Over the next few weeks we'll be producing weekly reviews of the season. I'm not entirely sure what form it's going to take, but right now I'm looking at things that affect fan confidence. On the left side of the main page you'll see a fan confidence poll that we run every week, and as a companion I'll look at not just individual things that have happened recently, but I'll be looking at the big picture of the season. Let's give this a try.
Twins Record This Week: 2 - 4
Twins Record Overall: 2 - 4
This Week's Fan Confidence Rating: 59
Both Justin Morneau and Joe Nathan played this week, and neither of them have had setbacks with their health. I know this was already the case through spring training, but being out there in games that actually matter and still feeling fine can only be a good thing.
Morneau's week wasn't fantastic in terms of a triple slash, but he picked up a couple of doubles and really put a charge into a number of balls. It certainly doesn't look like he's holding back at this point. Nathan's week included two performances, including one where he nearly blew his save and another where he was perfect, but just like Morneau the important thing is that they're available and competing. We know there's going to be an adjustment period.
With Nick Swisher's slider this afternoon and Nishioka's fall to the turf, his fractured fibula is going to keep him out for a number of weeks. Whether it was a clean slide or not I'll leave to you, but I'm fairly certain that if Nishioka new how hard Swisher was going to come in he would have made a different choice. It's a harsh thing to chalk up to a learning curve, and I know there's more to it than that, but a more experienced second baseman may have jumped, just ran across the bag for the one out, or even just braced himself for Swisher's slide.
Prior to the injury Nishioka's performance was a mixed bag. At times he put good wood on the ball and he did deliver a couple of key hits this week. But other times his learning curve meant he was too passive at the plate, or meant he'd ground out weakly. In the field he appeared to show good range, but he made a number of mental errors and a couple of poor throws. Again: learning curve. There was some good and some bad, but all of it is trumped by the broken leg.
This was always going to be an issue. While nobody was predicting a broken leg, things happen over the course of a six month season and guys are going to miss games. When the Twins let both Orlando Hudson and Nick Punto walk away and traded J.J. Hardy, they dealt three of their top four inning eaters at second base and shortstop. That kind of turnover is difficult to replace, especially when Hardy and Hudson were as valuable as they were (5.5 wins above replacement combined) and when there were no sure shots in-house.
So now, when the lack of depth is even more pronounced, we'll see the return of Luke Hughes. While he doesn't have the ceiling of Nishioka he can certainly hit, so it will be interesting to see how Gardy balances his new infield. Does Alexi Casilla retain his shortstop duties full-time? Does Luke Hughes get the start at second base, or will Matt Tolbert just slide into Nishioka's role?
The real question is: where does this first week leave you? It's easy to get caught up in everything that happens, but it's also just the first week of a 162-game season.