Below is the opening day roster (more or less) of the 2011 Twins versus the probable roster for the 2012 Twins (as things stand right now). I want to do a quick comparison of the two but add a twist – I want to compare the 2012 player with
what we hoped the 2011 player was going to do
, not what they actually did. Let’s call it the Hope Index. There is a reason I want to go that way, I promise. I’m also not going to do a ton of analysis here - it's late and I'm winging it a bit - so if you want to make your own changes, go ahead. You can put your Hope Index in the comments.
Cuddyer for Willingham is a wash.
Carroll for Nishioka would be a huge upgrade, except this isn't based on reality, but instead on what we expected from Nishioka. We expected a guy who could get on base from the #2 spot and play average defensively. We’re expecting the same from Carroll. I’m calling those even.
I’ll call Doumit and Kubel about even.
I expect about the same out of Casilla as I did last year. I’m going to say the same about Valencia, but I was pessimistic about him last year. I expect most Twins fans would say they expect less.
Morneau will be a wash – we had a bunch of health concerns and we still do. I’m not sure if they are worse or not than they were.
Ben Revere for Delmon Young is a tough comparison because they’re such different players, but Revere is certainly less than what we expected from Delmon. (Comparing those two in more detail might make a fun entry.)
Mauer and Span, I think we absolutely need to expect less than we did, given their injury concerns.
And the bench as a whole gets a downgrade, too, just because they lose Thome.
Hitters Hope Index: six evens and four downgrades.
Pavano, Baker and Blackburn are going to be even. They have essentially been the same two years in a row.
As much as I hated the Capps signing this year – and I hated it a lot – I’m not sure the Twins look any worse at closer than they did last year. They might have had a little more depth, but everyone was so unsure of Nathan. I’m calling it even.
I’ll call the back half of the bullpen even, too. I didn’t know who was going to get innings and I’m not sure it mattered a ton. I feel the same way now. I might have a little less confidence in Gardenhire and Anderson’s ability to piece something together but I also have more confidence in Ryan’s ability to dig up some arms.
Liriano is a downgrade – we absolutely expect less of him this year than we did going into last year.
I expect we’ll be happier with Marquis than we were with Duensing last year, but our expectations are probably lower. Duensing entered last year with such solid numbers as a starter, it wasn’t unreasonable to view him as a decent #3 starter. I don’t think many folks expect that from Marquis.
I would argue that the Twins bullpen setup roles look better this year than they did last year. Nobody knew who was going to be setting up and at least this year Perkins seems like a solid bet.
Hope Index: five evens, two downgrades and one upgrade.
Now, here’s why I wanted to do this: I’m trying to establish reasonable expectations for this team and I wanted to establish a baseline for how much talent this team really has. Usually one starts with how the team did last year. This team lost 99 games, but it really wasn’t this team, was it? With so many injuries, so many rookies, so many meaningless August and September games, I don’t know how to reasonably start to add wins to a 63-win team whose playing time will be so radically altered.
So instead, I’m going back to the beginning. Last year going into the season, this felt like an 85-90 win team, especially after winning 95 games the year before. And what I’ve found is that from that team I have eleven even grades, six downgrades and one upgrade.
Looking at the downgrades, I can see some hope. Liriano could become what we expected, and so could Mauer and Span. The others I’m not so sure about. That feels like a .500 team, though with a lot more downside than upside.
I posted Episode 22 of Gleeman and the Geek where we started talking about Jason Marquis and ended up arguing about whether or not Jack Morris should be in the Hall of Fame. Here are:
Or click on the image below to listen. Thanks!