It seems the leading candidate for the Twins starting shortstop spot this season is Juan Castro. Gardenhire has stated that he would rather have more defense at the expense of offense, and Castro falls right into this mold with his reliable glove and .226 career batting average. In my opinion, starting Castro is not a good idea, because with him and second baseman Luis Rivas in the 8 and 9 spots, the bottom of the order becomes far too weak. If Michael Cuddyer doesn't pull it together offensively this year, you could potentially have automatic outs 7-9 in the order, which, needless to say, would kill a lot of rallies and prevent this offense from having much success. There is no clear solution for the problem, because none of the other options at shortstop have shown the clear ability to produce at the Major League level. But here's an idea that I haven't seen yet:
Move Rivas back to his natural position of shortstop, and put Cuddyer at second. Then insert Eric Munson at third base. Of course, this idea hinges Munson having a good spring and showing that he can hit better than his lousy .212 average from last year, but the guys got some real power. People talk about how many dingers Justin Morneau can hit with a full season's worth of at-bats, but in just 41 more at bats last year, Munson hit the same number of homers as Morneau. Granted, he also struck out 32 more times, but if the guy could find some discipline at the plate I think he could be a solid regular player. Another option in this situation would be Terry Tiffee, who had some success at the Major League level late last season. I don't personally believe Tiffee is ready to be a regular in the Majors, but he is at least an option that could be looked at if he has a good spring.
In any event, I realize this idea will probably not even be considered, but it's just a thought. I really don't think that you lose much defensively going from Cuddyer to Munson at third, as Cuddyer is more comfortable at second base anyway. Rivas has the range and arm strength to be as effective a shortstop as any of the candidates currently trying for the position.
On another note, when is JC Romero going to put it together? The success of our bullpen depends very much on him this season, as we need him to be the guy who can come in and get left-handed hitters out. He's certainly got the skill, but he just can't seem to get there mentally. In today's 5-2 spring training loss to the Blue Jays, Romero walked three batters and hit another all in one inning, allowing three runs in.