Reusse's Reality: Most surprises negative for Twins
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Tom Kelly and others have suggested there are three parts to a baseball schedule:
One, the first 40 games when it is discovered what you have in a ballclub; two, the middle 80 when the hope is to gain position as a contender, and then the final 42 when division titles and wild cards are determined.
The 2013 Twins reached the quarter pole on Sunday with a 5-1 loss to Boston. This completed a three-game sweep for the Red Sox and a 2-7 homestand for the Twins.
Forty games in, it has been discovered what the Twins have in a ballclub: another bad one.
They are destined to spend the middle 80 games jostling with the White Sox for fourth and fifth places in the AL Central, and the final stretch trying to avoid 90 losses for a third straight year.
I don't think they will succeed.
I allowed myself to be deluded a bit before the start of spring training.
I thought Brian Dozier was going to turn out to be a more-than-adequate presence in the middle of the infield. I suspected that Trevor Plouffe could improve himself in the field at third base and continue hitting home runs.
I wasn't that worried about center field, either. The Twins were so in need of future starting pitching that the Denard Span trade made sense. I didn't see Ben Revere as much of a loss - great kid, could run down everything, but a liability as an offensive player, in my opinion.
I felt that Aaron Hicks could be as helpful as a rookie as Revere would've been this season, with a much-better future. That was before spring training. After seeing Hicks in the Grapefruit League, it looked like a certainty he would hold his own in making the jump from double-A.
Yes, I felt that a 10-win improvement over the 66-96 of 2012 was more than reasonable.
Today? I think 66 is a legitimate over-and-under on wins with this club.
"The Twins are 18-22,'' you say. "How can it be that bad?''
Don't get too excited. That's a pace to go 73-89. Plus, my guess is 18-22 is the best quarter of the schedule we're going to see from this outfit.
And here's the reason:
The Twins needed a half-dozen good things - surprises on the positive side - to happen for them to hang anywhere near .500. It has turned out just the opposite. For the most part, it's a roster of players who have provided surprises that are negative, or who have been about what was expected.
I can give you two legitimate surprises on the positive side:
Shortstop Pedro Florimon. He's above average in the field, and he's more competitive at the plate than imagined.
Starting pitcher Kevin Correia. Ridiculed as the second coming of Jason Marquis, he's been very stout. Will it last? As the one and only Joaquin Andujar said, "Youneverknow.''
How about the bullpen? The collective ERA is good. We keep being told the bullpen is a grand surprise.
What makes this team non-competitive for the long haul of the summer is the rotation, starting with a pair of dreadful surprises in Pelfrey and Worley.
Scott Diamond, coming back from minor elbow surgery, has been less than expected. Pedro Hernandez isn't a big-league starter.
And then look around the rest of the field:
There's no hope for Plouffe as a fielder and he isn't hitting the long ball. Dozier doesn't appear to be able to hit in the big leagues.
Chris Parmelee has been better in right field than at the plate, which wasn't the way it was supposed to work. Rookie Oswaldo Arcia got cooled off in a hurry when pitchers stopped throwing him fastballs near the strike zone.
Josh Willingham has gone from tremendous in 2012 to an out this season. My suspicion is he's having back trouble, but the Twins haven't said anything about that. Ryan Doumit was very good last season and not so good in 2013.
Mauer and Morneau? I expected more from both. Mauer's hitting .342, but he's conducting a strikeout clinic, and lately they have occurred in the most clutch of situations. Morneau has two home runs in 39 games played.
Aaron Hicks, the poor kid, is batting in the .130s and has been the unhappiest surprise of all.
Putrid starting pitching. Underachievers beating overachievers by a ratio of 5 to 1. A manager can't compete when handed that combination.
I'll still take the over, by two wins: 68-94.