Only 12 days remain until the first Pitchers/Catchers report to Spring Training. I thought I’d take the time to forecast the Twins depth chart. I am no Ron Gardenhire, but I’ll try my best.
C – Mauer(Duh! I would like to see him make a transition to 3B at some point in his career. He is very tall and squatting will eventually take a serious toll on his knees. You have to keep his bat in the lineup at all costs, but I would like to see him play the field, not just DH.)
1B – Morneau (Really cooled off toward the end of last season, but is still progressing and is our franchise first baseman. Easy pick.)
2B – Casilla (Only played in 98 games but shows great potential, especially as a defensive wizard. His bat is slowly coming around.)
3B – Buscher/Harris– Harris will probably get the nod to start the season. Many people believe Buscher will platoon with Harris throughout the season. Makes sense but I would like to see one of those guys step up and win the job out right. Buscher is homegrown and can crush the ball when he is in the zone and hit for average. I hope he is the future, however, his glove may hold him back. Gardy preaches defense and fundamentals.
SS – Punto – Everett is gone, and not a second too soon. Punto has zippy competition at this position and I can’t think of anyone who could overtake him this year. I love Punto, he fits the Twins mold (i.e. team player, great defense, plays the game hard), but his bat is something to be desired. He certainly has his moments with the lumber but is a hole in our lineup. His saving grace in his leadership and defense. Punto is one of the best infielders I have ever watched. He is a vaccum!
|OF – Young/Span/Cuddyer/Gomez– This is where things get VERY complicated. We have TOO much talent in the OF (great problem to have!). I have racked my brain for weeks trying to figure out how this will shake out. Gomez is great #9 hitter, but has not developed enough to leadoff. He has fantastic defense but has a lot to learn about the game. I don’t want him to waste away on the bench all year so may I be so bold as to start him in Rochester this year. Let him continue to develop plate patience. In my opinion Span is further along in his development and has the same tools as Gomez, so he takes over CF. Young is a firecracker in your hand just waiting to explode with talent (or so we Twins’ fans pray). I believe Young’s bat will finally develop into the power hitter we need him to be. I’m a little skeptical of his defense, he looks very slow and stiff in LF, but his cannon of an arm may help mask his speed. Cuddy gets the nod in RF, one, because he is from the state I was born in (VA), and two, he is a proven player. We could debate this position forever, but like I said, Gomez should start in AAA.
DH – Kubel – Why Monroe even sniffed the field last year is beyond me. I think Gardy did not have complete faith in Kubel to be an everyday DH. However, at the end of the year Kubel showed enough consistency to win the job out right and did a great job. He was second on the team in HRs behind Morneau. Morneau had 623 ABs and 23 HRs, Kubel had 463 ABs and 20 HRs. He is here to stay.
This isn’t a science, just a gut feeling from what I’ve seen on the field. We have a lot of great weapons this year and a ton of Minor Leaguers waiting to make a name for themselves. I can’t wait to see how everything shakes out in Spring Training. I’ll go over Pitchers next post.