As a member of the Baseball Blogger Alliance (BBA) there are a variety of tasks that are asked of the members every year. As the beginning of the season approaches, Daniel Shoptaw, the founder of the BBA, asked the members of the Twins chapter of the BBA to answer a few questions about the offseason and the coming year. Mr. Shoptaw will be posting the responses of the other Twins members later this week at C70 At The Bat.
Below you will find my responses to the questions that he asked:
C70: What was your opinion of the Minnesota offseason?
NoDak Twins Fan: I feel that most Twins fans were disappointed in seeing a lot of the Twins' bullpen exit for greener pastures. The Twins are capable of using many of their internal options to fill their bullpen roles. The best thing about this offseason might have been the fact that the Twins didn't have to deal with Joe Mauer's contract. By having that distraction out of the way, the Twins were able to focus on other endeavors. The addition of Tsuyoshi Nishioka has a lot of fans excited this offseason. His addition to the middle infield could go a long way to helping the Twins to a third straight Central Division title.
C70: Did Delmon Young finally take a step last year or was it a mirage?
NoDak Twins Fan: Entering last season Delmon Young seemed to give fans the impression that he was ready to make the next step. He came into Spring Training in the best shape of his life and that translated into a monster year for the Twins' leftfielder. He needs to show the Twins that he is capable of sustaining this production if he wants to continue to be part of the organization. The Twins have a lot of young outfield prospects (Ben Revere, Joe Benson, and Aaron Hicks) that are chomping at the bit to be part of the major league club. It will be great to see if Young can reproduce his production from last season, especially if Mauer and Morneau are also healthy and part of the middle of the line-up.
C70: What are the expectations for Joe Nathan this year?
NoDak Twins Fan: Nathan is proving this spring that he is capable of being the closer again this season. The Twins are going to be more cautious with him and I think this is the right approach. Matt Capps provides some insurance for the Twins in the closer role. All indications point to Nathan getting around 2/3rd's of the save opportunities with Capps getting the other 1/3rd. Nathan has dealt with a shoulder surgery in the past and recovering from that has allowed him to be more focused when it comes to this current recovery. With Nathan back to his normal form this season, the rest of the chaos in the bullpen might be easier to smooth out.
C70: Is there a Twins prospect that will make a significant impact this season?
NoDak Twins Fan: The Twins have a surplus of starting pitching at the moment, but the one prospect that is most ready to make an impact at the major league level is also a starting pitcher. Kyle Gibson is the most major league ready player in the Twins organization. From college to the minor leagues, he has shown that he is on the fast track to make his mark at the major league level. The biggest question might be how the Twins will make room for him in a jam packed rotation. If any of the Twins starting pitchers struggle at the beginning of the season, Gibson will be making his major league debut sooner rather than later.
C70: What is your prediction on Minnesota's record and divisional finish?
NoDak Twins Fan: There are so many question marks that currently plague the Twins and their run for a third straight Central Division title. Morneau's health, Mauer's knee, an unproven bullpen, and a revamped middle infield are all areas that need to work out in favor of the Twins for the team to be successful. Even with obstacles to overcome, the Twins always seem to find themselves in the heat of the pennant race at the end of the year. The White Sox and Tigers have also bulked up to try and take down the Twins. The Twins will be fighting for the title but will fall a few games short at the end of the year. A total of 88 wins and a 2nd place finish will be the Twins' fate in 2011.