Minnesota Twins: A Team Built for Short Season Success
Ahhh, the pandemic!! It’s meaning to you is varied, personal and diverse. One thing I believe the nation is ready for is baseball! Let’s get the bats cracking and baseball humming. As MLB firms up its abbreviated spring season, sorting out all the COVID wrinkles, the Minnesota Twins are built for a season of this diversity. This team was assembled to win this year so let’s hope starting the season is a Twins blessing. Let’s take a look why.
Before we dive into specifics, let’s look at intangibles:
Experience: The Twins have a great blend of veterans and experienced youth. The shorter season should be a chance for our older 35+ players to not hit those dreaded dog days of the middle of the season and keep them fresher: I.e. Rich Hill, Nelson Cruz, Sergio Romo, Tyler Clippard, Josh Donaldson
Chemistry: The Twins appear to have a great blend of personalities with jovial, yet work man like dedication. Sergio Romo is a great personality, Nelson Cruz is the consummate professional. Manager Rocco Baldelli gives his players a fair amount of latitude in preparation, keeping his required work organized and efficient. He’s known as a players manager and good communicator.
Now the specifics:
Outfield: The extra time off has allowed Byron Buxton to heal his repaired labrum and he should be ready for Game 1 of the season. Buxton’s speed is supernatural. Having him ready is phenomenal. Max Kepler is settled in as a MLB player and has proven his power. Eddie Rosario is back in left field. I see him as a dark horse MVP candidate. His streaky bat could light up an unusual shortened season, and he’s in an arbitration season. Jake Cave is a very nice utility man for all 3 OF spots. LaMonte Wade Jr offers depth if needed.
Infield: Josh Donaldson is a huge signing. He solidified an already potent line up. Having him in the middle should make a huge impact. Luis Arraez and Jorge Polanco shore up the middle infield. Polanco is coming off an All-Star season taking a huge step forward last season. Arraez was amid-season call up and became a tough, tough out and an OBP machine. Miguel Sano moves to 1st Base which should be a great thing for his offense. Hopefully his COVID illness heals quickly, he reports he feels fine. Marwin Gonzalez and Ehire Adrianza return as very capable utility guys.
Catcher: Mitch Garver found a power surge last year and looks to prove it. Alex Avila and the affable Willians Astudillo will back him up. Astudillo will also be utilized at a number of positions with his defensive versatility, assuming
Pitching: Giving Rich Hill the time needed to heal his surgically repaired labrum was huge assuming he returns to form. Newly acquired Kenta Maeda has to prove himself in the American League but should be a great addition. Jake Odorizzi and Jose Berrios firm the top of the rotation. Homer Bailey is likely the #5 starting favorite. Randy Dobnak, Devin Smelter and Lewis Thorpe offer depth and options with UFA Jhoulys Chacín as a veteran possibility. The bullpen is anchored by Taylor Rogers who seems to be hitting stride in his career. Trevor May, Tyler Clippard, Tyler Duffy, Sergio Romo are proven. If Thorpe isn’t in the rotation I see him as left hander out of the bullpen.
I have optimism. The blend of talented veterans and experienced younger players is ripe. The Twins should have a real shot at a run in the play-offs. The power is proven at the plate. The bullpen and rotation is shored up for the most part. A late season addition is a real possibility. The 2 things to be cautious off, are of course the COVID dilemma shutting the team or season down further and the infield defense is a bit suspect, especially on the right side. Barring setbacks Twins fans should be excited and pumped for 2-3 months of baseball. The time is now!!