quote from the Twins owner: "We need to address how can we keep the players healthy.''

That was probably the most promising quote in those 62 inches of copy, since the highest level of management seems aware that what's being done to diagnose and rehabilitate injuries with this ballclub is not working.

Blame to medical/training staff: 8 losses.

Ron Gardenhire: The manager didn't crack down a year ago when being "a little dinged up'' became a satisfactory excuse for regulars not to play. And this season, with 27 trips to the disabled list, his club was destroyed by that approach.

Blame to Gardenhire: 8 losses.

Minor league staff: Did it ever occur to anyone employed to instruct the Twins in the minors to tell Trevor Plouffe or Danny Valencia that, if you don't tag up at second with one out, you might be able to score on a double to right-center?

Blame to minor league staff: 7 losses.

Francisco Liriano: He won 14 games in 2010. It was his best season since undergoing Tommy John surgery. The Twins chose him as the Game 1 starter vs. the Yankees.

This was the season to build on that résumé. He has been horrendous. He pitched a no-hitter and even that wasn't overly impressive. He wound up 9-14 with a 5.09 ERA.

Blame to Liriano: 7 losses.

Matt Capps: The Twins paid him $7.15 million this season to throw at least one meatball in the middle of the plate to 75 percent of the hitters that he faced.

Blame to Capps: 6 losses.

Nippon Professional League: If they didn't have such a collection of goofy-swinging players in bandbox ballparks in Japan, maybe the Twins wouldn't have been fooled by Nishioka's numbers and brought over this hapless batting champion.

Blame to NPL: 6 losses.

Dusty Hughes: OK, poor Dusty is merely a symbol, but somebody has to take the fall for the failed cast of bullpen reinforcements offered up in the spring for Crain, Rauch, Matt Guerrier and Brian Fuentes.

Blame to Dusty Hughes: 4 losses.

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

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions
8:10 PM ET123456789RHE
DetroitR. Porcello (15-11)000
MinnesotaR. Nolasco (5-11)000
@theBallpark
Preview | Matchup | Lineup | Log | Wrap | Box

ADVERTISEMENT

Boston - A. Ranaudo 6:05 PM
Pittsburgh - C. Morton
Toronto - D. Hutchison 6:05 PM
Baltimore - U. Jimenez
Washington - T. Roark 6:10 PM
Atlanta - A. Harang
Miami - N. Eovaldi 6:10 PM
NY Mets - B. Colon
NY Yankees - M. Pineda 6:10 PM
Tampa Bay - J. Odorizzi
Cincinnati - J. Cueto 7:05 PM
Chicago Cubs - J. Arrieta
Chicago WSox - C. Bassitt 7:10 PM
Kansas City - L. Hendriks
Cleveland - C. Kluber 7:10 PM
Houston - N. Tropeano
Detroit - R. Porcello 7:10 PM
Minnesota - R. Nolasco
Milwaukee - W. Peralta 7:15 PM
St. Louis - L. Lynn
Los Angeles - D. Haren 7:40 PM
Colorado - T. Matzek
San Francisco - J. Peavy 8:40 PM
Arizona - J. Collmenter
Seattle - R. Elias 9:05 PM
LA Angels - C. Rasmus
Texas - N. Tepesch 9:05 PM
Oakland - S. Kazmir
Philadelphia - A. Burnett 9:10 PM
San Diego - I. Kennedy
Tampa Bay 9/18/14 7:25 PM
Atlanta
San Diego 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Dallas 9/21/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Houston 9/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Baltimore 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Green Bay 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Indianapolis 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Oakland 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New England
San Francisco 9/21/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Denver 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Kansas City 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Miami
Pittsburgh 9/21/14 7:30 PM
Carolina
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
(5) Auburn 9/18/14 6:30 PM
(20) Kansas State
Connecticut 9/19/14 7:00 PM
So Florida
Old Dominion 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Rice
Troy 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Georgia Tech 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Virginia Tech
Eastern Mich 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Iowa 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Maryland 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Syracuse
Tulane 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Duke
Hawaii 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Marshall 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Carolina 9/20/14 2:30 PM
East Carolina
Army 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Virginia 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(21) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 9/20/14 2:30 PM
SMU
Rutgers 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Central Mich 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Kansas
Utah 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(3) Alabama
Louisville 9/20/14 2:30 PM
FIU
Fla Atlantic 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Wyoming
Indiana 9/20/14 3:00 PM
(18) Missouri
San Jose St 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Minnesota
Texas State 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Illinois
Massachusetts 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Penn State
Georgia State 9/20/14 5:00 PM
Washington
Appalachian St 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Miss State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
(8) LSU
Northern Ill 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas
Middle Tennessee 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Memphis
Utah State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Miami-Ohio 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Idaho 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Ohio U
Ball State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
(14) So Carolina 9/20/14 6:30 PM
Vanderbilt
(4) Oklahoma 9/20/14 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Ga Southern 9/20/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
UNLV 9/20/14 7:00 PM
Houston
(22) Clemson 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State
Miami-Florida 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
New Mexico 9/20/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 9/20/14 9:00 PM
Arizona
Louisiana 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Boise State
(2) Oregon 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
San Diego St 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
Toronto 9/19/14 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Edmonton 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Calgary 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Ottawa 9/21/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How sure are you that the Twins are on the road to improving?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close