No Need Yet for Minnesota Twins To Retool

Duane WinnCorrespondent IApril 13, 2009

DENVER - MAY 16:  Carlos Gomez #22 of the Minnesota Twins runs the bases against the Colorado Rockies during Interleague MLB action at Coors Field on May 16, 2008 in Denver, Colorado. The Twins defeated the Rockies 4-2.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

It's way too early for general manager Bill Smith, manager Ron Gardenhire, or anyone else in the Minnesota Twins organization to be pushing the panic button or contemplating wholesale changes.

After all, the Twins are still 3-4 following two losses to the Chicago White Sox at US Cellular Field. They are just one game back of the division-leading Detroit Tigers and one-half game behind both Chicago and Kansas City.

Yet, it was those losses in the final two games of the three-game weekend set with the White Sox that may trigger some mild concern.

The Twins' starting rotation threw a respectable 26 innings with a 4.85 ERA in the four-game set against the Mariners. The bullpen also performed well against the Mariners with a nifty 2.70 ERA.

However, Twins starters Francisco Liriano and Nick Blackburn hit brick walls Saturday and Sunday against a White Sox offense that was having trouble scoring runs until the Twins came to town.

The relief corps surrendered runs that would have proven costly if the Twins had been within striking distance of the White Sox in either of those two games.

Even sturdy reliever Joe Nathan got into the act Sunday afternoon, surrendering a homer to Jermaine Dye on his first pitch in the eighth inning.

The Twins' vaunted pitching staff has surrendered 37 runs in seven games this season, 11 more than they allowed in the first seven games of 2008.

The "punchless" Twins' offense, however, is garnering more attention.

The Twins managed just one run (count 'em), in the two games following a 12-5 shellacking of the White Sox Friday in the series opener. 

The conclusion to Sunday's game was a microcosm of the Twins' offensive struggles thus far this season. Delmon Young grounded into a game-ending double play with the bases loaded that left Minnesota on the short end of a 6-1 decision.

Perhaps the fifth inning was even more indicative of the Twins' inoffensiveness at the plate as Young, Carlos Gomez, and Mike Redmond struck out in succession against Mark Buehrle, who is not exactly a fireballer.

The Twins have mustered just 26 runs in seven games, hitting a lowly .232 (54-for-232).

Gomez is struggling mightily, still unable to avoid the strikeout bug that compromised his 2008 season. In seven games, he's walked just once and struck out nine times. Through the Twins' first games, he has just three hits in 22 plate appearances.

Gomez isn't the only Twin who is struggling to make contact at the plate.

Crede is just 4-for-25 with a single RBI, Cuddyer 6-for-26, and Young, who accounted for the Twins' only run Sunday via a solo homer, is 2-for-15.

Yet, the Twins' offense is actually performing better at this stage of 2009 than a year ago. They only plated 19 runs in their first seven games in 2008.

The Twins have overcome slow starts before to win division titles. They were 3-4 at this stage of the season in 2008 and nearly rallied again to win an AL Central Division crown.

The first week of a long baseball season is no time to lose your cool. There's plenty of time for that down the road.


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