The early reports are in on the 2012 Minnesota Twins and to say it has been ugly would be to understate the situation.
Sure, the action on the field has been bad. Very bad. And while baseball is a 162 game marathon of a season, coming off of a 99-loss campaign, the only real thing that Twins fans had to cling to was the hope that the same corps of players would be better this year.
That hasn’t been the case. The starting pitching has ben bad: Carl Pavano’s line was OK, going seven innings and allowing four runs. But he put a team with offensive issues in a 2-0 hole in the first. Francisco Liriano started well, but as has too often been the case, let a couple of mistakes snowball and couldn’t get deep into the game. Liam Hendriks had to be scratched with food poisoning, but he’s far from ready to be a third starter. For Nick Blackburn, see Liriano.
Given the team’s offensive issues, the rotation needs to not only be competent, but to excel.
The bullpen hasn’t had a chance to protect any leads, so it remains a question mark.
The offense has been even worse than last year.
The lone bright spots have probably been Justin Morneau and Josh Willingham. Morneau has put some solid swings together and hopefully can continue to improve in the DH role. Willingham has hit a couple of homers which is good, because his defense is reminiscent of Delmon Young.
But even though the Twins have looked very bad and have inspired zero confidence that they can compete for a playoff spot this year, the most troubling thing is that there doesn’t appear to be any semblance of a plan to right the ship.
Signing Willingham for three years and $21 million? A pretty reasonable deal for a team needing a final piece, but not a great middle of the order option. But Ben Revere has nothing left to prove in the minors and could have been used instead, or at least until Joe Benson is ready.
Jamey Carroll for two years and about $6.5 million? Watching a fundamentally sound shortstop is nice, but you might as well see if Nishioka has any untapped potential or go with someone like Brian Dozier, or move Alexi Casilla to short and stick Luke Hughes in at second.
Given the brutal April schedule the Twins have in front of them, here’s hoping they can keep it together and be relevant as the weather heats up.