With Twins pitchers and catchers set to report today for 2014 spring training in Fort Myers, the Sunday paper had a spring training preview, with articles about the revamped Twins rotation, Twins prospective starters, and a little bit on central division opponents and Joe Mauer’s move to first base. What could be a nicer way to spend a cold (10 degree) Sunday morning than with baseball news? Forget about that winter storm bearing down on us. The first game is just two weeks away!
This years rotation shapes up to be quite a bit better than last year’s, no question about it. We’ve brought in new starters, Nolasco and Hughes, for the first two spots. Kevin Correia, who surprised everybody last year, figures to be in the third spot, and Mike Pelfry, who had a credible comeback season from Tommy John surgery, seems to have the four spot. Leaving practically our entire starting rotation from last year vying for the five spot – Diamond, Deduno, Gibson, & Worley, along with prospects Alex Meyer and Trevor May. It’s nice to have options, for a change — though Diamond, Worley, and Deduno are, in fact, out of minor league options. I like Sudden Sam Deduno for that five spot. I think it’s his to lose.
The bullpen looks pretty set, though I wonder if the losers of the 5th starter race – especially those without options – will step into relief roles?
In another article, La Velle E. Neale III takes a look at the rest of the lineup. We see Suzuki at catcher, Mauer at first, Bull Dozier at second, Florimon at short, and Plouffe at third. This sounds about right to me – I don’t think Bartlett or Escobar will budge their way into the lineup. Neal sees Mastroianni and Presley in left, Hicks in center and Arcia in right, with Josh “the Alabama Hamma” Willingham and Kubel at DH, but I would expect to see more of the Alabama Hamma in left, Presley in center, and Arcia in right, with Kubel at DH, and Parmalee, Ramirez, and Hicks ready to step in if need be. It would be nice to see a healthy Kubel swinging a good bat for us. And a healthy Josh Willingham. And the real Aaron Hicks, who once had so much Pucketian promise.
From early spring training, we look like an improved club. No one would call us a contender, but we are at least moving in the right direction, and should be… respectable.