Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Joe Benson’

Minnesota Twins Opening Day Primer

2011 Record: 63-99 Manager: Ron Gardenhire

Name it, if it could have gone wrong in Minneapolis, it went wrong during the 2011 season. Gone are some old mainstays in the outfield, Mike Cuddyer and Jason Kubel, and also Joe Nathan. Unfortunately, they left in free agency instead of getting some decent prospects in a trade deadline deal. So now Terry Ryan is back at GM to straighten things out.

Player in the spotlight: Joe Mauer C

Great hair and a great swing. But pneumonia and other assorted issues have sidelined or affected Mauer for the past two seasons. He’s at the beginning of his megadeal that will net him over $180M and the Twins can’t afford any more seasons like last year. They need 150 games and his typical top 5 hitting season to give this team any kind of hope for this season.

Biggest question mark in the lineup: Justin Morneau 1B/DH

It’s been a season and a half since Morneau suffered that concussion in July of 2010. Since then Morneau hasn’t been the same with problems from post-concussion syndrome and other physical issues. If he can climb his way back to being an average middle of the order hitter to go along with a healthy Mauer, the Twins could climb back over .500. That’s a lot of ifs, and only with two players.

Pitcher in the spotlight: Francisco Liriano

Most potential contenders would have already given up on the enigmatic, yet extremely talented LIriano. But the Twins are still hoping against hope and they need a season like 2010 out of Liriano if they have any chance to compete this year. If he doesn’t start showing the kind of consistency they are looking for, expect Liriano to be wearing a new uniform by the end of July.

Biggest pitching question mark: Scott Baker

The oft-injured Twins best pitcher from 2011 was Baker. Now he’s on the shelf with some elbow problems and he’ll be getting a second opinion next week. The Twins need a healthy Baker to contribute if they hold any hope of returning to the postseason.

Prospect with a chance to make an impact this year: Joe Benson OF

It’s just a matter of time for Benson, who will start the year at AAA. Denard Span has been rumored to be traded for a little while now and he’ll probably get dealt for some pitching health when Benson is ready.

Prediction: 5th in AL Central

Ron Gardenhire is one heck of a manager. That’s the only real reason for optimism for this edition of the Twins. He’s been able to stabilize some of the most challenging situations over the years and he’s a primary reason for hope this season. Of course, it helps if Mauer and Morneau are able to bounce back and if the pitchers can stay healthy and pitch well enough. They should be better than last year, of course. But how much better? If everything goes right, they could surprise and win 85-88 games and compete for the wildcard. But that’s a HUGE if. More likely is a season with less injuries than last year but where there’s a lot of turnover on the pitching staff and a season spent looking for the right mix in the lineup. It feels like a 75-78 win team that will compete with Kansas City more than Detroit in the standings over the season.

Advertisements