Spring is here, the season is starting soon, we are all excited for baseball...and I'm worried. I'm usually worried, so it's no cause for alarm, but on the flip I'll discuss the Twins issues that have me worried as we embark on 2007.
1. Third Base. I'm not clear on why the Twins have come to the conclusion that Nick Punto should be ensconsed at 3rd base. Or maybe they haven't come to that conclusion, but just decided that an upgrade would cost more than they were willing to pay. At any rate, last season was Punto's best, and it was frankly barely adequate with the bat (9 VORP). Add in his apparently pretty good glove work, and you can live with it, but only when he's actually at this level.
It seems likely to me that last year represents Punto's absolute maximum production, and a regression back to the unacceptable level of 2005 is likely. Then what? Cirillo can help in a platoon, perhaps, but it irritates me that the Twins seem willing to just punt on a position like this. The wider question is whether you can consistently start 3 players in the infield who have virtually no power. I think it radically hamstrings the offense, but the Twins seem to disagree, and value the scrappy and slappy.
2. LF/DH. The Rondell White Problem. Has everyone forgotten that you can't spell Rondell without "DL"? Has everyone forgotten that he was signed last year to DH because of the injury risk in the OF? The guy has virtually no chance to make it through the season healthy, which was one of the reasons I was against resigning him. Now you have committed money, roster space, and playing time to a guy who will have to be replaced for significant chunks of the season.
And with who? Kubel to LF and Cirillo as DH? Yikes; first, you need Cirillo to deal with the Punto problem, as discussed above, and second, Cirillo isn't an acceptable DH. I'm not as down on Lew Ford as many, and if he's healthy, I guess you can stick him out there, but given the production you need from your LF just to stay even with the league, it isn't a good solution. Barring that, I fear I'll be seeing way too much Jason Tyner for my mental health.
3. The Rotation. This is the big problem everyone is pointing to; I put it third on my list not because I'm happy about where it is now, but because of the insane amount of quality depth available in an area where I truly believe that if things are going poorly changes will be made.
The indications from LENIII that Silva, Ortiz, Ponson, and Bonser are going to line up behind Santana makes me throw up in my mouth, but I'm reasonably confident it won't last too far into May, and unlike the other problems discussed above, there are obvious and quality solutions.
The fact that the 1-4 spots in Rochester are better right now than the Twins rotation after Santana makes me cringe as much as the next guy, as does the fact that the Twins seem to have completely given up on Scott Baker, but I suspect this will get sorted before it dooms the season.
What are you worried about?