Two weeks into the season, things are much better then they were at this time last year. The Twins have a winning record, and Tony Batista is nowhere to be found. I realize that this is only 7.4% of the season, but what's an April posting without overreaction? To accomplish this on both sides, I decided to write a conversation script that basically sums up argument that the Pessimistic Twins Fan and the Optimistic Twins Fan in my head are currently having.
Optimistic Twins Fan: Life is good, isn't it? I mean, Carlos Silva... Ramon Ortiz... Who'd of thunk it?
Pessimistic Twins Fan: It's two weeks. I'm not getting overjoyed yet. Besides, I have two names for you- Sidney Ponson and Boof Bonser. Sidney we could see coming, but Boof's struggles? It really shows how risky this rotation is when you see that one of your 2 locks for the rotation is getting hit. What if Ortiz and Silva revert? Santana can't pitch every game. We could be hanging on be a thread here.
Optimistic Twins Fan: True, but I have faith that Boof will find his form and pitch like he did in the second half last year. This really isn't a big cause for concern. We've only had 3 bad starts this year, and that's going to happen to everybody. By June, one of our starters will probably have to make way for a Matt Garza that is pitching so good he demands a spot in the Twins rotation. It'll be like trading for a solid pitcher, and it will give the Twins a boost when it happens. That's why we kept the three "Washed-Ups" anyway. To replace one or more with youth if and when they flopped. Like insurance, but backwards. There's always Perkins and Slowey as well.
Pessimistic Twins Fan: Let's move on to the lineup, then. What's up with third base? Punto has looked circa '05, not '06. He's hurt now, as well. -And so is Cirillo. Luis Rodriguez should definitely not be in the lineup everyday. -And Bartlett had gotten off to a horrendous start. 4 errors? Are you kidding? The left side of our infield is giving me flashbacks to last Spring. Not to mention that Rondell is hurt. He's supposed to be having a comeback year right now.
Optimistic Twins Fan: Rondell will be back soon, and the middle of our lineup is producing just fine without him right now. Kubel has been hitting well. He and Tyner can fill left field in just fine for the time being. Bartlett looks to me like he's breaking out of his slump right now and is about to go on a tear. He looked great this weekend and had 5 hits Fri/Sat/Sun. Sitting him down for 2 games while getting Casilla right into the thick of things was a brilliant move by Gardenhire. The Punto/Cirillo situation concerns me the most. Punto could very well show everyone that 2006 was a fluke, and then we'd be left with zero worthy third base candidates. I concede that Cirillo shouldn't be the everyday guy even when he's healthy. The Twins should move Bartlett into the 2nd spot in the order if he heats up like he looks to. Then send down Luis Casilla (who could certainly use more seasoning) for Glen Williams until someone is healthy. Williams and Rodriguez split time at third, batting at the bottom of the order. Play whoever is hitting better on a day-to-day basis in the interim. I do agree that if it's early June and we still aren't getting production at third, the Twins will have to make a move.
Pessimistic Twins Fan: Can we really wait that long? I doubt it. Anyway, what the heck is up with Nathan? Is the anchor of our bullpen hittable now? Does this mean we should worry about finishing games?
Optimistic Twins Fan: Come on... You are really grabbing at straws now. We both know that Joe will be just fine. Give him a break; he's a new daddy again. In 2 months you are going to look back at this "scare" and laugh.
Pessimistic Twins Fan: Okay, you're right. I shouldn't have tried to bring that paranoid bull in here. Our bullpen rocks on toast.
Optimistic Twins Fan: Overall, I'd say that things are looking good for the Twinkies. You're right that we haven't played our best ball yet, but we're still over .500 at 7-5. If that's the way it's going to be, just wait until we get on a roll. If Silva and Ortiz pitch like this all season, I guarantee the Twins will win the toughest division in baseball. Better start saving for October tickets again...
Pessimistic Twins Fan: Hold on just a moment. We've been real lucky so far. Sure we've managed a record of 7-5 while playing sub-par, but we've played exactly 2 games away from the Dome. What happens if we play like this in Cleveland and Detroit and Chicago? Nothing good, that's for sure. We've also played mostly AL East teams, and the one good team we played in that division pounded our brains out the first two games. If it wasn't for Ramon Ortiz, they would have swept us. We're 2-3 against teams with winning records last year (Yankees and White Sox), and the 2 wins were behind dominant starting pitching. Also, this last home stand we went 3-4, and we would have gone 2-5 if not for the Devil Rays' best impression of a Benny Hill episode. Things are not OK. As you pointed out, the AL Central is the best division in baseball. We could well be headed for a 4th place finish.
Optimistic Twins Fan: The Twins will have numerous hot and cold spells over the summer. The key is which we'll have more of. I have a positive outlook because I think the Twins have a pitching staff that can carry the team periodically, and a lineup that can carry the team periodically. They can pitch and slug and sacrifice and play defense. It's going to be a fun year.
Pessimistic Twins Fan: Each of the facets of the game you just mentioned also have the potential to break down. Our rotation could implode. The Piranhas could prove '06 a fluke. Our defense could get old quickly in center and left and look inexperienced on the left side of the infield. Worst of all, Mauer and Morneau could actually take a step back... Either way, I think we'll both agree that this is just 2 weeks. All these issues are yet to be decided.
Optimistic Twins Fan: Yes, it's just 2 weeks, but we're 7-5.