Well, it just so happens that I write directions for a living. I'm very good at telling people what to do. So, it's come to the point where my work life must step in to my baseball-fan life.
Instructions for fixing the Minnesota Twins. Please note that the following instructions are to be used under the supervision of trained professionals (not really, I just have to say that all the time).
- Inspect the training staff: Of the six guys still on, or recently off, the disabled list, Nishioka is the only one whose injury doesn't seem to be from a lack of proper training or conditioning. Two oblique strains, a case of shoulder bursitis, a quad strain, and a mysterious bi-lateral leg weakness all seem to me to be potentially preventable. It's true that the cold, damp weather all over the country isn't helping matters any -- many teams are suffering through a lot of injuries (including both my fantasy teams). However, this isn't the first year that people have questioned the effectiveness of the Twins' training staff; last season, Pat Neshek openly criticized them for mis-diagnosing his hand injury. Improve the training and conditioning techniques or get a staff that can.
- Review Justin Morneau: Gardy needs to sit down with Justin and have a heart-to-heart discussion with him and really figure out what's wrong. His offensive numbers are horrible (and well-documented), but he just looks over-matched in the batter's box. He swings and misses at pitches on the outer half of the plate -- pitches he used to hit, or at least foul off. Additionally, his defense is nowhere near what fans have come to expect. He simply doesn't make the nice scoops he usually does. He's thin, and weak, and clearly not himself. I commend him for trying to tough it out, but he's not really helping the team much in this condition. Unfortunately, due to the diminished capacity of the team as a whole right now, there isn't much anyone can do about it; he's a warm body and those are hard to come by. However, as soon as Young and Thome return from the DL, perhaps the Twins should consider giving Justin some more rest. A lot more rest. Like 15 days of rest. Oh, and just for kicks, check his vision and see if his LASIK procedure didn't take a step or two backwards.
- Get on Carl Pavano's back: I know Carl's a veteran. I know the Twins signed him to a two-year deal. I know he's supposed to be the leader of the rotation. He stinks lately. He knows he stinks lately. He admits he stinks lately. Not only is his stinky pitching putting too much pressure on the hitters, but it's also putting too much pressure on the other pitchers. Granted, he's the type of pitcher who really needs a good defense behind him, and he doesn't really have that. However, he's walking too many guys and he isn't striking out anybody. Gardy and Anderson need to kick him in the pants.
- Get off Francisco Liriano's back: It's pretty well known that Liriano can be a bit of a head case. It's also pretty well known that Liriano's real talent is as a strikeout pitcher. In order to be effective, he has to trust his stuff. But since the bullpen is so lame, the Twins want him to get outs using fewer pitches so that he can go deeper into games -- i.e. "pitch to contact." However, this strategy simply doesn't seem to work for him. It's as if the Twins are trying to force him into a mold that he simply doesn't fit into. They need to just leave him be, let him pitch the way he wants to pitch, build his confidence, and let him go. I think that if they let him strike out batters, he'll wind up walking fewer.
- Figure out the shortstop position: Shortstop is considered the leader of the infield. Alexi Casilla has proven he's not leadership material. The Twins have now handed the job to Trevor Plouffe, but he's hurt and may land on the DL. Even if he's ok, he should have a pretty short leash -- I just don't think he's quite ready for prime time. It's time for Bill Smith to pick up the phone and get a decent rent-a-shortstop. Strength in the field, and in the batter's box, will go far to picking up this team.
Delmon Young and Jim Thome are headed to Florida to rehab. Thome had an MRI and it indicated that there was only a slight strain in a back muscle. He should be able to re-join the team as soon as he's eligible. Young needs a couple minor-league games, and he should be ready to come back.
Nishioka is also in Florida, rehabbing his broken fibula. He's working with Paul Molitor on fielding drills.
Also watching: Trevor Plouffe. He tweaked or pulled a hammy on Sunday. He's due to have an MRI on Tuesday to see if it's serious.
Kelsie Smith of the St. Paul Pioneer Press has all the injury details.
As you know, Kevin Slowey is off the DL. Dusty Hughes was sent down to AAA to make room.
And, finally, Joe Mauer is getting stronger all the time. But, sing it with me -- you know the words, ♪♫ there's no timetable for his return ♪♫.