Sunday, May 21, 2006

Kyle Lohse Fought the Law and the Law Won

Now that it is generally known that Minnesota SP Kyle Lohse was caught criticizing the Twins defense before he was punished by being sent packing to AAA Rochester, it becomes clear that Lohse has tested the limits of manager Ron Gardenhire's unwritten law against clubhouse backbiting. Gardenhire will tolerate infielders failing to stretch for grounders, routine balls making it into outfield, muffed catches, throwing errors and just about anything else except one thing: telling the truth about how poor they are playing. Oh, sure, Lohse, 27, is minding his P's and Q's now, having won his first game as the Red Wings only $4 million a year pitcher. But even after throwing 69 of his 112 pitches for strikes, walking one and striking out four in the outing, it may be too little too late. In fact, who is to say Lohse's victory shouldn't be credited to a crack minor league defense behind him, now that he has escaped Minneapolis? The Twins infield, long the foundation of the franchise, has no infielders ranked in the top 25, and is accountable not only for the collapse of Lohse, but the failure of highly regarded innings eater Carlos Silva. Silva, who won 14 games only two years ago, was demoted to the bullpen when he could no longer depend on double plays being turned behind him, and became a little too skittish in his delivery. Ironically, Lohse and Silva may never make it back to the rotation now that strikout pitchers Francisco Liriano and Boof Bonser have replaced them. Liriano and Bonser don't depend as much on defense as Lohse and Silva, Liriano having given up only two hits and a run while whiffing five in five innings in his last start, and Bonser having struck out eight while allowing just one run in six innings in his.