Twins Were Missing More Than Just Cliff Lee

When a team loses playoff game after playoff game after playoff game, it’s pretty tough to point a finger at just one player or thing and say, “That is what went wrong.”

Cliff Lee
Cliff Lee is being Cliff Lee again in this postseason. Associated Press photo

The Minnesota Twins will take a 12-game postseason losing streak into the offseason. Team meetings will start taking place in the next week or so, as management discusses what needs to be done.

The Texas Rangers keep on playing. They eliminated the New York Yankees on Friday in the American League Championship Series to earn their first-ever trip to the World Series.

And by securing that World Series berth in Game 6 on Friday, the Rangers were able to save their ace Cliff Lee for Game 1 of the World Series, which will take place Wednesday in either San Francisco or Philadelphia. The Giants and Phillies play Game 6 of the National League Championship Series tonight, with San Fran leading 3 games to 2.

Lee has been his usual self in this postseason. The free agent-to-be is setting himself up to be the most coveted player on the market this offseason, with apologies to Carl Crawford. Lee has started three times in these playoffs, allowing one run in 16 innings to Tampa, then pitching eight shutout innings against the Yankees in Game 3 of the ALCS. His K-to-BB ratio in the postseason is an incredible 34-to-1 in 24 innings!

Because of this, I’ve seen and heard no shortage of Twins fans on Facebook or Twitter or, can you believe, through verbal communication, saying how great Lee would have looked in a Twins uniform. There’s no doubt he would have. There’s no doubt he wins Game 1 of the American League Division Series against the Yankees, a game that saw the Twins squander a three-run lead en route to a loss and an eventual three-game sweep at the hands of New York.

Lee’s presence would have made a huge difference. Maybe they should have paid the price, though I seem to remember at the time that the Twins were just a couple games above .500 when Texas acquired Lee from Seattle in a trade earlier this season.

I’m just not sure if Lee alone would have gotten the Twins to a World Series. The problems from this postseason and the ones before it go well beyond adding another starter, albeit a dominant one.

As I’ve stated before, the Twins have scored a total – a TOTAL! – of 20 runs in their last nine playoff games. To put that in perspective, the Rangers scored 18 runs in a two-game stretch against the Yankees in the ALCS.

I’ve also heard some say, “If Lee wins Game 1 against the Yankees, then the Twins will believe they can beat them.” I disagree with that.

First off, this is a big league team that consistently makes the playoffs. We’re talking about the Twins, not the Bad News Bears. If they don’t “believe” they can beat another team right now, there are some real problems there. These aren’t the little-engine-that-could Twins anymore. This team had a $100 million payroll this season.

Secondly, even if Lee’s presence gets them Game 1, you could argue that it would only mean the Twins believe they can beat the Yankees when Lee is pitching. When it’s Francisco Liriano or Brian Duensing starting, would they really have a different mentality?

The problem with that argument is you could argue until you’re blue in the face because you really don’t know what’s up with the Twins and their playoff woes. I’m just not sold that Lee’s inclusion alone would have been enough to change things.

1 Response

  1. Well done. It’s clear over the course of several recent seasons, the only team the Twins can’t handle is NY – playoffs AND regular season. Which begs the question, run some numbers of the Twins-NY regular season games and compare them to the playoff figures of this matchup. That’d be good stuff.

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