The Minnesota Twins find themselves in a strange position this spring. The team is coming off a record-setting 59-103 season and yet there are really no position battles waging in Ft. Myers this spring. All the starting position players are pretty much the same as last season except for the catcher Kurt Suzuki who left via free agency and the Twins signed free agent Jason Castro to replace him and handed him the starting job.
How often does that happen? Usually you lose 103 games and everyone is fighting for a job but that is not the case in the spring of 2017 at the CenturyLink Sports complex where the Twins are preparing for the 2017 season. As I watch the team go through its spring routines there doesn’t seem to be much urgency and the players are acting as if they are all veterans just waiting for the bell to ring in a new season. I can see the players going through the drills but I just don’t see that they are working hard to get better. This team is young, and talented but have they had enough sand kicked in their face yet to really want to win? I hope so.
I am still convinced that Joe Mauer playing first base limits the Twins from taking that next step. Mauer is the grey-beard among the position players at 33 and then Brian Dozier and Jason Castro follow at 29 and the rest of the starting line-up is 25 or under.
If you look at the spring training stats and I know they don’t mean a hill of beans when the season starts BUT this team appears to be a team that can score some runs but will hit for a lower average than what fans might expect. Mauer’s .300 plus days are in his rear view mirror and I am not expecting Jason Castro, Byron Buxton, Max Kepler, Miguel Sano, Jorge Polanco, or Brian Dozier to hit .260 or above. I expect a higher average from Eddie Rosario this year but he too is still unproven.
In spite of what I have written this team should be fun to watch but you must be prepared for those “what the hell just happened” moments. This team will continue to improve as the season progresses and but so much will depend on the teams pitching staff both from the starters and the relievers.
I was used to seeing GM Terry Ryan out next to the fields checking out the action but this year I have not seen Thad Levine at all and Derek Falvey just once and that was this morning. A different style I guess, particularly since all I heard early on about Falvey was how closely he worked with his manager. But you are right, it is still early.
After horrible starts to the season the last two years, how will the Twins leave the starting gate in 2017? Another bad start could would be a serious problem for Paul Molitor and his boys.