1 MINNESOTA TWINS

April 03, 2011

ENEMY LINES

A RIVAL SCOUT SIZES UP THE TWINS

Solid is the best description for the Twins. Are they going to be very good? I don't know. It'll depend on health, a huge concern for them with the vulnerability in the middle of the order. Without Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau they would have a very hard time competing for a playoff spot. . . . Joe Nathan was coming along this spring. He was topping out at 93 mph, but he'll get better and better. They're handling him perfectly. Having a veteran like Matt Capps there takes the pressure to rush things off Nathan. . . . They lost really good relievers in Jesse Crain, Matt Guerrier and Jon Rauch. They're going to have to patch together the later innings before they can get to Nathan. . . . Right now Carl Pavano is their best pitcher, but Francisco Liriano has the best ceiling. . . . All their pitchers follow the Twins' philosophy, which is extremely sound. They locate their fastball. They throw strikes. None of them are real blazers, but they know how to pitch. That comes from organizational process. They develop players as well as any team in baseball. . . . They've got significant question marks in the middle of the infield. Tsuyoshi Nishioka is very athletic, but you never know how a player's skills will transfer from Japan. He played shortstop there, but they're going to move him to second base, as they should, because he doesn't have the arm strength. . . . Alexi Casilla has proved himself to be a good second baseman but still has to improve at short. How they meld together and turn double plays is going to be extremely important because they have ground ball pitchers. They can't afford to give teams extra outs.

THE LINEUP

WITH 2010 STATISTICS

MANAGER RON GARDENHIRE

10TH SEASON WITH TWINS

[originallink:10873926:1008473]

ROTATION W L ERA WHIP
RH CARL PAVANO 17 11 3.75 1.19
LH FRANCISCO LIRIANO 14 10 3.62 1.26
RH NICK BLACKBURN 10 12 5.42 1.45
RH SCOTT BAKER 12 9 4.49 1.34
LH BRIAN DUENSING 10 3 2.62 1.20
BULLPEN W SV ERA WHIP
RH JOE NATHAN* 2 47 2.10 0.93
RH MATT CAPPS 5 42 2.47 1.26

NEW ACQUISITION (R) ROOKIE (JAPAN PACIFIC LEAGUE STATS) *2009 STATS

PROJECTED PAYROLL

$115,300,000

THE NUMBER

9.8

Percentage of 2010 at bats in which Joe Mauer swung at the first pitch, fourth lowest in the AL. But when the three-time batting champ did go to the plate hacking, few were better. Mauer hit .552 (16 for 29) when he put the first pitch in play, second best in the majors.

MODEST PROPOSAL

Although the Twins won the Central in their first season playing at Target Field, the open-air ballpark exposed a significant weakness: outfield defense. Balls that soared into the seats in the Metrodome stayed in play in the larger park—Target had the fewest home runs per game of any stadium in the major leagues—and Minnesota's outfielders were not adept at getting to them. Among AL teams, the Twins allowed the second-highest total of doubles and triples during the regular season (tied with the Angels), and they gave up seven more to the Yankees while being swept in a miserable Division Series. At some point Minnesota is going to have to give centerfield prospect Ben Revere, 22, a chance to remedy this problem. The team's No. 1 pick in 2007, Revere has speed and leadoff skills (his minor league OBP is a sparkling .389), both of which would come in handy for a club that bookends two poor defensive corner outfielders, Delmon Young and Michael Cuddyer, around the merely adequate Denard Span.

PHOTOCHUCK SOLOMON (NATHAN) PHOTODERICK E. HINGLE/US PRESSWIRE

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)