Tag: Michael Cuddyer

Daily Fantasy Baseball 2015: MLB DraftKings Studs and Duds for August 13

The 2015 MLB season continues to roll along with less than two months before October. Most daily fantasy owners have likely gotten into a groove at this point, but the names at the top of lists are constantly changing.

Some players have risen to the task in August, while others have fallen off under the pressure of a playoff push. Ahead of Thursday’s slate of games, here’s a look at some studs and duds for August 13.



Jon Lester, Chicago Cubs ($10,800)

That massive investment by the Chicago Cubs in the offseason is finally starting to pay off. As October approaches, Lester is starting to turn it on with two runs or less allowed in his last four starts. Three of those happened to come at Wrigley Field, which is where the Cubs will play on Thursday.

Not to mention, Lester is facing off against the lowly Milwaukee Brewers. With an average of two runs scored over the last five games, it seems pretty obvious that Lester should put up similar results. At $1,400 less than Sonny Gray, Lester is an affordable ace for owners to target.


Prince Fielder, Texas Rangers ($4,500)

Prince Fielder’s comeback season just keeps on going with another hot stretch recently. Over his last 10 games, Fielder is averaging over 10 fantasy points with five extra-base hits, including two homers.

Oh, let’s also note that he has a perfect matchup on Thursday.

Ervin Santana has struggled in his last three starts, allowing 19 runs over that stretch with his last outing ending after 2.1 innings. Fielder holds a .444 on-base percentage against Santana with three home runs and a double. If you aren’t convinced by now, maybe this isn’t for you. Fielder is a lock.


Michael Cuddyer, New York Mets ($3,400)

In order to afford the Jon Lesters and Prince Fielders of the world, you’ll need a value pick. Look no further than Michael Cuddyer. The New York Mets outfielder is back to the torrid pace he was on before hitting the disabled list last month.

Cuddyer’s three hits, two runs, RBI and stolen base over the last two games prove he doesn’t have any lingering effects. He’s also facing Eddie Butler, who has been horrid at the MLB level this season. The stars are aligned for Cuddyer to go off, so don’t miss this opportunity before his price goes up again.



Mat Latos, Los Angeles Dodgers ($7,200)

Most of the pitchers at the top of DraftKings‘ price sheet on Thursday are worthy of their salary. However, when looking for a pitcher to pair them up with, Mat Latos is not a formidable option. Even at $7,200, Latos is coming at too high of a price for his recent performance.

In his last two starts, Latos hasn’t fooled anyone with just one strikeout—combined. While Latos would likely love to shut down his former team, the Cincinnati Reds are simply too patient at 22nd in the MLB in strikeouts (822). Wielding bats like Todd Frazier, Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips, the Reds stars will get the better of their former teammate.


Josh Reddick, Oakland Athletics ($4,100)

Josh Reddick is struggling. Like, getting the bat remotely close to the ball has been a tall task recently. Over his last 10 games, Reddick has barely averaged three fantasy points and has just one game where he reached double digits.

Reddick doesn’t have a difficult matchup with Mark Buehrle on the mound, but the Toronto Blue Jays pitcher has a habit of making batters uncomfortable. His fast approach to the plate combined with Reddick‘s recent struggles are a bad omen for DraftKings owners.

DraftKings is hosting one-day MLB contests! Claim your free entry by clicking on the link and making a first-time deposit!

Follow R. Cory Smith on Twitter for more MLB DraftKings advice.

Follow <span class=

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

10 Reasons to Be Optimistic for Mets’ 2015 Season

The Mets’ 2015 season is just about here and there is a lot to look forward to, as the Mets attempt to get into the postseason for the first time since 2006.

After rebuilding for much of the decade thus far, most of the Mets’ young pieces are now on the major league roster, which means the team is that much closer to competing and having winning seasons.

Here are 10 reasons to be optimistic about the Mets this year.

Begin Slideshow

MLB Market Needs Have Eliminated Qualifying-Offer Victims This Offseason

The previous two offseasons have left us with a new, unexpected baseball term: Victim of the Qualifying Offer, which refers to a player who has spurned the offer in search of longer-term riches only to regret how he played his hand.

Doing away with Major League Baseball’s Type A-B free-agent system and implementing the one-year qualifying offers at the end of the last collective bargaining agreement made understanding free agency much simpler. Under the new rules, teams can offer their free agents a one-year contract worth the average salary of the game’s 125 highest-paid players, and if the player rejects the offer, that team receives a compensatory draft pick between the next year’s first and second rounds. Conversely, the team who signs that player loses its top unprotected pick.

Simple, right? Sure it is. Still, despite the new system being easier for the casual fan to comprehend, it has resulted in baffling outcomes for players who have either received, turned down and/or had their stock severely hindered in the free-agent market because they are attached to draft-pick compensation.

“You hate to say it, but it really messes up free agency for guys who worked hard,” Stephen Drew told CBSSports.com insider Jon Heyman last February before he eventually signed with the Boston Red Sox (but not until late May). “A lot of people don’t want to give up that first-round pick, and that’s what it boils down to. It’s unusual.”

Based on what we have witnessed the last two falls, winters and even springs, this current offseason is actually the abnormality. When Melky Cabrera signed with the Chicago White Sox last week, it officially broke the Curse of the Qualifying Offer.

This offseason had 12 players receive and reject the qualifying offer of $15.3 million—none of the 33 players extended the one-year deal over the last three offseasons has accepted the offer—and only Max Scherzer and James Shields remain unsigned. However, their availability is all about the market playing out and cost rather than draft-pick compensation.

Last season, Drew was not alone in free-agent purgatory. Ervin Santana, Nelson Cruz and especially Kendrys Morales had their stocks crippled by draft-pick compensation. All of them ended up with one-year deals agreed to either late in the process or for significantly less money than they would have made by accepting the qualifying offer or both. Morales signed with the Minnesota Twins after the June amateur draft, when his compensation was voided.

This year, there figured to be at least one solid candidate to regret declining the qualifying offer had he actually done so. The Colorado Rockies offered the one-year deal to Michael Cuddyer, a shocking move considering the Rockies’ outfield logjam, that Cuddyer played in 280 games in his three seasons with Colorado and that he had severe Coors Field/road splits. Cuddyer seemed likely to accept the offer since a multiyear deal for him appeared uncertain, plus if he rejected the qualifying offer, he would have been the safe bet to see his free agency extend well beyond the new year.

But then the New York Mets came calling with a stunning two-year, $21 million contract. Knowing what had happened to other non-top-tier free agents before him, Cuddyer was set to accept the Rockies’ offer had the Mets deal not come together. 

Cuddyer, 36 next season, was the offseason’s first significant signing, and it was a sign of things to come in an offense-starved market. Virtually any hitter with a pulse became coveted, including those tied to a draft pick.

Victor Martinez, Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez were the first dominoes to tumble after Cuddyer, although they were never candidates to be QO victims. Russell Martin followed, but due to his defensive and pitch-framing attributes, he was also never likely to see his free agency extend into the late winter or early spring.

Cruz, who rejected last year’s offer and ended up almost inexplicably waiting until late February to sign a one-year, $8 million deal with the Baltimore Orioles, signed a four-year, $57 million deal with the Seattle Mariners before the winter meetings. This year, neither draft-pick compensation nor a Biogenesis suspension was a factor, and no one expected it to be.

Aside from Cuddyer, closer David Robertson was maybe the next likeliest to be a victim of the qualifying offer. Before Robertson, Rafael Soriano was the only other reliever to receive and reject a qualifying offer, and he ended up waiting until mid-January to get a deal in 2013. But being the lone experienced closer on the open market got Robertson a four-year deal from the White Sox at the winter meetings.

That signing left 30-something pitchers Santana, a victim last year, and Francisco Liriano as the only candidates for QO victimization.

“I never thought it would happen this way. I thought it would be easier,” Santana told USA Today Sports’ Jorge L. Ortiz last spring about being a QO victim. Fortunately, neither he nor Liriano would endure the same fate this offseason.

Both pitchers signed right after the winter meetings, helped by the fact that the market’s alternatives—Scherzer and Lester—were seeking nine-figure contracts. And just like that, no one was left to regret his decision of rejecting the qualifying offer.

The system is still too new to know if it is cyclical, but it seems reasonable to believe free agents will become victims based on market needs. This year has clearly been a buyer’s market, and even fringe-level free agents are benefiting, although current and expected rich TV deals could have something to do with this going forward.

Fair or unfair, the qualifying-offer system is in play for at least the next two offseasons before the collective bargaining agreement can be reworked. While there were no victims of the system this time around, odds tell us we will see the draft-pick compensation scare away suitors and leave players waiting through spring training for teams in the near future.


Anthony Witrado covers Major League Baseball for Bleacher Report. He spent the previous three seasons as the national baseball columnist at Sporting News and four years before that as the Brewers beat writer for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Follow Anthony on Twitter @awitrado and talk baseball here.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Rockies’ Michael Cuddyer Becomes 4th Player to Hit for Cycle in Both Leagues

Colorado Rockies outfielder Michael Cuddyer wasted no time re-acclimating himself to major league pitching, hitting for the cycle on his first day back from the disabled list in the second game of Sunday’s doubleheader versus the Cincinnati Reds.

Cuddyer, who missed more than two months of action due to a shoulder injury, registered just a lone single in five at-bats during the first game of Sunday’s doubleheader.

No matter, because he proved his health without question in the second game, becoming just the fourth player in major league history to hit for the cycle in two leagues, per MLB Stat of the Day.

The other three players—John Reilly, Bob Watson and John Olerud—are similar to Cuddyer in that they had excellent careers but aren’t considered worthy of the Hall of Fame. Olerud actually has a decent case to join the Hall, but as a medium-power first baseman who largely played in the steroid era, he has never quite gotten the respect he deserves.

In any case, Cuddyer—who previously hit for the cycle as a Minnesota Twin in May 2009—became the 12th-oldest player since 1914 to accomplish the feat, at 35 years and 143 days, per MLB Stat of the Day.

In light of the veteran outfielder’s age, recent injury and lack of speed, it’s rather surprising that he tallied the first cycle of the 2014 season. However, Cuddyer’s home park of Coors Field is rather inviting for triples, of which he surprisingly has 41 in his 14-year career.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

MLB All Star Voting 2013: Players Who Deserved More Respect from Voters

The 2013 MLB All-Star rosters are officially set, but before things kick off at Citi Field on Tuesday night we can’t help but take a look back at how the 35 spots on both the American and National League teams were filled. 

Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman and Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Steve Delabar won the All-Star Game Final Vote to be the last two players not named as injury replacements to make the two rosters. 

Did we get it right, MLB fans?

There’s no way to revisit the voting process other than from an argumentative standpoint, but sometimes that’s exactly what must be done when players with deserving seasons end up flying under the radar when ballots are being cast. 

The Santa Cruz Sentinel had an interactive look at the deserving candidates of the AL and NL before the voting was final, and the concept of this post is relevant—do we look at only names before voting for a player?

Barring another injury replacement, the AL and NL rosters are locked. Here’s a look at three deserving players (both on and off the rosters) that voters should have paid more attention to before things were finalized. 

*For a complete look at the 2013 MLB All-Star Game rosters, click here (courtesy MLB.com). 



OF Michael Cuddyer, Colorado Rockies

This tweet from MLB Memes pretty much says it all:

Cuddyer made the NL roster, but was nowhere near the outfield voting leaders. As you can see from this ESPN report in early July, Cuddyer was a no-show despite his quality numbers that include being second in the NL in slugging (.567) and third in OPS (.962). 

Particularly troubling for Cuddyer (and outfielders like Carlos Gomez and Andrew McCutchen) was that Bryce Harper was still named a starter despite missing a hefty portion of the first half of the season due to injury. 

There’s little doubt Harper is one of the most electric players in the game. But it felt like he was rewarded for his hot-button name and not the way things have played out on the field during the first half of the season, and Cuddyer was one of a few guys who felt the sting of that result. 

The fact that the 34-year-old was outside the top 15 in voting makes him an easy choice for this “honor,” and sabermetrics lovers will point to his NL-leading offensive win percentage (.780) as another telling stat to shame voters who left his name off their ballot. 

Cuddyer will be on the NL roster, so the baseball gods made sure we didn’t screw this up too badly, but his strong first half feels a bit slighted with the lack of respect shown from voters prior to the rosters being released. 



3B Josh Donaldson, Oakland Athletics

Simply put, Josh Donaldson is a victim of the AL’s deepest position. He’s also the victim of playing in a market that does not lend itself to the national eye. 

You could have made a case for as many as five of the league’s third baseman making the All-Star game, but it’s Triple Crown winner (and hopeful, I might add) Miguel Cabrera and youngster Manny Machado who carry the honor this year. 

Donaldson, Tampa Bay Rays’ Evan Longoria and Texas Rangers’ Adrian Beltre were also strong contenders for consideration to Jim Leyland’s roster. 

Teammate Sean Doolittle clearly feels that Oakland’s place as a small-market team ruined Donaldson’s chances to make the AL roster:

Doolittle might be right—Donaldson leads a team with the fourth-best record in baseball in nearly every major offensive category, setting the pace at third base as the A’s maintain a one-game lead over the Rangers in the AL West (heading into Saturday). 

It’s actually a trend—if Bartolo Colon remains Oakland’s only All-Star, eight of the last nine All-Star games will have featured only one representative from the franchise, per Oakland’s official website

The 27-year-old is in just his third season and will have plenty of chances to repeat his strong 2013 campaign moving forward, but you can’t help but feel for Donaldson (and a host of other A’s) who were slighted by both the voters and the selection process yet again. 



SS Jean Segura, Milwaukee Brewers

Jean Segura is having a breakout season for the Milwaukee Brewers this year, but you wouldn’t know it by the fan voting that represented the National League. 

Segura‘s .321 batting average is fifth in the NL heading into Saturday’s slate of games, and he ranks at or near the leaderboard in a number of other offensive categories such as hits (first, 117), stolen bases (third, 27) and runs scored (10th, 52). 

As you can see from this tweet from Baseball Tonight back in June, Segura was trailing Troy Tulowitzki and Brandon Crawford for most of the All-Star voting process:

With Tulowitzki earning the starter’s nod but being forced out due to injury, Segura was a lock to make the roster. He and San Diego Padres shortstop Everth Cabrera will anchor the position on the NL roster at Citi Field, with San Francisco Giants second baseman Marco Scutaro an emergency candidate for Bruce Bochy in the game. 

This is Segura‘s second season with the Brewers and his first as a full-time starter, and he’s clearly taking full advantage of the opportunity to prove he is on his way to becoming a premier player at the position. 

The NL hits leader didn’t get the respect he was due during the voting process this year, but another strong season in 2014 might have Segura poised to supplant Tulowitzki as the NL’s leading man at shortstop at this time next year. 


Follow B/R’s Ethan Grant (@DowntownEG) on Twitter. 

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

New York Yankees: Could Michael Cuddyer Be an Option with Mark Teixeira Injury?

The Yankees offense has really thinned out since the start of spring training.

The team had lost Alex Rodriguez before the season even began and then lost Curtis Granderson to a broken forearm.

And with the most recent: Mark Teixeira’s wrist injury that will sideline him until May.

That leaves Robinson Cano when he gets back from the World Baseball Classic, Kevin Youkilis and maybe even Travis Hafner as the big bats of the offense.

Not exactly Murders Row we’re talking about here.

Sure, they’ll get Derek Jeter back from his broken ankle and Brett Gardner has re-emerged into the offense after spending most of 2012 on the shelf, but is that really going to be enough?

Right now, I’m very skeptical about this offense and I think Yankees GM Brian Cashman is too, which is why we’ve heard multiple different names linked to them as potential free agent or trade targets.

One suggestion Buster Olney of ESPN had on Friday for the Yankees was trying to trade for Colorado RockiesMichael Cuddyer.

Cuddyer could add some versatility into the lineup, as he could play first and third base, plus left and right field and be the team’s right-handed option at DH.

Yes, I know he’s still got $21 million remaining on his contract for two more seasons, but according to Olney, if the Rockies were to move Cuddyer, they would have to eat a major chunk of that deal.

So lets say the Yankees get Cuddyer and only have to pay $5 million per season for his services?

Five million a season for the potential of 20 home runs and 70 RBI is a pretty good bargain considering Colorado is on the hook for $10.5 million right now.

In 2012, Cuddyer hit .260 with 16 home runs and 58 RBI in just 101 games with the Rockies.

To me, this is a perfect kind of player for the Yankees lineup.

Cuddyer could give players a partial day off like Teixeira when he comes back, or Kevin Youkilis if they need to be used at the DH that day.

Plus, Cuddyer right now would be a better option for the Yankees than Juan Rivera and Matt Diaz would, both offensively and defensively.

At worst, the Yankees might have to give up a mid-level type prospect for Cuddyer, but for him, I’d make the deal.

Cuddyer in no way would cost the Yankees someone like Mason Williams, Tyler Austin or any other top prospect in the farm system right now.

Plus, it would allow Colorado to continue their youth movement in developing their own players under new manager Walt Weiss.

If I am Cashman, I am giving Rockies GM Dan O’Dowd a call and seeing if there is a way they will make a move for Cuddyer.

Cuddyer on the Yankees makes too much sense, and if the Rockies will take on most of the remaining deal, Cashman will pull the trigger on a deal.

Stay tuned, Yankees Universe.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

2012 MLB Predictions: Six Teams That Could Be 2012’s Pittsburgh Pirates

Remember when there was hope on the banks of the Allegheny River in 2011?  The Pittsburgh Pirates, after suffering their 18th losing season in a row, hired manager Clint Hurdle before the start of the 2011 season.  

That season began with great promise: On July 4 the Pirates had a record of 44-41 and were only 1.5 games back of the St. Louis Cardinals. The Pirates even went as far as to be buyers at the trade deadline, where they acquired Ryan Ludwick from the San Diego Padres and Derrek Lee from the Baltimore Orioles. 

As the cynical Pirates fans might have predicted, the moves did not pan out and the team dropped to 62-75 by September 1. The Pirates were 18.5 games back of the Milwaukee Brewers and the franchise headed to their 19th losing season in a row.  Without A.J. Burnett in the rotation to start the season because of a facial fracture, it is unlikely that the Pirates will repeat the 2011 magic. 

Every year in Major League Baseball there is a team (or two) that gets their fans excited and then fades in the dog days of summer.  Ordinarily, this occurs with young teams or teams where everyone starts off with a career year but peter out once they start playing teams for the second or third time.  Occasionally, these teams that surprise the baseball world keep it up through vernal equinox and end up making the postseason. 

Here are six teams that could start off well this year but will likely fade after the All-Star break.

Begin Slideshow

Boston Red Sox: 5 Realistic Offseason Moves the Sox Should Consider for 2012

Now that the drama involving a new manager has been solved for the Red Sox, General Manager Ben Cherington still has a lot of work to do.

While busy interviewing managerial candidates, the Red Sox witnessed their star closer, Jonathan Papelbon, skip town and sign with the Philadelphia Phillies.

It seemed as though during the press conference announcing Bobby Valentine as their new manager, another closing candidate was swept out from under them as Heath Bell signed a three year deal with the Miami Marlins.

To this point the Sox remain a fragmented team. They are only a few minor moves away from being ready to take the field in 2012. Here are five realistic offseason moves they should consider.

Begin Slideshow

MLB Trades: Michael Cuddyer on the Trading Block, but Should Phillies Jump In?

Earlier today, Minnesota Twins utilityman and long-time member Michael Cuddyer stated in an interview that he would be willing to waive his limited no-trade clause to go to another team, so as long as it “helps the organization (referring to the Twins).”

Cuddyer has been on the Twins his whole career, having been drafted by them with the ninth overall pick in the 1997 MLB draft. His professional career has spanned 10 seasons (seven in which he played over 100 games, including this one if all goes well). In that time, Cuddyer has posted a .271 average, hit 131 home runs and hit 537 RBI. His OPS is a decent .793.

While Mauer is now the face of the Twins, one cannot deny that Cuddyer comes in at a close second. He’s been with the team for 10 years, and he’s been very faithful and has loved his time there.

What shows this more is that he’s willing to take one for the team. He said in the interview (and I quote): “I care so much about this organization…I do…I care so deeply about this team, that if it helps the organization…” meaning that he’ll take a trade if it benefits the Twins. That says a lot about the guy, and I highly respect him for his loyalty to the Twins, especially in a time where they’re struggling within the division (although they’re climbing back now).

According to the MLBTradeRumors.com link (the first one), the Twins would understandably have to eat a significant portion of his $10.5 million salary this season in order to appeal him to other clubs. Cuddyer, thanks to his current contract, has a limited no-trade clause, and when I say limited, I mean limited. His clause counts for three teams that, if a deal arises with them, he must approve. Cuddyer said he can’t even remember all three of them, although he believes that the Oakland Athletics and Toronto Blue Jays are two of those three teams.

This means that Cuddyer can be traded to all other 26 teams in the majors.

Well, as I always say, why don’t the Phillies jump into the mix?

Cuddyer is 32 years old and is in the final year of his contract. While he would love to remain a member of the Twins, he’s willing to go to another team.

As I’ve also previously stated, the Twins would have to eat a significant portion of Cuddyer’s contract in order for most teams to take him.

If the Phillies traded someone…oh, I don’t know, Joe Blanton…to Minnesota, such monetary issues would not apply.

Here’s how it goes down: Blanton is due $17 million through 2012. However, this season, the Twins have the fifth-worst team ERA at 4.22. They’re also dead last in strikeouts with 383 and in innings pitched with 592.1 and are tied for fourth-worst batting average allowed, that standing at .263. Lastly, their K/9 and K/BB ratios are both second-to-last in the majors, those standing at 5.82 and 1.82, respectively.

In short, the Twins’ pitching staff is terrible.

And with constant trade rumors of Francisco Liriano being dealt at the deadline this year, the Twins might need another starting pitcher or two.

In this case, Joe Blanton might be their guy.

A Blanton-for-Cuddyer deal would ease up the Phillies’ salary issues and not only allow for a free-agent signing, but also for more room to extend lefty ace Cole Hamels.

But that’s not even the best part: the Phillies, who have been hunting for a right-handed bat this year, would get a great return. Cuddyer’s batting .282 this year with 10 home runs and 27 RBI. Even better is that he’s versatile: he’s played all infield positions except shortstop and both corner outfield positions this season alone. Imagine how he could impact the Phillies.

Another great stat is that Cuddyer has batted .291 against lefties this year. That could appeal to the Phillies as well, who, as a whole, have struggled to hit against southpaws.

The only problem with Blanton in such a scenario is that he’s currently on the DL and most likely won’t be back until July, which might be too long a wait for the Twins. But hey, who knows, Ruben is always able to at least bring such a deal into discussion.

While this is just trade speculation, I think a Blanton and prospect for Cuddyer deal could be one that neither side would regret in the long run.

What do you think?

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Minnesota Twins & Explaining Their Struggles: Is There a Cause for Concern?

Over the past nine years, the Minnesota Twins have dominated the American League Central. They have won six division titles in that span (seven if you count their tie for first in 2008), since Ron Gardenhire was named manager. Although they have not necessarily had the most talent, they play hard—and they scrap for every win possible.

Unfortunately, in that span, they have only six playoff victories. Four of them were in 2002 and their last playoff victory was in 2004. Regardless of their disappointments, the Twins have been resilient. They keep coming back for more. Their desperation for playoff victories is reminiscent of a child actor not named Neil Patrick Harris trying to hold on to Hollywood. No matter how hard they work, the big bad industry continues to shut them down.

Last year, however, they moved outside. With Target Field came a new swagger. They won 94 games and they looked poised to take down the Yankees. They had this new, beautiful stadium and they had home-field advantage over the Bronx Bombers. Unfortunately, the Yankees embarrassed the Twins, coming from behind twice at Target Field, then dismantling them at Yankee Stadium.

This year, though, was going to be the Twins year. Still, they are off to terrible start. They have lost each of their first three series—and they are sitting in last place in a division they have won six times. So, there are two main questions the Twins must answer. What is the cause for their poor start? Also, is there a legitimate cause for concern in the Twin Cities?

The Twins take pride in doing the little things right. Clutch hitting, good pitching and solid fielding will win you baseball games. Nevertheless, the Twins have been completely unable to do two of those things.

The hitting has been terrible.

Slumps happen. To have a collective batting average of .214, however, is an embarrassment to the game of baseball.

In hitter’s counts (3-1, 2-0), the team is a combined 2-19. Tsuyoshi Nishiokia and Delmon Young singles shouldn’t be all hitter’s counts accumulate to. The team is relatively patient, but when they do get ahead, they need to capitalize on it. Until they start getting hits when they are ahead in counts, the hitting woes will continue.

When teams struggle, they need their veterans to carry them through. Michael Cuddyer, Justin Morneau and Young have a combined four extra base hits. Four. Not each. Four total. That can’t happen for guys that are staples in the middle of the order. Jason Kubel and Jim Thome have played relatively well, but without the other three producing, the Twins will be in for a long, unsuccessful summer.

Sometimes, slumps can be overcome. Doesn’t good pitching out-do good hitting anyway? Well, the Twins have been unable to pitch well either.

Outside of Nick Blackburn, who has been lights out, the Twins pitching staff is in shambles. Every other starter’s ERA is over five. Francisco Liriano can’t throw a strike (eight walks in 9.1 innings)), Carl Pavano can barely keep the ball in the park (three home runs in 12 innings) and Scott Baker has been pretty brutal on both accounts (six walks and four home runs in 11 innings). When three of your starters consistently give up runs, it doesn’t matter how the team is hitting.

The bullpen has been a little brighter, but it hasn’t been that much better.

Although Jose Mijares and Joe Nathan have pitched well—and the rest of the crew has been slightly promising. Even though Jeff Manship and Dusty Hughes have been shelled, Kevin Slowey and Matt Capps have been decent.

If the pitching, especially the starters, doesn’t improve, it won’t matter how well the Twins hit; they will continue to lose games.

Another problem for the Twins is their inability to win on the road (and against certain opponents). They have a 114-130 record away from home in the last three seasons (including the playoff against the White Sox). Even though they’ve been tremendous at the Metrodome and Target Field, they need to start winning on the road to be considered a legitimate contender. Last year, they took a step in the right direction and finished above .500 (41-40), but they have returned to their losing ways on the road (2-4).

Regardless of winning or losing on the road, the Twins can’t beat the Yankees. They have only won six games in their last 26 chances and the Yankees seem bored with defeating them. The Twins had an impressive comeback win over the Bombers last Tuesday, but they followed that up by blowing an early lead on Thursday. Every time they take a step forward, they seem to take two steps back. Until they beat the Yankees, the Twins will struggle making it to the World Series.

So, is there reason to panic? No, not yet. While the early-season struggles could turn into problems, right now, the Twins have nothing to seriously worry about. They are a veteran squad that knows how to win. Gardenhire is a proven winner (in the regular season, at least) and he will right this ship by the end of the month (especially with the easy schedule they have upcoming).

Obviously, no panic should be pressed in April, but the Twins need to be aware of their issues, and they need to take the appropriate steps to correct it.

Cuddyer, Morneau and Young need to get their swing back and the offense will start working again.

Liriano and Pavano need to start throwing strikes and the pitching will start to look better.

If they figure these things out, then maybe (just maybe!), the Twins will put themselves in position to face the Yankees in the playoffs. And maybe, after all these tribulations, they will conquer the Evil Empire once and for all.

Then again, we probably shouldn’t get too far ahead of ourselves.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Copyright © 1996-2010 Kuzul. All rights reserved.
iDream theme by Templates Next | Powered by WordPress