The Minesota Twins have hit the four-week milestone and are above .500 at 11-10. Considering the pessimism going into the season, Twins Territory should be happy with the results. Some raw numbers: Run differential is -1. Team ERA is 3.92, the Twins have scored 88 runs despite only 14 homers and a league-worst slugging percentage. They are 5-2 in one-run games and have allowed only 11 homers, second best in the AL. Many of these stats can't be sustained - they will allow more homers and win fewer close games - but the team is improved.
The Twins also haven't gotten much from several players - Aaron Hicks is off to a historically bad start to a career. Justin Morneau, Trevor Plouffe, Ryan Doumit, and Chris Parmelee (normally the fourth through the seventh spot hitters) have combined for only 4 homers and 24 RBI in 294 plate appearances. Pitchers Vance Worley and Scott Pelfrey have been much more bad than good in their starting turns. Eduardo Escobar and Kevin Correia have far exceeded expectations, but they are really the only ones who are performing better than one might have expected.
The defense has been inconsistent, highlighted by shortstop Pedro Florimon. However, there have been many highlight defensive plays as well. Two players in new positions - Parmelee and Dozier - have been good fits in their new spots.
I think the club is still a ways away from truly contending. The top end of the rotation is suspect, the hitting is inconsistent, and these have combined to put pressure on a pretty good bullpen. The upcoming road trip, with series against the Tigers, Indians and Red Sox, will probably tell a lot about the present for the Twins.
In looking at minor league performance and players returning from injury, it appears that the back end of the rotation has many candidates for few spots. Current #4 starter, Pelfrey, hasn't had a quality start and has had two lousy outings and two okay starts, having not gotten past the sixth inning. Pedro Hernandez, the nominal #5, pitched only 5 innings today, but was effective. There are no fewer than four candidates - Kyle Gibson, Liam Hendriks, PJ Walters and Sam Deduno - for starting spots and at some point Rich Harden could also be considered for a spot. Add the two off-season trade acquisitions in AA (Alex Meyer and Trevor May) and that is quite a logjam of potential starters. In the bullpen, Tim Wood and Rafael Perez are nearing health with a full bullpen and 40-man roster. Tyler Roberton has also pitched well at Rochester, so there could soon be too many okay options for too few spots there.
In the outfield and at first base, the Twins have service time considerations with rookies Hicks and Oswlado Arcia. When Darin Mastroianni returns from the disabled list, one of those two might be sent down to Rochester. There is a chance that Parmelee could be sent down instead, but I think the Twins have seen enough of Parm raking at Rochester.
The outfield/first base decision could be complicated by somebody catching fire at Rochester. Colabello has been outstanding so far and onetime top prospect Joe Benson has put together a few good games. Another week in the minors would delay 21-year-old Arcia's free agency for another year. Hicks would need to be sent down for three weeks to delay free agency. As with most roster decisions, it probably doesn't make any sense to decide until the Twins have to. Injuries and ineffectiveness usually help make the decision easier.