We now have a week's worth of games from which to draw wildly premature conclusions about this Minnesota Twins team and the expectations we had for them entering the season. Let's revisit them and look ahead to the unknowable, terrifying FUTURE:
- Preseason take: they're going to be better on offense than last year. Small sample size says: INCONCLUSIVE. As of Wednesday afternoon, this was dead wrong. 6 runs in 4 games and an overall anemic attack by every non-Josh Willingham position player was leading to much agitation. 24 hours later, everything is hunky dory. Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau providing crucial home runs at Target Field, Denard Span getting four hits in a game, Willingham continuing to stroke dongs, Jamey Carroll getting game-winning RBI...it's like a dream, man. It's also hard to say if these two games are more representative of what to expect for the rest of the season than the first four. My best guess: expect better than the 0-4 start. Don't expect them to erase 6-0 deficits against really good pitchers on the regular.
- Preseason take: the starting pitchers are going to cause Ron Gardenhire more grief than being stuck in an elevator with Orlando Hudson. Small sample size says: PRETTY MUCH, GUYS. The guy with the second-best stuff on the staff is already done for the year. The guy with the best stuff put the Twins in that 6-0 hole yesterday and wasn't markedly better in his first start. Carl Pavano has been what he is, eating innings and giving up 4-5 runs per game. Anthony Swarzak can lay claim to the best start by any of the Twins pitchers this year, and he was the 7th man in the rotation at the time. Liam Hendriks and Jason Marquis haven't pitched yet due to circumstances beyond their control. The last two games have been great for the team and the fans, but the starting pitching is, in a word, terrible. I have very little optimism that it'll get better. Again: the offense will need to carry this team. When they don't, expect more four-game losing streaks.
Preseason take: the bullpen, outside of Glen Perkins, is even more troubling than the starters. Small sample size says: RIGHT AND SURPRISINGLY WRONG. In his biggest spot of the season so far, Glen Perkins was a dirty, dirty man, making Albert Pujols flail and absolutely looking like the closer-in-waiting. HOWEVER, Matt Capps is 2-for-2 in save situations, and the fact that they were both dicey really weren't his fault. On Wednesday, Denard Span was responsible for Torii Hunter taking second on a lazy single to center and getting into scoring position. On Thursday, a grounder off the second-base bag, plus a Luke Hughes double-clutch and blown call at first on a gimme double play, helped draw the Angels within a run. Neither of these things were on Capps, who pitched around these issues. Also of note: he's hitting 93 on the gun and, per dickandbert, is keeping the ball "down in the zone." As for the rest: Jeff Gray has two wins on three pitches, which is the smoking gun on the validity of the "win" metric. And Alex Burnett, who was wretched in spring training and only came north because there were absolutely no other options, was outstanding yesterday and has pitched four scoreless innings. Is all of this sustainable? Outside of Perkins, I have my doubts. But it is heartening.