Monday, February 25, 2008

Spring Has Sprung

Well, not literally. It's still February, and still pretty cold outside (though not nearly as bad as it was before -- boy was yesterday's 35-degree high refreshing). Down in Ft. Myers, the temperatures have been in the 80s and warm-ups are heating up. La Velle E. Neal III, Joe Christensen and Phil Miller have all been blogging live from the ballpark, and each scribe has been delivering many interesting details. I've particularly enjoyed Miller's blog; he has been updating several times each day and his coverage has been extremely thorough. Thanks Phil, keep up the great work.

Christensen had some quotes from Ron Gardenhire in one of his blog posts yesterday indicating that the 2008 batting order might be starting to take shape.

“I would like to have him [Justin Morneau] in that 4-spot,” Gardy said. “I think that’s where he belongs.”

So from that, would it be safe to assume he wants Joe Mauer batting second?

“No, I wouldn’t assume that,” Gardy said. “I think that sounds really good, but don’t assume that. I like that. I think [Mauer’s] an on-base percentage guy, and I’d like to have a righthanded bat in between them. … So it makes sense, if we can find a leadoff guy, and if we can find a third hitter, all those things.”

Batting Mauer second and Morneau fourth makes a lot of sense, and the smart money would be on either Delmon Young or Michael Cuddyer hitting between them. Unless Young can learn how to take a walk, I think it would make more sense to hit Cuddyer ahead of Morneau because he'll probably get on base more often than Young this season. Here's my early prediction for the Opening Day lineup:

1. Gomez, CF
2. Mauer, C
3. Cuddyer, RF
4. Morneau, 1B
5. Young, LF
6. Kubel, DH
7. Harris, 2B
8. Lamb, 3B
9. Everett, SS

That group is short on speed outside of Gomez, but each player 2-6 is a legit 20-plus home run threat. If forced to choose between a lineup built around speed or power, I'll go with the latter. The speed approach didn't really work for the 2007 unit.

Speaking of speed, it sounds like Kevin Slowey is popping the mitt pretty hard here in early spring. We've all come to learn that you can't put too much stock into reports on players from spring practices (remember Buster Olney's raves about Justin Jones back in spring of '06?), but it's definitely good to hear that Twins' hitters are coming away from the batting box shaking their heads after facing Slowey. Despite his stellar minor-league numbers, scouts have always been hesitant to label Slowey a top prospect or a potential ace because he lacks devastating stuff. Any signs of change on that front are welcome.

Jim Souhan had a very well written column on the charms of Spring Training in yesterday's Star Tribune. I found one observation particularly amusing:
You could hear Twins legend Tony Oliva chiding choosy hitters from behind the cage, saying, "No take-a, take-a, take-a. If I could see it, I swung at it."
Here's hoping the Twins keep Oliva away from Delmon Young.

5 comments:

TwinsTerritory said...

That;s my lineup too. It separates the lefties well...

Judy said...

Good lineup call although the biggest question is whether Gomez will "make it" as the CF. What's the radar gun say about Slowey's BP stuff? He strikes me as more a control pitcher than anything (ala Greg Maddux).

Nick N. said...

What's the radar gun say about Slowey's BP stuff? He strikes me as more a control pitcher than anything (ala Greg Maddux).

Haven't heard anything about Slowey's actual radar readings this spring. I know last year he was sitting in the low 90s for the most part. Players and writers were musing that his fastball seemed to have more zip this spring, but that could very well be related to the fact that most these hitters haven't faced live pitching in several months.

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