Technically, Saturday's game marked the halfway point in the Twins season. So forgive me if I continually use the halfway term. But as the Twins stand right now they are 44-38 and tied atop the AL Central with Detroit. They are on pace for an 88-74 record, and that will simply not cut it. The Twins have been plagued by inconsistent starting pitching, bad hitting in clutch spots, and very questionable managerial moves. They have shown they are not a contender yet as series vs the Yankees, Rays, Red Sox, and Braves have brought out the absolute worst in the ballclub. Lets all hope they can pull it together and make a great second half run.
TWINS MVP: Delmon Young-This may be shocking, but Young has kept the Twins afloat in the past month with his hot hitting and timely defense. Right now he holds a .298 average with 9 home runs and 55 runs batted in (tied for team lead). All of this while hitting in the 7 or 8 slot in the order. Delmon has been a slow starter in past seasons, but this year he showed up in better shape (30 pounds lighter) and has a much better attitude at the plate. Hopefully at some point Ron Gardenhire will move him up in the batting order while his hot streak continues. Look for Young to finish the season with 20 home runs and 100 RBI.
TWINS CY YOUNG: Carl Pavano-Pavano has been exactly what the Twins have needed from at least one of their starters this past month, a innings eater and their best pitcher. He leads the team in innings pitched (111.2), wins (9), and starters ERA (3.30). And not forgetting that his WHIP (1.05) is 5th best in all of Major League Baseball. Pavano has definitely shown he can still pitch in this league and has been worth every cent the Twins have paid him this season. He should finish with a record around 17-12 and a 3.50 ERA and should once again show that veteran poise down the stretch and hopefully into the postseason.
TEAM NEEDS: SP, RP-The bullpen took a beating this past weekend from Tampa Bay, but I still feel they need to bring in some new arms whether thats from outside or within the organization. Kyle Waldrop has been lights out at AAA Rochester with a 3-1 record and a 1.00 ERA in 36 games pitched. Anthony Slama has been equally impressive posting 16 saves with a 1.33 ERA in 38 appearances for the Wings. Should the Twins decide to go outside the organization for a bullpen arm, the logical choices would be Brandon League (SEA) or Minnesota Native Michael Wuertz (OAK). But the Twins most pressing need right now is a starting pitcher, more importantly, a staff ace. The Twins have been rumored to be one of the teams trying to acquire lefty Cliff Lee from Seattle. But the word from around the Twins is that they feel they can win with the staff they have. Wrong. Nick Blackburn and Kevin Slowey have been atrocious on the mound in the past month, and Scott Baker has been shaky as well. And with the way these playoff teams have fared against the Twins pitching, it's quite clear they need a starter. If they can't land Lee, they could try Roy Oswalt (HOU) or take a gamble on Dan Haren (ARZ). Oswalt has never pitched in the American League and Haren has been very shaky this season, but has pitched in the AL before. The Twins have a valuable chip in Wilson Ramos to acquire one of those pitchers. And they also have great depth in their farm system without crippling it to make a deal like this. But do I see them making a deal like this...no. But we will have to see.
HOW IT ENDS: Twins don't acquire a SP; win Central; lose in ALDS-The front office brings in a reliever before the July 31st trade deadline, but don't acquire a starter. The staff pulls it together enough to overcome the Tigers and White Sox to win the Central in 162 games. But they run into their foes from the east, the Yankees, and again go one and done in the postseason, losing the series 3 games to 1. That's how I see it ending, but lets hope for a different one.