It seems as though the offseason comes and goes each year with rumors of upgrades for the Minnesota Twins, but ultimately no major moves go through.
This year has been no different.
There have been reports on possible upgrades at third, whether it be Garrett Atkins, Kevin Kouzmanoff, Adrian Beltre, or someone else.
There have been rumored upgrades at shortstop, such as J.J. Hardy and Yunel Escobar. And then the the rumors about upgrades in the bullpen, ranging from taking a chance on Mike Lincoln to a major upgrade in Huston Street.
It looked like the Twins might actually make a splash.
Nearly two months into the offseason, and the biggest move for Minnesota has been the re-signing of shortstop Nick Punto—not quite the huge move everybody was hoping for.
Nonetheless, as we look at the team two months after the World Series, the roster has become more clear, and there is now a better understanding of where things stand.
The Twins have thus far accomplished their goal of retaining their starting rotation from the '08 season, and barring some huge move, the preceding rotation is the one that the team will likely break camp with come March.
It isn't a bad thing either. With a healthy Liriano and Baker at the top, and a solid third-starter in Slowey, the Twins have the opportunity to have similar results from the rotation next season—if not better.
The lineup should be young, and with the exception of a possible platoon at third between Buscher and Brendan Harris, the position starters at each position should be pretty consistent.
Delmon Young off the bench isn't an exciting thought for me. I personally want to see him on the field everyday, or with another team. The good thing about having him aboard, however, is his ability to step in should the plans not work out.
Carlos Gomez had a decent first full season, but if he doesn't improve next year, the Twins will have the option to move Span to center, and Young to left.
Cuddyer could very easily provide the bat the Twins failed to bring in this offseason; but, just as easily as that could happen, a solid bat from last season could regress.
The bench listed above is a pretty solid one. While Redmond is getting older, he has showed that he can still hit, and is considered one of the better backups in the league at his position.
Young is a starter, and Harris is capable of starting at second, short or third if needed (he could actually start the season over Buscher). Tolbert was having a solid year before being injured this past season, and Pridie is very highly regarded.
Personally I'm not sure that Pridie belongs, and I think that fifth bench spot will be a position battle come spring. The Twins already have a backup outfielder in Young, and Kubel can play in the outfield as well. But, who takes Pridies' spot? There is Matt Macri, but other than him, anybody from the 40-man roster or a spring invite would have a lot to prove.
I personally believe that the Twins should start the season with six pitchers in the 'pen. But, there is always that chance that they could go with four off the bench to keep both Bonser and Humber around.
It isn't all that upsetting that the Twins have failed to upgrade the bullpen. The same pitchers could do it themselves.
Nathan is a solid closer, Crain should be completely healthy, and Guerrier could rebound from a poor '08 season. Breslow proved to be a solid left-handed option, and Mijares came up clutch late in the season. Plus, Bonser has a solid curve and throws hard, which could make him a decent set-up man.
Expect the Twins to bring in other options with spring invites to compete for a spot, but nothing major is likely. Someone like the Japanese product Koji Uehara would be intriguing.
It is disappointing that the Twins haven't made an upgrade offensively to the left side of the infield, but should it have been expected?
It may come back to hurt them, but the team they currently have could be just as good.