I wrote in my last post that the Twins aren't as bad as they played in Detroit and I'll update that by saying they're not as bad as they have played so far, even with Monday's astoundingly atrocious loss in the home opener.
They simply can't be that bad because if they were six-games-out-of-seven loss bad, the Twins would finish the season with 139 losses. Even if things don't improve much, chances are they won't lose many more than 100.
The list of troubles so far in the first week is pretty amazing, all the more because some of them directly relate to areas that were in such need of improvement coming into 2015:
*The bullpen is a mess. The combination of who was retained and who was picked up hasn't quite worked. Mrs. 219 has already paraphrased the movie 'Pretty in Pink' when she sees Blaine Boyer make an appearance: "Blaine? That's a major appliance. That's not a pitcher!" That's what you say about a guy who has (a) pitched for six teams in his last five major league seasons, not including a two-year sabbatical from the majors; (b) put 12 men on base while getting nine outs in four appearances.
*On the bullpen, it's reasonable for Manager Paul Molitor to expect relievers to pitch more than one inning. I'm not convinced of the wisdom to let Tim Stauffer come out for a third inning, which was the start of Monday's eighth-inning bullpen meltdown. It's tough enough for a pitcher to inherit a tough situation with runners on base. It's even tougher with the pitchers Molitor has to work with.
*Speaking of Molitor, a couple of first-week moves left me queasy. One came on Sunday when he chose to bring in Boyer, after three poor outings, in the bottom of the eighth when the Twins were trailing only 3-2 in Chicago. Two singles and a home run later, it was 6-2. On Saturday, letting the overmatched Jordan Schafer and Shane Robinson bat (and take called third strikes) in the top of the ninth (in a one-run game) against White Sox closer David Robertson was close to a concession statement, all the more with Kurt Suzuki and Eduardo Nunez were on the bench.
Yes it would have taken some realignment in the bottom of the ninth if the Twins had scored (Danny Santana to center field, Nunez to shortstop, Chris Herrmann from catcher to left field and Suzuki behind the plate), but letting them both bat was ugly.
*Speaking of ugly, there's no way you can reassure me about the Twins outfield defense. Good plays need to be made. But so far there have been bad routes, misplays on balls that would have been caught by better outfielders (Think those employed by Kansas City Royals) and the ultimate lowlight of Torii Hunter's bouncing, rolling throw-to-nobody on Monday that looked like his hand had been pricked by brambles attached to the ball when he finally retrieved Lorenzo Cain's double.
You didn't need advanced defensive metrics to know the Twins were going to struggle with outfield defense. But pretending that everything was going to be all right was a spring training disservice.
*The dropping Eduardos. Nunez dropping a fly ball on Sunday followed by Escobar dropping a pop-up didn't result in the White Sox scoring in the second inning. But it meant that Phil Hughes needed to throw extra pitches, which likely made for an earlier exit for the staff ace. Giving away outs is always an issue.
*We could spend a lot of time on the lineup. I won't, beyond saying the Twins would stand a better chance of winning right now if Santana went back to center field and Escobar was the first-call shortstop.. Santana, who booted a grounder during Monday's troubled eighth, would be set back in his development at shortstop. But keeping him there with the current roster has a Timberwolves-like tinge to it.
And if Joe Mauer's close-to-.400 on-base percentage is going to be fed by singles and walks, let's get him batting second and Brian Dozier third, OK?
And while I'm managing from my keyboard, let's skip the fifth starter this time through and let Hughes start on four days rest Friday instead of Mike Pelfrey. The logic is simple: I'm going to the game that night.