(Suzanne "Sooze" Solheim is returning to startribune.com to blog about the Twins. More of the St. Cloud resident's writing about baseball is on the blog Babes Love Baseball.)
The Minnesota Twins have a habit of dishing out second chances. They go to the pound, adopt the oldest, ugliest dog there, and say, "Even though nobody loves you anymore, I think you have the potential to be a pretty sweet dog."
So here we are. It's Spring, love is in the air even though it may or may not be snowing where you are, and we're excited to begin the 2014 season with our brand new... dogs.
The Twins dropped an uncharacteristic $49 million on Ricky Nolasco for four seasons and another $24 million on Phil Hughes for three in an attempt to improve the worst rotation in all of baseball. While Nolasco's debut was less than great in the team's 5-3 Opening Day loss to the Chicago White Sox yesterday, he still has the most potential out of the bunch of not sucking. Hughes had a rough go of it in New York, and I apparently the hope is that a change of scenery and nicer fans will do the trick.
We likely won't see Kyle Gibson, Kevin Correia, or Mike Pelfrey's ERA dipping under 4.00 this year, but since coming off a season where the starting pitchers combined for a 5.26 ERA, it appears things can only get better. Unless, of course, they don't.
With most of the focus zeroed in on the team's craptastic pitching last year, let's not forget about the 13th-ranked AL offense. Not many changes were made in the way of bats, but Joe Mauer moving to first (a prediction since the beginning) is an improvement that hinges on him not hurting himself. It would also be pretty neat if Aaron Hicks bounced back from one the most embarrassing rookie years of all time, especially if he doesn't want Byron Buxton stealing his job.
Fans are also counting on Brian Dozier to be Brian Dozier, Josh Willingham to be healthy, and Oswaldo Arcia to hit bombs or strike out.
Then there's Glen Perkins, who is incredibly fun to watch when the Twins hand him a save situation. He has done nothing but get better and better since moving to the bullpen in 2011, saving 36 games with a respectable 2.30 ERA last year. If you're not following him on Twitter, I think you probably should.
So how do you feel about the Twins this year? Excited, happy, optimistic? Sad, angry, confused? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section.
P.S. I missed you too.
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