Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Lack of Money Catching Up to Twins?

For a few years now, Yankee fans have used the Twins as a way of showing that money does not buy championships. After all, the Twins have been able to make the playoffs annually, despite having a small payroll! This year, however, it appears that the lack of money may finally do them in.

Every winter, another few Twins are forced to jump ship. We've seen David Ortiz, Eric Milton, Eddie Guardado, LaTroy Hawkins, Bobby Kielty, A.J. Pierzynski, and others go elsewhere. But amazingly, the Twins have always found a guy to fill in the holes, be it with Joe Nathan, J.C. Romero, or Joe Mauer. This past winter, it was Corey Koskie and Cristian Guzman who left. And in terms of replacements, the Twins haven't been as lucky as in the past, and it's hurting the team.

Koskie hit 25 HR last year. This year, with Cuddyer (5 HR) at third, that void of production is not being filled. And at SS, the Jason Bartlett experiment didn't pan out, leaving Juan Castro to play there instead. While Castro broke up Johnson's no-hitter last night, his average is still a miserable .249. And while the Twins probably don't regret giving up Guzman, considering how awful he's been for the Nationals, the guy did put up a pretty good .274 mark in '04. Maybe he would have done better staying in the AL and staying out of RFK.

The pitching has been the same as last year, perhaps a little better. But unless Santana goes on another incredible 2nd half run, the Twins may have trouble making the playoffs again.

And people forget that, after winning the Central so many times, the Twins have only one playoff series victory to show for it: beating the equally-October-inept A's in '02. The Twins have been good enough to beat the garbage teams in the Central (till the White Sox' emergence this year), with the unbalanced schedule giving them more shots at beating the Royals. But when it comes to October, they're simply overmatched.

Their biggest problem: no big bat in the lineup. No A-Rod, no Shemp, no Manny, no Vlad. Does Torii Hunter scare you in a big spot? Does Jacque Jones? Justin Morneau? Didn't think so.

And these guys cannot afford to sign any big names. Aside from Terry Mulholland and Bret Boone, this team is full of home-grown players. They've been able to lock up Santana and Radke, but have never been players in any big-name free agent over the past few years.

So don't tell me the Twins are proof that the system is fair. If Terry Ryan had $200 million at his disposal, he'd probably do a lot better than Cashman.

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