Crack! Pop! Boom! If you were watching Saturday night's Minnesota Twins game against the Tampa Bay Rays, you know that those were the exact sound effects heard within Nick "The Incredible Hulk" Blackburn's first four pitches.
That, of course, would be the sound of the baseball leaving the confines of Target Field, and that meant an early 3-0 lead for the visiting ballclub.
It's a sight that Twins fans have seen way too often this season. Blackburn included, the Twins have had their fair share of games where the starter hasn't been able to make his way out of the third inning.
It's a problem that has dwarfed the Twins' promise of a developing offense, leading Twins fans to scream at management to spend a couple bucks and get a legitimate starting pitcher.
Of course, these are the Twins we're talking about, and when Terry Ryan addressed reporters before Sunday's game against the Rays, he had this to say about Nick Blackburn's chances for the 2013 rotation, according to Fox Sports North's Tyler Mason:
#MNTwins GM Terry Ryan, on whether Blackburn has a spot in the rotation in 2013: "He's going to have to earn that, but he'll be in the mix."
Blackburn will be 31 next February, and the Twins owe him $5 million in 2013. I get that the Twins want to get the most out of their financial investment (which is why Tsuyoshi Nishioka is playing right now), but the team can't expect a light bulb to switch on for a guy who is what he is.
The Twins hoped that Blackburn's "sinking" fastball would develop into a worm-killer like Carlos Silva's did during his four seasons, but instead opponents have feasted on it for a .342 average and .952 OPS.
Again, why should this guy have a chance next season?
Meet the Pohlads. As we've seen over the past couple of seasons, the Pohlads are looking to return to the days when they had control of their payroll. They want to keep it just high enough so that people won't riot at Target Field.
It's not that the Pohlads should go out and sign Zack Greinke this offseason, but you can't tell your fans that there is no alternative to throwing Blackburn out there for another 30 starts. Even if the Twins went and found another veteran experiment, I think Twins fans would accept that over Blackburn.
Instead, the Pohlads will sit on their hands this winter and hope that Blackburn can find the form that made him a mediocre pitcher who could win in a mediocre division. Until that mindset changes, the Twins will have no shot at fixing their biggest flaw.
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