Sunday, April 05, 2009

Twins Weaknesses

Going into Monday's openers most commentators seem to think the Twins bullpen is its primary weakness. There is some truth in that, but not as much as you might think. The Twins have one of the best closers in baseball in Nathan and three proven setup guys in Crain, Guerrier and Ayala. What none of those three are is a dominant 8th inning guy. They also have a solid lefty in Breslow. While not as strong as it has been in some past years, the bullpen is really unlikely to be a major weakness.

I think there are couple places where the Twins may not be as good as they appear in the many preseason evaluations - including my own:

The Outfield
All four of the regular outfielders, Cuddyer, Span, Gomez and Young have question marks about what can be expected from them. I like all four of these guys individually, but I think it is very unlikely all the answers will be positive. My guess is that the Twins will lose a few games before they sort that out.

Second Base
Casilla is still young and he struggled toward the end of last year. To some extent, I think we should expect that to continue. I don't think he is going to lose his job, although that is possible, but more likely that he will not be a huge plus as a number two hitter and people will start complaining about fielding miscues again.

Mauer will come back, but he is not going to be fully ready when he does. And having Redmond play every day at the start of the season is going to leave him worn out. The result, at the end of the year, is going to be much less offense from the catchers than the past couple years.

Starting Pitching
The expectations here are just too high. Baker going on the DL ought to be a wakeup call. Its likely at least one of the top 5 starters will fail or get injured. Another one will likely be just barely adequate for a large part of the season. The Twins pitching will still be good, but it is not likely to be one of the best rotations in baseball, as some fans and sports writers seem to believe.

1 comment:

Ben said...

I agree for the most part, but...

The outfield: the depth this year should be a major luxury. When you look at the backup options, Span/Young/Kubel, Pridie compared to the days of Lew and Tyner, we should count our blessings.

Second base: agree there too, but fallback options of Tolbert and Harris aren't bad.

Starting pitching: I think we're in better shape to start the season than in other years. The problem, as you pointed out, is that the reinforcements that used to be waiting in the minors are now being counted on in the majors. There's still depth, they just don't inspire the same confidence.

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