Monday, July 18, 2005

Chance the Gardener Likes to Watch

After his first 4-game series with the Twins, facing an AL West club he's well used to seeing, Bret Boone has 2 singles in 16 at-bats, no walks and 5 strikeouts, and 1 RBI. Gardenhire tapped him to bat 3rd in his debut, and slid him up to the 2-spot for the next few games.

Said Gardy after the game on Saturday: "He needs at-bats. He's still missing pitches we've seen him kill before. ... I just want to see him keep swinging." (AP)

Memo to the manager: Bret Boone in 289 at-bats/319 plate appearances this year is hitting .225/.292/.370. In his last 882 at-bats dating to the start of last season, he has a .243 avg and a .406 slg pct. He's been missing those pitches for quite some time now. How many more at-bats do you think he needs, batting 2nd or 3rd in your lineup?

Now, while Boone's performance of late has him immediately inserted in the top half of the lineup because "it couldn't hurt," Michael Cuddyer has already been benched and Jason Bartlett got sent to AAA for posting better OPS numbers than Boone has put up this season. I guess that's a veteran's privilege, isn't it?

Watching the game on Sunday, I heard Dick & Bert talking about Morneau's struggles of late, upon which Gardy has given his young slugger the same advice that worked so well for Michael Restovich: Let It Fly! Do what got you called up from the minors in the first place, and swing for the fences.

It may seem that much of Morneau's problem is that he's feeling too much of the pressure of the team needing him to supply home run sock, and he may be trying too hard to hit balls over the wall. When a kid like him is struggling with the strike zone, swinging hard at pitches he can't handle, is Gardy giving him good advice?

Bullpen coach Rick Stelmaszek told Souhan in the Strib: "He's pulling off the ball. He thinks those are pitches to hit. They're not. You can't hit what you can't see, and his head is going from one level to the next." Again, it sounds like a batter who's swinging too hard at pitches he can't handle, and he's pulling his head on the swing. He probably needs a coach who can help him quiet his mind and batting mechanics, and work on stroking some pitches to the opposite field--or take Coach Stelly's advice to "take the static out of the attic, and start hitting the ball up the middle."

Morneau seems to understand that on some level, as he told Souhan: "Usually what gets you going is that blooper or broken-bat single. That takes the weight off your shoulders and makes you realize you don't have to hit it hard every time to get a hit." But at the same time, he has a manager reminding him that he really doesn't care if he does anything but hit some more of those home runs....

Meanwhile, what is the hitting coach doing to help him or the rest of the chronically struggling offense? (Lineup motto: "Falling Short of Expectations Since... Well, Since Twins Fans Started Having Any Expectations Again") The manager admitted he has no clue of what to do when he told Souhan, "(Morneau) is really struggling. I'm not sure what to do right now." Then Gardy has also decided that Bret Boone's bat is still a weapon and Nick Punto deserves to play regular 3rd base more than Michael Cuddyer, while he's been telling reporters that Johan Santana and the rest of the pitching staff really miss Henry Blanco. This, despite evidence to the contrary on Boone, Cuddyer's superior batting production over Punto, and Joe Mauer's 3.85 CERA (the staff ERA while he's catching). The lineup's #11 league ranking in run production may indicate that the hitting coach has no answers to correct what's wrong with the team, either.

Does anyone in authority, besides the pitching coach and the guy in charge of babysitting the bullpen, have a clear idea of what he's doing right now?

I ask you.


At 7/18/2005 5:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And I ask you, frightwig, how can we do something about this horrible managing situation? I for one am a daily reader of most of the Ole Twinkies blog sites and am very sick of how management is taking care of all these issues. I say down with Gardy, seems to me he's the one who has got everyone into this mess anyway. After all, he was playing with TK's players all along. Now look what he is doing to some of his "own".
TK (Travis K)

At 7/18/2005 10:22 PM, Blogger TwinsJunkie said...

Another gem of an article. It was tough not to get excited when we acquired Boone, but now we're seeing what our rational mids have told us all along, he still sucks. I have no clue why, but at some point I believed what I heard about a pennant race rejuvinating him. Now I see the hogwash in it.

At 7/19/2005 7:04 AM, Blogger SBG said...

What has really got to me was that the hitting coach put some gag bifocal glasses in Morneau's locker, as reported by Souhan. That's coaching? I've never been a major league manager, but if I were handling this kid, I'd say nothing but positive things at this point to the media. Let the kid know that the team is behind him, at least publicly. Not this bunch of pinheads.

Meanwhile the manager says in the paper that he thinks that Rivas is still a major league caliber player and that he expected Rivas to anchor the infield! Oh, he's been an anchor all right. Logic, like Elvis, has left the building.

Then, I see players saying privately to Souhan that they thought it was disrespectful to demote Rivas. WTF? Meanwhile, Morneau and Mauer are being called out constantly. When is someone (Torii) going to say hey, the kids are all right? Up is down at 34 Kirby Puckett Place.

At 7/19/2005 10:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I ask you

I'm glad people are picking up on this mannerism. If Gardy had a blog, it would be called "I ask you".

At 7/19/2005 2:58 PM, Blogger frightwig said...

I also thought it was weird that some players would tell Souhan off the record that they felt Rivas' demotion was "disrespectful," but I guess it just goes to show that Rivas has some friends in the clubhouse. Some of those same guys may have felt excited that the club picked up a name like Bret Boone, too. Did they think it would be more fair to make room by sending down Luis Rodriguez, after he hit .307/.355/.455?

I am really unhappy with Gardy this year. Not so much because of the team's record, but because of the way he's handling his players and talking about them in the press. This is a big test for him, how he leads the team to the next stage beyond the core he inherited. At this point, he doesn't look like the right man for the job anymore.

At 7/22/2005 12:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

ahh... I wonder how much of what Gardy says is truthful, and how much is distraction filler for the media.

Seriously, I hear a lot of the same stuff repeated on WCCO, and in the Tribune by the crusty old reporters.

The best thing I heard was a "Sports Talk with Sid and Dave" on WCCO, and the questions were terrible. Sid actually sounded reasonable and dare I say, logical in his reasoning.

It's sad when I'd rather read Sid Hartman than Reusse.


At 10/03/2005 4:59 PM, Blogger Brother Roy said... ">arboretum

At 10/04/2005 6:12 PM, Blogger Brother Roy said... related stuff. Come and check it out if you get time :-)


Post a Comment

<< Home