Souhan: Charisma-challenged Twins need wins, leaders

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 29, 2012 - 11:25 AM

Winning big-league baseball requires individual and collective confidence, and there are few Twins coming off seasons that inspire bravado.

hide

Twins star Joe Mauer is comfortable talking to prospects such as Casey Fien, but he’s not the type to raise his voice in the clubhouse.

Photo: Elizabeth Flores, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

FORT MYERS, FLA. - We associate good Twins teams with big personalities.

The Twins' World Series teams won with Puck, The Rat and Big Hrbie in '87, and added Black Jack in '91.

The resurgent Twins of the 2000s turned the clubhouse into a frat house. Torii Hunter, Doug Mientkiewicz, Eddie Guardado and Corey Koskie filibustered between pranks.

In recent years, the clubhouse has grown quieter, but players such as Michael Cuddyer and Joe Nathan still drew crowds to their lockers and worked the room like party hosts.

The Twins should nominate their current team for an Oscar, because this camp has been one long silent movie.

One member of the organization calls it ''Camp Cupcake." The roster is a mixture of players who last year either failed or got hurt, and a bunch of players who still are introducing themselves.

The biggest names on the roster are not the biggest personalities. Joe Mauer requires subtitles. Justin Morneau is worried about concussion symptoms. The roles typically reserved for alpha males, such as closer, cleanup hitter and ace, are either unfilled or manned by people uncertain about their careers.

The result is that the Twins have a franchise-record 67 players in camp, and yet in the clubhouse you rarely hear laughter, and on the field during workouts the loudest noises are often made by birds.

''It's too quiet," said Guardado, in camp as a spring training instructor. ''But I always say you're born being a leader, you can't make a leader.

''It's tough for some guys, but somebody's gotta take the bull by the horns and say, 'Let's get it done.' "

There is no certain correlation between clubhouse personality and winning, and it's hard to tell whether good teams have leaders or whether good teams cause outsiders to label good players as leaders. The Twins had winning and losing seasons with Puckett, Hrbek, Hunter and Cuddyer on the roster. Charisma guarantees nothing.

Winning big-league baseball, though, requires individual and collective confidence, and there are few Twins coming off seasons that inspire bravado.

''I think guys are getting to know each other more than anything else," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "A lot of quiet conversations out there. I guess that part of it is. That's because you've got so many new people, which is not unusual ...

''We lost last year and everyone said our chemistry was horrible but when you lose, your chemistry is horrible. Because it is hard to come to the ballpark. That makes it really tough. They go hand in hand."

Even the size of the spring training roster is a hedge against failure. There are 67 players in big-league camp so the Twins have protection against big-league injuries, and qualified players to send to Class AAA Rochester, which has lost 90 games or more in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1903-04.

''It's a combination of things," General Manager Terry Ryan said. ''We need to create competition. We need depth. We need insurance. We need to have people ready at Triple A. We need to have people who are ready to play when they come up here.

''We're coming off a very trying year. We need to find some people who are going to help us get back on the right path. There's an opportunity for quite a few people to win jobs in this camp, especially in our bullpen."

The most galling aspects of the Twins' 2011 season were that they lost 99 games while Mauer worked out in the back room, and young players seemed thrilled to be drawing a big-league paycheck. It was one of the worst clubhouses I've ever covered, in terms of accountability.

Maybe personality doesn't matter. Mauer won batting titles, division titles and an MVP award without raising his voice.

Maybe personalities will emerge. Ben Revere is energetic and likeable and willing to run into fences, and Carl Pavano is admired by his teammates.

But if this spring is an indication, the Twins had better hope that clubhouse atmosphere and winning percentage are as unrelated as Kate and Randy Moss.

Jim Souhan can be heard Sundays from 10 a.m. to noon and weekdays at 2 p.m. on 1500-AM. His Twitter name is SouhanStrib. • jsouhan@startribune.com

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Tennessee 12/18/14 7:25 PM
Jacksonville
Philadelphia 12/20/14 3:30 PM
Washington
San Diego 12/20/14 7:25 PM
San Francisco
Minnesota 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Baltimore 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Detroit 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Cleveland 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Atlanta 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 12/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 12/21/14 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Oakland
Indianapolis 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Dallas
Seattle 12/21/14 7:30 PM
Arizona
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
Atlanta 127 FINAL
Cleveland 98
Phoenix 111 FINAL
Charlotte 106
Dallas 117 FINAL
Detroit 106
Utah 105 FINAL
Miami 87
Orlando 92 FINAL
Boston 109
Brooklyn 89 FINAL
Toronto 105
Memphis 117 FINAL
San Antonio 116
Milwaukee 79 4th Qtr 5:50
Portland 84
Houston 59 3rd Qtr 10:02
Denver 63
Indiana 62 3rd Qtr 7:17
LA Clippers 60
Ottawa 2 FINAL
New Jersey 0
Boston 3 FINAL(OT)
Minnesota 2
Dallas 1 3rd Prd 19:08
Vancouver 0
Langston 65 FINAL
North Texas 78
Delaware State 72 FINAL
St Francis-NY 64
James Madison 72 FINAL
Ball State 52
SIU Edwardsville 65 FINAL
Campbell 70
St Francis-PA 67 FINAL
Duquesne 52
North Florida 77 FINAL
Florida State 93
Catawba 69 FINAL
George Mason 99
Ferrum 48 FINAL
High Point 106
Hampton 55 FINAL
Illinois 73
Gardner-Webb 65 FINAL
Jacksonville 68
Longwood 60 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 71
Arkansas State 69 FINAL
Miss State 55
Tennessee 72 FINAL
NC State 83
NC A&T 55 FINAL
Ohio State 97
Manhattan 56 FINAL
Pittsburgh 65
Robert Morris 57 FINAL
Toledo 83
Char Southern 58 FINAL
Wofford 64
Kennesaw St 90 FINAL
Youngstown St 84
Barber-Scotia 52 FINAL
NC Central 108
Detroit 70 FINAL
UCF 75
Liberty 70 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 73
TX A&M-CC 73 FINAL
Denver 83
Ark-Pine Bluff 61 FINAL
Houston 56
UT Martin 54 FINAL
Illinois State 64
Milligan 76 FINAL
Louisiana 115
Abilene Christian 44 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 83
USC Upstate 73 FINAL
Memphis 83
Alcorn State 56 FINAL
Murray State 94
Central Mich 80 FINAL
Northwestern 67
Georgia State 54 FINAL
Old Dominion 58
TX-Pan American 69 FINAL
Saint Louis 75
Ill-Chicago 46 FINAL
SMU 67
Texas State 60 FINAL
Stephen F Austin 66
SC State 39 FINAL
Texas Tech 101
Missouri State 70 FINAL
Tulsa 74
Chicago State 60 FINAL
Western Ky 75
Morehead State 50 FINAL
Green Bay 66
Northern Colorado 82 FINAL
Nebraska Omaha 92
Winthrop 62 FINAL
Auburn 80
New Mexico St 55 FINAL
Baylor 66
San Diego St 62 FINAL
Cincinnati 71
Eastern Mich 46 FINAL
Michigan State 66
Loyola Marymount 58 FINAL
Stanford 67
Incarnate Word 82 FINAL
Grand Canyon 80
Northeastern 58 FINAL
Cal Poly 60
Central Arkansas 55 FINAL
New Mexico 76
Howard 45 FINAL
Pepperdine 53
Portland 47 2nd Half 7:37
UNLV 41
CS-Northridge 30 2nd Half
Oregon 39
Grambling St 13 2nd Half
Washington 45
Nevada 12/20/14 10:00 AM
Louisiana
Utah State 12/20/14 1:20 PM
Texas-El Paso
(23) Utah 12/20/14 2:30 PM
Colorado State
Western Mich 12/20/14 4:45 PM
Air Force
South Alabama 12/20/14 8:15 PM
Bowling Green
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Memphis
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Western Carolina 79 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 66
(21) Miss State 66 FINAL
Louisiana 51
(25) DePaul 109 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 84
Liberty 64 FINAL
NC State 67
Elon 77 FINAL
Campbell 51
Akron 73 FINAL
UCF 64
Richmond 77 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 67
Montana 70 FINAL
Seattle 64
(7) Stanford 46 FINAL
Chattanooga 54
Florida A&M 69 FINAL
Southern U 80
Oklahoma 72 FINAL
(13) Duke 92
Savannah State 56 FINAL
Auburn 62
Northern Colorado 43 FINAL
South Florida 84
Youngstown St 73 FINAL
Robert Morris 65
Siena 75 FINAL
Sacred Heart 65
Vermont 63 FINAL
St Francis-NY 61
(1) South Carolina 69 FINAL
Hampton 49
Fla Gulf Coast 91 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 46
Texas Southern 92 FINAL
Houston Baptist 80
Northwestern 88 FINAL
UNLV 84
NC A&T 70 FINAL
Appalachian St 72
NC Central 52 FINAL
Coastal Carolina 67
Drexel 50 FINAL
Quinnipiac 74
Cincinnati 52 FINAL
Northern Ky 66
Alabama State 53 FINAL
Georgia Tech 77
Morehead St 69 FINAL
USC Upstate 75
Arkansas State 59 FINAL
Kent State 44
American Univ 60 FINAL
Manhattan 52
UNC Greensboro 60 FINAL
St Bonaventure 78
Arkansas-Monticello 56 FINAL
Northwestern St 61
Prairie View 70 FINAL
Sam Houston St 51
McNeese State 59 FINAL
(3) Texas 76
Yale 90 FINAL
Wagner 65
Oakland 61 FINAL
TX A&M-CC 54
Eastern Kentucky 62 FINAL
Alabama A&M 56
SIU-Edwardsville 47 FINAL
Northern Ill 69
McMurry 25 FINAL
TX-Arlington 82
Portland 65 FINAL
Eastern Washington 72
North Texas 42 FINAL
San Francisco 60
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: Do you like the Ervin Santana signing by the Twins?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close