It is less than 90 days till "Pitchers & Catchers" report. What help will the Twins get from their minor league system in 2006? Will they have 5 rookies contributing in key roles next year? And can they get to the playoffs with that many rookies?
First, we are all hoping that Jason Kubel is ready for spring training, or if not, shortly thereafter. Second, barring a trade Scott Baker appears to be penciled into the rotation. Third, Francisco Liriano may also be a part of the rotation, if not when they break camp certainly a month later. Fourth, all indications are that Willie Eyre will be given a chance to be a member of the bullpen, and Fifth, should Luis Rodriguez still be considered a rookie? Will he be given a chance to win the second base job in spring training?
That is 5 rookies who are expected to contribute to a successful 2006 season. And it doesn't include Jason Bartlett who should be the everyday shortstop but can no longer be considered a rookie after being on the team for over half the season in 2005. Other candidates to help at some time in 2006 would include Alex Romero, Garrett Jones and Luis Maza.
Can these 5 rookies make the difference? I expect we won't know till next fall.