February 21, 2007

2007 Season Outlook

Spring Training is underway and the Twins are ready to get going. This in not a preview of what the Twins will or won't do this season, but more of list of the things that you might see next season. I have broken it into a few different parts. The part include the hitters, the starting rotation, and the relief pitchers.

The Hitters:
This past off-season, the Twins really didn't make any huge moves to make their team a better offensive team. The most they did was retain Hunter and resign White. This to me however will make a big difference. I think this season White will definitely hit a homerun before July and if we're lucky, he might hit 20 homeruns this season. Hunter may surprise as well. This season is Hunter's contract year and it has been proven in the past that on a player's contract year, they often times have career years. The rest of the team will look very similar to the team from last season. You will see Cuddyer in right, Morneau at first, Mauer behind the plate, and Castillo, Bartlett, and Punto filling the rest of the infield. The only other spot that will look different is the DH position. As of now, the Twins are ready to hand the job to Kubel, who lost some weight and got healthier this past off-season. But if he doesn't preform, you may see them platoon between a number of guys or possibly give it to a guy like Ken Harvey if he has a good Spring Training.

The Bullpen:
The bullpen in 2007 should be just as solid, and maybe better than it was in 2006. This past off-season, the Twins only lost one guy out of the bullpen and that was Willie Eyre. They now have more experience with Neshek getting innings under his belt and Reyes getting a full season of work. They still have guys like Rincon and Crain setting up for arguably the best closer in the league, Joe Nathan. They'll still have Matt Guerrier and will also give J.D. Durbin a shot at becoming the other long-reliever. Comimg into Spring Training, the Twins have one spot to give to fill Eyre's spot. And as I said before, they'll give Durbin a shot at becoming a second long-reliever. However, they may also decide to give it to a veteran lefthander to take the load off of the team's other lefthander Dennys Reyes. This season it would be expected that the Twins would have a better bullpen, but they'll need the guys that stepped up last year to do so again.

The Starting Rotation:
I saved this for last because to me, the starting rotation brings the most questions to the Twins. Last season, the Twins got great performances from Liriano and Radke, two guys that they will not see this season. This season, the Twins only have two guys in my mind that come into Spring Training already in the rotation. Those guys are Santana and Silva. You can also expect to see Ramon Ortiz in the rotation unless he has a horrible Spring Training, and I would also expect Boof Bonser to make the rotation which leaves one more spot. In my mind, I would love to see Ponson have a great Spring Training and make the roster. However, if he is unable to make the roster or the other guys I mentioned before either don't step up or start the regular season off bad, you might guys like Slowey, Garza, Perkins, and Baker make the team. These guys will also have the chance to compete for a spot in the rotation before the season starts.

Uniform Numbers:
The Twins have handed out uniform numbers to all of the Twins on the 40-man roster, and you can see what number each player has on the right sidebar. Sindey Ponson is not currently on the 40-man roster, but he will be wearing number 19 this spring and if he makes the roster, he will keep that number as well. Other new Twins players with new numbers include Ramon Ortiz with number 44 and Jeff Cirillo with number 27.

Finally, this is again not a season preview but more of an outlook of some of the things that you can expect both this spring and in the 2007 season. I still haven't decided whether or not to have a season preview, but if I do, it will be sometime in March.