Spring Training Update Also Player Predictions
Few days ago I was at Hammond Stadium watching the Minnesota Twins in Spring Training. All around the league, critics are calling for the Twins to finish third in the American League Central, so I was very eager to watch this team in person and give my own opinion, and here it is.First of all the injury bug is still with this team. From Joel Zumaya, and now Scott Baker, things are starting to look really bumpy, yet I saw some very compelling things while soaking in the 80 degree weather.First of all Joe Mauer was a key issue for the Twins last year, and was even made fun of yesterday on
Pardon The Interruption on ESPN, because yesterday was the two year anniversary of Mauer big contract, and since then has only hit 12 home runs and drove in 80 RBI's, which is lousy in compared to what we are paying him, yet when I saw him swing it looked like the old Mauer again. We will probably never see him smash 28 home runs again, but to me it looked like he went back to his basic fundamental of his swing; which is take the ball the other way. If Mauer could hit for average like he used to then this team could contend in the Central.
Justin Morneau is another key issue. It feels like just yesterday when we had M&M boys smashing the ball all over the field, now Mauer is seen more on commercials then on the field, and Morneau can not avoid the concussions. Justin is hitting below .100 this spring, but statistically Morneau has never had great Spring Trainings, the key for him is to stay healthy. If he can do that then we have the middle of an order that can compete with the Detroit Tigers.
Here is my suggestion to Ron Gardenhire. Bat Denard Span, Ben Revere 1-2, and Casilla ninth, because all three are fast, and are just killing the competition in Florida. Just imagine Span, Revere, Mauer all hitting over .300(which all three are now) and then having Morneau and Josh Willingham just crush 30 home runs each which they both are capable of doing. I wouldn't mind switching Alexi Casilla and Revere around in the batting order because the number nine hitter should be just like a lead off man, and Revere is that type of hitter, and Casilla can be a great number two hitter when healthy.
One guy that has beefed up this Winter was Danny Valencia, Currently Danny is leading this team with three home runs, and is hitting over .300. If Valencia can keep up those kinds of numbers during the season then he would fill in quite nicely either as the sixth or seventh hitter.
Lets talk pitching. Carl Pavano is struggling right now with an ERA about six, but then again it is Spring Training. Francisco Liriano is looking like he really wants a contract extension by having an ERA below 3, and having two more run(4) then walks(2), and not to mention punching out 18 batters in 13 innings. Nick Blackburn was on the mound when I watched the Twins, and he looked sharp. Blackburn has not allowed a single run in this Spring.
My prediction for this season is quite positive. Remember Detroit only has one good pitcher albeit if he did win the MVP last year, if something does go wrong for Justin Verlander then the Tigers could struggle even if they do have the next bash brothers in their lineup(Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder). The key thing is for the Twins is to stay healthy. Casilla, Mauer, Morneau, and Span all missed over 100 games each last year. If they stay healthy watch out American League. If we pitch, field, and hit like we did just a mere two years ago then things will start to look up for this once dominating team in the Central.
Extra: Joe Benson, Chris Parmelee, Luke Hughes, Brian Dozier, and Brian Dinkelman all are having great Spring, watch to see if these guys can fill out the bench for the Twins. Also the Twins are 12-9 this Spring Training, are only one game up on Boston Red Sox for the Mayor Cup.