A few quick takeaway thoughts from Twins season opener:
1. Yes, the Twins lost. Yes, the offense looked anemic. It was also up against Chris Sale, an All-Star pitcher, pretty legitimate ace and Cy Young candidate.
The offense may and probably will be bad, but it’s hard to critique it too much for not getting to Sale.
2. I’m not too bent out of shape about Kurt Suzuki batting second.
Don’t get me wrong, Suzuki has absolutely no place batting second on a contending team. A .309 career OBP is all the proof you need of that. All that talk about having a No. 2 hitter who can handle the bat is pretty silly space-filler jargon that has long since been disproved.
However, the Twins aren’t a contender. Could it squeeze out a couple more wins by having Aaron Hicks in one of the top two spots in the lineup? Probably. But one of the most important parts of this season will be determining Hicks’ future with the team. If leaving him near the bottom of the order this season helps his development, by all means keep him down there.
3. The starting pitching will be better.
Ricky Nolasco was not good in the opener, giving up line drives every which way. He still *only* gave up five runs over six innings. Pretty rough, sure, but that’s about as bad as he’s going to look. Most of the lineups he will face will be better than the White Sox, but I think he’ll be around a 4.25 or so ERA which, while not being great, will be an improvement upon last year and help lengthen the staff.
4. Don’t put too much faith in Brian Dozier long term.
Dozier was considered a revelation last year, but only based on the fact the rest of the team around him was so awful.
In reality, he was a guy with a .244 average and .312 OBP. He did drive the ball well, hitting 33 doubles and 18 home runs. And that’s probably he’s ceiling.
Two years ago he looked lost in the field and as a baserunner. He’s only 26, so hopefully he will become a fixture. The Twins need him to be. But be careful counting on him to be a cornerstone guy because he outperformed the rest of the players in a mediocre lineup.
5. Joe Mauer should not be at first base.
This one is the most aggravating.
Giving Mauer time at first base made sense when he was still primarily a catcher to give him partial days off. But those days are over.
By all accounts, Mauer is a great athlete. Now that he is no longer catching, his value would have been better maximized playing at third base or a corner outfield spot, where he would have certainly been better defensively than what the Twins currently have. That would have left open a premium offensive position for a lineup that is in dire need of pop.
If the Twins deferred to Mauer what new position he wanted to play, that was a poor choice.
If the Twins chose it, it was even worse.