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Sunday, April 3, 2011

Bright Spots

The first two games of 2011 have, by any objective measurement, been very disappointing. Unusual defensive miscues, poor starting and relief pitching, and a general lack of hitting have plagued this team early on. It's easy to write on these issues, partially because there were so many problems in the first two games. Instead, though, I'm going to briefly focus on a few bright spots in these first couple games.

First, Nishioka is fast on the basepaths. He stole second yesterday, and looked very good doing so. I thought it was odd that he slid feet-first into second. As long as he can get on base, I think he will be very fun to watch, and he will make Mauer/Morneau/Young/Kubel/Thome's jobs easier. We lacked a consistent speed presence in the 2-hole last year, and this is a significant upgrade.

Joe Mauer played excellent defense yesterday. I only watched the first half of the game, but he saved at least a run, and kept several balls in front of him (mostly sliders it looked like) that otherwise would have been wild pitches. Of course, this is his job as catcher, but we should not take for granted that he still is a very good defensive catcher. I know, he wins Gold Gloves every year, but those have become a joke in many circumstances (see: Jeter, Derek). A healthy Mauer is still one of the better defensive catchers in the game.

Span has been getting on base. Yes, an extremely small sample size, yet encouraging nonetheless. I think it is important that he start out hot, whether it's through hits, walks, or just having quality at-bats. He was 1 for 3 yesterday with a walk. Just what this team will need out of the top spot in the lineup.

As for everything else, well, things can't get much worse. Hopefully those little things like pitching, hitting and defense will iron themselves out. I think the Twins will come out of the gates swinging today.

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