IIATMS: The Twins finished tied for 12th in the AL in SB and the Yankees catching duo of Posada/Cervelli isn’t particularly good at stopping basestealers. Do you see the Twins changing their philosophy for this ALDS?
NTB: Not really. One thing that differentiates this Twins team from others we’ve seen during the Ron Gardenhire era is a team-wide lack of footspeed. Outside of Denard Span (whose tendency to get picked off could become an issue with someone like Pettitte on the mound), there’s no one on this roster who could be labeled a true base-stealing threat.
IIATMS: When you close your eyes, do you really believe that Carl Pavano will be a shutdown guy in the post season, or will he be the guy that, as you noted, “The same Pavano who was knocked around for seven runs on 11 hits over four innings in Detroit last weekend. Another guy with a history of arm problems, Pavano is at 214 innings this year entering tonight’s start. He’s given up 19 hits over nine innings in his last two turns.”
NTB: I don’t have any major illusions when it comes to Pavano. His true ability is much more likely reflected by his 3.96 ERA and 1.39 WHIP after the break than by his 3.58 and 1.05 marks before. With that being said, he’s a steady, focused veteran with excellent command who doesn’t get rattled and he proved his mettle with a fantastic outing against the Yankees in Game 3 of last year’s ALDS.
IIATMS: Why should Yankee fans be worried about the Twins? After all, the team couldn’t get past the Yanks with Santana, then with Mauer and Morneau last year. What’s going to scare me?
NTB: This is a very different Twins team than people are probably used to seeing. As you note, it lacks some of the star power of past versions, but it also lacks the gaping holes. You’ll find no Nick Punto, Matt Tolbert or Brendan Harris in the starting lineup this year. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if we don’t see Gardenhire use a pinch-hitter once in the entire series. While the quality of their pitching hasn’t always dazzled, the Twins have lost in the playoffs because they’ve failed to score enough runs, plain and simple. This year represents their best chance to buck that trend.
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