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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.