Friday, February 3, 2012

Justin Morneau and the Twins' Unanswered Questions

In two weeks, catchers and pitchers report to Spring Training for the Minnesota Twins.

This time two years ago, we were talking about Jim Thome coming to Minnesota, Orlando Hudson was about to be signed and the state was in a panic about Joe Mauer's contract.

Last year we were out of payroll space and speculating about potential contract extensions.

This year, well this year has been about the most uneventful off season in at least three years. Is that a bad thing?

Justin Morneau. We know he will play this year (when I say 'know' I am using a loose definition consistent with crossing my fingers and hoping), but we don't know where. The Twins will try to play him at first base to see if he can handle it and, if he can, how often he can handle the 3 spot. Morneau will be the fuse for a chain events should he be able/not be able to man first. The futures and positions of Joe Mauer, Ryan Doumit, Trevor Plouffe and Luke Hughes will be determined by Morneau's abilities. Sounds like a lot of pressure for the Canadian.

If Morneau can't play first base at all, the question will then become 'how often can Morny DH?'

It would be ideal if Morneau could play the position we contracted him for, because that would obviously mean he is healthy and that his concussion symptoms are manageable. It shouldn't take long to see what Morneau we will be getting this year, but the anticipation is killing me!

Tsuyoshi Nishioka. Alexi Casilla is technically not under contract for 2012 yet, but he will be at some point. When that contract is executed, Casilla will likely be the starting second baseman. Jamey Carroll is going to be the everyday shortstop. That means the Twins will be paying our foreign friend $3 million no matter what the Twins decide to do with him. I would like to see how much Nishi has improved. After all, he came over to the Twins in a highly publicized manner, broke his leg and then struggled the remainder of the season. We need to give him a shot and see if he has settled into the league in a positive and effective manner yet.

While the Twins have many other questions to answer, like who will round out the bullpen, who will be an unlikely contributor and will the Twins be sellers or buyers come July, it seems as though most of these questions will have answers in due time. Stay tuned.

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