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.

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