With the completion of a four-game sweep, the Twins have gotten over the .500 mark.After their first series in Detroit and a losing series in Chicago, who woulda thunk it?Anyway, while things have gotten better for the Twins, some concerns remain.Here are five in reverse order of importance.
5) Center field.Jordan Schafer has been dreadful, but because he is platooned and there have been a high number of left handed starters, we've seen a lot of the surprisingly competent Shane Robinson (still not an answer in center BTW).I would rate this problem higher if not for both Aaron Hicks and Byron Buxton hitting very well in high minors.One of them will be patrolling center field by Memorial Day, I would guess, perhaps sooner.
4)After years of being problem #1 for the Twins, the rotation has improved.However, there is so much uncertainty there.I can't feel confident when any pitcher starts a game.The distance between Hughes' best game and worst game is the narrowest, but we haven't seen vintage Hughes so far.Ricky Nolasco has only pitched two games and was shelled in one and survived for five innings in the other.All the other guys have had encouraging outings mixed with below average starts."Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're gonna get".
3)Defense.Torii Hunter had a good series, both offensively and defensively, against the Whities, but he has been a poor defender in right for some years now.Oswaldo Arcia and Eduardo Escobar have gotten the most time in left and they have been below average defenders, as well.Schafer grades out as below average in center.Not much good news in the outfield.Danny Santana has made far too many errors, while showing off fine tools at shortstop.The other regular infielders have done well.On balance, the outfield defense and Santana at short is pretty scary.Santana needs to clean it up, but OF defense is probably going to only improve if the faces change.
2)Strikeouts.In an era when many hurlers are averaging over a strikeout an inning, the Twins just don't have many guys capable of fanning hitters.This exposes the suspect defense even more.Among the rotation, Hughes and May have strikeout stuff, Nolasco has an OK strikeout history, but Gibson (especially) and Pelfrey just don't get many whiffs.Even the relatively hard throwers in the bullpen, with the exception of Perkins, just don't get strike three.
1)Bullpen.Perkins has been solid.Most of the other guys would be classified as inconsistent.Without big K numbers and a suspect defense behind them, I see the current bullpen yielding many leads and letting some competitive ballgames get away.The hope here is that the Twins promote guys who are doing well in the minors and a couple succeed when promoted.