The Twins: unsteady as she goes
Silva's one thing; how's Morneau going to hold up after his beaning?
It's a little too early to fire up warning flares, but the Twins in week one didn't exactly look like the world-beaters that pre-season surveys made them out to be. The obvious item of concern is Carlos Silva's knee injury. Silva was a solid starter for the team last season, and the Twins don't have starting pitching to burn. But he's not likely to be a big difference maker either way--as the 2005 Baseball Prospectus item on Silva points out, he racks up very few K's and depends on his defense for 90 percent of the outs made while he's pitching. Silva's been lucky on the balls-in-play batting average of his opponents, but guys like him are always a simple turn of luck removed from looking like very different pitchers.
The Justin Morneau beaning looks more worrisome to me. Incidents like this have been known to dampen or even ruin whole careers. That's rare, but it's not at all uncommon for players to take a very long time to find their poise and their reflexes at the plate again. Sammy Sosa got beaned in early 2003 and took over a third of a season to get back on track, and he was a lot more comfortable in a major league batter's box at the time of his beaning than Morneau.
And Morneau's bat, unlike Carlos Silva's pitching, would be a very tough thing to replace. How he does at the plate in his first weeks back will be one sort of clue as to whether the Twins will be just a good team again, or the elite team many think they are this year.
UPDATE: Around the time this was posted, the Twins placed Morneau on the Disabled List, retroactive to last week.