Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Spring Training Notes-3/21

  • Prior to today's game, manager Ron Gardenhire named Scott Baker as the team's fifth starter. The move means Kevin Slowey will start the season in the bullpen as a long reliever. This was no surprise to me. Baker has looked good this spring and has appeared to put the elbow injury behind him. You may remember earlier on in the spring, teams were scouting Slowey, so I wouldn't be shocked if he was moved before the season starts. But, with the way the starting staff behind Liriano and Pavano performed last year, the Twins will more than likely hold on to him in the event of an injury or a slumping starter.
  • On Sunday, Pat Neshek tweeted that he had become a member of the San Diego Padres. The move was later confirmed by the Twins writers moments later. The team had placed him outright waivers and the Padres scooped him up. He is not guaranteed a spot on their opening day roster, but his chances are better there than what they were here. He had apparently fallen out of favor with the team and Gardy was looking at other players to fill the final couple of bullpen spots. I'm not big on this move. I was hoping to see Neshek get one last shot to become the pitcher he was before Tommy John Surgery in 2008. He was one of the best middle relievers in 06 and 07 before 08 was cut short by the TJ surgery. And since returning, he has struggled to find his velocity and his command was not there. Neshek had one minor league option left, but the Twins just wanted to let him go. Maybe its a change that he needs.
  • Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Michael Cuddyer, and Delmon Young have all been in game action this past week since missing the first part of spring with various injuries. Mauer, Cuddyer, and Young appear to be locks for Opening Day. But Morneau is still a toss up for the April 1 opener. He will start appearing in back to back games this week to see if he can handle that as he is on the comeback trail from a concussion. If he can pass that test, I can see him being ready for the opener. Look for all these guys to be in the lineup tomorrow night (Televised on FSN) vs the Orioles. It would appear the entire projected opening day lineup will play tomorrow night, so that should be fun to watch.
  • This spring three players have jumped out at me: Danny Valencia, Luke Hughes, and Jason Kubel. They have all played exceptionally well. But to me, the more key player here is Kubel. He needs to be more like the 2009 Kubel than the 2010 Kubel. His numbers suffered from an awfully slow start in 2010 and his average hovered around .250 all year (He finished at .249). He needs to be that force in the DH or RF (If Cuddyer needs to play 1B) spot. Especially, if Justin Morneau can't start the year in the lineup. I'll have more on this in a later post, but I can't stress how important a bounceback year from Kubel is.
  • This morning, Wally 'The Beerman' McNeil was found not guilty of serving alcohol to a minor at a Twins game last September. This is awesome news to any sports fan in the Twin Cities who is of the drinking age. Hopefully we will see Wally in the Target Field concourse selling beer on April 8.
  • Also today, the Twins added a new food to their already staggering menu. El Burrito Mercado's Walk A Taco will now be sold at Target Field. I have not yet had one, but from what I've heard they are really good. Can anyone only go to Target Field just once and try all the food there?
  • Upcoming this week, I will take gaze at all of Major League Baseball with some divisional breakdowns and predictions. And I will also have a few posts on some players for the Twins who need to make a big impact in 2011 for the Twins to have a shot in the competitive AL Central.


SethSpeaks said...

Kubel always crushes the ball in March and then struggles in April.

gitesferrett said...

True. He only has hit .251 in his career in April. But thats better than the .069 October average.