With just three spring training games left, the opening day roster already appears, surprisingly, to be set. It may be a bit premature to declare it a done deal as currently unforeseen events could change it, but for now we have a pretty good idea of what the lineup will look like against Verlander and the Tigers on April 1.
Most exciting is the arrival of Aaron Hicks as centerfielder and lead-off man. He clearly won the position with his excellent, consistent performance in spring training. If the rest of the team, especially the starting rotation leaves one less than enthusiastic about the coming season, Hicks’ presence will make the Twins worth watching.
It is also somewhat encouraging that Hicks won the position in a genuine three way battle rather than being handed it ready or not. After an injury derailed Darin Mastroianni, one of the competitors, he made a very good showing as well. Mastroianni remains a more than capable fourth outfielder with his ability to plan all three positions, his decent bat and exceptional speed on the base paths. Joe Benson, the third competitor, may have still been rusty after the rough season of injuries last year. He ends up in Rochester to open the season.
I wish I could be even hopeful about the pitching, but even with the acquisitions of the off-season, the starters leave much to be desired. I’ll leave to another post a detailing of my concerns, but for now, my prediction is an 0-3 start against the pitching rich, power rich Detroit Tigers to open the season. The Twins may be able to out slug teams this season, to keep from the worst record in baseball, but it is unlikely the Tigers will be one of those teams.