With the 2012 season coming to a close, the Twins are in last place in their division and are finishing up one of the more forgettable seasons in recent history—the second in as many years.
Rather than get on a soapbox about the starting pitching or who needs to be traded next, I want to call attention to a recent article that was printed in the Pioneer Press entitled "Minnesota Twins Vow 'Best foot forward' Against Contenders."
In this article written by John Shipley, the Twins have decided to announce that they intend to put the best team they have on the field against any of the teams making a playoff run.
Is anyone else wondering why they need to say this? Shouldn't they do that every game during the season?
I think most of us dared to hope that after the debacle of the 2011 season that 2012 would be better and that the Twins organization would seek to better themselves. They tried when they signed Josh Willingham and Ryan Doumit—two players that have done everything we hoped they would.
But the major failing again this season was the starting pitching—something the front office didn't really attempt to change.
"That's our responsibility," general manager Terry Ryan said. "We've got to put out a team that would be the most competitive ballclub against those teams to make sure there is credibility in the playoff race."
This quote from Terry Ryan in Shipley's article is a nice sentiment, but it is too little too late. Their responsibility for putting the best team on the field doesn't need to happen just when the Twins are out of the playoff race—this kind of thing needs to be said at the beginning of the season.
Quite frankly, I'm not entirely sure the best team was always on the field. Of course, Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau have been on the field much more this season than last year (not too hard when you consider how many games they missed in 2011) and Josh Willingham has done his job plus more. Ben Revere has had a solid season as has Ryan Doumit, and Denard Span has been reliable when he is on the field.
Less and less are these players on the field together at the same time for one reason or another now that the September call-ups are getting their shot at making an impression. Chris Parmelee is the lone call-up I have had any interest in watching.
Eduardo Escobar, one of the last September call-ups the Twins made, was hitting .217 at Rochester before being called up. Not exactly tearing it up.
If the Twins desire to truly put their "best foot forward," where is Aaron Hicks? Oswaldo Arcia? What about pitcher Anthony Slama? Why is it players that have done well and are earning attention for their skill aren't being called up even for this month of September that means nothing to the Twins?
What is irritating about what the Twins organization is that they make the appearance of trying to get better, all while leaving their top prospects in the minors in September. They bring up the prospects that they received via trade, trying to justify what they got for Francisco Liriano but leave arguably the most successful minor league pitcher they have in Slama down in the minors.
Their decision making as far as who belongs in the majors is questionable. As a lifelong fan, I am tired of being fed lines about their desire to get better for the future yet I do not see them moving towards an improvement.
Telling fans that they are going to try really hard against the teams that are in the playoff hunt does not make anyone feel better but the front office or maybe the coaches. It doesn't erase the last two seasons of horrid defense, poor pitching and a disappearing, reappearing and disappearing again offense. Then again, manager Ron Gardenhire made it clear that it isn't all about being the spoiler:
"More than anything else it's getting a better feeling about yourself going into the winter," he said. "You will be a part of this division race, (just) not the way we like to be a part of it. If you put your best foot forward like we always try to do, you will have an impact on it. But that's not the No. 1 goal: It's to really right yourself, finish off a season and at least have a little bit of a good feeling going into the winter."
There isn't much to feel good about after this season. The number one goal for the Twins should be to finish strong as a team, not to feel better about yourself before the season is over.
Maybe that is the problem—too much about feeling good about yourself and not enough going into winter with that nagging feeling that you underachieved as a team. It is nasty medicine but it works.
As far as I (and many other fans) are concerned, I don't see the Twins putting their best foot forward. I am tired of getting the run-around from a front office that likes to spout their beliefs that the best prospects will earn their shot, then poor decision making and saying that they are moving towards building a team for the future.
Right now, that future doesn't look very good.
The fans deserve better than this. We have stuck with the Twins through thick and thin. Many of us remember the feast times of the World Series clubs and then the ineptitude of the teams that followed until the early 2000s.
We gave the team a new stadium and have been rewarded with a stagnant baseball team that is happy to try their best against the playoff teams in September, but have had their heads down from day one.
As America's greatest sport draws to a close for the season, I hope that the Twins see and hear their fans, and get the message that we aren't happy campers. Do something that will make a difference for the team.
Just putting your 'best foot forward' isn't going to be good enough.
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