Thursday, May 7, 2015

Is It Time To Take The Twins Seriously?

Courtesy: Pioneer Press
Now into the second month of the 2015 Major League Baseball season, the Minnesota Twins have just under 30 games under their belt. Looking at the landscape of the season that is to come, they've completed roughly one-fifth of their slate, and played through the month of April against foes coming largely from the AL Central. At 15-13 as of May 6, and just 2.5 games out of first in the Central Division, things are in a good place. Now the question is, should we take this Twins team seriously?

After starting 1-6 through on the season, and seeing plenty of misguided "the sky is falling" type comments, the Twins have turned it around big time. Winners of 11 out of 16 games at home, they currently own the best home record in the America League. After being -20 early in the season in the run differential category, Minnesota is now +12 in that department (trailing only the Royals, Yankees, and Astros). With plenty of time left until the heat of the summer, Minnesota has plenty of time to continue to shape their 2015 narrative.

Taking a look at previous Opening Day Twins rosters (check them out here at Twinkie Town, Jesse does a great job with these), there's been a looming cloud for the past four seasons. With plenty of areas for concern, and few alternative options, the question was always when would the bottom fall out. Last season, the Twins hung around longer than expected, and even made a move to add Kendrys Morales into the lineup. The eventual result in recent seasons has always been a late summer slide that has turned into uninspired September baseball. With Paul Molitor in his first season, this club looks poised to turn the corner.

Arguably one of the worst lineups the Twins have put on the field during 2015, Molitor went with Eduardo Escobar, Chris Herrmann, and Shane Robinson as his 5-7 hitters against the Athletics last night. While Herrmann went hitless, Escobar paced the lineup, and the team hung a 13 spot on Oakland. Although that's obviously an isolated example, the fact of the matter is that this team has battled in the early going, and has found ways to get it done.

When the summer months roll around, and this team is looking for an added jolt, there doesn't seem to be a point where the bottom should drop out. Guys like Herrmann, Eduardo Nunez, Jordan Schafer, and Shane Robinson are all replaceable from within the organization, and their eventual removal should be a net positive. Getting a hot hitting Josmil Pinto, Aaron Hicks, or even Byron Buxton into the lineup should only give the Twins a better chance on a nightly basis.

With the lineup producing where it is, it might be best to remember that everything begins and ends with pitching. Sure, the Twins haven't lit the world on fire, by Trevor May, Mike Pelfrey, and Kyle Gibson have all been nice surprises in the early going. If this club can continue to pitch at a respectable level, they should expect to be in games on a night basis.

There's no doubt the AL Central will continue to be one of the toughest divisions throughout the remainder of the season. I find it hard to believe that the White Sox and Indians will continue to be as bad as they have been, as well as believing the Royals and Tigers won't be as good as they have started. If Minnesota can continue to stay even keel, there's no doubt they'll be in a position to make some waves come September.

It's early, but it's time to stop comparing this team to the futility that has come before it. This roster is cut from a different cloth, and the performance has warranted a new line of optimism. There's no doubt this Twins team is capable of continuing to make believers out of people.