Twins still searching for an identity at the All-Star break

  • Article by: PHIL MILLER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 13, 2013 - 11:48 PM

Headed for their third consecutive season of 95-plus losses, these nondescript Twins bear little resemblance to successful teams of not so long ago.

hide

Minnesota Twins' Josh Willingham during a game against the Cleveland Indians, Saturday, June 22, 2013, in Cleveland. Cleveland won 8-7.

Photo: David Richard, Associated Press - Ap

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

 

Maybe a nickname would help.

The Twins of 2006 knew exactly who they were and how they won when former White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen dubbed their bottom-of-the-order nuisances “Piranhas.” They were dirt-on-the-jersey gamers, they were no-name pests, and they somehow managed to scratch together enough runs to win.

 

They had an identity, in other words, a concept that seems foreign at Target Field today. The Twins have adopted a few identities over the years, from the Hrbek & Puck champions of a couple of decades ago, to the M & M Boys lineup that carried the Twins to the postseason in the post-Piranha years.

“I used to hear a lot of teams say, ‘We want to be like the Twins,’ ” General Manager Terry Ryan said before this season. “I used to take a lot of pride in that statement. But we don’t have anybody saying that right now.”

Maybe that’s because the 2013 Twins are virtually impossible to categorize, and that nebulousness may explain their descent into the depths of the AL Central.

“There’s not one thing where you say, ‘Here’s what we do. Come and beat us,’ ” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “We need contributions from all 25 guys. The lineup, the pitchers, the bullpen, me and my coaches — everybody.”

They are not …

So far, that formula hasn’t worked. In fact, it’s far easier to pinpoint what the Twins are not than what they are.

They’re not a veteran team, not with first- or second-year players occupying almost half the active roster. Then again, they’re not a start-from-scratch team of kids, not when the four hitters considered the heart of the batting order are all over 30.

Are they built around pitching, the way that Atlanta and Los Angeles seem to assemble their roster? Hardly, not when the top two spots in the rotation are held by stop-gap pickups in Kevin Correia and Mike Pelfrey; their team ERA is next-to-last in the league. Do they muscle you with home runs, as Baltimore and Toronto specialize in? Not with the second-fewest homers in the American League, no.

A shutdown bullpen? Twins relievers are having a stellar season as a group this year, but it’s not like opponents are saying, “You’ve got to get them early,” particularly after setup specialist Jared Burton’s rough June.

Smothering defense, perhaps, the Baltimore Ravens of baseball? Not really — baseball analytics site FanGraphs.com places the Twins squarely in the middle among the major league’s 30 defenses, with only slightly more runs saved by good defense as surrendered by bad.

“We’re not a speed team, for sure,” Gardenhire said, and the Twins’ standing as the 14th-best base-stealing team bears him out. They’re not a “small ball” team, either; they rank 11th in sacrifice bunts, and virtually all came in National League parks, where pitchers were in the lineup. “We’ve got a few guys who can run, but we’re more of a base-to-base team,” Gardenhire said. A database maintained by Baseball Prospectus illustrates this, too; the Twins rank 19th in going from first to third, or second to home, on a single, for instance. “We just don’t have enough speed to do that, to really create a lot of moment on the bases.”

The Piranha label hasn’t carried over, that notion of little-known players creating a surprising number of runs. The Twins are on pace to score just 664 runs this season; only once since 1982 have they scored so few (strike years excluded), and that came during the 99-loss disaster of 2011.

Even their payroll is nondescript — with roughly $82 million committed this year, the Twins aren’t big spenders, though they admit they could afford more (and once did), and they aren’t stripped-down cheapskates, as they once were, like Miami and Houston.

‘A rough patch’

  • related content

  • Deduno comes through in 4-1 victory

    Saturday July 13, 2013

    Samuel Deduno’s strong start and three home runs enabled the Twins to end their six-game losing streak.

  • There's plenty of interest in Perkins, mostly from Twins

    Saturday July 13, 2013

    Terry Ryan has received several calls from teams interested in trading for reliever Glen Perkins, among others.

  • Chart: Twins' first-half numbers don't lie

    Saturday July 13, 2013

    first-half Numbers don’t lie5-22Record since June 21.Stats to right are all through Thursday.5.34ERA of Twins starters; no other major league...

  • Chart: The Twins' not-so Big Three

    Saturday July 13, 2013

    (Not so) Big ThreeVeterans Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau and Josh Willingham were expected to generate offense for the club. Here’s...

  • Chart: Inside the numbers of Twins' identity crisis

    Saturday July 13, 2013

    inside the numbersIdentity crisisThe Twins have failed to forge a team identity, instead showing themselves to be a team that...

  • Saturday's Twins-Yankees game recap

    Saturday July 13, 2013

    GAME RECAPImpact playerSamuel Deduno, TwinsThe righthander lasted seven innings, gave up only one run and won for the first time...

  • GAME RECAPImpact playerSamuel Deduno, TwinsThe righthander lasted seven innings, gave up only one run and won for the first time...

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions
Final123456789RHE
Minnesota000000100151
Kansas City «00000006X690
@Ballpark Replay
Preview | Matchup | Lineup | Log | Wrap | Box
W:W.Davis(8-2) L:P.Hughes(14-9)
HR: MIN- None KAN- None

ADVERTISEMENT

St. Louis - LP: A. Wainwright 1 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: J. Locke 3
Texas - WP: C. Lewis 12 FINAL
Seattle - LP: E. Ramirez 4
Washington - LP: D. Fister 4 FINAL
Philadelphia - WP: K. Kendrick 8
Tampa Bay - WP: D. Smyly 3 FINAL
Baltimore - LP: K. Gausman 1
Boston - LP: T. Layne 2 FINAL
Toronto - WP: M. Stroman 5
NY Yankees - WP: S. Greene 8 FINAL
Detroit - LP: D. Price 4
Atlanta - WP: J. Teheran 3 FINAL
NY Mets - LP: Z. Wheeler 2
Chicago Cubs - LP: J. Turner 5 FINAL
Cincinnati - WP: M. Latos 7
Cleveland - LP: C. Kluber 2 FINAL
Chicago WSox - WP: H. Noesi 3
Minnesota - LP: P. Hughes 1 FINAL
Kansas City - WP: W. Davis 6
Oakland - WP: D. Otero 5 FINAL
Houston - LP: C. Qualls 4
Milwaukee - LP: Z. Duke 2 FINAL
San Diego - WP: D. Thayer 3
Los Angeles - WP: C. Kershaw 3 FINAL
Arizona - LP: W. Miley 1
Miami - LP: H. Alvarez 1 FINAL
LA Angels - WP: H. Santiago 6
Colorado - LP: J. Nicasio 2 FINAL
San Francisco - WP: S. Casilla 4
Atlanta 5:00 PM
Jacksonville
Detroit 6:00 PM
Buffalo
Indianapolis 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Kansas City 6:00 PM
Green Bay
NY Jets 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
St. Louis 6:00 PM
Miami
Carolina 6:30 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 6:30 PM
NY Giants
Washington 6:30 PM
Tampa Bay
Baltimore 7:00 PM
New Orleans
Chicago 7:00 PM
Cleveland
Denver 7:00 PM
Dallas
Minnesota 7:00 PM
Tennessee
San Francisco 7:00 PM
Houston
Arizona 9:00 PM
San Diego
Seattle 9:00 PM
Oakland
(21) Texas A&M 5:00 PM
(9) So Carolina
Wake Forest 6:02 PM
ULM
Boise State 7:00 PM
(18) Ole Miss
Tulane 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Temple 8:15 PM
Vanderbilt
Rutgers 9:00 PM
Washington St
Weber State 9:30 PM
(19) Arizona State
BYU 8/29/14 6:00 PM
Connecticut
(6) Jacksonville St 8/29/14 6:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Bowling Green 8/29/14 6:30 PM
Western Ky
TX-San Antonio 8/29/14 8:00 PM
Houston
Colorado State 8/29/14 8:00 PM
Colorado
UNLV 8/29/14 9:30 PM
Arizona
Penn State 8/30/14 7:30 AM
UCF
Troy 8/30/14 11:00 AM
UAB
(7) UCLA 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Virginia
Western Mich 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
(5) Ohio State 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Navy
Appalachian St 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Michigan
Ga Southern 8/30/14 11:30 AM
NC State
Boston College 8/30/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
West Virginia 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(2) Alabama
Rice 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
(10) South Dakota St 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(24) Missouri
Fla Atlantic 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(22) Nebraska
California 8/30/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Marshall 8/30/14 2:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
UC Davis 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(11) Stanford
Arkansas 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(6) Auburn
(16) Clemson 8/30/14 4:30 PM
(12) Georgia
Liberty 8/30/14 5:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Ohio U 8/30/14 5:00 PM
Kent State
Louisiana Tech 8/30/14 6:00 PM
(4) Oklahoma
Idaho 8/30/14 6:00 PM
Florida
Stephen F Austin 8/30/14 6:10 PM
(20) Kansas State
Fresno State 8/30/14 6:30 PM
(15) USC
Southern Miss 8/30/14 6:30 PM
Miss State
Texas-El Paso 8/30/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
North Texas 8/30/14 7:00 PM
Texas
(1) Florida State 8/30/14 7:00 PM
Oklahoma State
(14) Wisconsin 8/30/14 8:00 PM
(13) LSU
South Dakota 8/30/14 9:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(25) Washington 8/30/14 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Utah State 8/31/14 6:00 PM
Tennessee
SMU 8/31/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
Miami-Florida 9/1/14 7:00 PM
Louisville
D.C. 1 FINAL
Los Angeles 4
Ottawa 8/29/14 6:30 PM
Montreal
Winnipeg 8/31/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Toronto 9/1/14 12:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 9/1/14 3:30 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 9/5/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
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