Whatâ€™s wrong with the Minnesota Twins?
Everyone seems to have their own opinions.
Iâ€™ve heard people talk about the bullpen and the starting pitching. Some have put the blame squarely on Joe Mauer. Others on Nick Punto.
Having watched a few games games, I feel there is only one true answer:
The Twins went through a really rough offseason. They watched as reliever after reliever signed with other teams.
Matt Guerrier, Jesse Crain, Jon Rauch and Brian Fuentes â€” key components to last seasonâ€™s bullpen â€” are all pitching with new teams. Even Pat Neshek, who was still recovering from surgery, was released and signed with another team.
Sure, they re-signed Carl Pavano and Jim Thome â€” which I think were great signings.
They also kept Jason Kubel and landed prized Japanese import Tsuyoshi Nishioka.
So, whatâ€™s the problem here?
The answer is the front office. I blame general manager Bill Smith.
Flat out, he let too many people go.
Maybe he was working on a budget. In fact, he probably was. The Twins have the ninth-highest payroll in the major at a little more than $112 million.
They counted on Joe Nathan too much. Instead of being the dominant closer he was two years ago, heâ€™s become a mop-up guy.
Nathan should return to his old form, but it probably wonâ€™t be this year.
That leaves Matt Capps (who is struggling with arm fatigue) as pretty much their only option.
Perhaps Smith should have planned for this.
The Twins put all of their bullpen eggs in one basket (Nathan), and they are cracking very slowly and painfully as his ERA remains north of 7.
However, I truly believe that the biggest mistake the Twins made was with their infield. The organization believed Alexi Casilla could be an everyday player.
Casilla owns a .215 average, despite playing in 41 games. Heâ€™s driven in four runs and had five extra-base hits and committed five errors in the field.
Meanwhile, J.J. Hardy is hitting .243 with two homers and 12 RBIs for Baltimore. Plus heâ€™s made five less errors than Casilla.
Thatâ€™s right, he hasnâ€™t made an error.
And donâ€™t get me wrong, Iâ€™m not blaming the fact that Minnesota owns the worst record in baseball on Casilla â€” or any one player.
I think thereâ€™s enough blame to go around equally.
When â€” or if â€” the Twins get their roster back together and healthy, I still believe they have playoff-quality talent.
But the only question is, will they be too far out of it for it to matter?