On the same Wednesday morning T.J. Simers makes the bold proclamation the Dodgers’ Ned Coletti is baseball’s best general manager (you’ll get no argument from Andruw Jones’ agent), the Star’s Richard Griffin compares the visiting Twins to the host Blue Jays. The supposed secret to Minnesota’s econo-success? Bunting.
Forced on a 15-day road trip by the Republican convention, these Twins, on Day 13, were not too tired yesterday to practise the lost art of bunting; first towards third, then towards first, always with the intention of beating it out for a hit. Just another day at the office.
“We do that every day at home and whenever we get the field early on the road,” Twins coach Jerry White shrugged when asked if this was the exception or the rule. “It’s the little things we need to do to win.”
Not that the Jays never hit early or seek the extra work. They do. But whenever the Jays hit early it seems about swinging the bat and finding a stroke. The Twins aren’t claiming that they are the only team to work hard on small-ball, but if you go to Fort Myers during spring training, you can walk out to one of the satellite diamonds on game days and find at least one veteran working on fundamentals.
The Twins need it to compete. Take yesterday, when they knocked David Purcey out after three innings by being relentless in executing fundamentals. In the fourth inning, Nick Punto singled and stole second, scoring on a single to centre by Denard Span who took second when Vernon Wells overthrew the cutoff man. That was it for Purcey. Span stole third and scored on a sac fly by Joe Mauer. Two runs on two lousy singles.
In a broader comparison, from 2002-08, the Twins have won 611 games on a total budget of $398 million “ an average of $651,000 per victory. The Jays over that same time have won 552 games, while spending $476 million “ an average of $862,000 per win. Since 2002, the Twins have won four division titles. Yeah, yeah, we know, the Central is not the East.
Indeed, the Twins aren’t playing 60 games a year against the Red Sox, Yankees or Rays. Appropriately enough, Griffin notes the Twins are in the thick of the AL Central race despite having dealt Johan Santana to the Mets last spring. Conversely, the Jays held onto A.J. Burnett at the trade deadline and have little to look forward to this month besides a 4th place finish.