This Twins season may end up as a disappointing one. I had hope that we'd be headed towards our 4th straight divisional title, but that hope seems to be lost at we are almost 20 back now.
However, I don't consider the season a total loss. Our pitching staff is better than its been and we still have a small window (maybe one or two more years) to try and get to the holy grail. We have the 3rd best ERA in the AL behind only Oakland and LAA. Our bullpen will only get better as next year Balfour should be back and if there is room Liriano will likely be in the bigs (expect to see Francisco come september call up time). It has been frustrating to the point of no end though to lose one run game after one run game. I have expected the pitching staff to mentally implode, they have continued to pitch very well. Even Lohse hasn't pitched horribly and has quite a few "hard luck" losses. Most teams would be delighted with the production we've gotten out of our 4/5 pitchers (HOWEVER, Lohse is young and still has very good trade value based on his talent, he may be a perfect guy to trade for a bat). Every time Baker has been called up, he has pitched very good, expect to see him in the rotation next season.
Our infield was a mess from the beginning of the season. Morneau came into training camp with his *** showing out the back of his hospital gown and IV's in his arm. Hopefully he is healthy this offseason and comes into next season in better physical condition. 2nd base was an offensive black hole this season. Punto has been my favorite second baseman. Not too terribly potent of an offensive player but can steal bases when he gets on and is VERY good at moving players via the bunt. IMO, we may be looking for a third baseman in the offseason and moving Cuddy to second. He may not have what it takes to defensively play third, but has shown to be a rock at second base. Cuddy has been pretty good at the plate if you take out the first 6 weeks of the season, batting somewhere around .280 since that time. One option may be to move Mauer to third in order to extend his career. It sounds like he has been playing through a tremendous amount of pain behind the plate. With as good of hitter as he is, there is no reason to cut his career short by having him catch. And if you've ever seen him throw a attempting basethief out, you know he has more than enough arm to go from third to first. SS is a mystery to me, Castro is solid defensively, but...
To me, our outfield is the detriment of this team. All we've asked out of the infield in past years is to be solid with the leather, expecting our outfielders to pick up the offensive slack. Torii, Shannon, and Jacque have not performed up to par. And Lew Ford has been terrible as a DH. Jones will not be back next year (something that even Hunter has said bluntly and publicly). That will give Ford the ability to play the field every day, and his splits show he is a MUCH better hitter when he plays the field. Kubel will also be healthy next year, a supposedly great talent (although young and unproven at the major league level). I suspect he will be given a chance to DH and split time in the field with Lew.
Personally, I think Ryan has done a very good job with this team. Pitching wins championships, and there is no way one could have predicted such an anemic offense. I can't blame him for not wanting to give up some of our top prospects at the trading deadline to either rent a player for the last half of this season or burden himself with a huge contract (Soriano).
We're not out of the wild card race yet, and if we did by some miracle make it to the playoffs, we could absolutely contend with our pitching staff.
WERE GONNA WIN TWINS, WERE GONNA SCORE, WERE GONNA WIN TWINS WATCH THAT BASEBALL SORE!