Inside The Dugout: Twins Need The Bats To Wake Up

The Minnesota Twins are stuck in a rut right now, and need the bats to wake up and start contributing. It is clear to see that the pitching staff is holding up their end of the bargain, however the bats have been silent for some time now. With Joe Mauer the only player hovering close to the .300 mark, it is clear to see that in order for the Twins to turn their season around, someone on the offense needs to step up.

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The 2005 season is turning into a nightmare for Twins fans, and with General Manager Terry Ryan not pulling the trigger on any deadline deals, will only get worse. Fact is, the offense is one of the worst in baseball, and the pitching staff can only hold up their side of the bargain for so long.

One look at the offensive statistics and it is easy to see where the problems are. Not one everyday starter is batting over .300, although Joe Mauer is close at .299. Other than him, Shannon Stewart is next on the list with a .283 mark.

When it comes to the power department, Jacque Jones is the first Twins player listed on the home run leaderboard. However, you have to look pretty far down to see he is tied with a bunch of players with 17, and is 47th on the list. The only star that has 17 for any other team is Hideki Matsui, the other guys are middle of the road talent.

An even sadder statistic is that the Twins leader in RBI, Jones again, is currently ranked 61st in the league in RBI. That is a sure sign that the Twins are not getting it done offensively. Torii Hunter currently ranks at number 64, but would be higher if he did not suffer that season ending injury.

If the Twins can get the sticks turned around, they could be able to make a move in the Wild Card standings. Everything is wide open in the American League, except for the Twins division, where the Chicago White Sox have a stranglehold on the lead. With all the other teams in the Wild Card race being just as unpredictable as the Twins have been all year, they could sneak in there.

The pitching staff is the real reason why the Twins are even above .500 right now. Without their countless quality starts, this team could honestly be five to ten games under .500.

Brad Radke and Johan Santana are both in the top 15 in innings pitched this season, and Radke ranks as high as ninth. Although Santana is the only Twin pitcher in the top 40 in wins, it has been a collective effort from both the starters and the relievers that have kept the Twinkies in the hunt.

Closer Joe Nathan currently ranks ninth in the Major Leagues in saves, while boasting a 2.77 ERA, and his 62 strikeouts are second amongst all closers. Jesse Crain has been a great surprise this season, as he is 14th in the Majors in games, and has a 9-2 record to boot.

As far as ERA goes, nine of the 13 pitchers to pitch for the Twins this season have ERAs under 4.00. In fact, the only pitchers with ERAs over 5.00 are Dave Gassner, who came up for some spot starts, and Terry Mulholland, who is on the last leg of his career.

It would be nice if the Twins schedule got easier for the time being, but one look at it shows that isn't the case. They have a three-game set against the red-hot Oakland Athletics starting Friday, then they head to the South Side of Chicago to face the first place White Sox for three. Then, after a four-game home series against Seattle, they face the White Sox again at home for three games before heading to Texas and Kansas City to end the month.

There are still 48 games left of the season, and the Twins are 7.5 games out of the Wild Card, so anything can happen. If the bats come alive and the staff continues to pitch effectively, it could make for an interesting September. However, the off-season will bring some changes, that is for sure.


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