These offseason free-agent signees figure to play key roles in 2012:
1 JOSH WILLINGHAM
Acquired to soften the blow after Michael Cuddyer's free-agency move to the Rockies, Willingham will strike out often, but he also will crush fastballs and has a chance to hit for more power than Cuddyer. He's not as smooth defensively as Cuddyer and has a clear preference to playing left field over right.
2 JAMEY CARROLL
The defense will be noticeably improved with Carroll, despite skepticism about his arm and range. Carroll might not be flashy, but he's steady, and after the problems at shortstop last season, the Twins will be more than happy with steady. Carroll, 38, will bat second in the order.
3 JASON MARQUIS
Marquis is a sinkerballer deluxe. For his career, 50.4 percent of balls in play have been ground balls, including 55.1 percent last year. It will be interesting to see how he'll adapt to a new league after being an NL guy all these years. He'll need the defense to convert the ground balls into outs.
4 JARED BURTON
If he can regain the form from his best moments with the Reds, the Twins will have pulled off a nice coup in getting the righthander. Burton (0-0, 3.86 ERA, 42/3 innings in 2011) was an eighth-inning reliever for the Reds before shoulder problems limited him in each of the past two seasons. He's healthy now, and scouts think Burton could be a factor in the bullpen. He throws a split-fingered changeup he calls the "splange-up."
5 RYAN DOUMIT
Doumit appears to be a great fit for the Twins. He's a career .271 hitter, with two .300 seasons, who can catch, play the outfield and play some first base. He's not considered a strong defensive player, and is admittedly the least comfortable at first. But Doumit is a switch-hitter who can spell Joe Mauer behind the plate and has a little pop.
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