Monday

10-12-09: Minnesota Twins - The Finale

Hello again everybody...

I'll be honest with you, I don't feel much like writing today. Yesterday's result wasn't much of a surprise, but it still stung. After a comeback like the Twins came up with to make the post-season, I hated to see their playoff run end so abruptly.

But that's baseball. And those were the Yankees. So what can you do?

I'll put a brief bow on the 2009 campaign today. Hopefully I'll be back in my regular flow on Wednesday.

Onward...

"That all men are equal is a proposition which, at ordinary times, no sane individual has ever given his assent."
- Aldous Huxley (1894 - 1963), English writer


Created equal? Sure, I can dig that. "Are" equal? Not based on the evidence I've seen!

Two teams definitely not equal? Those would be the Twins and the Yankees.

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Yankees 10, Twins 0.

That's the outcome over 10 games between my favorite team and the Evil Empire.

So was the result of their ALDS surprising? Certainly not. But it was disappointing.

On paper, no sane person could pick the Twins. Especially given the names on their disabled list: Morneau, Crede, Slowey, Bonser, Neshek (and dare I say Tolbert?). No team missing that many pieces can be expected to survive while playing the elite of the league.

But they were on such a roll down the stretch, including that magical win in Game 163, that I hoped that momentum might be enough to at least compete with the Yankees.

And if I wanted to take an overly optimistic approach, I could argue that they were competitive. In all 3 games, the Twins scored first. And they never got beat by more than 3 runs. You can't say they were blown out by the Bombers.

But anyone who watched those three games understands what I mean when I say that even with those leads, it always felt like the Twins were holding on for dear life. You just knew that any mistake that Minnesota made (and they made several) was going to open the door for the Yankees to pounce. And pounce they did.

A lot of people are going to remember Phil Cuzzi's blown call on what should've been a Joe Mauer double in the 11th inning of Game 2.

What I'm going to remember is the Twins' All-Star closer being unable to lock down a Game 2 victory with a two run lead in the bottom of the ninth.

That's not to bag on Joe Nathan. I can count on one hand the number of closers I'd swap him for and have fingers left over. But when that happened, I knew the Twins' magic had run out.

In the end, the Yankees were just a better team. Let's not whine about umpires. Let's not bitch about payrolls. Let's just tip our caps and wish the Yankees well against the Angels.

Okay, the cap-tipping might be pushing it a bit. But you get my drift.

The Twins made an amazing charge to get into the playoffs. It's my goal to make that fact the epitaph of the 2009 Twins Campaign. The domination at the hands of the Yankees? Hopefully that can be reduced to a footnote.

So where does that leave the Twins going forward?

Well, the beauty of baseball is that there's always next spring to look forward to. And between now and then there are plenty of questions for Twins management to answer.

Priority number one has to be signing Joe Mauer to a contract extension. Earlier this summer I discussed what that contract might look like. You can read that column here. Whatever shape it takes, whatever the amount, the Twins have to get this done. If they go to camp in February without Mauer signed to a new deal, then the only questions that anyone will be asked will be related to Mauer's future. That's a distraction that no team can afford. Least of all a team that's not used to major national attention.

Once Mauer is taken care of, there are still other questions to be addressed. Will they bring back players brought in mid-season? Orlando Cabrera, Carl Pavano and John Rauch all made significant contributions down the stretch. But are they players that can play a role in the Twins' future? And what about Joe Crede? He was helpful when he was healthy, but is he really worth bringing back?

And then there's the roster as a whole. I think it fair to say, depending on what they do with their free agents, that they have holes at 2nd, shortstop and 3rd and certainly could afford to add some pitching, both in the rotation and the bullpen.

That's a lot to work on. And there are only about 4 months to get it done. Baseball never really ends anymore. Some people might not like that, but personally, I love it.

Oh, and don't forget, there's a new ballpark to look forward to!

2010, you can't get here soon enough!

That's going to do it for today. All the college football wonder you could want will head your way Wednesday.

Until then, thanks for reading!

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