Page 2 of 2 Previous

Continued: Hartman: Stars' injuries hurt Vikings and Twins

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Last update: December 9, 2011 - 6:08 AM

For the first time in more than 20 years, both the Twins and Vikings will finish last in their respective divisions.

The Twins were 74-88 and finished seventh in the old American League West in 1990. That same year, the Vikings went 6-10 in the then-NFC Central and tied with the Bucs, Packers and Lions behind the 11-5 Bears.

Over the years both teams have been pretty competitive, but 2011 will go down as a year that was the exception.

At 2-10, the Vikings are suffering through one of the worst seasons in team history. The Twins recently finished off a 99-loss season, the second- worst record in their more than 50 years in Minnesota. And while it's not a total excuse for the overall lack of execution by both teams, injuries to both teams' highest-paid and important players played a role.

Catcher Joe Mauer missed 80 games for the Twins, nearly half the season. It was the fewest games for Mauer since his 2004 rookie season when he played only 35 games after suffering a knee injury. But what made Mauer's missed time more jarring was that it came on the heels of signing an eight-year, $184 million contract, which at $23 million in 2011 made him the highest-paid player on the Twins roster by $8 million. Mauer's .287 batting average and three home runs were all career lows.

The second-highest paid player at $15 million in 2011, Justin Morneau, didn't fare any better as he battled concussion-related symptoms and missed 93 games, the most of his career. His .227 batting average was the lowest of his career since he hit .226 over 40 games in 2003 as a late-season call-up to the squad. His four home runs matched his career low, which also came in 2003.

Joe Nathan, who recently signed a two-year, $14.5 million contract with the Texas Rangers, was the Twins' third-highest paid player in 2011 at $11.25 million. He missed 29 games between May and June when he was placed on the disabled list because of tenderness in his right elbow following Tommy John surgery, which caused him to miss all of the 2010 season. Nathan returned from the DL to pitch in 31 games from June 25 on but posted a 4.48 ERA for the season, the highest of his Twins career by more than two runs.

It's hard to say how good the Twins would have been in 2011 with a healthy Mauer, Morneau and Nathan, but because they all missed large amounts of time while accounting for over 48 percent of the Twins' 2011 payroll, contributed greatly to the team's poor season.

Vikings suffer, too

The Vikings are having similar problems so far this season, with two of their highest-paid stars missing time because of injuries.

The team's highest-paid player, Adrian Peterson at $10.7 million, has missed consecutive games for the first time since his rookie season and is questionable for Sunday's game in Detroit. He missed only one game in three seasons between 2008 and 2010.

While the Vikings have struggled as a team, Peterson was still posting one of his best seasons rushing the ball before he suffered a high ankle sprain against Oakland in Week 11, and his absence certainly hurt the Vikings' chances in their last two close losses at Atlanta and against Denver at home. If Peterson can't play this weekend, he will have missed the most games in a season during his Vikings career.

Cornerback Antoine Winfield, the Vikings' third-highest-paid player at $7.55 million behind Peterson and defensive end Jared Allen (nearly $9 million), missed four consecutive games between Weeks 5 and 8 because of a neck injury before returning in Week 10 to face the Packers. Following that game, Winfield was placed on injured reserve because of a broken clavicle, meaning he will miss the rest of the season and 11 games overall.

The Vikings secondary has been one of the team's weak spots for the entire season and Winfield's injury -- coupled with cornerback Chris Cook being out because of off-the-field issues -- has drastically hurt the defense.

There was also the situation with defensive tackle Kevin Williams, another highly paid player at $6 million, who missed two games early in the season -- games the Vikings narrowly lost -- because of an NFL suspension over his use of a banned substance.

All players and coaches stand by the mantra that every team deals with injuries over the course of the season, but the Vikings and Twins have dealt with more than their fair share of injuries to major players this year, and it shows in their records.

And one wonders, with both teams facing rebuilding jobs, how much improvement they will show next year.

Jottings

• The toughest recruiting challenge facing Tubby Smith is going to be the Gophers basketball coach's effort to get Apple Valley sophomore Tyus Jones to commit to Minnesota. Jones has a great relationship with Michigan State coach Tom Izzo, who was present the other night when Jones scored 37 points in a loss to Eden Prairie. Duke, North Carolina and Ohio State also have had coaches watch Jones. ... Julian Welch, the Gophers' junior college transfer from Yuba (Calif.) Community College, has now made 25 consecutive free throws.

• Ryan Grant, son of Eden Prairie football coach Mike Grant, will be back with the Gophers next fall even though he is going to graduate before next season with a degree in biology. Grant, who fought through a knee injury the last month of the season but played linebacker and on special teams, will stay in school and work on a masters degree.

• The St. Louis Rams have released former Vikings linebacker Ben Leber. After averaging over 54 tackles a season in his five years with the Vikings, Leber was held to only 15 tackles this season with the Rams, appearing in only seven of the team's 12 games.

• Twins shortstop Alexi Casilla is off to a great start in the Dominican Winter League with Gigantes del Cibao. Casilla is hitting .350 through 22 games with six RBI and 18 runs scored. Casilla went 3-for-5 with two runs scored, a double and a triple in the team's 6-3 victory Wednesday.

• The NBA Developmental League has started games this season and former Gopher Damian Johnson is playing with the Bakersfield Jam. Through four games Johnson is averaging 1.5 points, 1.8 assists and 1.8 rebounds in 15.6 minutes per game.

• The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that former Orono and Wisconsin star Jon Leuer will be coming back to the United States for training camp with the Milwaukee Bucks. Leuer, the team's second-round pick in the 2011 draft, played 10 games for Fraport Skyliners in Germany and averaged 14.8 points and 7.8 rebounds.

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

  • related content

  • Joe Mauer

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Toronto - LP: D. Hutchison 2 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: M. Tanaka 5
Washington - WP: S. Strasburg 2 FINAL
Miami - LP: N. Eovaldi 1
NY Mets - WP: J. deGrom 10 FINAL
Atlanta - LP: E. Santana 2
Boston - WP: J. Kelly 3 FINAL
Baltimore - LP: M. Gonzalez 2
Milwaukee - LP: W. Peralta 0 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: V. Worley 1
Chicago WSox - WP: J. Danks 10 FINAL
Tampa Bay - LP: N. Karns 5
Cleveland - WP: C. Kluber 7 FINAL
Minnesota - LP: A. Swarzak 2
Detroit - LP: R. Porcello 2 FINAL
Kansas City - WP: J. Guthrie 5
Seattle - LP: H. Iwakuma 3 FINAL
Houston - WP: C. McHugh 8
Los Angeles - WP: C. Perez 8 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - LP: J. Turner 5
Texas - WP: S. Tolleson 2 FINAL
LA Angels - LP: H. Street 1
Philadelphia - LP: M. Gonzalez 6 FINAL
Oakland - WP: S. Doolittle 8
San Francisco - LP: R. Vogelsong 2 FINAL
San Diego - WP: I. Kennedy 8
Arizona - LP: W. Miley 3 FINAL
Colorado - WP: C. Bergman 8
Cincinnati - WP: A. Simon 7 FINAL
St. Louis - LP: L. Lynn 2
San Diego 22 FINAL
Buffalo 10
Dallas 34 FINAL
St. Louis 31
Washington 34 FINAL
Philadelphia 37
Houston 17 FINAL
NY Giants 30
Minnesota 9 FINAL
New Orleans 20
Tennessee 7 FINAL
Cincinnati 33
Baltimore 23 FINAL
Cleveland 21
Green Bay 7 FINAL
Detroit 19
Indianapolis 44 FINAL
Jacksonville 17
Oakland 9 FINAL
New England 16
San Francisco 14 FINAL
Arizona 23
Denver 20 FINAL
Seattle 26
Kansas City 34 FINAL
Miami 15
Pittsburgh 37 FINAL
Carolina 19
Chicago 7:30 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Washington
Columbus 4 FINAL
Carolina 3
Buffalo 0 FINAL
Washington 1
St. Louis 3 FINAL
Columbus 4
Calgary 1 FINAL
Edmonton 3
Edmonton 0 FINAL
Calgary 1
Old Dominion 45 FINAL
Rice 42
Troy 0 FINAL
(12) Georgia 66
Georgia Tech 27 FINAL
Virginia Tech 24
Eastern Mich 14 FINAL
(9) Michigan State 73
Iowa 24 FINAL
Pittsburgh 20
Bowling Green 17 FINAL
(19) Wisconsin 68
Maryland 34 FINAL
Syracuse 20
Tulane 13 FINAL
Duke 47
Hawaii 12 FINAL
Colorado 21
Marshall 48 FINAL
Akron 17
North Carolina 41 FINAL
(23) East Carolina 70
Army 21 FINAL
Wake Forest 24
Virginia 33 FINAL
(20) BYU 41
(6) Texas A&M 58 FINAL
SMU 6
Rutgers 31 FINAL
Navy 24
Central Mich 10 FINAL
Kansas 24
Utah 26 FINAL
Michigan 10
Florida 21 FINAL
(3) Alabama 42
Louisville 34 FINAL
FIU 3
Fla Atlantic 19 FINAL
Wyoming 20
Indiana 31 FINAL
Missouri 27
San Jose St 7 FINAL
Minnesota 24
Texas State 35 FINAL
Illinois 42
Massachusetts 7 FINAL
Penn State 48
Georgia State 14 FINAL
Washington 45
Appalachian St 20 FINAL
Southern Miss 21
(14) Miss State 34 FINAL
(17) LSU 29
Northern Ill 14 FINAL
Arkansas 52
Middle Tennessee 17 FINAL
Memphis 36
Utah State 14 FINAL
Arkansas State 21
Miami-Ohio 24 FINAL
Cincinnati 31
Idaho 24 FINAL
Ohio U 36
Ball State 23 FINAL
Toledo 34
(13) So Carolina 48 FINAL
Vanderbilt 34
(4) Oklahoma 45 FINAL
West Virginia 33
Ga Southern 28 FINAL
South Alabama 6
UNLV 14 FINAL
Houston 47
Miami-Florida 31 FINAL
(21) Nebraska 41
New Mexico 38 FINAL
New Mexico St 35
Clemson 17 FINAL
(1) Florida State 23
California 45 FINAL
Arizona 49
San Diego St 7 FINAL
Oregon State 28
(2) Oregon 38 FINAL
Washington St 31
Louisiana 9 FINAL
Boise State 34
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(24) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(11) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
Texas-El Paso 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(25) Kansas State
Tennessee 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(12) Georgia
Vanderbilt 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Kentucky
Wyoming 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(9) Michigan State
Northwestern 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
TCU 9/27/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Iowa 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Tulane 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
So Florida 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Colorado State 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Western Mich 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
Maryland 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Indiana
Akron 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/27/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Arkansas 9/27/14 2:30 PM
(6) Texas A&M
Kent State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Virginia
Western Ky 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Minnesota 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Wake Forest 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Louisville
FIU 9/27/14 2:30 PM
UAB
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
NC State
Miami-Ohio 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Colorado 9/27/14 3:00 PM
California
Louisiana Tech 9/27/14 3:00 PM
(5) Auburn
Texas 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Kansas
Temple 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Connecticut
(16) Stanford 9/27/14 3:15 PM
Washington
TX-San Antonio 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
South Alabama 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
Cincinnati 9/27/14 5:00 PM
(22) Ohio State
Rice 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Missouri 9/27/14 6:00 PM
(13) So Carolina
Boise State 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Air Force
North Carolina 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Clemson
Central Mich 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
Troy 9/27/14 6:00 PM
ULM
New Mexico St 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(17) LSU
Memphis 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(10) Ole Miss
Duke 9/27/14 6:30 PM
Miami-Florida
Texas State 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Washington St 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Utah
(8) Notre Dame 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Syracuse
(7) Baylor 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Iowa State
UNLV 9/27/14 7:00 PM
San Diego St
Illinois 9/27/14 8:00 PM
(21) Nebraska
Oregon State 9/27/14 9:30 PM
(18) USC
Nevada 9/27/14 9:30 PM
San Jose St
Chivas USA 0 FINAL
Toronto FC 3
Toronto 40 FINAL
Brt Columbia 23
Edmonton 23 FINAL
Hamilton 25
Calgary 15 FINAL
Montreal 31
Ottawa 32 FINAL
Saskatchewan 35
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pm
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pm
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit Noon
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo Noon
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Grade the Vikings offense

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close