Anticipation...No matter how your squad did the year before, when spring training comes around there always is a lot of anticipation for the season to start.
Optimism...Even if your favorite ballclub lost 90-plus games the past two seasons, the new season sparks a new thought of optimism and the hope your team may actually be competitive once again.
The Minnesota Twins kick off their regular season in 20 days at Target Field and the season is filled with varying levels of anticipation and optimism, which makes predictions for this team nearly impossible.
I’ll give it a shot, though…oddly, I’m rather optimistic.
I’ll admit this isn’t much of a bold prediction since All-Star rosters have ballooned to what seems like a hundred players per league, but true sentiment is made in the prediction.
The Twins will have at least two deserving All-Stars heading to Citi Field in mid-July.
Whom those All-Star reps will be is another question entirely. Safe money would put a bet on Joe Mauer making another All-Star appearance going along with the other five he already has.
That second spot could go to the likes of Justin Morneau, Glen Perkins or maybe even Aaron Hicks.
I’m not going to say that Aaron Hicks is going to be Mike Trout—no one deserves that comparison because Mike Trout was one of the best players in the league last season—but I will compare the two.
Hicks’ father made it to Double-A in his baseball career in the San Diego Padres system. Trout’s father made it to Double-A in the Minnesota Twins system.
Both Aaron Hicks and Mike Trout are outfielders and both at their time were highly touted prospects.
Hicks is still battling for the Opening Day starting center field job, but it looks like it’ll be his more and more every day. Even if he doesn’t make the Opening Day roster, it’s more than likely he’ll be up after a month or so.
Trout did not appear at the major league level until April 28 for an injured Bobby Abreu and went on to an absolutely amazing rookie season. Now I don’t expect, nor should anyone, Hicks to have a season like Trout, but he’ll have his name in the Rookie of the Year conversation.
I mean, Aaron Hicks is only leading the Twins in runs, hits, home runs and RBI this spring.
Hushed by the outcry of support for the departing Ben Revere, the sudden impact piece the Twins got in that trade, Vance Worley, has been put on the back burner for Twins talk.
The Twins have been looking for an ace and Worley will fill that role in the 2013 season.
Worley has only pitched one partial major league season, but that was behind the stacked rotation of the Philadelphia Phillies when he put up an 11-3 record.
The Vanimal is the Twins best bet to have an overly successful season with the likes of Kevin Correia and Mike Pelfrey in the rotation. The 25 year-old will have to grow up fast because soon he’ll be the old man of the rotation with Kyle Gibson, Alex Mayer and Trevor May.
As the Twins begin to look to the future and beyond, former AL MVP Justin Morneau will be moved around the trade deadline.
Two main reasons for this.
The Twins more than likely won’t be in contention at that point and Morneau has looked good in spring so far and the Twins more than likely won’t want to give him the money he’ll be asking for.
It appears the Twins first baseman of the future is Chris Parmelee and with the departure of Morneau that would open up the spot for more Parmelee seasoning.
Really, Morneau, love him or hate him, is restricting the Twins to get their upcoming core onto the field.
Trading Morneau could also provide another piece to that core.
The truth of the whole matter is that the Twins are going to be young and they’ll be that way for a while.
The Twins haven’t had a consistent shortstop/second base combination since Luis Rivas and Christian Guzman.
It’s time to find consistency.
The Twins have three young players shooting for spots up the middle in Brian Dozier, Pedro Florimon and Eduardo Escobar. They are set on having Dozier be a second baseman after struggling at short in 2012, if he doesn’t start there on Opening Day he’ll be there soon.
That leaves Florimon and Escobar for the shortstop position, I’m in the Escobar camp but Florimon probably has the job off the bat.
Sometime this season, Ron Gardenhire will find the perfect two out of the three.
Third base hasn’t been a very comfortable position since Corey Koskie left.
It’s been a rotating door of Michael Cuddyer, Tony Batista, Nick Punto, Mike Lamb, Brian Buscher, Joe Crede, Danny Valencia and now of course Trevor Plouffe.
Twins fans know that Plouffe struggled at third defensively and also know that prized prospect Miguel Sano also plays third base. So something will eventually have to give, chances are that Sano won't be up on the major league roster until some point in 2014.
It doesn’t make sense to keep running Plouffe out to third if he won’t be there long term.
Which raises the question where would Plouffe go?
In a couple years the outfield will be filled with Oswaldo Arcia, Aaron Hicks and Byron Buxton. The rest of the infield looks fairly set as well for the future.
Keep your eyes on Plouffe, his situation is very fluid.
Most AL squads have a David Ortiz or Jim Thome kind of character—a full time DH. It appears the Twins will not have that this season which is an atypical practice.
The Twins will have a big revolving door at the DH spot having a combination of Ryan Doumit, Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Josh Willingham, Trevor Plouffe and Chris Parmelee. It’s possible the Twins will never have the same DH in back-to-back games.
I’m very intrigued to see how the DH position shakes out this year. Just the mystery alone is very compelling.
This is a total hunch and nothing more than that. I have no stats or in-depth analysis to back up why Kevin Correia will be better than Twins fans think he will be.
Twins fans have ripped the signing and I have done my fair share of it, but my theory is that we all can’t be right.
Terry Ryan must see something in him or maybe he is going to extreme levels to pull a practical joke on his fan base.
Besides we’ve all lowered Correia’s bar so much, he has to be better than it, right?
Two seasons of 90-plus losses and there’s about that many questions surrounding the Twins, but much like Kevin Correia they’ll be better than advertised overall.
A revamped rotation and lineup that is becoming a youth movement for the Twins are leading me to believe this team will finish over .500 in 2013. Don’t get me wrong, they won’t be much over the line but they’ll squeeze it out.
The optimistic in me says 82-80.
The pessimist in me is afraid it could be two games worse than that, but we’re only 20 days from Opening Day and we’re going to stay rose-colored glasses optimistic.
If you watched the Heat vs. Timberwolves game last week you noticed the big push for season ticket sales.
The joke on Twitter was that it was an infomercial for season tickets with a basketball game as the breaks. In fact if you head over to the Timberwolves official website it brings you right to an ad for season tickets.
Twins fans are you ready for the same thing for 162-games?
With the All-Star game coming to Target Field in 2014 the push for season ticket purchases with All-Star game priority will be shoved down our collective throats.
I’m glad that the All-Star festivities will be held in the Twin Cities, but I’m also scared I’m going to be All-Star game burned out by the time the calendar even flips to 2014.