Monday, April 11, 2011

Losing Is a Disease (and other thoughts)

All I can remember from playing baseball -- or other organized sports for that matter -- is that when you get in a funk, it's really tough to break out. It seems like all the breaks go the wrong way and that there's no way to build momentum.

It reminds me of that therapist they brought in to speak to the Knights in The Natural -- one of the greatest montage sequences I can think of and it perfectly sums up how everything seems to go wrong during a slump. (I'm not suggesting the Twins bring in any team therapists for positive reinforcement, but at this point, something has to help them.)

We're a whopping 9 games into the season, and it seems like whenever we get any steam that something comes along to take the wind out of our sails. But there are a good 153 games left to play -- it's why we're not cheering for a football team -- and we still haven't even had a whiff of the AL Central yet.

How the Twins perform against the AL Central is going to determine the course of the year, and what better way to start it off than against our favorite whipping post: The Kansas City Royals. I don't think anyone in Kansas City is making plans for the postseason yet, and for that matter, neither are the Indians. This time of year the standings get a little topsy-turvy, and I fully anticipate that towards the middle of May we'll be able to start sifting through the wheat from the chaff and see who really wants a seat in the division.


- Nishioka's injury was unfortunate. I was there with a couple of friends and honestly my attention was focused on the throw over to first and I missed the collision. It sounds like it could have been a lot worse, but watching Ryo and the team doctor help Nishi hobble off the field was a depressing sight, made slightly worse by the sympathetic Yankee fans who admirably gave him some applause as he made his way off the field. This of course opens the door for Luke Hughes to make a statement, but it appears that until the Twins can find some semblance of an offense that Gardy might be trotting Cuddyer out at 2B in order to get as many big bats in the lineup as he can. I think the Nishi injury actually could help him out a little bit, I don't see any way that he comes back without a rehab assignment and it might be good to let him play for a little bit in the minors and start to figure out the strike zone a little better.

- Thome hit 590 Sunday. If the injury bug keeps forcing him into the lineup on a more consistent basis I think we see 600 at just about the All-Star break and he passes Sosa before the end of the year. That's my eternal optimist, but there's got to be something positive to think about right now.

- Morneau and Nathan are encouraging. The fact that they're playing at all is something to be thankful for, and I'm not really that concerned about either of them. Nathan will perhaps never be as dominant as he was before the injury, but his velocity is better than I expected and he always liked to make things interesting at the end of games anyway. Morneau is connecting well, it's just not getting many results. I think his performance Sunday against the A's which included a few bleeders and bloops means that things will start to even out a little bit for him and hopefully some of his more solid hits will start to drop. All it takes is that first homerun and I think we'll see the power floodgates rip open for him.

- Our bullpen is actually alright! I think when Slowey comes back healthy that will be a huge boon as he could really thrive in a short relief role. (Of course I think he could thrive as a starter again too, much honestly he gives me more confidence out of the pen than most of the people on our roster.) Capps/Nathan is one of the better tandems to end a game, and Mijares and Perkins have both looked rather solid as well. I'm reserving judgment on Manship because I think he is what he is for his role in the 'pen, Hughes I'm still a little wary of but he's looked just fine -- especially getting out of that jam on Saturday night.

- It's a little disappointing having already had the boys in my neck of the woods and not being able to see them again for awhile. They've rescheduled the rained out Yankee game for a TBD date in September, which I guess gives me something to look forward to then -- but right now I'm just looking forward to Fenway and finding an excuse to fly back to Minnesota for a little bit. Local fans don't know how lucky they have it.