Minnesota Twins

Anthony Reyes pitched two hitless innings in his spring debut.  Brad Thompson followed with 3 hitless innings.  He has definitely has to be in the running for the fifth spot.

David Eckstein’s injury might not be as bad as first thought.  I still think the Cardinals should error on the side of caution.  It is better for Eck to miss time now compared to missing time during the season.

Fan favorite Jeff Weaver yielded three runs and five hits in two innings Sunday in a loss to the Giants.  I know it is only his first start of the spring, but I believe it is a sign of what’s to come.

Former Cardinal 2B Mark Grudzielanek will miss the beginning of the season following knee surgery scheduled for Monday.

Rotoworld has their Top 150 Prospects List.  Colby Rasmus was rated 27 and Jaime Garcia was rated 95.

Mizzou swept its weekend series with Youngstown State.  The Tigers are now 9-5 on the season.  Southeast also swept its weekend series, beating Cleveland State twice.  The Redhawks travel to Arkansas State on Tuesday and host SLU on Wednesday.  Vanderbilt stayed undefeated after their weekend sweep.  Friday LHP David Price struck out 13.  He now has 41 strikeouts in 26.2 innings as the Commodores stand 14-0.

Price is definitely the top pitcher in this year’s draft.  For more info on the draft get over to MILB.com and look at their weekly draft preview.

2006 Finish:  96-66, 1st place, lost to Oakland in the ALDS

Manager: Ron Gardenhire, about to start sixth season with Twins

Comings:  RHP Ramon Ortiz, RHP Sidney Ponson, IF Jeff Cirillo, LHP Randy Choate, LHP Mike Venafro

Goings:  LHP Francisco Liriano will have Tommy John surgery and miss the season, RHP Brad Radke retired, OF Shannon Stewart went to the A’s

Offense: 1B Justin Morneau hit .321 with 34 HRs and 130 RBIs on his way to being named the AL MVP.  C Joe Mauer hit .347 and became the first catcher to win the batting title in decades.  Former first rounder RF Michael Cuddyer had a career year driving in 109.  CF Torii Hunter had a solid year hitting 31 long balls with 98 RBIs.  2B Luis Castillo is a very solid leadoff hitter with a line of .296/.358/.370 with 25 steals.  The rest of the lineup is steady yet unspectacular.

Defense:  CF Hunter is one of the best in the business and a perennial gold glover.  Mauer is very nimble for a big man and is a very good athlete behind the plate.  Castillo is a former gold glover.  RF Cuddyer is a good athlete with a strong arm.  Morneau is no slouch a first.  SS Jason Bartlett and 3B Nick Punto are very reliable on the left side.

Rotation:  LHP Johan Santana won another Cy Young Award and is one of the elite pitchers in baseball.  RHP Boof Bonser finally showed why he was a first round pick going 7-6 with an ERA of 4.22.  RHP Carlos Silva was mediocre at best and must rebound.  I have always thought RHP Scott Baker could be good but he has never put it together and has been lit up so far this spring.  RHP Matt Garza should make the rotation after a memorable rise during 2006.  Read more about him below.  RHP Ramon Ortiz’ results have not matched his stuff.  Hopefully with a steadying influence such as Santana this might be the year that changes.  RHP Ponson is washed up.  Liriano’s stuff will be missed.  Radke’s presence and consistent double digits wins will be greatly missed.

Bullpen:  RHP Joe Nathan has become one of the top closers in baseball.  RHP Juan Rincon has become one of the top setup men.  Last year he had an ERA of 2.91 in 75 games.  LHP Denys Reyes was a lefty extraordinaire, posting a miniscule ERA of 0.89 in 50.2 innings covering 66 games.  Choate and Venafro were brought in to compete for the other lefty job.  RHP Jesse Crain came into his own posting an ERA of 3.52 in 66 games.

Prospects: Matt Garza-RHP-Had a meteoric rise from A ball to the Majors in 06, with stops in Double and Triple A along the way.  Was 14-4 in the minors and went 3-6 in the majors.  Has a good fastball that usually sits 92-94 but can reach 98.  He has an above average curveball and slider that are both out pitches.

Chris Parmelee-OF-Considered one of the better high school bats in the 06 draft.  He held his own over two levels in his pro debut.  In Rookie ball he hit .279/.369/.532.  He was the promoted to A ball and his average dropped to .227 but his OBP went up ever so slightly to .370.  He has an above average arm so he is projectable to play right at this time, but he might end up at 1B as he ages.

Trevor Plouffe-3B-Picked in the First Round (20th overall) of the 2004 First Year Player Draft.  He was taken 8 spots of local talent Blake Dewitt who went to the Dodgers.  So far the Twins have been disappointed.  In 312 minor league games he has a line of .244/.321/.353.  He has good range and an above average arm so he does project as a possible utility player at this time.  But he will not be 21 until June.

Analysis:  This team is being considered a World Series contender.   MY biggest worry is the pitching.  Santana is definitely one of the best if not the best pitcher in baseball.  The rest of the rotation does not impress me at all.  They have a very good everyday lineup and bullpen.  The farm system is not as deep as it once was making any trade deadline deals that much more difficult.  The Torii Hunter watch will be on as the CF will be a free agent at the end of the season.

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