Hartman: Kelly says rotation, defense need work

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 18, 2012 - 9:31 PM

The former Twins manager likes the team's offense, but it is giving up too many runs in other areas.

Tom Kelly managed the Twins to World Series championships in 1987 and 1991 and knows the game of baseball as well as any man I've met in my long media career.

So when one is looking for an analysis of the current Twins squad, there's no one better.

"Well, we have to pitch better, you know that, everybody knows that," Kelly said. "We're not pitching, especially in the starting role. The bullpen has been just fabulous. I think [General Manager] Terry Ryan and Rob [Antony, assistant GM], when they went out this winter and got those power arms to come in and pitch, those fellas have been terrific out there. [Pitching coach] Rick Anderson and [bullpen coach Rick] Stelmaszek have done a wonderful job of piecing that all together down there, along with the manager."

However, Kelly agrees with most critics of the team with the worst record in the American League that the team was hurt when starters such as Carl Pavano and Scott Baker were sidelined and Nick Blackburn didn't pitch up to his ability.

"These are all things that blew up in our face and so it made it a little tough on the starters," Kelly said. "But it's another man's opportunity, so there's a lot of people getting a chance to be starters in the big leagues here for the Twins and take a spot in that rotation. They just have to step up and grab it, like this [Scott] Diamond fella."

However, Kelly doesn't put all the blame on the starting pitchers. He believes the defense is not playing as well as Twins teams have in the past.

"I think the manager would like to see the defense perform a little bit better, too," Kelly said. "We've done better this year compared to last year, but lately there's been a few [poor] plays out there. [Twins manager Ron Gardenhire] has that German in him and he's not too happy with a few of those defensive plays that we've made and some of the baserunning blunders we've made the last week or so. There's a few things to clean up and Gardy is the right man to do the job."

On offense, Kelly believes the Twins have a solid group.

Kelly described the free-agent signing of outfielder Josh Willingham: "My goodness, he's the pickup of the year or right up there. He's been just fabulous.

"Watching him perform on a daily basis and knocking in runs and hitting it over the fence, a good teammate, a good guy, good in the community, how can you ask for anything more than what we got out of Willingham?" Kelly said.

"Of course Joe [Mauer] has his eye on the batting title again and playing every day for us, so there's a lot of bright spots out there. We just have to do better with our starting pitching, just a touch, and see if we can improve that and make life a little bit easier for everybody."

Kelly said Mauer provided him with one of the great moments in the baseball season earlier this month when he worked a 10-pitch at-bat against Cincinnati Reds closer Aroldis Chapman, who was regularly reaches 100 miles per hour on the radar gun. Mauer fell behind 0-2 in the count, faced seven more pitches and finally hit a stinging double to left-center field.

"He is a professional hitter, and that at-bat he had two weeks ago against the big shot down there in Cincinnati, that was one of the better at-bats that you'll ever see in your life, my goodness gracious," Kelly said. "Then Willingham followed with the home run to get us a win down there in Cincinnati. These are the kinds of at-bats professional people take, and Joe certainly fits in that mold."

Kelly is a booster of third baseman Trevor Plouffe but added: "He needs work. He's not a Gold Glove down there or anything, but he's trying. He's improved immensely, in his whole game. I think what's much, much better is the quality of at-bats that he has. He has a lot better quality at-bats and his batting average and his home run production have indicated that he's improved his selection at the plate and what he's doing. He's been fun to watch, that's for sure, but he has some work to do, he'll tell you that."

One hears lots of praise for the great job Kelly does when he is the color commentator on Twins broadcasts, but that field doesn't interest him as a long-term career.

"No sir, [Sunday] is the last day for me," Kelly joked this weekend. "I haven't won any games. I'm starting to think I might be the jinx."

Gophers additions

New Gophers athletic director Norwood Teague has made some additions and changes since he succeeded Joel Maturi on June 18.

Teague named a top assistant June 22 when he appointed David Benedict as executive associate athletic director. Benedict came to Minnesota from Virginia Commonwealth, where he worked under Teague and was the interim athletic director.

Now the word is that Teague might bring in another executive for his staff.

Jottings

• Rumors are that Bill Lester, who has been executive director of the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission -- the owner and operator of the Metrodome -- since 1987, will announce his retirement Thursday morning at an MSFC meeting.

• Mauer was asked how he prepares when he is the designated hitter instead of catching or playing first base: "It's kind of been a learning process over the years. Here at Target Field, we have a cage behind the dugout so you can get some swings in when you're trying to stay loose. What's worked for me is I like sitting on the bench and just get as involved in the game as much as I can. Just watch and see what the pitchers are trying to do and watch our defense, instead of getting back behind the dugout and taking hundreds of swings."

• This past week, defensive players on the Gophers football team transferred 52 cases of food into 11,000 boxes for shipment to feed families around the world for Kids Against Hunger. Now the offensive players will try to beat the defense by packing more than the 11,000 boxes their teammates did. It's another example of community service Jerry Kill gets done besides coaching football.

• Jim Thome, in town with the Orioles, will try to add to the 61 home runs he has hit against the Twins over the years, more than any other opposing hitter in franchise history.

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. shartman@startribune.com

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Seattle
Milwaukee 115 FINAL
Orlando 100
New York 82 FINAL
Indiana 103
Denver 69 FINAL
Memphis 99
Chicago 118 FINAL
LA Lakers 123
Montreal 1 FINAL
NY Rangers 0
Winnipeg 2 FINAL
Philadelphia 5
Boston 5 FINAL
NY Islanders 2
Arizona 3 FINAL
Toronto 1
Dallas 6 FINAL
Ottawa 3
Detroit 1 FINAL
Tampa Bay 5
Columbus 2 FINAL
Florida 3
Nashville 4 FINAL(SO)
St. Louis 5
Minnesota 1 FINAL
Calgary 0
Buffalo 2 FINAL
Edmonton 3
Anaheim 3 FINAL
San Jose 6
DePaul 72 FINAL
Providence 83
Michigan State 71 FINAL
Rutgers 51
Boston Univ 67 FINAL
Army 71
Fla Atlantic 61 FINAL
Charlotte 86
Youngstown St 87 FINAL
Detroit 93
East Tenn St 55 FINAL
Furman 59
Saint Louis 60 FINAL
George Mason 68
USC Upstate 78 FINAL
Jacksonville 65
High Point 72 FINAL
Liberty 53
Central Conn St 55 FINAL
Long Island 67
Western Ky 56 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 69
Dayton 64 FINAL
Massachusetts 66
Chattanooga 72 FINAL
Mercer 75
Wofford 58 FINAL
UNC Greensboro 42
Maryland 56 FINAL
Ohio State 80
FIU 56 FINAL
Old Dominion 71
Fair-Dickinson 65 FINAL
Robert Morris 87
Mount St Marys 67 FINAL
St Francis-NY 73
Bryant 68 FINAL
St Francis-PA 75
Northern Ky 75 FINAL
Stetson 85
Coll of Charleston 70 FINAL
Towson 74
Western Carolina 85 FINAL
Va Military 70
Sacred Heart 64 FINAL
Wagner 75
Lipscomb 62 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 78
Kennesaw St 67 FINAL
North Florida 86
Appalachian St 46 FINAL
Ga Southern 83
Holy Cross 54 FINAL
Loyola-Maryland 64
Eastern Ill 51 FINAL
UT Martin 81
Jacksonville St 82 FINAL
Belmont 103
Connecticut 58 FINAL
Cincinnati 70
Rider 58 FINAL
Saint Peters 49
SIU Edwardsville 75 FINAL
SE Missouri St 61
Marshall 69 FINAL
Southern Miss 54
Tenn Tech 56 FINAL
Tennessee St 64
Middle Tennessee 58 FINAL
TX-San Antonio 69
Ill-Chicago 65 FINAL
Milwaukee 71
Weber State 67 FINAL
North Dakota 60
Denver 54 FINAL
North Dakota St 61
IUPU-Ft Wayne 66 FINAL
South Dakota 55
Louisiana 85 FINAL
South Alabama 89
Ark-Little Rock 75 FINAL
Arkansas State 65
Georgia State 88 FINAL
Texas-Arlington 74
ULM 58 FINAL
Troy 55
Portland 46 FINAL
Gonzaga 64
Kentucky 69 FINAL
Missouri 53
Eastern Ky 78 FINAL
Murray State 85
UAB 69 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 71
Idaho State 76 FINAL
Northern Colorado 79
UMKC 57 FINAL
Grand Canyon 78
Chicago State 62 FINAL
Utah Valley U 78
Colorado 98 FINAL
USC 94
Cal Poly 57 FINAL
UC Irvine 67
Hawaii 84 FINAL
CS-Northridge 73
Pepperdine 50 FINAL
Pacific 43
Santa Clara 64 FINAL
San Diego 69
Utah 59 FINAL
UCLA 69
UC Santa Barbara 64 FINAL
UC Davis 70
Montana 73 FINAL
Portland State 54
Montana State 59 FINAL
Sacramento St 75
Long Beach State 91 FINAL
Cal State Fullerton 85
Loyola Marymount 54 FINAL
St Marys-CA 68
San Francisco 74 FINAL
BYU 78
California 76 FINAL
Washington St 67
Louisiana 47 FINAL
South Alabama 57
Saint Josephs 51 FINAL
Saint Louis 52
Appalachian St 77 FINAL
Georgia Southern 74
Niagara 58 FINAL
Saint Peters 65
Old Dominion 80 FINAL
FIU 67
Southern Miss 65 FINAL
Marshall 67
Georgia State 45 FINAL
TX-Arlington 57
Ark-Little Rock 69 FINAL
Arkansas State 70
ULM 51 FINAL
Troy 90
Pittsburgh 45 FINAL
(17) Duke 62
(6) Tennessee 73 FINAL
(10) Kentucky 72
(24) Oklahoma 81 FINAL
(14) Texas 84
Nebraska Omaha 59 FINAL
IUPU-Ft Wayne 70
UC-Riverside 68 FINAL
CS-Northridge 56
Army 65 FINAL
Boston U 40
New Orleans 40 FINAL
Nicholls 56
Charlotte 68 FINAL
Florida Atlantic 71
Towson 54 FINAL
Delaware 72
Hofstra 66 FINAL
Northeastern 45
New Hampshire 56 FINAL
Maine 87
Albany 89 FINAL
Vermont 48
Hartford 60 FINAL
Stony Brook 58
UNC-Wilmington 62 FINAL
William & Mary 67
Clemson 62 FINAL
Wake Forest 64
Alabama 54 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 85
(23) Syracuse 58 FINAL
(8) Louisville 78
Missouri 68 FINAL
Florida 52
Iona 66 FINAL
Fairfield 77
Manhattan 38 FINAL
Marist 77
NC State 63 FINAL
Virginia 71
(4) Notre Dame 74 FINAL
Virginia Tech 50
(22) Rutgers 58 FINAL
Purdue 49
(5) Maryland 91 FINAL
Michigan 65
Milwaukee 58 FINAL
Cleveland State 67
Wright State 108 FINAL
Oakland 89
Jacksonville 64 FINAL
USC Upstate 66
North Florida 40 FINAL
Kennesaw St 46
Stetson 62 FINAL
Northern Ky 68
Loyola-Maryland 57 FINAL
Holy Cross 51
Lamar 87 FINAL
Sam Houston St 68
Fla Gulf Coast 71 FINAL
Lipscomb 49
Vanderbilt 44 FINAL
(18) Miss State 69
IUPUI 62 FINAL
Western Ill 73
Abilene Christian 53 FINAL
Houston Baptist 50
Incarnate Word 54 FINAL
TX A&M-CC 63
McNeese State 78 FINAL
SE Louisiana 57
Oral Roberts 46 FINAL
South Dakota St 71
Louisiana Tech 66 FINAL
Western Ky 82
TX-San Antonio 53 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 73
Texas-El Paso 52 FINAL
UAB 67
Auburn 47 FINAL
Arkansas 52
Grand Canyon 65 FINAL
UMKC 59
Illinois 57 FINAL
(15) Nebraska 59
(20) Iowa 102 FINAL
Northwestern 99
Utah Valley U 55 FINAL
Chicago State 60
Green Bay 67 FINAL
Valparaiso 52
Ole Miss 41 FINAL
LSU 70
Portland State 31 FINAL
Montana 72
Sacramento St 64 FINAL
Montana State 91
North Dakota 55 FINAL
Weber State 48
Ohio State 85 FINAL
Wisconsin 73
Northern Colorado 61 FINAL
Idaho State 70
BYU 68 FINAL
San Francisco 63
St Marys-CA 56 FINAL
Loyola Marymount 49
Pacific 63 FINAL
Pepperdine 59
Cal-Irvine 61 FINAL
UC Santa Barbara 58
San Diego 64 FINAL
Santa Clara 61
UC Davis 64 FINAL
Cal Poly 72
Long Beach St 64 FINAL
Hawaii 72
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 optimistic are you about the 2015 Twins?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close