Here's what I gathered during the Twins' workout at Camden Yards on Thursday morning:
Jim Palmer is still a great storyteller, at his best when he needles Earl Weaver in absentia.
Ron Gardenhire really likes his lineup. He'll start Chris Parmalee at first, Ryan Doumit in right and Justin Morneau at DH. Trevor Plouffe probably won't get a lot of at-bats early in the year, because Doumit is Gardenhire's backup catcher and he can't pinch-run or use a defensive replacement for him without losing his backup catcher.
Gardenhire is very encouraged by Morneau's body language and attitude.
Jared Burton will start the season as the most likely rigththanded setup man, but Glen Perkins will be the true setup man. Anthony Swarzak will be the long reliever.
Gardenhire, told no team has ever gone from 99 losses to the playoffs in one season, said: ``We would be the first. We want to be the first.'' Which reminded me that often Gardenhire's worst teams (2005, 2007, last year) were the ones facing great expectations, and his teams often overachieve when facing lesser expectations.
The early-season schedule is brutal. I don't see this team contending, and I would be surprised if it wins 81 games. to do better than than, Francisco Liriano and Matt Capps will have to be outstanding.
The American League has become incredibly powerful. There are six superteams - the Yankees, Red Sox, Rays, Tigers, Angels and Rangers - and the Blue Jays may not be far behind. And then there is a clump of teams who need a dozen things to go right to contend, like the Twins.
I'm covering the opening series in Baltimore, then coming home to cover the Twins' first home series. Please follow Joe Christensen and myself this weekend. You can follow me on Twitter at @Souhanstrib. I'm writing about Carl Pavano's highly-interesting career for tomorrow's paper.