It’s getting close, isn’t it? We are less than a dozen days away from Opening Day. The excitement surrounding the Twins this year is more than I can remember in my lifetime, and that includes after those World Series years. The front office continued to say that when revenues increased, payroll would increase, and that has certainly been the case as the Opening Day payroll will be about 45% more than one year ago.
But it isn’t just those numbers. Some of that is pay increases to arbitration-eligible players. What is exciting is that the Twins have added components that they needed, to fill some holes. Fortunately, the Twins are run in such a way that they will continue the model of building from within. Names like Danny Valencia and Anthony Slama will likely roam Target Field before the Twins give up too many good prospects to get guys that may or may not offer improvement.
Orlando Hudson is on this team now. He filled a need at second base, and maybe more important, in the second spot in the lineup. JJ Hardy came over from the Brewers and gives the Twins a presence at shortstop that they haven’t really had for a long time. Speaking of presence, Jim Thome, a future Hall of Famer, is going to be a member of this team, and likely a valuable contributor on and off the field.
With less than two weeks, most of the Twins roster spots have already been determined. I mean, was there really any question about who the Twins starting catcher, first baseman, second baseman, shortstop, DH or any of the outfielders would be? Four of the five starting rotation spots were certain, and Francisco Liriano is giving fans more reason to be excited and has (hopefully) cemented himself in to the rotation as well. Even with the Joe Nathan injury, the depth that the Twins have brought into their bullpen should carry them through.
The addition of Ron Mahay yesterday certainly does cloud up the bullpen a little more, but in the name of depth, that is not the worst thing in the world. As the Twins Geek wrote today, there really are only a couple of questions at the back end of the bullpen. The only other roster spot up in the air appears to be between Alexi Casilla (out of options), Matt Tolbert (out of talent?) and Jacque Jones (who has shown in camp that he just might have a little bit left in the tank).
Opening Day is looming, and it is incredibly exciting for baseball fans.
I just want to know… Do any of your have Opening Day traditions? (Or am I the only one?)
For the last about ten years, I have not worked on the Monday afternoon of Opening Day. Instead, I have gone home, set up two TVs side by side, and watched ball games on both of them throughout the afternoon. I would switch which TV had the volume up and which was muted. I would set the “Call Back” or “Previous” button on other games on other stations. I’d usually see if any friends wanted to come over and we’d pick up something to eat, chicken wings, pizza, hot dogs. Basically I would be able to watch about four games in the afternoon. Then, since it is starting to get nice in Minnesota around the beginning of April, I usually go wash my car. I don’t know. It just feels like a good spring thing to do. It also gets me away from the couch and prepared for the evening of ball games. With the Twins not opening up their season until 9:00 central time this year, I will be able to watch evening games up to that point as well.
Do any of you do anything for Opening Day? I know there are some who make a point to go to Twins opening day each year, home or on the road. I’m always looking for new ideas, so please share yours with mine.
And then a week later, the Twins will open up Target Field officially for their first regular season home games. They will play the Boston Red Sox in games that are probably a bit more important than these Mayor Cup games we are hearing far too much about in Florida!
I had the opportunity to go to Target Field last Saturday, and the place is amazing. Absolutely remarkable! Few stones were unturned. It feels as if it is one of those places where every time you go, you’ll see something that you hadn’t noticed before. They did a tremendous job of bringing the rich history of Minnesota and the Minnesota Twins to the stadium. The field is incredible. The scoreboard is even more amazing (and clear) than I would have imagined. The seats face the infield. Seriously! The seats face the infield!! Novel concept, isn’t it?
If you are able, on Saturday, the Minnesota Gophers will play a game against Louisiana Tech in Target Field. The first 25,000 fans there will be able to get into the stadium for $2 with proceeds going to the Twins Community Fund. I am planning to attend because I just want to be there. Isn’t that reason enough?
Here are some other links to peruse or listen to as you have time today:
· On Wednesday, Seth was on a New York Mets podcast (Call to the Bullpen) and was able to talk about the Twins. They discussed the Joe Mauer contract, the Joe Nathan injury and its affect that bullpen, Target Field and much more.
· On Wednesday night, John and Seth joined Topper Anton on Fanatic Jack’s Twins Talk podcast. There were many topics, including the Twins bullpen and the backup catching situation.
· Tonight at 8:00, Seth will host another episode of The Show on SethSpeaks.net. His guests tonight will be Trayvone Johnson (Twins 2009 draft pick), JJ Stankevitz (White Sox Examiner writer) and Max Kepler (Twins prized German prospect). Links to listen live will be available at www.SethSpeaks.net approximately 30 minute before the show begins.
· Nick continued his Twins position analysis by looking at the relief pitchers.
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