Jim Souhan analyzes the local sports scene and advises you to never take his betting advice. He likes old guitars and old music, never eats press box hot dogs, and can be heard on 1500ESPN at 2:05 p.m. weekdays, and Sundays from 10 a.m.-noon.
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The Twins have three relievers set to be in their bullpen this season: Closer Glen Perkins, setup man Jared Burton and lefty Brian Duensing.
Perkins and Burton are quite good. Duensing is at least a valuable lefty-on-lefty pitcher, and could be more if he can find a way to neutralize righthanded batters.
There are four jobs open, and there are no sure things among the other Twins' relievers in camp.
What else do the Twins have right now? Josh Roenicke got crushed by a mediocre Orioles lineup in the ninth on Wednesday night at Hammond Stadium, and he might still be a lock because he has a track record and is out of options. Tim Wood is also out of options, which might give him a leg up, and Ryan Pressly is a Rule 5 draftee.
Alex Burnett has been unimpressive this spring but may not have to do much to win a spot. Anthony Swarzak injured himself during horseplay at TwinsFest and is likely to start the season on the disabled list. Casey Fien was expected to be a lock but has struggled.
Pedro Hernandez is a lefty who could make the team because of others' failures. Tyler Roberson is another possibility.
The Twins' lineup figures to be productive if the health of Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau is an indication. The rotation should be at least somewhat better than it was a year ago with the additions of Mike Pelfrey and Vance Worley and the expectation that Kyle Gibson will contribute at some point this season. But the bullpen is a mess.
Roenicke figures to survive his meltdown. The staff likes him. And Fien pitched 1 1/3 innings without a blemish on Wednesday.
The team may be dependent on Alex Burnett becoming the pitcher they always thought he should be.
-Brian Dozier had a remarkable game at second base, making plays all over the field and especially ranging to his right.
-Kyle Gibson pitched two innings in relief. Indications are he'll be sent to the minors so he can begin slowly building up his arm strength to prepare him for starting later this season. While the Twins were open to the idea of him starting the season with the big league club, that would have happened only if he had been lights out this spring.
At this point, they'll probably ease him into duty and hope he can come up mid-summer and be at his best.
First impressions after an afternoon spent watching Twins prospects in minor-league camp and the big-league team in Port Charlotte against the Rays:
-Wrote about the high-end talent in camp, much of it in minor-league camp. Saw Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton hit homers and Michael Tonkin throw gas.
-Hearing Eduardo Escobar is having an excellent camp and could win the second-base job from Brian Dozier. Ron Gardenhire praised Escobar on Monday, but Escobar is a superior fielder, and Dozier's swing was such a mess last year he's going to have to prove he's the better offensive option, as well as a reliable defender.
-Trevor Plouffe's calf strain is a reminder of how little depth the Twins have at third base. Terry Ryan says Plouffe will be fine, but if he aggravated the injury, what would the Twins do? Play Jamey Carroll there? Move Dozier? Play Escobar? The options are not good.
Funny that the Twins have always had qualms about Plouffe's approach but didn't bring quality compeittion to big league camp to push him.
-Different vibe in camp with the coaching changes. Tom Brunansky has a lot of charisma. Bobby Cuellar gives the Latin players someone to speak to in their own language. Terry Steinbach should be a calming influence for Gardenhire on the bench.
-Usually when I speak with pitching coach Rick Anderson about prospects, I see a lot of shrugging. Monday, he was gushing. He's thrilled by the young arms he's seen and is very high on Mike Pelfrey.
-Not long ago, Liam Hendriks was winning organization minor-league pitcher of the year awards. Now he may be about 8th in line for a rotation spot.
Pelfrey, Vance Worley and Kevin Correia will be in the rotation to start the season. Scott Diamond will probably join the rotation in the first couple of weeks of the season. Kyle Gibson may be sent down with the hope of him being called up later in the season. So the Twins will have either one or two spots open for the opening-week rotation, depending on whether they start with a five-man or four-man rotation. (They won't necessarily need a fifth start until April 10), and Diamond could be close by then.
Cole De Vries might have the lead among the ``others'' for a rotation spot. The Twins love the way he competes and throws strikes, and his stuff is probably a little better than it has been portrayed. Hendriks will have to impress the rest of the way to be considered.
-Joe Benson can really run. He tripled to center in the ninth on Monday night and made it standing up, easy. Don't think he's ready for the majors but don't give up on this kid's talent. He reminds me of a young Marty Cordova: Compact, athletic, can run, great bat speed.
-If you make the assumption that the rotation will be better, the Twins' biggest concern has to be the bullpen. Glen Perkins and Jared Burton should be very good. Brian Duensing has to prove he can get righthanders out. Who else is a sure thing?
Programming update: I'll be on at noon on 1500ESPN on all weekdays, and will be live from Fort Myers for Sunday Sports Talk, 10-noon on Sunday, with Tom Pelissero.
My Twitter handle is @Souhanstrib.
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