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  • Offense a Secondary Concern

    I wasn't in attendance at Monday's home opener, but by all accounts Target Field was mostly lifeless during a 5-1 snoozer that dropped the home team to 0-4 on the season. Through four games, the Twins have scored six runs and haven't held a lead at any point.

    The brutal start is making it tough for fans to generate any kind of enthusiasm following a 99-loss campaign in which this type of dreadful play was all too common. It's easy to overreact in situations such as this – consider that four games is but 1/40th of the total schedule and the Twins could conceivably be back at .500 by the end of the week – but no one should be blamed for feeling a sense of alarm.

    After all, the Twins have been soundly defeated four straight times and we haven't even seen any of their true weaknesses tested.

    We haven't seen Carl Pavano offer his mid-80s arsenal to a high-powered lineup. We haven't seen this patchwork bullpen try to protect a slim lead. We haven't seen these fielders forced to make tough, heady plays with a game on the line.

    The offense, widely considered the club's strongest unit entering the season, has been abysmal through these first four games, preventing the Twins from even having a chance to compete. The good news is that it's not going to last. Eventually the lineup is going to awaken and start producing enough to take some leads.

    Will the pitching staff be able to protect those leads on a consistent basis, though? That's where the uncertainty truly lies on this roster. It's easy to lose sight of it with the bats in an ongoing slumber, but run prevention is the greatest long-term challenge for the Twins this year.

    Pitching hasn't lost the Twins any games thus far. It hasn't had a chance to. Once the offense picks up (which it surely will, at least to some degree) we'll see whether these hurlers – and the defenders behind them – can answer the call and do what it takes to get on the winning track and make fans forget about this season-opening slump.

    I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little scared to find out.

    This article was originally published in blog: Offense a Secondary Concern started by Nick Nelson
    Comments 12 Comments
    1. twinswon1991's Avatar
      twinswon1991 -
      Good points. I agree the offense should be decent when it kicks into gear. I am worried about several black holes in the lineup (Carroll, Casilla, Revere when in) who offer no threat of even gap power when in the lineup. If you take these Judy's out of the lineup, the loss in defense is huge. Having Morneau as a DH only is a killer when it comes to both batting and defensive flexibility.

      With this pitching I cringe when I think how many runs the Twins may need to score during the warmer summer months to try to keep up with some of the high powered offenses in the AL. Outside of the friendly pitching confines of Target Field this staff may have an ERA in excess of 5.00.
    1. Neil's Avatar
      Neil -
      Yeah, I was there, and while there were many highlights from the experience of attending Opening Day for me, none of them were from watching the game. It was wall to wall brutality.
    1. Bark's Lounge's Avatar
      Bark's Lounge -
      I feel assured this will be a tough season to watch, but there are always some things to appreciate in these kinds of scenarios. Maybe Mauer will rebound to fight for a Batting Title, Parmelee, Benson, Dozier and Hendricks - Could be fun to watch their development. Maybe we will fetch a decent return in a Liriano, Pavano, Willingham, Capps, or Doumit trade. Realistically, maybe we can get something decent for Liriano... outside chance - Willingham.
    1. skraft33's Avatar
      skraft33 -
      I think the offense will be ok. But man, that rotation. Woof.
    1. Montecore's Avatar
      Montecore -
      No false hopes for this team. The rotation and pen, excepting Perkins, is bottom of the barrel. Is he gonna continue batting Carroll 2nd until he wises up and brings up Dozier? I'd bet on it. It's a very bad team, maybe worse than last years.
    1. James Richter's Avatar
      James Richter -
      I can empathize with anyone who finds the 1st four games of 2012 disturbingly similar to the last 2 months of 2011. However, we need to keep perspective on how unsustainable this poor play is. For example:

      Our team has a BABIP of .183, compared to the AL rate of .271. Last year, the worst rate in the league was .280.

      The Twins have the fewest baserunners in the AL (33) but have hit into the most double plays (7). Hard to do. Over 21% of the Twins' baserunners have been eliminated on DPs. For the AL as a whole, the rate is less than 8%.

      The pitcher's Left On Base % is under 65%, 2nd worst in the AL. Average is about 73%. The worst full-season rate in 2011 was the Twins' 69%.

      Even if the Twins continue to play poorly, those numbers are bound to get better, which will inevitably result in more RS and fewer RA. Which should result in some wins.
    1. rogrulz30's Avatar
      rogrulz30 -
      "It's a very bad team, maybe worse than last years." I find that comment extremely hard to beleive based upon what Morneau's start, along w/ Mauer, Span being healthy. Liriano, Baker, Pavano in contract years, better defensively up the middle. I can see a possibility of a better team this year, but the fans are going to leave quickly when you look at the first 35 game schedule and already starting 0-4, probably starting 1-8, or 0-9
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      the fans should start leaving.....at least the casual ones who aren't baseball obsessed. You don't keep paying for products that aren't good, sports should be no different.

      This team is going to win 70 some games this year, closer to 70 than 80. There just weren't enough hits on the draft picks 5-10 years ago.
    1. DAM DC Twins Fans's Avatar
      DAM DC Twins Fans -
      "There just weren't enough hits on the draft picks 5-10 years ago. "

      True enough. Lets also point blame to Bill Smith for the truly lousy trades. Craps for Ramos, the Garza fiasco, nothing to show for Johan (not that he has done anything for Mets)...Bill Smith really let this team down.
    1. twinsfan214's Avatar
      twinsfan214 -
      Right, some other teams have started 0-4 but against much better teams than the O's. I feel like later this year we're going to need to trade for a starting pitcher but I'm afraid of what we'd have to give up. We can hardly spare the few good farm hands we have. I still think this team will get more wins than last year (unless top players go down again) but agree with Bark's lounge that we will find some fun/interesting things to follow.

      Only plus I see this season so far is that we have not had to watch Capps blow a save opportunity. Soon. Soon.
    1. twinzgrl's Avatar
      twinzgrl -
      I agree that there are too many good hitters in this lineup for the hitting drought to continue....however, they will probably score 10 runs in one game and then nothing the next day...it is just their MO. I'm going to the game tomorrow, so I hope the hitting parade happens while I'm there.
    1. gil4's Avatar
      gil4 -
      Quote Originally Posted by twinzgrl View Post
      ...they will probably score 10 runs in one game and then nothing the next day...it is just their MO. I'm going to the game tomorrow, so I hope the hitting parade happens while I'm there.
      They got 10 runs today just as you asked. If they get shut out tomorrow, it's all your fault.
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