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Article: Twins Hangouts, August 19: Episode 38

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Hughes' Season

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The Only Prescription is Less Kubel

Attached Image: Kubel_Jason_Thinking_US_720.jpg "I've got a fever and the only prescription is less Kubel."

Those words don't taste good coming out of my mouth. I consider myself a Jason Kubel fan. I've liked Kubel since he was a budding prospect in the Twins minor league system. He was supposed to be one of the left-handed power bats to join Joe Mauer in the middle of the batting order. A devastating knee injury kept those dreams from becoming reality and it's looking more like his time is over in Minnesota.

Things haven't been very good for Kubel this season. He is batting.238/.329/.313 on the year with eight extra-base hits. Those numbers might not seem horrendous but most of his good hitting came at the beginning of the season. According to FanGraphs' version of WAR, Kubel has been the second worst left fielder in the American League this season.

Since the calendar turned to May, Kubel has looked like a shell of his former self. He has no extra-base hits this month and his slash line has dropped to .179/.295/.179 with 27 strikeouts. That's right, his batting average and slugging percentage match and that's not a good thing. It's tough to stomach Kubel being in the line-up as a corner outfielder with little defensive value. The value Kubel provided in the past was from his offensive power. With his power gone, what value does he provide?

Corner Outfield Crunch
When Oswaldo Arcia and Josh Willingham were recovering from injuries, it made sense to have someone like Kubel around for some outfield depth. Arcia is swinging a hot bat and he looks to be penciled into a corner outfield spot for the rest of the season. Willingham could be a trade candidate at the deadline so the Twins need him on the field as much as possible. There also might be more left in Willingham's tank compared to Kubel. Hopefully both Arcia and Willingham will be healthy for the rest of the year.

Pinto Needs to Play
Fitting Kubel into the line-up means that Josmil Pinto has been pushed to the bench. Pinto needs to be in the line-up on a more regular basis for a variety of reasons. First of all, he is one of the best offensive players on the roster and the Twins are struggling to score runs. Just because Ron Gardenhire is scared about having both catchers in the line-up on a given night doesn't mean he should shy away from using Pinto. Secondly,the team should be committed to him as the catcher of the future and that isn't going to happen with him on the bench while the team isn't scoring runs.

Other Outfield Options
While Chris Parmelee and Chris Colabello have gone through some struggles in the last two seasons, it would be nice for the Twins to continue to give each of them opportunities. Parmelee is barely 26-years old and he has shown the ability to produce at Triple-A. Colabello was the International League MVP a season ago and he produced some monster numbers in the first month of this year. There might be ups and downs with these two but they seem like more viable options than a depleted Kubel.

Kubel was part of many special moments in Minnesota, but my fever is hot and it's time for the Kubel to stop ringing.


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