What exactly is the Twins plan going forward? In the past, the Twins have always stressed pitching and fielding. The Twins went into 2011 saying that they wanted to improve their defense and their speed. This past off-season the Twins signed Josh Willingham, Ryan Doumit and Jamey Carroll and none of these players can be seen even remotely as defensive stars or speed demons. On the pitching side they resigned Matt Capps to be their closer and signed Jason Marquis as another “innings eater” starter to replace Brian Duensing whom they want to move to the bullpen. For middle relief they went after quantity versus quality hoping to catch “lightning in a bottle” by claiming or signing relievers such as Jason Bulger, Jared Burton, Samuel Deduno, Matt Maloney, Aaron Thompson, Daryl Thompson, Casey Fien, PJ Walters, Brendan Wise and Joel Zumaya. GM Terry Ryan also signed players with big league experience such as 3B Sean Burroughs, 1B Steve Pearce, OF Wilkin Ramirez, and catcher JR Towles.
In the past, Twins management has stated that they didn’t want to start camp too early because the players just got bored and burnt out waiting for the real games to begin. The Twins have historically been one of the last teams to report to and start training camp, this year they are one of the first teams to report and start work-outs.
This year the Twins will have at least 25 non-roster spring training invites this year, there will be more players out there than you can shake a stick at. In the past the Twins position has been not to invite too many players in spring camp because there was just not enough playing time and they wanted to give everyone a chance to showcase their talents.
This year the Twins seem to be desperate, picking up some veteran hitting help even though their defense and speed will suffer, they picked up a slew of relievers hoping that one or maybe two can find their way north to Minnesota. Speed? Gardy felt a need for speed going into 2011 but I have not heard him mention speed once this off-season. When you sign a 38 year old Jamey Carroll who has never had a full-time starting role to be your regular shortstop you are indeed close to a panic situation. Yep, these are desperate and trying times in Twinsville as the team tries to regroup from a horrendous 63-99 2011 season and the team is taking desperate steps to right a ship that is on the shoals of a major rebuilding effort. The problem they have is that Joe Mauer is making a ton of money and they haven’t a clue as to what will happen with 1B Justin Morneau who is coming off his seventh career concussion. Without big comebacks from both of these Twins stars the team has no chance at even finishing near the .500 mark. Ron Gardenhire will have to do his best managing act ever to get this team to win half of their games.
So it will be an interesting spring in Ft. Myers this year and I would expect to see a number of intrasquad and “B” squad games taking place on the back fields of Hammond Stadium. I will be there to watch the action and it should be fun. The beauty of this time of the year is that we all have hope and no one has lost a game as yet. It just seems to me that the Minnesota Twins are changing gears this year and things are going to be a lot different going forward into 2012 and beyond. So make sure you buy a scorecard when you attend your first Twins game this year.