Tag Archives: Minnesota Twins

2010 MLB Predictions: Midseason Review

Back in March, I made my 2010 MLB season predictions. You didn’t think I was just going to forget about that, did you? As you’ll soon find out, I’m not here to brag; just hold myself accountable. With the All Star break upon us, it’s a good time to revisit my picks.

American League
The Yankees have the best record in baseball and sit atop the East, with Tampa Bay and Boston right behind. Toronto is playing .500 ball, which is slightly better than what I imaged. Baltimore, on the other hand, has the worst record in baseball. I expected the Orioles to improve but they are a whopping 27 games out of first.

So far, I was right about the tight race at the top of the Central. I am a little nervous, however, since my World Series champions, the Minnesota Twins, enter the break in third place, 3.5 games out.

I said Texas was a year away from seriously contending, but it looks like I was wrong. The Rangers lead the West with 50 wins and just added Cliff Lee from Seattle. Speaking of the Mariners: uh, yeah, about that. I thought the combo of Lee and Felix Hernandez at the top of the rotation would be enough for a playoff berth. And it may well have been, if Seattle had any offense at all (the Mariners have scored the fewest runs in the AL).

National League
I hate to say it, but I still think Philadelphia can win the East. The Phils are in third but only 4.5 games back. I’m not ready to give this division to the Braves. The team I know best, the Mets, is in second, which is where I picked them.

I liked the Reds before the season started and I wish I had had the guts to put them in second. They enter the break in first, a game ahead of the Cardinals. I still think the Cards will win the Central, as their pitching is a lot better than Cincinnati’s. The gap between second and third is bigger in this division than in any other, with the Brewers 7.5 games behind St. Louis.

Much like in the AL, I didn’t exactly nail my Wild Card pick in this league either. The top four teams in the West are separated by only four games, but my WC pick, the Diamondbacks, are 34-55 and 17.5 games back. In my defense, I thought Brandon Webb would be back a lot sooner. If you had told me Webb wouldn’t pitch until August at the earliest and Aaron Heilman would be the team’s closer by June, I just may have picked this team to finish last.

As is usually the case with preseason picks, midseason is too early to judge them. Only one of my division champ selections is currently in first (Yankees) but none are more than 4.5 games back. I’ll revisit my picks again in November after the Twins have just won the World Series in their new outdoor stadium. In Minnesota. In November.

Minnesota Twins vs. New York Mets: A Fan Perspective

Tuesday night, in what could have been the last game in the Metrodome, the Minnesota Twins fell behind the Detroit Tigers 3-0. They came back. They fell behind in extra innings and came back again before scoring in the 12th to win.

I watched the game on television, but I had already seen a different version of it in person. The Mets, needing a win on the final game of the regular season last year — the final at Shea Stadium — to force a one-game playoff, lost at home. It was the second straight year my beloved Mets were in that situation and lost.

So if I said I wish I were a Minnesota Twins fan, could you blame me?

The Mets, who, despite their 145 million-dollar payroll, the second-highest in baseball, haven’t made the playoffs the last three years and only once since 2000. The Twins are a playoff team this year, their fifth postseason trip this millennium, in spite of their 67 million-dollar payroll, the eighth lowest.

Ron Gardenhire, Minnesota’s manager, has held the position since 2002. I don’t watch Twins games regularly, but in my opinion, he’s one of the best, if not the best, skipper in baseball. He’s come in second in Manager of the Year voting four times and it would be hard to argue that anyone does more with less. I can’t speak personally on his in-game strategy, but to be as successful as his teams have, he’s got to be doing something right.

During Gardenhire’s tenure, the Mets have had four different managers. The only one who could hold a candle to Gardenhire is Bobby Valentine, who took an overachieving bunch to the World Series in 2000. Jerry Manuel, New York’s current skipper, showed promise taking over for Willie Randolph last season, but still couldn’t stop a late season slide. This year, he didn’t bother enforcing fundamentals.

The Twins and Mets differ on the field as well. David Wright, the face of the Mets franchise, is a great player and role model. I could mention some of his disappointing offensive numbers this year to try and expose him as overrated, but I can’t do it. He is an All-Star , no question about it, and has a great attitude.

Outside of him though, it’s hard to find a generally likeable everyday player. Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes don’t fit the bill after they spent most of 2009 on the disabled list with mystery injuries. (Which reminds of yet another difference between the Mets and the Twins: the medical staff. From the clubhouse trainers all the way up to the surgeons, the Mets have a joke of a staff. I know nothing about the Twins staff but I still know it’s exponentially better than the Mets’.)

Along with Wright, the only player living up to the big expectations is Johan Santana. He’s tough, ultra-competitive, fearless — everything you could ask for in an ace. Of course, he pitched for Minnesota for the first eight years of his career before coming to New York in 2008.

The Twins, at least from an outsider’s perspective, have highly likeable stars — guys like Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau. Mauer is an in-state product and a front-runner for the MVP this year. Morneau has already won the award, but you’d never know it. Both have been with the Twins their entire careers.

Listen, I know some of these characteristics I’ve described are inherent differences between big market and small market teams; but not all of them. There is no reason why the Mets can’t have a competent medical staff, for example. There is no reason why their highest-paid players can’t perform like the stars they supposedly are. There is no reason why the Twins could overcome a seven-game September deficit while the Mets blew the same type of lead in 2007.

The fact remains, of course, that I don’t really wish I were a Twins fan; I’m just jealous. I will be a Mets fan for life, which is why I hope they can adopt some of the qualities — heart, fire, sensibility — that make the Twins such a success.