Despite losing the finale of their 3-game set with the Indians, the Twins really impressed me this weekend. Last weekend's sweep of the Angels was certainly a good series, but this one actually gave me more confidence in the Twins. Their pitching has finally started to come around, as both Nick Blackburn and Kevin Slowey had very nice starts. We knew Glen Perkins wasn't going to pitch eight innings every time out, and his performance on Sunday was not awful. Even the bullpen held up their end of things, as Jose Mijares and Joe Nathan each threw a scoreless inning on Friday, Luis Ayala helped Slowey out of a jam on Saturday, and Matt Guerrier, Craig Breslow, and Ayala combined for three shutout innings on Sunday. That's five different relievers, none of whom allowed a run in the weekend series. As a whole, the Twins gave up just 6 runs to a team that came in averaging 6 runs per game.
The Twins offense also had a solid performance. Jason Kubel hit two home runs on Saturday, his third and fourth of the year, for his third career multi-home run game. Delmon Young had three hits on Saturday and finished the series with his average up to .255. Jose Morales picked up four hits in the finale and is now hitting a tidy .375.
This brings us to the subject of catcher, and with Joe Mauer set to return Friday, you have to wonder if Morales isn't the better option to back him up. Obviously I don't think the team is considering getting rid of Mike Redmond, but Morales has easily been a superior player thus far. You have to give Redmond some leeway as he's proven to be a solid catcher offensively and defensively, but he will also turn 38 years old on May 5th and his performance is way down.
From 2005 to 2007, Redmond hit .312/.353/.381, but he batted just .287/.321/.333 in 2008 before starting this year with an abysmal .226/.258/.314 line. His OPS has also fallen at least 50 points every year since 2006. His arm has declined, too. From 2005 to 2007, Redmond caught 41.2 % of potential basestealers (35/85); last season, though, he caught just 21.7 % (5/23) and this season he's only thrown out 9.1 % (1/11). Despite this drop in caught stealing percent, he has still not made an error since joining the Twins in 2005 and his passed ball this year was his first since 2005.
All of which is to say that Redmond's slow start may be more than that. Granted, I think he will hit better than a .572 OPS over the course of the season, but some of that is most likely an irretrievable decline. Because of his veteran status and general amiability, I seriously doubt the Twins would think of letting him go. I wouldn't be surprised, however, if he's quickly sent to the DL due to a minor or lingering injury at some point this season to give Morales an opportunity to stay with the Twins.
And your weekly pick-me-up Seinfeld clip: