So, what's wrong with the team?
However.... some subtle improvements can be made to the current roster.
Let's start with the batting order:
1. Move Delmon Young up in the order.
Delmon Young is having the best offensive year of his young career. He is 23rd in the American League with an .847 OPS and 19th in Slugging. He is batting .309/.345/.502 on the season. His OPS is actually better against righties than it is versus lefties and his OBP and SLG have improved every month in 2010. He should be moved from 7th to 5th and should play every day except for rest.
2..... So Michael Cuddyer should be moved off the 5th spot. Cuddyer is batting .269/.334/.427. this is not too far off of his career numbers, but well off his 2009 numbers. His OBP and SLG have gotten worse every month in 2010. He is batting .312/.424/.532 vs. lefties however. Cuddyer has played every day where Delmon has sit. Cuddyer should sit vs tough righties.
3. When Orlando Hudson is not batting 2nd, Joe Mauer should. Why let Matt Tolbert .227/.300/.341, Nick Punto .252/.335/.329 get more at-bats than Joe Mauer .309/.387/.445? Move everyone up a slot and let the extra weak hitter hit 8th or 9th.
4. Thome is my homie, vs a righty. Against righties, Thome is hitting .260/.427/.562, vs. lefties he is hitting .212/.257/.364. No more pinch-hitting Jim against a lefty. Just keep the Punto's of the world in. Thome may be useful vs. a righty later in the game.
The regular lineup vs. righties should be:
Thome should play often in favor of Cuddyer vs. righties.
The regular lineup vs. lefties should be:
How about the starters? The starters have been doing ok this season. Liriano has bounced back nicely, Carl Pavano has been great, and Scott Baker has been ok. The Twins haven't gotten enough from Kevin Slowey or Nick Blackburn.
1. Slowey hasn't been able to pitch deep into games. He also tries to be too fine with his pitches and he shakes off the catcher a lot. Having said that, he had been having a pretty decent season until his last 2 starts. There are some concerns with Slowey, but I'd ride it out with him for now.
2. Blackburn should be addressed. Blackburn was bad in April, decent in May and awful in June. Looking at his career numbers, June is his worst month. July has been his best month, so hopefully better times are around the corner. I'd keep Blackburn as the 5th starter but I'd skip his spot in the rotation whenever there is an off-day. (assuming the other starters are pretty healthy) I'd use Blackburn in long relief between his starts to keep him fresh. (Say when Slowey pitches :)) Blackburn has proven to be a big game pitcher in the past and should still be looked at as the #5 starter, but using him less minimizes the damage he can do when he is not pitching well.
Post All-star pitching staff:
Blackburn (skipped with off-days)
What to do with the bullpen? The bullpen often gets bashed when a lead is blown or when a narrow deficit has been widened. So, how has the bullpen been doing? Well, the Twins bullpen leads the AL and is second in all of the MLB with a 3.00 ERA. Pretty damn good looking at the numbers! A couple of tweaks could make it even better.
1. Jesse Crain has often been a whipping boy of the fan-base. He seems to blow-up at bad times but number wise, has been pretty good, especially against righties who are hitting .236/.313/.347. He has been awful against lefties however, they're hitting .283/.327.587. Crain should be trusted vs. righties but, if the situation allows, I'd pull him when a lefty is hitting. There are 3 lefty relievers on the roster.
2. Use Alex Burnett more. Burnett has not been as dominant vs. righties as Crain .247/.309/.397, but has been much better vs. lefties .250/.350/.404. He'd be a better choice to use against a balanced lineup.
3. Only use Ron Mahay vs. lefties in tight spots. Mahay should not see a righty unless he is brought in during a blow-out. The last 2 years his OPS against vs. righties has been terrible and vs. lefties has been quite good.
4. Use Mijares, pretty much the same as Mahay.
5. Make Duensing the late inning lefty stopper. He has been killing lefties at a .198/.271/.237 clip. If a righty is brought in as a pinch hitter, he has held his own righties at .265/.333/.405 and could be left in the game.
Mahay: Mop-up or lefties only.
Crain: Late innings vs a righty laden lineup only.
Burnett: 7th inning go to guy?
Mijares: 7th inning lefty.
Duensing: 8th or 9th inning lefty.
Guerrier: 8th or 9th inning. (except vs. A-Rod)
Rauch: 8th or 9th inning.