Sunday, April 7, 2013

Weekend Thoughts: Twins at Orioles

The Twins won the final two games of the weekend series and now sit at 4-2.  They have won both series in this young season and now will head to Kansas City for three games.  The starting pitching has been surprisingly good and the bullpen has been solid.  The offense has produced some big hits.  If everyone starts to hit consistently, the Twins' offense could be above-average.  They have been fun to watch, which is not something I could have said honestly last season.

Here are some other thoughts I have from the weekend:

It seems that I have started each of my game thoughts about Hicks.  I'm still not worried.  Check this tweet from Jeremy Nygaard:

I have been saying for months that Hicks is known for getting off to slow starts and having issues adjusting to new levels.  The jump from AA to MLB is the biggest jump he has faced, so some growing pains are to be expected.  He looks a bit frustrated at the plate, but is also taking nice easy swings.  On Sunday, in the 7th, he jumped on a first-pitch fastball and untied the game.  It was a great at bat, even if it was only 1 pitch in length.  It was probably my favorite moment from the game, as I want Hicks to break out so badly. 

Hicks after 6 games:  .077/.143/.077 with 11 Ks and only 2 BBs. 

If this stretch had come in the middle of the season, and not the beginning, we'd probably hardly notice.  The Twins should keep putting Hicks out there every day, in the leadoff spot and let him work through this rut.  He has successfully adjusted to each new level, it just takes him some time.

I'm quietly impressed with Pedro Florimon.  He has an easy line-drive swing, good speed and great range at short.  He's hitting .400 and drawing walks.  While the sample is super small, his start has been encouraging.  I wrote about Florimon's value a couple weeks ago.  You can read it here.  I maintain that if Florimon can even approach average offensive production, he will have much more value than we (as Twins fans) could have ever expected. 

Hernandez made his Twins' debut on Sunday.  He looked to be about what I was expecting.  He doesn't throw hard, he tries to hit his spots and he pitches to contact.  He did walk three batters, which is out of line with his Minor League production.  If Hernandez can't post a very small walk rate, he pretty much has no chance for long-term success.  He is just far too hittable and he doesn't miss many bats. 

Scott Diamond threw his first and likely only rehab start in Fort Myers on Sunday.  He went five innings, gave up six hits and four runs.  He had three strikeouts and issued zero walks.  He gave up a home run to Gregory Polanco, one of Pittsburgh's best prospects.  All in all, I don't worry too much about results in a rehab start.  Diamond needed a game to see if he was ready to join the Twins' rotation later this week and his healthy completion of the start is pretty much all I care about.   

On Friday, the Twins' brought Robertson in to face the white-hot Chris Davis, with the bases loaded and the game tied.  Davis jumped on the first pitch and hit a grand slam that decided the game.  Robertson was optioned to AAA the next day, but that move was more or less coming regardless of how Robertson pitched.  Anthony Swarzak had recovered from his horseplay accident and was ready to join the bullpen.  The pitch Robertson threw to Davis was located well, but had nothing on it.  Robertson can work on getting his velocity back while down in AAA and likely will be back in Minnesota at some point.

Need I say more?

Other MLB

Fernandez made his MLB debut on Sunday.  The 20-year-old held the Mets to one run on three hits in five innings.  He struck out eight while only issuing one walk.  Fernandez has electric stuff and gets rave reviews for his makeup.  He was extremely fun to watch on Sunday and should give Marlins fans a reason to tune in every five games.  Tomorrow, Kevin Slowey starts for the Marlins.  So...

I chose Stephen Strasburg as my NL Cy Young winner, just a couple weeks ago.  I was wrong.  For some reason, I forgot that Clayton Kershaw is the best pitcher in the NL and might actually be the best pitcher in all of baseball.  Through two starts, Kershaw hasn't given up a run in 16 innings pitched.  He has only given up six hits and one walk.  He has 16 strikeouts as well.  We can ignore the small sample warnings with someone who has a track record like Kershaw's.  Kershaw will win the NL Cy Young this year and I will be wrong.  At least I figured it out quickly.

I chose Wilson Ramos as the breakout player in the National League in that same post.  He hit two home runs on Saturday, so not a bad choice.  I really wanted to pick Dexter Fowler though.  I just wasn't sure if he qualified as a breakout candidate.  I have always thought he was a great player.  Last season, Fowler posted a 123 wRC+.  He posted a .300/.389/.474 triple slash, but he still seemed to fly under the radar.  Perhaps it was the low home run totals?  Well, he has four already this season.  I'll wager that he hits 20-25 this season, posts another elite OBP and slugs close to .500.  He's going to get more attention this season, so I guess that does make it a breakout. 

That's all I have for the weekend.  Enjoy your week!

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