Its tempting to compare the Twins from last fall with the team going into this spring training. And the team that was there last fall was already a lot different from the team that played most of the season. The Twins team that started the 2012 season is long gone, but its interesting to see what has changed in the past year. Between changes last season and moves last winter, the 2013 Twins looks very different from the team that entered spring training a year ago.
The Twins starting rotation at the start of spring training last year was expected to be Scott Baker, Carlos Pavano, Nick Blackburn. Francisco Liriano and Jason Marquis. None of those pitchers are in the Twins plans. Blackburn is the only one still in the organization and he won't be ready to pitch until sometime in March at the earliest. He was unlikely to win a spot on the major league roster in any case.
The Twins bullpen was projected to have Capps, Perkins, Duensing, Swarzak with a long list competing for spots. Capps is gone and Perkins is now the closer. The other three are likely to be back along with Alex Burnett and Jared Burton who were winners in last year's scrum for bullpen spots.
There was some question about whether the Twins would keep three catchers going into spring training last year. In fact, they went with two to start the season with Drew Butera spending the first month at AAA. That is unlikely to be repeated this year.
Whether Justin Morneau would play first base was an open question going into last season. In fact, he started the season as a DH. He didn't start his first game until mid-April and it was the last half of May before he played two games in a row in the field. This year he projects as the starting first baseman. The Twins went into spring training experimenting with Mauer and Doumit at first and finally settled on Parmelee as a regular when it was clear Morneau was not ready to play in the field.
The rest of Twins starting infield going into spring training was Jamey Carroll at shortstop, Alexi Casilla at second and Danny Valencia at third. Only Carroll returns this year and he is projected to play second or take the utility spot.
The outfield last year was projected as Span in center, Willingham in right and Ben Revere in left. Willingham is the only returning part of that equation and he settled back into left field last spring after being uncomfortable in right.
The DH last year was supposed to be shared by Mauer, Doumit and Morneau. All three will be back with only the mix changing.
Back from last year in the same role they were projected to play last year going into spring training:
Back with their slightly new roles:
Perkins - setup to closer
Morneau - part time DH/1B to everyday first baseman
Carroll - starting shortstop to second base/utilitu
Willingham - right field to left field
So there are 9 players returning who were expected to take roles going into spring training last year. To say this team looks different than a year ago is a bit of an understatement. There are other returning players who won jobs in spring training last year. That includes Burnett, Burton, Parmelee, Plouffe and Dozier. So changes will continue this spring even before opening day, but its instructive to see how much change has accumulated since the last time pitchers and catchers reported.