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The Bleacher Bums: July 9, 2008 Archive

Break will give Twins relief, management should give them a reliever

Posted at 2:27 PM on July 9, 2008 by Steve Rudolph (3 Comments)

According to Twins officials and the certain Star Tribune writers, the Twins are virtually without weakness. Having watched the last couple games, I beg to differ.

Bill Smith has shown his not afraid to make trades and he needs to pull off another one or two if the Twins have any chance of playing meaningful baseball come September.

That's not to say I expect a move will be forthcoming. I don't think the Twins expected they would be as good as they are this year. I certainly didn't think it possible. But here they are midpoint of the season, playing good baseball and realistically in the wild card race if not the hunt for the A.L. Central crown.

I'm not suggesting the Twins mortgage their future as I think this team is only going to improve in years to come. However an injury or other unforeseen event could change all that and thus management should give this year's team every chance to win that it can.

What can they use most? Another arm in the bullpen would be a good start. I disagree with Joe Christensen that the Twins have absorbed the loss of Pat Neshek. As we've seen the last two nights, the bullpen isn't what it's been in year's past.

When the starting pitchers faltered in Chicago a few weeks back, the pen couldn't stop the bleeding. The last two nights when the starter took the game to the late innings, the bullpen couldn't shut the door on the Red Sox. Bonser can't be used in meaningful games and Bass and Breslow aren't proven. That leaves Ron Gardenhire with limited options when the game is on the line. (He might try leaving the starters in once and a while, but that's for another posting.)

Just one more reliable arm to help Crain, Guerrier and Reyes get the game to Nathan will result in more wins than the addition of any position players.

What say ye Twins fans? Am I right in my assessment that relief pitching is the biggest need for this season or would you rather see the club add a veteran starter or even a third baseman?

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Posted at 8:25 PM on July 9, 2008 by Chris Dall (2 Comments)

Here are some ugly numbers from today's game:

4.1 innings, 11 hits, 6 earned runs. That would be Livan Hernandez's starting line.

3.2 innings, 12 hits, 11 earned runs. That would be the collective line of today's bullpen crew--Bonser, Breslow, Bass and Reyes.

It's too bad, because today's effort provides a bitter bookend to what had been a pretty stellar run of pitching. Since the Chicago massacre in early June, the Twins starting pitchers have put together some eye-opening numbers. Kevin Slowey is 4-1 with a 3.79 era, 5 walks and 34 strikeouts. Scott Baker is 3-2 with a 2.61 era, 8 walks and 32 strikeouts. Nick Blackburn is 3-0 with a 3.16 era, 2 walks and 18 strikeouts. And Glenn Perkins is 3-0 with 3.90 era, 6 walks and 20 strikeouts.

In this day and age, especially in the American League, that's a pretty spectacular month of starting pitching. The big question is can the starters keep it up? If they can't, Steve and others are right that the Twins are going to need some relief help. Reyes and Nathan have been the backbone, but I'm concerned that Reyes has thrown 24 innings already, when he pitched 29 all of last year. And if this series in Boston is any indication, Guerrier and Crain might not be up to the task of getting the big outs in the pressure of a pennant race.

So who's out there? Brian Fuentes of the Rockies is the big name you hear, but the Twins will have to take a number behind several other teams. Ron Mahay of the Royals will also be much sought after. But do the Twins have enough to get either guy?

Of course, they could stay in house and bring back this guy.

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