Looking back at April

The Twins finished April with an 11-12 mark playing at a .478 winning clip and in the middle of the pack in the Central Division, 3 games behind the division leading Detroit Tigers and just barely ahead of the Cleveland Indians and the Chicago White Sox. Everyone would like to see the Twins doing better but when you compare this teams play to expectations going into 2013 you can’t help but be pleasantly surprised. Before the season began I thought that if this team could put up a 74-88 (.457%) mark and improve 8 games over last season I would be satisfied that the team was making progress. The Twins have played most of their April games in questionable weather and you could argue this worked against them but then again you know that the other team was playing in that same weather so that is a wash. The Twins have played 13 of their first 20 games at home and they are slightly above .500 at Target Field at 7-6.

Although I have not yet seen a single game in person at Target Field this year, I have pretty much watched every game on TV from beginning to end. Here are my perceptions of how the Twins have played in April.

Wilkin Ramirez – (B) – has filled the difficult extra outfielder and pinch-hitter bench role well and is hitting .381.

Eduardo Escobar – (A-) – this switch-hitting utility man has already played at SS, 2B, 3B and in LF and is hitting .378 with a home run in 37 at bats. An easy player to like who makes you wonder if he could be good enough to man a regular spot in the Twins middle infield some day.

Jimmy Carroll – (B-) – the Twins forgotten man most of April but he does whatever is asked of him and almost acts like another coach out there for the Twins younger players.

Joe Mauer – (C+) – endured a long hitless streak late in the month but has played almost every day. Not sure exactly what, but something about Mauer just doesn’t look right to me this year. He is not as solid behind the plate this season and he strikes out way more than he has in the past. Almost looks like he is trying to show more power at the expense of average.

Justin Morneau – (C-) – hitting .253 with 2 home runs and 11 RBI’s. Very disappointing showing so far, Morneau used to be a solid RBI guy but that trait seems to have deserted him the last couple of years. We are watching a shell of what Morneau once was.

Pedro Florimon – (C+) – Playing as I would expect him to in his first full year at short. He and Dozier have shown they play well together. Florimon let’s some easy plays get away at times but for the most part has been solid at short. Hitting has been adequate but I was hoping to see more stolen bases from him and he is just starting to run in the last few games.

Josh Willingham – (C+) – Twins top power guy is doing what the Twins pay him to do and is hitting .250 with a team leading 13 RBI. The Hammer is also on pace to get on base 90-100 times via walks. A liability in LF but the Twins will keep sending him out there for his power. Would be nice to see Willingham get hot before the trading deadline because rest assured he will be moved to make room for Oswaldo Arcia sooner than later.

Brian Dozier – (C) – hitting better since he was moved to the lead-off role to replace Aaron Hicks and playing well at 2B. Dozier is hitting only .243 and he is a better hitter then what he has shown so far.

Trevor Plouffe – (D-) – continues to show that he can not hit big league pitching consistently nor can he play 3B. Then again he has shown he can’t play SS, 2B, or the OF either. Gardy can say what he wants to the press but he knows that Plouffe is not the Twins 3B. Things will change here soon. Problem is the Twins have no one to play here while they wait for Miguel Sano.

Oswaldo Arcia – (C ) – This power hitting lefty will make Twins fans forget trading Willingham in no time. Not a solid outfielder but then again Willingham isn’t either and Arcia is only 21 and will be a Twins fixture for years to come. Watch this guy get better every game.

Darin Mastroianni – (D) – has only 9 at bats due to injuries. This utility outfielder is a much better than what he has shown so far this year but he sure seems to get dinged up a lot.

Chris Parmelee (C) – has been disappointing so far and I expect Parmelee to turn it around soon. Parmelee is no speedster but he is a better outfielder then I expected and he finally notched his first home run of the season, maybe that will get him going.

Ryan Doumit – (C-) – disappointing start to 2013, no other way to say it. Doumit has to start producing with the bat.

Aaron Hicks – (D) – The only reason I gave him a D versus an F is his outfield play. I like Hicks and he will be a very good player but he seems in over his head right now. With no one else to play center the Twins keep sending him out there day after day but Joe Benson is starting to show signs of life so we will see how long the Twins patience lasts with Hicks. There is no shame in going back to the minors after a tough start in the big leagues, happens to almost every player. Needs to show his speed more frequently when he does get on base.

Jared Burton – (A) – the man has a 0.96 ERA with 12 KO’s and 2 walks in his 8th inning role, you can’t ask for more.

Josh Roenicke – (B) – Nice addition (stolen from the Rockies) to the relief staff giving up only 9 hits in 12 innings.

Ryan Pressly – (B) – When your Rule 5 selection sticks and has a 1.69 EA in 10+ innings in April you have to pat yourself on the back Mr. Ryan.

Anthony Swarzak – (B) – Got a late start due to his rib issues but has pitched well so far, hope he can keep it up.

Brian Duensing – (B) – doing fine in his current role but it just seems like they could get more out of this lefty then what they do.

Kevin Correia – (A+) - No one had a better month of April then Kevin Correia did. That said, most everyone knows that it is unlikely that Correia can continue pitching like he has without a few speed bumps but you have to enjoy what he is doing with the smoke and mirrors in his pitching arsenal. Keep it up Kevin, you are definitely my Twins player of the month.

Pedro Hernandez – (B-) – the mark may be a little high for this recently recalled Twin but he does what Gardy asks of him and in his two starts he has kept his team in the game.

Casey Fien – (C+) – always looks angry when he is pitching and he shows his emotion, I like that. Fien probably deserves a better mark then what I gave him but he had one real bad outing in early April when he gave up 4 earned runs and these grades are for the month of April. But look at his numbers in 2012, a 0.97 WHIP and this year his WHIP is 0.90 in spite of his bad outing, those are amazing stats.

Glen Perkins – (B) – the Twins closer shuts the door when he is called upon to save the game. The only runs he has given up have been in non-save situations.

Scott Diamond – (B) – another late starter due to surgery in the off-season but he is getting better with each start and there is no Twins starter currently on the team that I have more faith in keeping his team in the game than Diamond.

Vance Worley – (D) – is in my eyes the biggest disappointment on the team. He gives up so many runs in the first and second inning that the Twins are always playing from behind when he pitches. 46 hits in 28.2 innings with 9 walks tells you all you need to know how Worley has pitched. I’m tired of hearing too that “the pitches are coming out of my hand good”, all I care about Mr. Worley is what you put in the “W” column, the one that has a huge goose egg in it now.

Mike Pelfrey – (F) – I know he is coming off TJ surgery but the man says he is ready to pitch and yet he gives up 19 earned in his last four starts. This is unacceptable and one more bad start should cause him to give up his starting spot. Let’s see how long a leash that Pelfrey has.

In the end it is all about winning games and so far the Twins have put 11 in the win column in April. They are playing better than they have in two years and they are more fun to watch but the bottom line for judging any baseball team is how many games they win. There are no moral victories in baseball. When I look at the Twins hitting as a whole in April, I give them a “C” and when I grade the Twins pitching I come up with a “B-” for an overall team grade of “C+”. Just a month of baseball is a short time to judge anybody so I don’t lose sleep over these grades one way or another but yet there are some trends that are beginning to develop, some good, some not so much. Let’s see what May brings the Twins and their fans.

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