Posted at 11:28 PM on June 15, 2006
by Josh Lee
Batista's gone, and now so is Juan Castro. I suspect that if a team came along and offered a prospect for Rondell White, Terry Ryan would probably be willing to listen. When your team decides to start dumping veterans and let the kids play, that usually means that the towel has been thrown in for the year, and that the priority for the club has shifted from winning to development. It usually follows that the priority for the fans must shift accordingly, from looking for immediate gratification (and being disappointed) to looking for signs of life, signs that your feckless young players might someday develop into real professional athletes. This usually leads to statements like: "Well, we lost by six runs, but we only committed three errors!" It's all about seeing the glass as one-quarter full.
But not with this group of kids. Liriano, Cuddyer, Kubel, Bartlett: all the players we've been waiting for are here, and it doesn't look like they're going to get yo-yoed up and down between the majors and minors anymore, because putting them into the game is not so much an act of resignation as it is of straight-up improving your team. Case in point: tonight's 5-3 win over the Red Sox. The Twins had the lead, but there was an annoying paucity of grand slams, and Carlos Silva had to cut short one of those quietly efficient games we loved him for last year, leaving the mound with hamstring problems in the 7th. Then the Red Sox started chipping away at the Twins' lead, even after Nathan came on to bid for a two-inning save. Two weeks ago, I would have been biting my nails down to the quick, a feeling of dread twisting my gut into knots. Tonight, though, my gut was strangely calm; I was actually confident that Minnesota would be able to fend of a Boston rally and complete the series sweep. And they did! They even added an insurance run in the bottom of the 8th, and when's the last time you saw that happen? It's like watching a whole new team, one that actually hits strike pitches and attempts to defend on the left side of the infield.
I love it. My only hope is that now that there aren't those veterans standing in the way of the kids, that the kids don't get complacent knowing they have some job security. Keep 'em honest, Gardy.