Monday, March 24, 2008

Doesn't Look Good

So the Twins have all but finished their roster to start the season. In past years the Twins have relied on pitching and defense to make up for a mediocre offense. But that has changed. Unfortunately the offense looks like it will still be mediocre, but the pitching and defense look to be even worse.

Lets look at the defense:

Mauer, Morneau and Cuddyer are back in their same spots. The new players are Harris/Tolbert, Everett, Lamb, Young and Gomez. Everett projects as an improvement over Bartlett. We will have to wait and see how young does in left field, but he probably won't be much worse than last year's collection in any case. But Harris, Lamb and Gomez are not going to provide the defense the Twins have been used to. Gomez has the range and arm to replace Torii in center field, but he is going to need a few years to add the experience Torii brought to the position. Lamb and Harris are both simply questionable defensive players replacing guys whose defense was a strength.

Much has been made of the Twins young pitching, but it is pretty clear Liriano is not going to immediately provide the ace the staff lacks. Baker may or may not be ready to start the year either.  The rest of the pitching staff is mediocre - albeit with a lot of depth. Herandez will give them innings and, along with Bonser, is a solid 4th starter. Slowey did well this spring and may be a decent 4th starter as well. You will notice a pattern here. The Twins have guys who will keep them in the game, but they are not going to put the other team away very often. And they aren't going to have the same defensive support Twins pitchers have enjoyed in the past.

The bullpen is supposed to be a Twins strength. But Guerrier, Rincon and Crain did not shine this spring and they only have one lefty in Reyes. The bullpen  still looks good, but not guaranteed to be dominant even with Nathan closing.  And the starting staff may make matters worse by forcing the bullpen to eat a lot of innings.

So the question is has the Twins offense improved? Probably a little bit with the potential to be a lot better. They lost Torii Hunter (and Luis Castillo) , but they added Harris, Lamb, Young, Monroe and Gomez.  A lot will depend on how the young players develop. Gomez, Young, Kubel, Mauer and even Morneau are all on the spot to create an  offense that can carry the team, rather than just support an outstanding pitching staff.

In the end, spring training added more questions than it answered.

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