The huge discrepancy in home and road ERAs, posted earlier, really took me by surprise and made me dig a bit deeper. I have been suggesting (screaming actually) that the numbers indicate that problem with this team this year is pitching, esp starting pitching and not batting. All the trade talk about adding 'better' bats and the talk about players like Lamb, Monroe and Everett underachieving, and who should the utility player be, in order for the Twins to win, are really moot points. I even wrote the following in Joe C's blog:
This team can and should contend. Starting pitching has been a problem and the most serious problem in this team. Having discussions about whether one of Punto/Tolbert/Macri/Harris should play, is somewhat atopic, because either way the way the team has been performing this year, it would not make a difference. Looking at the bench vs. starting pitching is like looking at someone with a heart failure, and trying to give him/her a pedicure before resuscitating him/her… (extreme hyperbole, but I’m trying to make a point… That’s why I think that Gardy messing around with the line up is like an old lady at the checkout counter arguing whether she was shorted 3 cents, while someone is pickpocketing her purse…)
I think that the previous analysis showed that the root cause of the pitching problems is bad road pitching. What is the root cause of bad road pitching?
The players are the same, their stuff is the same at home and on the road. Just the preparation is different and this, as I said before, falls on the manager, the pitching coach and the travel staff. The team should look more serious into this big problem that is costing 2 runs for every away game.
I'll come back to the last point later, but here are the numbers for the major leagues this year, making sure that there is not a league-wide aberration
MLB 2008: Home ERA 3.89, Road ERA 4.48
AL 2008: Home ERA 3.81, Road ERA 4.45
NL 2008: Home ERA 3.96, Road ERA 4.52
and here are the historic numbers for the Twins
2008: Home ERA 3.32, Road ERA 5.69
2007: Home ERA 3.84, Road ERA 4.54
2006: Home ERA 3.40, Road ERA 4.54
2005: Home ERA 3.62, Road ERA 3.83
2004: Home ERA 3.89, Road ERA 4.20
2003: Home ERA 4.50, Road ERA 4.31
2002: Home ERA 3.76, Road ERA 4.52
2001: Home ERA 4.47, Road ERA 4.56
2000: Home ERA 5.18, Road ERA 5.13
1999: Home ERA 5.08, Road ERA 4.97
1998: Home ERA 4.52, Road ERA 5.00
1997: Home ERA 4.94, Road ERA 5.10
1996: Home ERA 5.38, Road ERA 5.22
1995: Home ERA 5.74, Road ERA 5.81
1994: Home ERA 5.26, Road ERA 6.17
1993: Home ERA 4.73, Road ERA 4.73
1992: Home ERA 3.68, Road ERA 3.76
1991: Home ERA 3.90, Road ERA 3.48
1990: Home ERA 4.24, Road ERA 4.03
Up until and including 2005, the Twins' splits were comparable with the league. Ron Gardenhire and Rick Anderson came to the team in 2002. Rick Stelmaszyk has been the bullpen coach all those years, so his presence probably has nothing to do with this. Did something change between 2005 and 2006? Where any changes made in the travel routine this year? The one thing that changed in 2006 was that this was the first year the majority of the Twins pitching staff had the Gardenhire/Anderson combination as their only Twins MLB coaching/manager combination. Arguable, a veteran pitcher that learned travel habits and preparation that work for him from other coaches, a change in coaching stuff and road preparation philosophy will be less affected than a younger pitcher who has seen nothing else in the Twins' organization. Could it really be just Gardy's and Ronnie's fault?
If the Twins followed the ML trend, their road ERA should have been 3.91. Instead it is 5.69. This is the equivalent of starting every road game down 2-0. Looking closely to the road games this year, if the manager and coaching stuff had the team prepared like every other ballclub in the majors this year, the following games would statistically have been wins:
Apr 15 @DET L 5-6
Apr 25 @TEX L 5-6
May 17 @COL L 2-3
Jun 10 @CLE L 0-1
And the club record would have been 44-32, 2.5 games ahead in Central and 0.5 game off the WC race.
The numbers clearly show that the issue with pitching is not personnel but preparation, managing and coaching. Is the management of the team aware of this issue? I would think that they have someone who analyzes the team performance and reports such obvious discrepancies. If the team straightens things out with the above problems, it would be the equivalent of adding 2 great pitchers in the rotation... If not, Gardenhire and his coaches should be held accountable, unless the management of this team would like to continue its pickpocketing at the rate of 2 runs a game.