"Let us go forth a while, and get better air in our lungs. Let us leave our closed rooms...
The game of ball is glorious."

--Walt Whitman

Monday, January 02, 2006

2006 Preview - Overview

Believe it or not, I finally got all my holiday knitting done. (More on that another day.) The upshot is, there is now time to blog again. Oh, and guess what? The entire world is closed today, except for my company. That's right--you're probably still in your PJs, but I'm blogging on my lunch break. %$&#!

For anyone who might have been expecting a new year's resolutions post, I looked back and discovered that, of all the resolutions I made for 2005, I kept none. At least I'm consistent. It also saves me valuable thinking time--why come up with new resolutions when I have a list of perfectly good ones still waiting to be completed?

The Twins last 2005 game was October 2nd. Their first 2006 game will be April 4th. That makes tomorrow, to all intents and purposes, the midpoint of the offseason. The No-Star Break, if you will. (Those of you making cracks about that phrase describing last season can just zip it, thanks.)

So, what's new for the Twins in 2006?

1. The New Steroid Policy
TBL is more or less content with the new steroid policy, which adds amphetamines to the list of banned substances and increases penalties from 10 days to 50, 30 to half a season, and 60 days to "life", by which they mean two years.

How does this affect the Twins? Well, one hopes it doesn't. But if, for example, my beloved Juan were to get busted again, half a season should just barely be enough time for him to extricate my foot from his ass, providing Batgirl doesn't get to him first.


2. Whole New Infield
Well, partly. Let's jog around the diamond and see who we find.

Making his second full-season appearance at catcher will be the baby Jesus Joe Mauer. Verily, the catcher can do no wrong.

Justin Morneau is still our first baseman. Rumor has it he's drinking a gallon of orange juice a day to avoid a repeat of last offseason--apparently he didn't like being called Typhoid Mary all year. Moving on...

We, my friends, have gotten ourselves an honest-to-gosh second baseman in the person of Luis Castillo. Look upon his stats, ye mighty, and weep...with joy.

At short we find Jason Bartlett. No, wait, it's Juan Castro. Or maybe it's Nick Punto. So, same shortstop as last year. Glad that's been cleared up.

At third base, we have someone who not only likes to hit the ball over the fence a lot, but also might actually know what that leather thing on the end of his arm is for. Indeed, Terry Ryan went all the way to Japan to get us Tony Batista.

Now you may ask: TBL, doesn't it make you just a smidge nervous that his Japanese team, for which he had only played one year of a two-year, $15 million contract, released him outright shortly before this signing? My answer is: No. No, not in the slightest. I have complete faith in both Mr. Ryan and the excellent Irish whiskey I hide in my desk have at home, far, far away from work.

(TBL does, however, wish to remind Mr. Ryan that Toronto is making noises about unloading Corey Koskie. He's a lefty, Batista's a righty, and a platoon situation could keep him healthier. Whadda ya say?)


3. Right Field Vacancy
Hey, remember before we got Shannon Stewart, how we always had like five outfielders arm-wrestling for the day's start in right? Well, Jacque Jones bolted for the more lucrative confines of Wrigley Field, and no one's quite sure who's replacing him. Could be Kubel. Could be Cuddyer. Could be Ford. Could be a surprise spring-training demigod. Hell, it could be the batboy.


4. Mommy, Look! Santa Brought Us A DH!
I liked Matt LeCroy, don't get me wrong. But I like a healthy Rondell White even better. He's battled injuries the last few seasons, but staying out of the field should cut those down nicely. Some guys bitch and moan about being taken off the field in the twilight years of their career, but I've heard a few interviews with White and he seems to have the very sane attitude that DH is a really good spot for a guy with an injury history, and if that's going to extend his career by a few seasons then it's just fine.


5. Enter Liriano
The Twins bought out the option on the contract of starter Joe Mays, opening a spot in the Twins rotation. This spot is Francisco "Santana Junior" Liriano's to lose. The Twins will be providing excess 2002-2004 homer hankies at the gate before his starts for those with a tendency to drool over nascent greatness.



I'll be picking some of these topics apart in greater detail as the latter half of the offseason progresses, but that's all for now.

Happy new year, and remember--the offseason does end. Eventually.

4 rejoinders:

she-ra sounded off...

Well damn and here I was all set to be pessimistic. Now I'll have to cut back my grumbling.

Will TBL be hitting ST this year?

Third Base Line sounded off...

Alas, no ST this year. Unless TBL wins the Powerball, of course.

Jeff A sounded off...

As I understand it, with the new steroid policy, everyone starts over, so if Juan is busted again, it would be treated as a first offense. If I'm wrong, someone please correct me.

Also, wouldn't the fifth spot in the rotation be Scott Baker's to lose?

Third Base Line sounded off...

Jeff,

Good grief! I got Scott BAKER and Scott TYLER mixed up--I thought we'd traded Baker for Castillo! Thanks for making me go back and double-check.

Now that I know he's still with us, I'll be sure to discuss him when I get around to a rotation preview (later in the offseason, when I'm pretty sure the trading's all done...I'm still hoping we can get something for Kyle).