Wow â€“ big win by the Twins yesterday. So much for the old joke, no beer sales as they lost the opener. On the other hand, they still have a shot at an undefeated season. OK â€“ that was just plain silly there. Itâ€™s been an interesting off season and spring training with the new brass of Levine and Falvey. Lots of computer talk, etc. as the Twins go the route of relying on computers versus the old baseball scouts. With all that said, The Brass ainâ€™t trying to win a World Series this year and probably not next either, so swallow hard and face the facts here. On the other hand, it might be a few years out but it could be a few years run if things work out.
With 59 wins last year, what to expect this year? Here is my take on it, realize that my baseball mind is not near that of Frankie B., Camel, or the great Lon â€“ so if one of those three wanted to chime in we will all be smarter for it.
Catcher: This was the BIG move in the off season, got a guy, Jason Castro, that can frame the strike zone (computers tell us this) which after game 1, he looks pretty darn good. The backup is some guy I never heard of, Chris Gimenez, which is probably better than that three named guy, John Ryan Murphy. One should really be careful when around someone with three names, such as Lee Harvey Oswald, Billy Joe Byrne, Robert Earl Keen, Jerry Jeff Walker, John Wilkes Booth and of course, Kitty Jo Walsh. OK â€“ Kitty Jo is fine, just thought I would give that a tease. Anyhow, Iâ€™m thinking upgrade here at catcher over last year.
First base â€“ Mauer is on the down hill slide and they should have moved him years ago when Camel was calling for it. Second base â€“ not sure if Dozier will be better, so I call this a push. Short stop, they say Polanco donâ€™t have range but looks good to me â€“ this is an improvement. Third base â€“ Sano canâ€™t field like Trevor Plouffe but he can change the game with one swing of the bat, so Iâ€™m thinking upgrade here.
Outfield â€“ I like the trio of Rosario, Buxton, and Kepler. Defensively this is a way better outfield than last year and they will save some runs. Not sure Butxton and Rosario have major league pitching figured out, but how better to figure it out than to face it every day. Grossman, as a back up, brings some grit and if the trio can stay together, the outfield will be fun to watch.
DH â€“ Grossman. What? The Twins are starting with 13 pitchers, instead of 12 so one less position player. This was the big news coming out of spring training with everyone saying how good the Korean slugger, Bung Ho Park, played in spring training. Well, I got news for you people; Aaron Hicks was the second coming of Kirby Puckett a few springs ago only to get demoted later. Iâ€™m thinking The Brass remembers this well and we will see big Kenny Vargas up here before Easter.
Pitching â€“ donâ€™t know what to think here but it canâ€™t be any worse than last year. Seriously, there has to be at least 5 to 10 more wins with this group. Probably seen the end of the Stillwater Flash, Glen Perkins, which is too bad. I guess he can sell AC units with Herbie, which might be fun. The Brass went with some older guys, so it looks like they see some value in pitchers with experience that didnâ€™t cost a whole lot. This will be an interesting experience.
All in all, itâ€™s always fun when baseball starts, big hopes for the coming season. If The Brass doesnâ€™t break up the team, Iâ€™m thinking 15 to 20 more wins than last year. That would be 74 wins at a minimum â€“ I can hear the Camel scoff already. But seriously, it couldnâ€™t have been as bad as the record was last year â€“ that was terrible. Lots of pundits are saying Dozier and the pitcher Santana are gone before the trade deadline and that would fit into the 3 year plan that The Brass seems to have in place. Be prepared for this talking point all season â€“ who will get traded to build for the future. On the bright side, at least the Twins wonâ€™t start 0 and 9 like last year, there is that!