Here is the lineup for last year's opening day:
This year's lineup:
Here is how that lineup stacks up:
Span was a better leadoff hitter than Hicks will likely be this year. That is aside from being a proven veteran with a lot less possibility of failing.
Carroll was also a better number two hitter than Dozier. Although there is not a lot of reason other than normal aging to think this year's version of Carroll will be any better or worse than last years.
Joe Mauer should be Joe Mauer. There have been some suggestions he will step up his power, but that is probably mostly spring training chatter.
Willingham replaces Morneau in the cleanup spot. This is how the year ended last year. Unless Morneau goes back to hitting like an MVP, its likely Willingham will be better than Morneau turned out to be last year. Certainly better than Morneau's start.
Morneau replaces Willingham. Again, this is likely to be an improvement in some ways, but not compared to expectations. Morneau will not likely match Willingham's home run output, but then Willingham didn't project to hit 35 home runs last year either.
Doumit should be Doumit.
Parmelee replaces Valencia. Parmelee projects as a much better hitter, but then Valencia was expected to be much better than he was.
Plouffe replaces Parmelee. Plouffe will likely hit better than Parmelee last year. But that is not a very high bar. The enthusiasm for Parmelee's bat is based on his AAA performance, not what he did against major league pitching.
Florimon replaces Casilla. Casilla was a better hitter than Florimon is ever likely to be. Again, not a high bar.
Overall the Twins offense should be as good, if not better, than last year.It could be a lot better if Hicks, Parmelee and Plouffe are all productive hitters.
Mauer and Willingham are the only defenders returning at the same position. Morneau is a better defensive first baseman than Parmelee. Casilla was better then Dozier is likely to be at second. Florimon is a big improvement at shortstop over Carroll. Plouffe and Valencia are probably comparable defensive players, but Valencia had more experience. Strangely, Parmelee is likely an improvement defensively in right field over Doumit. Span, as a veteran, was a better center fielder than Hicks to start the year.
Overall, the Twins defense has improved with Florimon at shortstop and Morneau back at first. Dozier and Hicks are close enough to their predecessors that it won't make a huge difference. Of course this compares to the start of the year and Ben Revere was on the bench.
It appears the Twins position players have improved from a year ago and they may be better than they at any point last season.
This year's starter, Vance Worley, actually looks better than Carl Pavano, who was last year's starter. But last year the Twins started with Capps as the closer and Perkins as a setup guy. Its not clear they have the same quality in the bullpen.
The Twins pitching has them projected to finish last again in the division. But their everyday lineup is likely stronger. Whether that will be enough to compensate for the pitching is the real question.