Jim Souhan analyzes the local sports scene and advises you to never take his betting advice. He likes old guitars and old music, never eats press box hot dogs, and can be heard on 1500ESPN at 2:05 p.m. weekdays, and Sundays from 10 a.m.-noon.
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Remember the good ol' days, when Twins fans could just blame everything on hitting coach Joe Vavra?
Guess what: The 2013 Twins are even worse offensively than the 2012 Twins.
Replacing Vavra with Tom Brunansky hasn't helped. I'm not saying Brunansky isn't good at his job. I'm saying that hitting coaches don't create good hitters.
The Twins struck out 30 times in the three-game series against the Royals.
They've struck out 65 times in their last six games.
They haven't scored more than four runs in a game since July 23, when they had 10 at Anaheim.
With Cris Carter heading to the Hall of Fame, a couple of my favorite memories of covering him:
-At the begining of his career with the Vikings, we talked for an hour about his struggles in life and with the Eagles. Then he told me, ``If I like what you write, we'll get along fine. If I don't, I"ll punch you in the eye.''
I didn't get punched.
-During his last season with the Vikings, I asked how he had maintained his talent. He said he has assembled an entourage: A chiropractor, trainer, masseuse, physical therapist, chef, nutritionist...and about five other people.
He was one of the most dedicated and divisive athletes I've ever covered. A lot of his teammates couldn't stand him because he could be vain, and arrogant, and outspoken. Noone questioned his drive or his toughness.
Wrote about the Twins' pathetic effort and pathetic roster for the Friday paper.
I'll be on 1500ESPN at noon tomorrow. Scott Korzenowsky and I will run the Ron Gardenhire Show and Sunday Sports Talk from 9:30-noon on Sunday from the 3M Championship.
Please follow me on Twitter at @Souhanstrib
Scott Diamond allowed five earned runs in 4 2/3 innings on Sunday, and it could have been worse. Clete Thomas saved a home run and Aaron Hicks made a diving catch of a line drive in centerfield.
In fact, those two plays preceeded a stretch of five batters that knocked Diamond from the game, a walk, single, single, popup and bases-clearing triple in the fifth.
I spoke with Twins' pitching coach Rick Anderson about Diamond after the game. Diamond has failed to contribute a quality start (six innings or more and three earned runs or fewer) in seven of his last eigth starts.
``He's inconsistent right now,'' Anderson said. ``He'll throw a good curveball, then he'll try to throw one that's even better, and it will just spin up there. He needs to get back to throwing strikes early in the count.
``I called down and asked (bullpen coach) Bobby Cuellar, `Is this the same guy we saw warming up earier?' Scott just has to relax and have some fun with the game.''
Although the Twins don't have any pitchers at Class AAA they consider worthy of an immediate callup, they could find a way to give Diamond a break from the rotation. They could always use a long reliever for a spot start if they think Diamond would benefit either from a mental break while in the big leagues, or if they think he needs to work on his pitches in the minors.
I think Diamond could return to being a good big-league starter, but he falling behind in the count right now, and his stuff isn't good enough to allow him to pitch in those situations. He has to get strike one, then turn to his breaking pitches and try to get hitters to at pitches down in, or out of, the strike zone.
``He's just trying to do too much right now,'' Anderson said.
Bits: Joe Mauer's eight-game hitting streak ended on Sunday. He hit .483 during the streak...Justin Morneau's slugging percentage fell to .405. That's going to dampen his trade value. I wrote the other day that the Twins need to trade him, but they won't get much...Brian Dozier leads all big leaguers with 18 doubles since July 1.
Upcoming: I'll be on 1500ESPN at noon every weekday. Please follow me on Twitter at @Souhanstrib.
Joe Mauer went 1-for-3 on Thursday.
He has at least one hit in his last eight games at Target Field, hitting .423 in that time. He's hitting .424 at Target Field in his last 16 games with a .521 on-base percentage.
He's hitting .378 at Target Field this season. Entering last night's game, he ranked second in the AL and third in baseball in home average.
He's hit only two of his six home runs at home.
The dimensions of Target Field, with a deep leftfield fence, limit his power production.
The Twins are 29-34, and I'm not sure how their record is even that good.
Their rotation hasn't been good enough. Their fielders lack range. They don't have speed to create runs. They have only one true home-run hitter on the team, Josh Willingham, and his 10 home runs are offset by the slump that has reduced his average to .214.
The bullpen has been the team's strength, but the bullpen tends to be most important for good teams that frequently attain leads.
Wrote about closer Glen Perkins for the Friday paper. He's a Sabermetrician who doesn't think Sabermetrics properly appreciate the way a bullpen should be set up in real life.
Ben Revere, who had four hits last night, is hitting ..319 in his last 35 games.
I'll be on 1500ESPN at noon tomorrow, and on WJON in St. Cloud at 7:15 a.m.
P.J. Walters is now the Twins' ace.
Seriously. The guy is 2-1 with a 2.49 ERA and has shown the aptitude known in the big leagues as ``pitchability.'' Tuesday, he limited Philadelphia to one earned run in 7 1/3 innings by throwing his breaking pitch as slow as 73 mph. ``That makes his fastbal look like it's about 95,'' Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.
Justin Morneau (the subject of my Friday column) went 3-for-4 with the game-winning hit, and Jamey Carroll broke out of a slump with two hits and a walk, and Glen Perkins recorded his 14th save and lowered his ERA to 2.66.
But there were a few mistakes that shouldn't happen on a major-league diamond.
Brian Dozier ran into a doubleplay in the fourth inning, ending a rally that had already produced two runs. He was on first with one out when Clete Thomas hit a chopper to second and ran into the tag so the Phillies could turn an easy double play, preventing the runner on third from having a chance to score.
Shortstop Pedro Florimon has looked good compared to many of his teammates this season, but he made a low throw that was ruled an error on Morneau when the ball went under Morneau's glove, and was playing Ben Revere up the middle when Revere's single went into leftfield to produce a run.
Miss Aaron Hicks? You should. While Clete Thomas made one spectacular catch on Tuesday, he couldn't get to two balls that Hicks routinely catches.
Sometime in the next two years the Twins hope to field an outfield of Aaron Hicks, Byron Buxton and Oswaldo Arcia. Arcia made a fine running catch in left on Tuesday. Hicks is an outstanding centerfielder, and Buxton could become the best centerfielder in the game.
Spoke with Morneau before the game. He's gone 168 plate appearances without a home run ,and he admits it bothers him. He was gracious when speaking about it. That column will be in the Friday paper on on the web site.
I'll be on WJON in St. Cloud at 7:15 and 1500ESPN at noon tomorrow.
Twins lose, 9-1, tonight. The Twins announced 28,993, which might have been within 10,000 or so of being correct.
It was ugly. Josh Willingham says he lost a fly ball in the twilight. That led to a three-run inning that goes on Scott Diamond's record. And that was about all that happened.
A few tidbits-
-Ben Revere continues to play with a lot of life. He went 3-for-5, his 38th mutli-hit game. Joe Mauer leads the team with 43. Revere also made a fine running catch in left-center.
Revere got a handshake and a few sentences of praise from Tom Kelly in the dugout before the game. Kelly doesn't offer false praise.
I think Revere should be this team's centerfielder next year. But I've been saying that for a while.
-Justin Morneau went 2-for-3 and is hitting .326 in his last 62 games and .357 in his last 17 games. Some of my insiders say he still struggles to cover the whole plate, but I see him getting hits to leftfield, which is always the sign that he's staying back and swinging well.
-The Twins have scored one run or fewer 24 times this year. While their rotation is the most important area of concern, that's a pathetic statistic for what should be a professional lineup.
-Scott Diamond allowed four runs in six innings, but I thought he battled pretty well despite Willingham's mistake and without his best stuff.
-Pedro Florimon continues to dazzle on some plays, but I see him being a little too lax on relays. He could have thrown one or two runners out at third tonight had he been alert on one play and had he thrown accurately on another.
To chime in on a popular national debate, I think the aspect of the Stephen Strasburg debate that is too often missing is that the Nationals aren't shutting down someone who would likely have dominated in the postseason. They're shutting down a young pitching coming off Tommy John surgery who likely would have been hitting a wall in October, even if the Nationals had rested him to stretch his workload into the postseason.
In my view, it's unlikely he would have pitched well against top competition while fatigued. The Nationals have a deep rotation without him. Whether or not the Nationals handled Strasburg correctly, they'll be better off with starting pitchers in the postseason who aren't reaching their physical limits.
I'll be on 1500espn at 2:05 p.m. tomorrow. Please follow me on Twitter at @Souhanstrib.
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