Being that we haven’t played the Twins in ages, perhaps it would be a good idea to get a pulse of how the folks up in the greater Minneapolis area are feeling about their boys these days. I took some time to speak with Nate Gilmore of Puckett’s Pond to find out if everybody’s keeping it together in the Twin Cities while the organization figures things out.
MA: Joe Mauer has come down quite a bit since his MVP year, though he’s still producing at a good clip. Are fans there at all frustrated that he’s been unable to repeat that sort of performance, or hit pretty much any homeruns the last couple years?
NG: Frustrated might be a mild word for it. Some fans are about two Mauer GIDPs away from starting a full-scale riot. I have argued before that Mauer does not deserve the amount of booing he has received this year because there are so many Twins players who have been far worse. But I do understand why many are angry with him. When he signed a $184 million contract, he essentially agreed to become the symbol of this franchise. Thus, when the Twins are losing, Mauer gets the blame.
MA: So, Scott Diamond. Are we looking at a fluky start here or is this guy going to be a bright spot in the rotation?
NG: I’m going to withhold judgement on Diamond for at least two months or so. His first three starts have been great this year, and they look even better when you compare them to the pitiful performances all the other Twins’ starters have given (I have started referring to him as the Twins’ “ace,” but that’s more of a sarcastic putdown of the other pitchers than it is praise for Diamond). But the way everything else has turned to ashes for the Twins lately, I wouldn’t be surprised if it turns out to be a fluke. That said, if you ignore 2011, Diamond’s minor league track record suggests that he could become a decent third or fourth starter someday. I hope that turns out to be true.
MA: Winning ways seemed to come to a halt so quickly in Minnesota, do you think the team will have to struggle for any longer than this season (I apologize for being presumptuous about this season) or will one solid off-season be enough to right the ship?
NG: The Twins have the worst record in MLB a quarter of the way through the 2012 season, so you’re not being presumptuous by saying they’re struggling this season. That’s just a fact. As for the long term, I think the Twins can rebuild, but it will probably take at least a couple years even on an optimistic timeline. As bad as the starting pitching is, there is very little help in the minor league system other than Kyle Gibson, who should return from Tommy John surgery later this year. So the Twins will need at least two or three seasons to acquire and develop some decent pitchers. But watch out in 2015, because the Twins are going to win it all!