Startribune.com digital sports editor Howard Sinker used to cover the Twins and now shares season tickets with friends in Section 219 of Target Field. He blogs about baseball from the perspective of a long-time fan who loves the game, doesn’t always believe the hype and likes hearing what others think. Howard sometimes talks about sports with Cathy Wurzer on MPR's Morning Edition.
A few days ago, during our Tuesday afternoon Live Chat, someone suggested that Jim Thome should be getting more of Jason Kubel's at-bats "because Kubel has been pretty ice cold right now and Thome has been better."
My response: "I'd like to see Kubel get an everyday shot for 2-3 weeks and then, maybe, revisit the question at that point. I think Kubel is a legit .280/20 homer guy. But he hasn't shown that so far"
I'm hoping that Kubel started to show it Thursday night against the Yankees. Actually, continued showing the big-hit pop that he displayed a week ago when he bombed Mariano Rivera for that eighth-inning grand slam at Yankee Stadium.
His numbers aren't very good yet, but given the chance to play almost every day, I think Kubel's season numbers would end up somewhere between his 2008 and 2009 seasons -- about 25 homers and 90 RBI. I'd like to see him in left field more often and in the batting order more often with Jim Thome when the Twins are facing right-handed pitching.
I know that reduces Delmon Young to more part-time status, but a case could be made for giving Michael Cuddyer a day off now and again and putting Kubel in right. I'm a Cuddyer fan -- at times to an extreme because some of the senseless criticism he's taken over time -- but I'm not sure what he's done to be the only guy who's started every game so far this season.
Delmon is a good player. Kubel and Cuddyer are very good players. Thome is a hellacious presence at DH. That puts Young at No. 4 on that list. There'll still be plenty of at-bats for him, but I don't think they should come too often at Kubel's expense.
More important, however, is the fact that if you want to consider this a "problem," it's a better one to have than wondering why we're watching Jason Tyner, Rondell White and some of the other solutions of years not too far gone.
Yes, it was nice to beat the Yankees and you can argue that a 2-4 record and a 21-24 run differential means the Twins are coming much closer to being on equal footing. But before we get too giddy, these were Yankees without Curtis Granderson and Jorge Posada -- and a team that has lost nine of its last 12 games not against the Twins. Also note that ace CC Sabathia didn't get within 200 feet of the pitcher's mound and the Twins had the good fortunate to face Javier (Small Game) Vazquez.
The Twins are entering a 13-game stretch against the AL West and Kansas City. It's a time for them to look good while knowing they still have to get better.
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