Minnesota Twins: Thoughts For a Rainy Day

Dan WadeSenior Analyst IApril 22, 2009

NEW YORK - APRIL 03:  Fans wait out the rain before the New York Yankees game against the Chicago Cubs at Yankee Stadium on April 3, 2009 in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

A rainy Boston evening gave the Twins' players an unintended night off and the Twins' fans a chance to catch their breath from two straight weeks worth of games.

It's worth noting that the following observations come after 14 games; it's a very small sample size, but patterns are beginning to emerge. Still, take everything you read (elsewhere as well as here) with a grain of salt.

  • Through 14 games, the Twins have used 14 different lineups. This shouldn't be all that surprising, since they are rotating five players through four positions (outfield and DH), have moved Justin Morneau to the third spot in the order, and have platooned Jose Morales and Mike Redmond at catcher.  Still, it will be nice to see some consistency once Joe Mauer gets back.
  • Also in the 14-in-14 category: The Twins have yet to win a game leading wire-to-wire. All seven of their wins have been comebacks, meaning they have trailed at some point in all 14 games.
  • If you've ever needed proof that spring training numbers are not indicative of future performance, take a gander at Denard Span. After going .190/.274/.560 in 84 spring ABs, Span has put up a line of .300/.397/.797 in his first 50 real at bats of the season.
  • After spending last season completely beholden to his offense, Glen Perkins has more or less worked without them. Last year, Perkins received the second best run support in baseball (minimum 140 innings), this season he has the third worst (minimum 20 innings pitch).
  • Speaking of Perkins, part of what has made him so effective this season is the emergence of his slider as an out pitch. Perkins told Seth Stohs he spent the offseason working on the slider instead of his curveball and it has helped him immensely. He's mixing pitches much better, throwing 17 percent sliders as his third pitch compared to just 7 percent curveballs last season. His fastball percentage is also down, which is keeping hitters off balance.
  • If Juan Morillo can be harnessed and turned into an effective late-inning power arm, the Twins will look like geniuses for passing on Juan Cruz and saving the draft picks he would have cost. If he can't, be prepared for a barrage of "The Twins are too cheap!" rants from the punditry.
  • With Jesse Crain's tendonitis, and question marks throughout the rest of the pen, Bill Smith may soon be forced to make a decision which will tell us a lot about his style as a GM. The Twins may choose to try to find relief help at the major league level, or they could call up one of their young closers. Rob Delaney, Anthony Slama, Tim Lahey, and Carlos Gutierrez are all viable options, but only Lahey has pitched above AA.
  • After getting hits in four of the Twins' first five games, Alexi Casilla has just two hits in the last seven games he's played. He's 2-for-24 since April 11th. He'll need to be more consistent, or Brendan Harris will take over his starting job sooner rather than later.
  • Joe Mauer has gotten back onto the field in Ft. Myers, which has given the Twins a definite time-table for his return. They hope to have him back on May 1; these games are as much about getting Mauer back to game speed as making sure he's healthy.
  • April is one of the Twins' toughest months of the season, and while their sweep of a reeling Angels squad may obscure how they've actually played, they've gone through a solid two weeks of games without their best player at .500 and are just one game behind the pack in the division. Assuming they don't belly flop over the next week-and-a-half, the Twins will be in as good of a position as they could have realistically hoped to be in when Joe Mauer returns.

Wednesday's series-in-a-day doubleheader could be a bit of a problem, especially if Scott Baker struggles again. The new look bullpen will be put to the test as pitchers who go in the first game are quite unlikely to see action in the second.

Juan Morillo and Jose Mijares won't be spared from the test, and, to be frank, I fully expect to see both used at some point tomorrow.

The Twins split the season series with the Red Sox last year, with the home team winning all but one of the eight games the team played. They lost two heartbreakers last year, but Manny Ramirez provided key hits in both games, so the Twins are certainly shedding no tears over his departure. 

The key for the Twins will be to get a minimum of six innings out of Scott Baker, and for both he and Game Two starter Francisco Liriano to keep the ball down and out of the stands.

Both teams are coming off sweeps in their last series, so it will be a battle of momentum all day long. Hopefully the Twins' bats got healthy enough off of Angels' pitching to carry over into Boston and Cleveland.