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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The Twins' hitters were just as bad as you thought they were on their just-concluded road trip.
Per the Twins' press box notes, here are some of their performances in Anaheim and Seattle:
-Joe Mauer: 1-for-17, 1 RBI.
-Josh Willingham: 1-for-18
-Danny Valencia: 2-for-17, 1 RBI
-Denard Span (MVP?): 5-for-24
-Trevor Plouffe: 0-for-8
-Chris Parmalee: 1-for-19
-Alexi Casilla: 4-for-21,1 RBI
-Jamey Carroll: 3-for-21
Remember when Joe Mauer not playing was the Twins' biggest problem?
Well now he plays every day and he's not making an impact. He's hitting .278 with one homer in 97 at-bats. He gets on base, but that's not of much use in a lineup where nobody can drive him in.
With Justin Morneau on the disabled list, there are only two active Twins with more than one home run: Willingham with 5 and Ryan Doumit with 3, and he had one before hitting two yesterday.
Today the Twins will turn to Brian Dozier for a boost. I just hope Ron Gardenhire lets Dozier get comfortable near the bottom of the order. Dozier should eventually be a good big-leaguer, but putting him in the second spot in the batting order would be a bit much for a rookie right now.
Anyway, Mauer is a prototypical No. 2 hitter, and batting him third doesn't do him or the lineup any favors. He doesn't hit for power or drive in runs.
On to the Twins' starting pitchers:
They're 4-16, and their four wins is the fewest by a starting staff in the big leagues. The starting staff has allowed the most runs (111), most home runs (29), and second-most hits (185) in the big leagues. They have the fewest strikeouts (74) and highest ERA (6.73). Opponents are hitting .322 against Twins starters. Again, that's the worst in baseball. (Source: Twins pregame notes)
Tonight, the Twins face Jered Weaver, who pitched a no-hitter against the Twins in his last start.
One sidelight: The Twins committed zero errors on their 1-5 road trip.
What's most amazing about the Twins' 6-15 record is how many things have gone right for them this year.
Less than a month into the season, it looks like Josh Willingham was an excellent signing, that Jamey Carroll and Ryan Doumit are as advertised - Carroll an excellent fielder and Doumit a versatile guy with some pop. And all three are professionals.
Denard Span, Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau have been iron men, with Mauer playing every inning of every game and Morneau even volunteering to play first base when the Twins were happy to leave him at DH.
But in baseball, when your starting pitching fails, your team fails, no matter how your position players are faring.
Enter Sunday's game, the Twins' starters' ERA was 7.01, easily the highest in the American League. Jason Marquis hung in for six innings on Sunday, and the Twins won, 7-4.
The Twins' current problem is also their everlasting problem: Amassing starting pitching quality and depth.
Remember, they traded for Johan Santana, Francisco Liriano, Joe Nathan, Eric Milton, Joe Mays and Carl Pavano. There are two home-grown pitchers in their current rotation - Liam Hendricks, who is trying to prove himself, and Nick Blackburn, who is trying to reestablish himself.
When the Twins stunk in the '90s, it was because they lacked starting pitching. When they competed in the 2000s, it was because their starting pitching improved dramatically.
The 2012 Twins are much improved over the 2011 Twins in many ways. But unless their starting pitchers improve, they'll be doomed to the same fate.
I'll be on 1500espn at 2:05 each weekday with Reusse & Mackey. Please follow me on Twitter at @Souhanstrib.
I don't need to tell you that winning two of nine games to start a season following a 99-loss campaign is not such a good thing, so let's skip to the newsy portion of this post:
1. I keep hearing that Brian Dozier will be in the big leagues sooner rather than later. I would guess he'll arrive in May. Calling up Dozier would improve them at shortstop, where Jamey Carroll has made most of the plays but isn't much of an offensive force, and at utility infielder, because Carroll would be ideal in that role. Although Alexi Casilla is struggling, the Twins want to let him work through his usual slow start and hope he'll emerge when the weather warms.
2. As I write about in my Monday column, the Twins have liked Clete Thomas for a long time, and hope his arrival will play well in their new ideal lineup. Justin Morneau will try playing first base on this road trip, and when he does, it will enable Joe Mauer to DH, Ryan Doumit to catch, and Thomas to play rightfield.
I noted to Twins manager Ron Gardenhire that Mauer and Morneau have each played in every game so far this season.
``I know I'm going to have to give Joe some days off,'' Gardenhire said. ``But I don't want to do it at home. I know people come from all over to watch him play. And to yell.''
That, of course, was a wry reference to the boos Mauer heard at times during this homestand.
3. The Twins were horrified by Trevor Plouffe's play in spot duty at shortstop on Saturday. He'll have to do a lot of extra work to earn his way back to that position in anything other than an emergency situation.
4. Nick Blackburn told me he spent most of Sunday trying a variety of stretches to get his right shoulder loose. Tests indicated there is nothing structurally wrong with his shoulder. He kept saying soreness is to be expected for someone who has undergone surgery, but I would not describe his tone of voice as optimistic. I think he's a little worried.
5. Here's the Twins' problem: They're short on starting pitching, and they have far more faith in Liam Hendricks and Anthony Swarzak than they do in Francisco Liriano, who continues to drive them batty with his inconsistent delivery and inability to think his way through a game.
I remember writing, when Liriano and Delmon Young were at their best as Twins, that the team should trade them for value when they could. They didn't. Now Liriano is a detriment, and the Twins dumped Young at his lowest possible value.
I've heard that the Twins could have traded Liriano for the likes of Ricky Romero or Ivan Nova in years past. They should have pulled the trigger.
6. I'll be on 1500espn at 2:05 on Monday and every day this week. We'll have a rare dual-presence studio show on Sunday, following the Ron Gardenhire show at 9:30.
Please follow me on Twitter at @Souhanstrib.
The Twins managed five runs in 27 innings against a last-place team and three starting pitchers the average fan has never heard of.
What was even more alarming to me was the mistakes that were made this weekend. Danny Valencia was a mess at third. Josh Willingham made a couple of nice plays (one strong throw and one brave collision with the wall) in left but also made two errors in two innings.
Sunday, reliever Matt Maloney didn't hold runners well, and Luke Hughes didn't hold the runner on second, and the Orioles executed a double steal that had the Twins' staff steaming.
Saturday, Jared Burton gave up two home runs on changeups even though the scouting report said not to throw changeups to the hitters in question, meaning catcher Joe Mauer and Burton weren't paying attention.
Quickly, to the positives from the weekend:
1. Jamey Carroll is a wonderful fielder. He may lack exceptional range, but he makes every play within his grasp.
2. Justin Morneau swung the bat with authority, hitting two doubles and two more deep drives. He looks like a slightly skinnier version of his old self, and it's obvious moving him to DH has relieved a lot of stress on him.
3. Sean Burroughs is the gamer the Twins have been saying he is. He made two fine plays at third on Sunday, one a basket catch over his head in foul territory that required a slide on the harsh surface of the warning track, and a fine diving stab to his left.
I grew up watching Brooks Robinson and Mark Belanger in Baltimore, and reading Brooks' books, and he always said that great plays started with anticipation. That's Valencia's problem: He's thinking about his last at-bat, and by the time he reacts to the ball it's too late.
4. Anthony Swarzak could pitch in the big leagues for a long time because of his attitude. He never complains about his role, and on Sunday, pitching for the ill Liam Hendriks, he gave the Twins five strong innings.
5. Glen Perkins pitched well in his lone inning of the weekend.
The Twins are 63-106 in their last 169 meaningful games, and now will play their next 16 games against the Angels, Rangers, Yankees, Rays and Red Sox.
Baseball seasons are like major championships: You can't win them early, but you can lose them early. The Twins are in danger of falling out of contention before the end of the month.
I'm writing about the Twins' home opener, and comparing the Twins to the Orioles' franchise, in tomorrow's paper. Here's my column off Saturday's game: http://tinyurl.com/7lo26dh
Please follow me on Twitter at @Souhanstrib.
I thought the Twins played well on Friday.
I thought they were pathetic on Saturday, when they lost, 8-2, to the Orioles at Camden Yards.
Danny Valencia took terrible at-bats and missed the key play of the game in the field. Josh Willingham made two errors in two innings on singles to left. Francisco Liriano lost his delivery and lasted just four innings. The Twins made Tommy Hunter look like Roy Halladay.
There are two bright spots this weekend: Justin Morneau is cutting loose his swing, and Jamey Carroll is a very good shortstop.
Other than that, the Twins, following a fairly promising spring, look horrible. And while the players are saying what ballplayers always say about it being a long season, don't think for a second the braintrust is happy with the quality of play on Saturday.
This was bad baseball from a team that was the second-worst team in baseball last year.
If the Twins can't handle the Orioles, what are they going to do against the Angels, Yankees, Red Sox, Tigers, Rangers and Rays? Or the Jays?
Just filed my column for the Sunday paper. I'll be in Baltimore on Sunday for the series finale, then heading to Minnesota for the home opener.
Please follow me on Twitter at @Souhanstrib.
I'll be co-hosting the Ron Gardenhire Show from 9:30-10 on Sunday morning on 1500espn, then co-hosting Sunday Sports Talk from 10-11:30 with Tom Pelissero.
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