Friday, February 19, 2010

Twins 2010 Spring Training Preview

There are a few questions that are left to be answered for the Twins as pitchers and catchers report to Fort Myers this weekend. There are holes to fill in the line-up, rotation, and bullpen. The performances of players over the coming weeks will go a long way to deciding how successful the Twins will be in 2010.

The biggest question surrounding the rotation is which pitcher will step up and earn the fifth spot in the rotation. The battle for the final spot will be between Fransisco Liriano, Brian Duensing, and Glen Perkins. The edge right now goes to Fransisco Liriano. For my full run-down of the starting rotation, check out my 2010 Starting Rotation Preview.

Once again the bullpen is solid and led by ace closer Joe Nathan. The return of Pat Neshek should also help the team. One of the candidates for the fifth spot in the rotation will end up in the bullpen to start the year.

When you have the defending AL MVP behind the plate there are few questions that need to be asked entering spring training. The only question might be will Joe Mauer be able to repeat his power numbers from '09. The other lingering question is who the backup catcher will be. Mike Redmond has left the team and Jose Morales had wrist surgery in the off season. It looks like Wilson Ramos has the edge to get the back up job out of Spring Training.

1st Base
There is nothing like having two MVP's batting back to back in the same line-up. Hopefully Justin Morneau has fully recovered from the back injury that he suffered towards the end of last season. Michael Cuddyer proved he can be a very reliable replacement at first. Jim Thome also has experience at this position but his defensive skills have been declining.

2nd Base
With the recent signing of Orlando Hudson the Twins now have a reliable veteran that can bat in the number two spot in the lineup. Off of the bench the Twins will have a couple of options to fill in when Hudson needs an off day. Alexi Casilla had an up and down season last year. Nick Punto is also a strong defensive player that can play here when needed.

3rd Base
This position is the one spot on the Opening Day roster that is still up for grabs. The leading candidates are Nick Punto, Brendon Harris, and Matt Tolbert. It's Punto's job to lose entering Spring Training. Besides Punto's baserunning error in the ALDS, he was one of the most reliable bats in the postseason. If Brendon Harris has an above average Spring Training, he could steal the job away from Punto.

With the acquisition of JJ Hardy from the Brewers the Twins looked to sure up a position that has been lacking since the team traded Jason Bartlett. The change of scenery should help Hardy as well as the chance to bat in the same lineup as Mauer and Morneau.

The outfield should be very straight forward coming out of Spring Training. Delmon Young will start in Left, Denard Span in Center, and Michael Cuddyer in right. Jason Kubel will primarily be a DH but he will see time in the outfield. If there is a rash of injuries in the outfield Kubel could become a staple in the outfield and Thome would move to perminant DH.

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