Tuesday, September 15, 2009
It's hard to believe, but the Twins are still somehow hanging around the AL Central race. They finished off a sweep of Cleveland earlier today and, coupled with a couple of Detroit losses to Kansas City, find themselves 4.5 games back with 16 games remaining. They have an off day on Thursday before the Tigers come to the Metrodome for a three game series. Calling this the most important series of the season isn't hyperbole: if the Twins fail to sweep the Tigers, they're done. A series win simply isn't enough with so few games remaining. Honestly, I don't know if they can pull it off. The Twins haven't won seven games in a row since June of last year, so I wouldn't count on them to do it now.
Obviously, the Twins will have to try to win the Central without Justin Morneau. Here are some perspectives on his season-ending injury:
Twinkie Town has everything you ever needed to know about stress fractures of the L5 vertebrae. It's even got diagrams! The good news is that Morny isn't going to need surgery and should be fine after about 3 months of rest.
Morneau and hitting coach Joe Vavra spoke with Joe Christensen of the Star Tribune about how the stress fracture in his back almost certainly contributed to his late-season slump. Of course, late season-slumps aren't anything new for Morneau, though he claims he's dealt with some sort of lower back pain the last three years. Which begs the question: if Morny is hurting, and if he therefore isn't very productive at the plate, then why is he still in the lineup almost every day? I'm not saying he needs to go on the DL with a few aches and pains, but an extra day off or two probably wouldn't hurt. Especially since he isn't really helping the team when he's in the midst of a slump.
Twins Fix presents Justin Morneau and the Ewing Theory. Maybe this is our year after all.
For his part, Cuddyer has filled in quite competently at first base. He's putting up first baseman-like numbers since taking over for Morneau, batting .328/.358/.688 with an OPS of 1.046 in 16 starts at first. Yeah, I know, it's a small sample size, but it's still much better than what the Twins were getting out of Morneau for the past month or so.
And can't every day be Fire Joe Morgan day at Deadspin? Especially after this gem (this one was pretty good, too). At least make it a weekly feature. Please?