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So far so (mostly) Good

I don’t want to blow things out of proportion yet, but with a couple of weeks of spring training in the books, we are starting to get a few emerging Twins storylines to keep an eye on. None of these are anything to get too worked up about quite yet, but there have been a few developments worth raising an eyebrow over.

Joe Mauer’s Health
The number one question on every Twins fan’s mind right now: Will Mauer be ready for opening day?

With the news breaking that his injury is fairly minor (or so the reports say, I’m not a doctor) I think it is fair to be relatively optimistic at this point. Of course, the Twins are remaining mum on the subject, like they always do, but with opening day still over three weeks away there is plenty of time to get Mauer healthy.

However, at what point do we start asking whether Torii Hunter’s claim that Mauer is unwilling to play through pain has some mert? Now it is only spring training, and there is no reason for Mauer to start pushing himself to play with discomfort quite yet; sacrificing a few spring games for a pain free regular season is definitely an acceptable tradeoff after all. But if this were the regular season, and he weren’t playing, would we deem this acceptable?

I say no.

I don’t know Mauer personally, and am not trying to call him out, but from where I stand this seems like something he should be able to play through come opening day.

Jason Kubel and Delmon Young’s hot hitting

After two weeks of spring training I’m not ready to anoint these two the number three and four hitters in the lineup, but it is nice to see them both raking. I’ve always had faith in Kubel as a hitter, and while he obviously won’t hit up around .500 during the season, an improvement upon last year definitely isn’t out of the question.

I would venture a .290/.350/.490 with 25 hrs as a relatively realistic guess for Kubel this year. And, quite frankly, I think his upside potential is greater than that.

As for Young, it’s not time to start replaying the Frank Robinson card yet, but like I said it is nice to see him hitting well. I do still believe Young has some potential, and could hit 20 hrs. Whether or not he will obviously remains to be seen.

The time, however, is definitely now for Young. If he is going to realize his potential this is the season to do it. This will be his third full year in the league, giving him plenty of experience, and if he doesn’t make the proverbial leap this year it is definitely fair to say “he is who we thought he is.”

The starting rotation

Francisco Liriano’s line against Baltimore on Sunday:

4 IP 0 H 0 R 0 BB 5 K

Yeah. I’ll take that.

Now to assume Liriano is back to 2006 form after one dominant outing would be moronic. So obviously I’m not going to do that. However, after seeing him put together several good starts at the end of last year, and taking into account how many people testify it takes about a year and a half to regain top form after Tommy John surgery, I think it is safe to expect a fairly solid season from Liriano this year.

The rest of the rotation has been stepping up this spring as well. Kevin Slowey and Glen Perkins have both had a couple very good outings. Throw in Scott Baker and his brand new shiny contract and I’ll go ahead and say I am very comfortable with the rotation this year.

Assuming all the pitchers take a step forward, which is a rather large assumption to make (although not out of the the question), the Twins could have one of the deepest rotations in the league. I’m not ready to make that claim yet, but so far so good.

Assuming Mauer’s health come opening day (I’m not trying to trivialize his importance, he is the teams greatest asset after all) it is fair for Twins fans to have a pretty high level of optimism right now. Let’s just hope we can say the same thing in two weeks.

Written By: Eric Johnson
Look for his column every Thursday and check out his blog at www.juiceandthekicker.blogspot.com

1 comment:

  1. Are you saying that you don't have a whole lot of faith in Young? To me, he always seems like his head is somewhere else. Either way, I wish him the best this season and hope that the Twins take home another series.

    ReplyDelete