I’m not getting the Beloit Roster post up today (tomorrow should be the day) but I wanted to get a few thoughts up:
1) Either Bremer or Blyleven mentioned the other day that Gardy was interested in cutting down to 11 pitchers. Through four games, that looks like it might be workable since the starters are going relatively deep into games and the bullpen has been lights-out (with the exception of Mijares in the opener). Certainly, if Alex Burnett is only going to be used in 10-1 blowouts, his utility is pretty low and having an extra fielder could help with late-game matchups. However, I would caution against rooting too hard for a move back to an 11-man pitching staff. While I tend to favor 11-man staffs as a matter of principle, I won’t be convinced its the right thing for the Twins until they can be sure that Pat Neshek can pitch in back-to-back games and that the starters are going to continue going deep into games as a matter of course. If on April 15 the Twins are continuing to perform effectively as a staff, by all means cut back to an 11-man staff until and unless circumstances change.
2) Jim Thome had a nice game yesterday and showed why I was probably wrong to be skeptical of his signing. I anticipated his being used primarily as a pinch hitter, and I continue to think that he will not thrive in that role. But even starting just a couple of games a week should allow him to contribute nicely to the team and makes him a valuable player to have.
3) Delmon Young’s swing really does look nice, doesn’t it? I’m starting to get awfully excited about the year he could put together. Losing all that weight seems to have been coupled with a more effective, aggressive approach at the plate. Perhaps he will really begin fulfilling all of his promise this year.
4) Carlos Gomez’s 4-for-5 performance on Opening Day for the Brewers may have initially left some fans wondering if Gomez was going to turn into a star for the Brewers and make the Twins regret trading him away. Since then, however, Gomez is 0-for-7 while J.J. Hardy has played outstanding defensively and has flashed some power with a couple of homeruns. Regardless of what happens with Gomez (my prediction is that he’ll be a decent player but not on par with Denard Span), this deal should prove to be a good one for the Twins. Hardy (through four games at least) looks like he’s reclaimed the skills that he flashed prior to losing his mojo in 2009.
5) It was a dreadful day for most of the Twins minor-league affiliates yesterday, with only Beloit sneaking out a 2-0 win in extra innings. But days don’t get much worse than that which was put together by Shooter Hunt. Hunt, who was a first round pick back in 2008, had a dreadful 2009 in which he showed a proclivity to wildness. Yesterday suggests that he hasn’t figured out the problem. Facing five batters, hunt retired none of them, giving up a hit (a homer, in fact), 3 walks, and hit a batter. All five of those runners scored. I suspect that Hunt’s wildness probably started as a mechanical issue — but if that was the case, it is likely now compounded by a significant mental component. For a player trying to bounce back from a tough year, starting off with an infinite ERA and WHIP does not help.