Wetmore: 10 thoughts from Twins-White Sox Opening Day
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Editor's note: I'll be covering the Twins as an analyst for 1500ESPN.com this season. I covered baseball with MLB.com the past two seasons and this is my first with the station. I watched Opening Day from the 1500 ESPN studio. Here are 10 thoughts I had Monday, in no particular order.
Michael Tonkin deservedly got the call for Opening Day. He didn't pitch and his stint on the Twins could be short-lived, but he belongs in this bullpen.
2. Kurt Suzuki shouldn't bat second. Joe Mauer should.
I read Ron Gardenhire's quotes about Suzuki's ability to handle the bat and to not panic. What's more important, in my opinion, is getting on base. Mauer does that at a much higher success rate than Suzuki.
Suzuki had a .276 on-base percentage in 2012, and a .290 OBP in 2013. Compare that to the league-average catcher, who in 2012 got on base at a .319 clip, and .310 in 2013.
A team's best hitters should bat at the top of the lineup, and the hitters who are least equipped to avoid outs should congregate at the bottom.
3. Chris Sale is a dominant pitcher. I wouldn't fret about the lineup simply because he limited it.
4. I would fret about the lineup in general because it's not a good lineup.
6. Jason Kubel didn't play Monday, because he doesn't hit lefties particularly well and Sale is an exceptional lefty. If I wrote the lineup, I would avoid having Kubel face lefties all season. Exclusively facing right-handed pitching will give him the best chance to succeed.
7. No Major League club should rely on Eduardo Escobar as a pinch hitter in an important situation. With nobody out and Aaron Hicks on second, Escobar pinch hit for Pedro Florimon against the lefty Sale. He struck out.
One of my colleagues with an encyclopedic sports memory reminded me after the game of Earl Weaver's 'loaded gun' theory. It dawned on me that the Twins do not have a loaded gun, especially if the lack of a third catcher precludes Josmil Pinto from pinch hitting in most spots.
8. Oswaldo Arcia may not be that well respected defensively as a right fielder. Immediately following Alejandro De Aza's second home run of the game, Alexei Ramirez singled past Joe Mauer on a soft hit down the right field line. It was a routine play for Arcia, but Ramirez didn't hesitate as he rounded first trying to stretch it into a double. Arcia threw him out by at least one full stride at second base. The fact that he tested Arcia could be a clue into the opinion other teams have of Arcia's ability as an outfielder.
9. Ricky Nolasco should get better this season. His first start in a Twins' uniform - 6 innings, 10 hits, 5 earned runs - was not a good one.
10. Chicago and Minnesota will battle this season to stay out of the American League Central cellar. Chicago probably will win that battle.