Friday, February 26, 2010

Twins Spring Blog-Position Players

Today The position players for the Twins report to camp so i'll breakdown each player that has a chance to make the team.


Alexi Casilla 2B (.202 AVG, 0 HR, 17 RBI in 2009): Last year it looked like Casilla was going to be the starting second baseman. But after a poor start and a minor league stint, Casilla was unable to turn his 09 season around and earn his spot. His up and down play cost him the second baseman job this year and he will have to work hard to earn a spot on the bench.

J.J. Hardy SS (.247 AVG, 9 HR, 50 RBI w/MIL): Hardy was another player with a tough 09, and now the has changed addresses he looks to bounce back with no pressure on him. Before 09 he was averaging 25 home runs and 77 runs batted in and the Twins are hoping he can refind that all star form from the bottom of the order.

Brendan Harris 2B/SS/3B (.261 AVG, 6 HR, 27 RBI): After two seasons of filling the role of utility player, Harris is expected to do the same in 2010. He will platoon with Nick Punto for the third baseman role that might be eventually taken up by prospect Danny Valencia. Harris has shown he can hit better than Punto, but Ron Gardenhire has given Punto the nod because of his defense. If Harris can do great things offensively he would get the nod over Punto.

Orlando Hudson 2B (.283 AVG, 9 HR, 62 RBI w/LAD): The Twins turned some heads with the signing of Orlando Hudson. They filled a hole at second base and a hole in the two spot in their order left vacated by Orlando Cabrera. Hudson is a career .282 hitter and has a .348 lifetime OBP. He also has four gold gloves which fits the Twins style of play. The Twins made a smart move signing Hudson and solidifies a spectacular lineup.

Justin Morneau 1B (.274 AVG, 30 HR, 100 RBI): In the past three seasons the Twins have seen Morneau struggle or get injured in the second half. This season Morneau is not going pedal to the medal in spring training to stay rested for the season, and rightfully so because I dont think Michael Cuddyer can fill his shoes every year. For the Twins to make that deep postseason run they will need Morneau on the field, healthy, and rested or else the lineup starts to get a bit shallow.

Nick Punto 2B/SS/3B (.228 AVG, 1 HR, 38 RBI): Nick Punto had his choice of where he got to play in 2009. With holes all around the infield Punto played in almost 30 more games from 2008. But Punto's problem was his average dropped from .284 to .228. In 2010 he will be competing for the third base job with Brendan Harris and prospect Danny Valencia. For him to see good playing time he will have to raise his average next to his gold glove caliber defense. Punto usually gets the nod over Harris due to his stellar defense and with the solid lineup the Twins have 2010 should be no different.

Jim Thome 1B/DH (.249 AVG, 23 HR, 77 RBI w/CHW & LAD): Jim Thome fell into the Twins lap as a bargain deal this offseason. For a one year $1.5 million deal, the Twins got a significant bat off their bench and he can fill in at DH on days when Jason Kubel either needs a rest or plays in the outfield. He bats lefthanded and with the short porch in right field at Target Field look for Thome to put up good numbers coming off the bench for the Twins in 2010.

Matt Tolbert 2B/SS/3B (.232 AVG, 2 HR, 19 RBI): Matt Tolbert was a mid season call up for the Twins again in 2009. As the Twins made their stretch run, Tolbert was the main third baseman. He was not hitting all that well but his defense and hustle prompted Ron Gardenhire to put him in the lineup every day. Tolbert is not a lock to make the team out of camp but he could if theres an injury to a infielder or someone like Alexi Casilla has a terrible camp Tolbert could make the cut.

Danny Valencia 3B (.285 AVG, 14 HR, 70 RBI @ AA-New Britain & AAA-Rochester): Possibly by mid season Valencia could be the Twins starting third baseman. In just two seasons he has advanced all the way to AAA and if the Twins third baseman problems continue, his run will continue to the major leagues. Valencia has put up good offensive numbers in the minors but his defense still needs some work. Some in the Twins organization have said that he still needs time in the minors, so it will be interesting to see how the Twins use him in 2010.


Michael Cuddyer RF (.276 AVG, 32 HR, 94 RBI): Cuddyer's 09 season was defined in September filling in for the injured Justin Morneau when Cuddy hit .279 with 10 home runs and 29 runs batted in. Now that Morneau's back, Cuddyer will take his place in right field and will most likely bat sixth in the Twins lineup. With little depth in the Twins outfield Cuddyer will need to stay healthy or the Twins might be forced to make a in season trade to add another outfielder. Cuddyer is a very underrated outfielder who had lead MLB in outfield assists for two years and he should do just fine moving into Target Field.

Jason Kubel LF/DH (.300 AVG, 28 HR, 103 RBI): Kubel had a break out season in 2009. He finally brings power to the DH, which hasnt seen a decent hitter since the likes of Paul Molitor. Kubel will bat fifth behind Mauer and Morneau and should bring just as much punch as they do. If Kubel keeps progressing like the way he has been the last four years, he could reach the 30 home run plateau. Kubel will be mostly DH, but he will have an occasional day in one of the corner outfield spots. We should be seeing another impressive season from Kubel in 2010.

Denard Span CF (.311 AVG, 8 HR, 68 RBI): If there was one player that went under the radar in 2009 for the Twins, it was Denard Span. Hitting from the leadoff position, Span hit .311, had a .392 on base percentage, and lead the Twins in runs with 97. Him getting on base in front of the big bats in the order along with his baserunning agression was a pain for opposing pitchers. Now that Carlos Gomez has departed, Span will be the everyday centerfielder as he was destined to when the Twins drafted him. In just two seasons we have seen Span's average jump from .294 to .311 and it should increase in 2010 with the addition of Orlando Hudson to hit behind him. Maybe look for Span to be a All Star Game darkhorse player.

Delmon Young LF (.284 AVG, 12 HR, 60 RBI): In his first two seasons with the Twins, the Twins have seen Delmon Young struggle in the first half then go on a tear in the second half. So in preperation for the 2010 season, Delmon has dropped nearly 30 pounds to hopefully have more success over a whole season. Hopefully that carries over to his defense as well as he takes the left fielders job on a everyday basis. If Young can prove he can be a consistent hitter throughout the season that would just be an added bonus for the Twins. But if he falters again, the Twins might look into moving Young for a more consistent outfielder.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Twins Spring Blog-Pitchers and Catchers

Today Pitchers and catchers report to camp and so i will break down each pitcher and catcher who has a chance on making the Twins roster this year.


Scott Baker-RHP (15-9 4.37 ERA in 2009): Big spot Scott was more of a streaky pitcher in 2009. If things went bad, they went bad fast or if things were going good, he was lights out. The Twins are hoping Baker can minimize his damages in bad innings, during games, and put those behind him in the following frames. If he can do that he could solidify himself as the staff ace.

Nick Blackburn-RHP (11-11 4.03 ERA): Blackburn had a tale of two seasons last year. His first half he was the staff’s best pitcher going 8-4 with a 3.06 ERA. But the final three months saw Blackburn falter and went 3-7 with a 5.47 ERA. He is a primarily a contact pitcher so the ball will be put in play when he is on the mound, and hopefully they are hitting them right at the defense.

Carl Pavano-RHP (5-4 4.64 ERA): Pavano was a late season acquisition for the Twins in 09. He had 12 starts and averaged over 6 innings per start, which is why the Twins brought back the veteran right hander. They are hoping he can be that veteran presence again, pitching in the big games and eating up innings to give the bullpen a rest. Pavano should have some improved stats after 2010 with the Twins.

Kevin Slowey-RHP (10-3 4.86 ERA): Slowey's 09 season was cut short due to a wrist injury that kept him out the final three months. Slowey had been pitching admirably until the wrist problems kicked in and his ERA spiked siginficantly. But as he comes back in 2010 the Twins hope he can put those injuries behind him. There should be relatively little pressure on him as he is projected to be the fourth starter in the rotation, which helps his cause quite a bit.

Fransisco Liriano-LHP (5-13 5.80 ERA): Liriano carried high hopes going into '09, but had control problems and ended up in the bullpen to finish the season. Reports have been high for "the franchise" after his winter ball play that saw him go 3-1 with a 0.49 ERA and 47 strikeouts in 37 innings. Hopefully he can take that into spring training and earn the fifth starting spot (whereas last year he was the opening day starter) where pressure won't be as extreme and he can return to that '06 form.

Brian Duensing-LHP (5-2 3.64 ERA): Duensing was a mid-season call up where he started in the bullpen in '09. He then made it into the rotation for 9 starts where he went 5-1 with a 2.73 ERA. He even was the game 1 starter in the ALDS. The Twins expect Duensing to battle Liriano for the fifth starting job and the loser will most likely be starting the season in AAA. One would believe Duensing has less pressure to win the job which gives him an advantage going into camp. And with the way he pitched last year, he should have the advantage.

Glen Perkins-LHP (6-7 5.89 ERA): Injuries held Perkins to just 17 starts in 09 and Perkins was not ineffective to say the least. With a minor league option or two left Perkins is most likely to start the season at AAA-Rochester (unless he has a incredible camp) and would most likely be called up if theres an injury to someone in the rotation. The Twins might trade Perkins at some point in 2010, so it will be interesting to see how they use him.

Clay Condrey-RHP (6-2 3.00 ERA w/PHI): With the Phillies in 09, Condrey made 45 appearances for the NL champions, and it will be interesting to see how he handles a switch to the American League having spent his whole career in the National League. He's not expected to be a late inning guy, but his value might be huge late in the year and hopefully the postseason having spent the past 4 seasons in Philly where they have been in the World Series the past two seasons.

Jon Rauch-RHP (5-1 1.72 ERA): Rauch was another late season aquisition for the Twins only appearing in just 17 games for the Twins. His impact, however, was greatly felt picking up the before mentioned 5 wins and a sub 2 ERA down the stretch in baseball's most exciting race. It will be interesting to see how he fares in a full season with Minnesota and can he keep that sub 2 ERA while getting out of jams in the sixth and seventh innings.

Jesse Crain-RHP (7-4 4.70 ERA): Crain had a up and down 09 season. Some of that was the fact the Twins had few effective arms in the bullpen to start the year but got more effective arms as the year went on, taking more pressure of Crain. He probably will be used in a similar role as Jon Rauch, getting out of those jams in the sixth and seventh innings. You might see him used more as a long relief guy to start the year to pick up some confidence for him as the Twins battle for the postseason.

Pat Neshek-RHP (DNP in 2009-Tommy John Surgery): Neshek's return from Tommy John Surgery will be interesting to watch. He has been one of the Twins best relievers in recent years and after missing all of 2009 Neshek is looking to return to his previous form. I'd have to believe the Twins would use him in less tense situations at first so he can pick up confidence before putting him in hot spots. If he can return to form he solidifies an already good bullpen.

Jose Mijares-LHP (2-2 2.34 ERA): Mijares returns after one full season in the books and will again be returning to his role as left handed specialist out of the bullpen. He will be the only left hander in the Twins 'pen, so Ron Gardenhire will have to use him wisely in the late innings. Mijares should be effective again this year as he becomes one of the best left handed relievers in baseball.

Matt Guerrier-RHP (5-1 2.36 ERA): After a dissapointing 2008, Matt Guerrier bounced back with a tremendous '09 as the setup man to Joe Nathan. He even filled in for the closer a couple of times and got the job done. The key to Matty G is to not use him on consecutive days and he is lights out. He should do just fine in 2010 as the setup man.

Joe Nathan-RHP (2-2 2.10 ERA 47 SV): Even though Joe Nathan's season might of been defined as his blown save in game 2 of the ALDS vs New York, he had another outstanding season. He set a club record in saves and had one of the leagues lowest ERA for closers. His blown save might drive him to an even better 2010 as one of the most underrated closers in all of baseball.


Joe Mauer (.365 AVG, 28 HR, 96 RBI): Despite missing the first month of the season, Mauer couldn't of done much better in 2009. His efforts won him the AL MVP award. The only thing he needs is a new contract from the Twins to keep him here for a long time. In 2010 you should expect his average to remain in the .350s but maybe see his home runs drop just a bit and his RBI total should go up with the addition of Orlando Hudson to fill the two hole. If he can stay on the field, he should do just fine.
Jose Morales (.311 AVG, 0 HR, 7 RBI): After waiting his turn, Jose Morales finally got his shot at the Major Leagues and despite only playing in 54 games he still hit .311. And the Twins have rewarded his play with giving him the backup job after Mike Redmond's departure. He had wrist surgery during the offseason which might delay his 2010 debut and give Drew Butera a little time in the majors.
Drew Butera (No MLB experience): Drew Butera is not expected to make the Twins out of camp, but after Jose Morales' wrist surgery this offseason he might be in a Twins uniform for a little time in April. His offense still needs work, but he has great defense that MLB scouts love. He should fit in just fine if he gets the call up.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Twins offseason blog-2/8

We are a couple of weeks away from spring training now so I thought I'd take a look at the Twins projected lineup and pitching staff for the upcoming season. I am pleased to see the Twins add Jim Thome as a bat off the bench and Orlando Hudson to play second and bat second. They have given Joe Mauer all the indications that they want to win the World Series. So here you go I now dive into the lineup...

Projected Batting Order with 2009 Stats
1. Denard Span-CF .311 AVG, 180 H, 68 RBI, 23 SB
2. Orlando Hudson-2B .283 AVG, 35 2B, 62 RBI
3. Joe Mauer-C .365 AVG, 28 HR, 96 RBI, .587 SLG
4. Justin Morneau-1B .274 AVG, 30 HR, 100 RBI, .516 SLG
5. Jason Kubel-DH .300 AVG, 28 HR, 103 RBI, .539 SLG
6. Michael Cuddyer-RF .276 AVG, 32 HR, 94 RBI, 520 SLG
7. Delmon Young-LF .284 AVG, 12 HR, 60 RBI (108 games)
8. J.J. Hardy-SS .229 AVG, 11 HR, 47 RBI (115 games)
9. Nick Punto-3B .228 AVG, .337 OBP, 16 SB
Bench with 2009 stats
Brendan Harris-2B/SS/3B .261 AVG, 22 2B, 37 RBI (123 games)
Alexi Casilla-2B/SS .202 AVG, 46 H, 11 SB (80 games)*
Jim Thome-1B/DH .249 AVG, 23 HR, 77 RBI (124 games)
Jose Morales-C .311 AVG, 37 H, 7 RBI (54 games)

*I have put Casilla on the bench for now because he is out of Minor League options and Matt Tolbert does have some options left so I'm gonna assume that they are gonna give Casilla a shot off the bench to start the season.
This is the most potent lineup in quite sometime. The Twins are solid from 1-6 and the bottom three in the order appear they will have bounceback years in 2010. Orlando Hudson fills a position that the Twins ranked dead last in most major offensive categories for second base. The addition of Jim Thome adds a big bat off the bench and he can be used for days when Kubel needs a day off or he fills in for a corner outfielder. If Mauer, Morneau, and Cuddyer can stay healthy for a full season the Twins should be towards the top of every offensive category in baseball and now stacks up against anyone out there.

Projected Rotation with 2009 stats
1. Scott Baker-RHP 15-9, 4.37 ERA, 162 K, 200 IP
2. Nick Blackburn-RHP 11-11, 4.03 ERA, 205.2 IP, 41 BB
3. Carl Pavano-RHP 14-12, 5.10 ERA, 199.1 IP, 147 K, 39 BB
4. Kevin Slowey-RHP 10-3, 4.86 ERA, 90.2 IP, 75 K (16 Starts)
5. Francisco Liriano-LHP 5-13, 5.80 ERA, 136.2 IP, 122 K*
Bullpen with 2009 stats
Clay Condrey-RHP 45 G, 6-2 3.00 ERA, 42 IP, .233 OPP AVG (With PHI)
Jesse Crain-RHP 56 G, 7-4, 4.70 ERA, 51.2 IP, .250 OPP AVG
Jon Rauch-RHP 75 G, 7-3, 3.60 ERA, 70 IP, .262 OPP AVG
Pat Neshek-RHP DNP 2009 Season (Elbow)
Jose Mijares-LHP 71 G, 2-2, 2.34 ERA, 61.2 IP, .224 OPP AVG
Matt Guerrier-RHP 79 G, 5-1, 2.36 ERA, 76.1 IP, .207 OPP AVG
Joe Nathan-RHP 70 G, 2-2, 2.10 ERA, 47 SV/52 SVO, .171 OPP AVG
*I have projected Liriano in the starting rotation given the reports from his winter ball play, but he would be on a short leash considering the Twins depth in the minor leagues for pitching. Glen Perkins, Brian Duensing, Anthony Swarzak, and Jeff Manship are the options the Twins could go if Liriano falters again.
The Twins bullpen looks to be rock solid with the Twins mid '09 addition of Rauch, the offseason addition of Condrey, and Pat Neshek returning from Tommy John surgery. Add the reliable services of Crain, Mijares, Guerrier, and Nathan who all had exceptional years and the Twins should be in line foe the win if the rotation gets them the ball with the lead. The rotation is the question mark. The Twins lack a clear ace, but they have 4 young guys in there who anyone could step up in that role. They made the smart move and brought back Pavano the veteran who became very valuable down the stretch and in the postseason in 2009. My only concern is the starters going deep into the games which could wear the bullpen out. If they can go deep into games and hand the pen the lead the Twins should be in good shape.

This might be my last Twins blog until players have reported and I will be writing more frequently then.