It's worse than the offseason.
Spring training, I mean. In the offseason, we can at least examine possible signings and trades, but that's all gone in spring training. And we still don't get to really see any baseball, since its rarely televised. (Thankfully, that changes starting tonight.) And for us working stiffs, there isn't really the chance to listen to baseball.
Finally, there's the frustration of knowing that someplace people are watching your team - and that someplace is warm and sunny. It's enough to make a Twins Geek throw back a Drano cocktail.
I count 13 days until I finally get to watch my team up close, and in the meantime I'm reduced to reading spring training stats for anything beyond the newspapers' coverage (which has been pretty good, by the way). I understand just how limited an understanding a few numbers really provide, especially when they're in relation to games that don't count, against players that are still rounding into shape. So rather than try and provide insights, let's use them to generate some questions. We'll start with the stats, and follow up with the question.
5 Walks in 39 AB
1. Is Carlos Gomez going to be less confused at the plate?
There's a lot of anecdotal evidence that he will be. Coaches are saying it, players (including Denard Span) are saying it, and the stats are at least suggesting it. Last year during the regular season, Span didn't get his fifth walk until his 129th at bat. I can think of several reasons why that stat might be invalid, but maybe he's starting to recognize when a breaking pitch is being thrown. For now, let's believe that.
0 Walks in 48 AB
2. What can we expect from Delmon Young?
Young was criticized frequently in Tampa Bay for being a free-swinger, but after watching him for a year, his biggest issue seemed to be trying too hard to make contact. I don't know if the zero walks means he's finding his inner hairy man (which might be a good thing) or if he's given up on plate discipline (bad thing) or if he's just determined to get some swings in. Stay tuned.
7 hitters with more walks than strikeouts
3. Could this be the most disciplined offensive team we've seen under Gardenhire?
Something interesting is going on here, because suddenly each of these guys looks like Joe Mauer. Several are regulars - Alexi Casilla, Nick Punto, Jason Kubel and Mike Redmond. And three more are the guys looking for the last two bench slots - Matt Tolbert, Brian Buscher and Brendan Harris. This might be a fun lineup to watch, even before Mauer comes back.
33 Hits in 17 IP
4. Is something wrong with Scott Baker?
The eight home runs that Baker has given up has received most of the attention, and his unsightly 8.15 ERA has got the rest. But both of those can be explained away by a couple of bad outings with the wind blowing out. But 33 hits in 17 innings? That's consistency, and not in a good way.
22 Baserunners in 8 Innings
5. Will Jose Mijares come north with the team?
How bad has Mijares been? Bad enough that pitching a ninth inning where he gave up one hit (and was saved from another by a diving catch) versus Floriday Marlins scrubs elicited praise from his manager. More telling is that Brian Duensing pitched the inning before Mijares. That's a pretty good sign that he's passed Mijares on the depth chart.
15 strikeouts, 3 walks, 12.2 IP
6. Can we find a way to get RA Dickey on the roster?
I'm as susceptible to knuckleballers as I am to big brown eyes, so I'll admit to not being terribly objective here. But if this guy is twirling the ball around this well in Florida, just imagine what he might be able to do in the climate-controlled dome. Mabye with just a puff of air-conditioning blowing out from behind home plate. Mmmm.....
No, I don't have a way to get him on the roster. In fact, if I had my way, I'd probably carry an extra hitter over the second left-handed reliever. But if I was worried about a member of my starting staff, I might be more inclined to carry a second long reliever on this roster over either of them. Which brings us to...
7. Is Nick Blackburn healthy?
OK, he was hurt early in camp. He hasn't been making starts versus National League teams because the Twins don't want him to run the bases, so he's been pitching in minor league games. And so we have a grand total of just five innings so far versus the major leaguers. We're left to assume he's healthy because nobody is saying that he isn't...
We'll get to find out tonight. Because he's the starting pitcher on that televised game. Looks like working stiffs can finally watch a game. And spring training will have a chance to redeem itself.