I'm back to talk Twins, even though I haven't had a chance to watch over half of their games. It looks like I'm really down on the squad, but that's not entire true, I just have low expectations and some of those are being met.
1. STOP BUNTING. For the love of God, just because a player is fast doesn't mean he should try to lay down a bunt 1/2 his at-bats. Gomez isn't going to develop much power at this rate. Guys like Rod Carew and Brett Butler got on base 50-60% of the time on a bunt hit attempt, but other speedsters like Chone Figgins and Harold Reynolds have been far less successful (think 15-20% in their worst seasons). Gomez isn't Puntonian squaring around to bunt, but he's far from a sure thing. Sadly, it isn't just Gomez laying down bunts too often. Funny that the bunting leads directly to my next two points...
2. The Twins offense is letting pitchers off the hook. Bunting the first pitch back to the pitcher doesn't help...take a pitch or two, fellas. I know this is going to bring out the "walks are for pussies" crowd, but it seems like opposing pitchers are getting through 6 innings with 70 pitches on a nightly basis. For a team that focuses on how bad walks are for their own pitchers, the Twins sure don't seem interested in how it can help their offense.
3. Where is the extra-base power? No right-handed HR yet, only two guys with HR, and a 28th ranked Slugging % and HR total. Unfortunately they're also bottom-third when it comes to doubles and triples. Of course bunting twice every time through the lineup will knock the SLG% down quite a bit... This team has also been ridiculously ground ball heavy so far, led by Delmon "Tyner" Young. Just think how much worse it would be without The Kube.
4. I'm thrilled with Livan's performance so far, but I'm sticking with the Livan ERA > 6 prediction. Remember this--Razor Ramon Ortiz had a 2.57 ERA at the end of April last year and was mercifully removed from the rotation in mid-June after his ERA ballooned to 5.75.
5. The infield defense has taken a step back. Punto's much better than Lamb at 3B and Castillo was much better than Harris. Tolbert isn't really a SS, but he's worse than Bartlett and Everett hasn't been as impressive as I thought he'd be.
6. Twins broadcasting is terrible; maybe I should say baseball coverage in this town sucks. Dick & Bert are ridiculously bad, Gladden should never do play-by-play on the radio (otherwise I don't mind the actual radio broadcast), and KSTP has a bunch of grade-A morons providing their "analysis."
7. The young pitchers are showing some positive signs. I'm only writing about one of them, but Baker and Bonser have been solid, too. Blackburn's minor league stats and peripherals suggest he's a 4/5 starter, but if he can keep striking guys out at the rate he is, he can be much more than that and he's one of the few groundball pitchers on the roster.