For practical purposes the 2012 Twins opening day roster is set, and if you haven't been paying attention to the team, you might not recognize it.
Only 11 of the 25 players from last year's opening day roster are on this year's roster. Perhaps that shouldn't be surprising -- nor should it be disappointing -- considering the team lost 99 games last year. But it is not the type of continuity the Twins are often known for. From 2010 to 2011, for example, 16 of the 25 opening day players stayed consistent. Much of the churn from year-to-year there came in the bullpen and the middle infield, which were overhauled by decisions and necessity, neither of them to the team's benefit.
You will again find a major bullpen overhaul from 2011 to 2012: Matt Capps and Glen Perkins are the only opening day bullpen guys from a year ago to again make it again in the pen (a third, Brian Duensing, was a starter last year and is in the pen this year). The new guys? Jared Burton, Matt Maloney, Alex Burnett, Jeff Gray, Anthony Swarzak.
Looking at the Twins' roster and projected lineup, we're imagining the team can score some runs if it stays healthy. We also imagine there are going to be some nights where, in the field, several players are not at their natural positions. This leads, once again, to worry about how well they will catch the ball. But let's assume at least that the shortstop defense will be much improved and that, when Ben Revere and Denard Span are both in the outfield, that unit will have a much better shot at running down balls in the gaps than it did a year ago.
The pitching staff, then, is full of the biggest "ifs," which runs contrary to this squad's best teams. Most of the starters might give the Twins a chance to win every night, but they also give them a real chance to lose. And that bullpen ... well, they were the worst in MLB last year with a 4.51 ERA. They've replaced some of those bad arms with unknowns and optimism in a lot of cases. Their success there will be the difference between a team that has 72 wins and 82 wins. Best guess at this point? The Twins inch back toward respectability after 2011's disaster, but their final victory total is somewhere in the mid-to-upper 70s.