Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Not A Start We Envisioned

Last night, the Twins were crushed 11-0 by the Baltimore Orioles. The Twins are off to a 6-11 start and currently reside in the cellar of the AL's Central division. They have yet to score more than 5 runs in a game, and their bullpen has been what was expected of it...not good. Many people are beginning to push the panic button. Something I refuse to do this early in the season, despite the signs that this team might just play like all other Minnesota sports this past winter (Meaning they will underperform and fail).

There is some good news with this slow start. The Twins will be done, for the most part, with the AL East. Its a big powerful division that, in years past, has feasted on Twins pitching. This year has been no exception. The Twins were just 15-18 against the AL East in 2010. The only team in that division that had a losing record against the Twins was the last place Orioles, a team that is much improved in 2011. After this month, the Twins only have one more East coast trip and that is to Boston in early May. They do have home series against Baltimore, Boston, New York, and Toronto remaining, but the Twins are a much different team at home compared to the road. So clearly the schedule is in the Twins favor going forward.

Here is some more reason for optimism: The Twins play in the AL Central. A division where Cleveland and Kansas City begin the day at the top. If someone were to look at the division, they would say it is in inverse order (Cleveland, Kansas City, Detroit, Chicago, Minnesota). Many have picked the latter three to contend in this division while the front two were nabbed as the cellar dwellers. It will be interesting to see how the Indians and Royals fare as the season goes along and the Tigers, Sox, and Twins begin to heat up. Trust me, these teams will not go down quietly. And with the lack of experience on the Indians and Royals, I still believe one of the bottom three will take the division.

Here's the bad news: The Twins offense has yet to appear. The Twins currently rank last in the majors in runs (50), walks (40), slugging percentage (.315), and home runs (5). Again, some of this is due in part to the team playing the AL East, but some of this is in part to key players missing a significant part of Spring Training. Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Michael Cuddyer, and Delmon Young missed half of Spring with various injuries. And Mauer, Morneau, and Young have/or are currently missing time with aliments during the past week. So the hope of them getting their timing down has to be put on hold. And not forgetting that 2B Tsuyoshi Nishioka has been out since the first week with a broken fibula, the manager has had to pencil some role players into starting jobs. So clearly there is a way to go for the offense.

So please, I urge you to keep the faith in this team. Yes, It wasn't supposed to start like this. But, they will get healthy, they will score some runs, and they will put up a fight before the year is over. Because these players are not used to losing.

No comments: