The Twins very well could be better this year than they have been in the past three (light praise, but still). That said, the fruits of their offseason pitching acquisitions might not be seen right away and fans could be asked to exercise a certain level of patience that is already surely wearing thin.
That's because over at ESPN.com (Insider required), Buster Olney breaks down the schedules of all 15 AL teams for the first quarter of this season and comes to the conclusion that the Twins have the toughest of them all.
*Games against teams with records of .500 or better in 2013: 31 of their first 40.
*Home/road: 18 of their first 40 are at home.
*Notable: My son plays a video game called "Injustice," and I think that lineup of villains is easier than what the Twins will face early in the year. They start out the season with six road games, and then beginning April 18, the Twins will play 25 straight games -- count 'em, 25 -- against teams that either made the playoffs or contended, including the Red Sox, Tigers, Rays and Dodgers. The Twins' new pitching will be tested early.
If the Twins can make it through that 40-game stretch without the wheels falling off, it could bode well for a rebound or "bridge" season to better times. But if they falter early, all the old questions could resurface.
Making matters even tougher, in terms of competition: the Tigers, Royals and Indians have the three easiest first-quarter schedules in the AL according to Olney.