Twins, Jays, Yankees… Oh My!

4 Apr

also avaialable at www.SethSpeaks.net -

SethSpeaks.net Sunday Night Minnesota Twins Podcast – On last night’s show, I was joined by Corey Ettinger of AL Central in Focus to talk about the Twins/Blue Jays, the Twins/Yankees, the AL Central season-opening series and much more. We were joined by JJ Stankevitz, the White Sox blogger for BeerLeaguer.com for our Three Questions feature. Check out the 45 minute podcast and let us know what you think.

If someone had made $100,000 available to me if I chose how many games the Twins would win in their season opening series against the Blue Jays, I would have said One. Of course, I predicted a 6-2 loss on Opening Night, not a 13-3 loss. Ricky Romero is a left-hander in the same mold as CC Sabathia, Cliff Lee and some of the other great left-handers. I hadn’t realized the other left-hander, Brett Cecil, had won 15 games in 2010. From his minor league numbers, specifically his lack of strikeouts, I have never been high on Kyle Drabek. He was incredibly impressive on Saturday.

There was no doubt that the big swing Blue Jays would tee off on Carl Pavano. I had some question marks about how Francisco Liriano, but I was pretty certain that Nick Blackburn would be fine.

What I didn’t expect was a complete lack of energy from the Twins. They just did not seem to be into the games or ready for the games which is hard to imagine in a season-opening series. There were a lot of errors, throws to wrong places, forgetting how many outs there were, walks, balks and more. There were often strange decisions like Jason Kubel DHing for the Twins against lefties Romero and Cecil and sitting against the right-hander Drabek. It was at that time that having Luke Hughes may have made more sense. But Matt Tolbert does a decent job at shortstop (despite a weak arm), something Hughes likely wouldn’t do.

It wasn’t all bad for the Twins. They did get a win. Danny Valencia hit well, including being the first Twin to hit a home run. Denard Span’s home run in the top of the 9th was huge. Matt Capps took over that valuable Jesse Crain role from last year. He came into the most important situation, in the 7th inning, and got the Twins out of a tough situation. Despite some misplays and errors, there were also some really good defensive plays.

People want to ask, “Did we see anything in the three game series to indicate anything, positive or negative?” My answer is no. Some are worried about Nishioka’s defense because he had a couple of errors. That’s the last of my worries. Some are worried about Casilla, but that was a concern before and will continue to be a concern. The bullpen continues to have question marks. Glen Perkins has pitched well in his two outings, but are people less concerned about him now? For me, I won’t really worry about anything specific until at least May. Some don’t worry about it until June.

Now the Twins head to New York to take on the hated Yankees in a four game series. The Yankees altered their starting rotation so the Twins won’t get to face Freddy Garcia. The Twins will send Scott Baker, Brian Duensing, Carl Pavano and Francisco Liriano to the mound while the Yankees will counter with Ivan Nova, CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett and Phil Hughes.

I believed last October that the Twins were just as good as the Yankees and didn’t need to feel intimidated by them. That was before the three game sweep. In retrospect, it is just a horrible matchup for the Twins in that they were so left-handed with their offense that they had no chance against Sabathia and Pettitte. That is something that the Twins did not address at all in the offseason. Yes, Jim Thome came back, and he can Jason Kubel will add power from the DH spot. Justin Morneau is back. Joe Mauer and Denard Span. This team remains left-handed. That said, they also now have Delmon Young, Michael Cuddyer and Danny Valencia, and their little guys (Nishioka and Casilla) are both switch-hitters. So, maybe it’s not as bad as we think. Also, the Yankees now have just CC Sabathia as a left-handed starter. Maybe that helps the Twins.

That said, if a Twins fan is to honestly evaluate the Twins/Yankees matchup, the only spot where the Twins have a clear advantage is at catcher. They also have an advantage in left field, but Brett Gardner is very good as well, just in a very different way than Delmon Young. The Twins also would appear to have an advantage in starting pitching.

And no matter what happens in this series, some fans will make too much of it. I would like to see the Twins split, and I certainly think they can. If they do, it doesn’t mean a lot because there will still be 155 games after the series. In the same way, if the Twins are swept in the series, there will still be 155 games left.  

So, might as well just sit back and enjoy the Twins/Yankees series for what it is. A four-game series between two teams that will be vying for playoff berths. No need for overanalysis… Then again, that is what we do, right?

Please feel free to comment or ask any questions you may have.

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10 Responses to “Twins, Jays, Yankees… Oh My!”

  1. mike wants wins April 4, 2011 at 11:30 am #

    Too early to draw any conclusions, though those of us with concerns about certain things had our thoughts reinforced.

    • Seth April 4, 2011 at 1:06 pm #

      Absolutely… as much as we can’t make too much out of anything negative, we also can’t assume all will be turned around either.

  2. Ed Bast April 4, 2011 at 12:09 pm #

    Seth, glad I wasn’t the only one to notice the Twins’ absolute lack of energy or anything resembling emotion over the weekend. They picked up right where they left off in last year’s ALDS.

    But then again, when have you ever seen a Gardy team play with emotion? A couple late-regular-season games every now and then, but that’s about it. Leave it to the Twins to take in 13-3 and 6-1 losses with a smile.

    • Seth April 4, 2011 at 1:10 pm #

      I’m definitely not one who believes that players need to be crazy and show outrage. I would much rather they be smiling than yelling or overreacting. I actually am really good with smiling. As long as they don’t start overreacting, they’ll be fine.

      But again, just not being in the right place, and not concentrating. That’s crazy, and inexcusable… that’s not on the manager. These guys are professionsls. They can get themselves going.

      • mike wants wins April 4, 2011 at 1:47 pm #

        Agreed, I’ve never understood why fans get all annoyed when players are laughing in the dugout when they are losing. It’s a work/job environment, you can’t get all mad and angry and pissy when you are losing. I’ve never understood the anger at football players that are seen smiling when they are losing, or baseball players. I just don’t get what people expect out of these guys sometimes.

      • Ed Bast April 4, 2011 at 3:05 pm #

        Don’t get me wrong, I think the even-keeled approach works well in the regular season – it’s a slog, a terribly long season, 162 games, etc. Can’t let a game or two get you down. Gardy deserves credit for this. But as a fan it’s just baffling to me that on Opening Day the team can sleepwalk through an ass beating like it was the dog days of August and you’re on day 9 of a West Coast swing in brutal heat. Jeez, shouldn’t these guys be fired up to be playing ball again?

        It’s a meaningless observation, particularly after 3 games. Something just rubs me the wrong way, though, about teams that don’t seem to hate losing.

  3. Matt April 4, 2011 at 1:37 pm #

    Delmon Young is not even remotely close to an advantage over Brett Gardner. Gardner posted a 5 win season last year, and a 2 win season in 09. Delmon put up 2.1 WAR last year and -1.1 the year before. Delmon didn’t even hit better with a wOBA of .352 to Gardner’s .358.

    • mike wants wins April 4, 2011 at 1:46 pm #

      Agreed. People keep saying how good Delmon was, and he was just around league average, if I remember correctly.

  4. Jesse H April 4, 2011 at 4:01 pm #

    I strongly disagree with your remarks about the fact that we should not take the results of this series too seriously and that either way there are 155 games to play still. The Twins have been going under that assumption for Gardy;s tenure and it has failed them. It wasn’t a big deal last year that we went 2-4 against the Yankees in 2010 or 0-7 in 2009 becaue we have lots of other games to play, except for the fact we got swept 2 straight years from the playoffs. The Twins need to have a copy of the “EZ Pass” article pinned to the front of everyones locker and they need to play this serieswith a little chip on their shoulder.

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