"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, April 03, 2006

Around the Horn: Preseason Blogger Edition!

Hello, everyone! It's time for another game of Around the Horn, in which my unsuspecting victims helpful compatriots lob questions around the virtual infield.

This edition is an all-blogger preseason edition. We originally intended to get it together a week or so before the season started, but due to the hectic schedules of some of the volunteers we lost a few days. But hey, it's still the preseason for the Twins, so it's all good.

Our starting lineup:

At pitcher, recently clocked at 100 wpm, as always...me.

At catcher, the man with the keyboard on the back of his mitt, Twins Junkie of (strangely enough) Twins Junkie.

At third, leading the league in SPP (Sass Per Paragraph), BatGirl of (surprise!) BatGirl.

At shortstop, smoothly stealing signs, Seth of Seth Speaks.

At second, making a play for Rookie Blogger of the Year, Hannah of The Good Life.

And at first, riding a record error-free posting streak, Frightwig of Sundappled Wood.

Third Base Line (P) asks:
If the 25-man roster had to be set today and it were up to you, who would get the two openings in the bullpen, and why?

Twins Junkie (C) says:
Unfortunately, I was lazy in answering this question and now that I have finally assumed the task, Darryl May and Dennys Reyes have already been cut, it has more or less been solidified that the last two spots will go to Willie Eyre and Francisco Liriano.

Now, the reason this is bad isn't because we already know who it is, because that could certainly be good if I vehemently disagreed, but these were the two guys I wanted. This is actually the second consecutive season in which the Opening Day roster will look almost exactly as I would like it to as far as player we already have (because I'm certainly not ecstatic about having Tony Batista and Reuben Sierra).

Liriano is a given in my mind. Some will say that he should take the ball every 5th day in Rochester, but I say the Major League experience is exponentially more valuably than the everyday grind of Triple-A. All we can do is pray that he gets of to a solid start and then is moved into the rotation sometime around June.

The real question mark was Willie Eyre vs. Dennys Reyes.

Eyre had an outstanding year in Rochester last year, with 82.2 IP, a 10-3 record and a 2.72 ERA. He also had 74 K's (8.06 K/9) and only 28 BB (3.05 BB/9). In fact, Willie was probably the most underrated and under-hyped player in the Twins system last year. He deserved this shot.

Reyes will surely get a chance to prove himself sometime this season, so come September make a look back will be in order, but for now I am confident in the pitching staff.

Twins Junkie (C) asks:
Is the latest Stadium proposal fair? What would you do to revise it?

BatGirl (3B) says:
I'm very conflicted on the stadium proposal. I really do believe the Twins should be footing more of the bill. I believe very strongly that cities should invest in themselves, but I also don't think it's necessary in this case. At the same time, the Twins are never going to foot more of the bill--it's this or nothing and I'll take this. I am, however, appalled that there's not going to be a retractable roof. Have the people who made this plan ever been to this state? I do wish the Twins would pay at least for that--given all the lost revenue they're going to have from blizzard-outs and Lew Ford making snowmen in right when he's supposed to be fielding.

BatGirl (3B) asks:
If your daughter was going to marry a current Twin, which one would you want it to be and why?

Seth (SS) says:
Well, the easy answer is to say Joe Mauer. I mean, he's marketable. He signed a huge bonus and is about to make a lot more money in the coming years. He is a model, and he is smart (I know, how unusual is that?!) He is tall and a well-rounded athlete, meaning that my grandchildren would have a good shot at a pro career in anything. Also, from all we hear, the Mauer family is excellent and would be excellent in-laws.

Seth (SS) asks:
Outside of Scott Baker, Jason Kubel and Francisco Liriano, which other rookie will have the biggest impact on the Twins 2006 success?

Hannah (2B) says:
I am not one to follow Spring Training very closely, but alas, I'll go with Neshek because he has a wicked awesome web page.

Hannah (2B) asks:
Do you think that Morneau is going to excel offensively this season? Why or why not?

Frightwig (1B) says:
I believe Justin Morneau will improve to becoming a more consistent hitter and reliable source of power this season.


He's switched to #33 this year. He shed the #27 jersey, which also weighed like a millstone on David Ortiz while he was a Twin, and has donned the number of superstars: Kareem, Bird, Tony Dorsett... OK, it was also Jose Canseco's number. But, most importantly to any lad from the Great White North, it was the number of the sainted Patrick Roy.

Justin Morneau literally will be backed by a hallowed symbol of The True North, Strong and Free, every time he steps to the plate this year. I hear it also matches the number he has tattooed on his arm, which he got while he wore #33 in high school. So now he has
balance, he has reconnected with his roots. How can he fail? I ask you.

Oh, also: He's healthy. He seems relaxed in camp. He has lighter expectations to carry, minus so much of the "M&M Boys" hype and the responsibility of batting cleanup this spring. It looks like he had a good experience playing for Team Canada in the WBC, and I don't think it could hurt that he's already played some competitive games before the season opens.

Finally, he's not on my fantasy team anymore, so that jinx is off.

Frightwig (1B) asks:
How would you rate Terry Ryan's offseason, and what about the Twins has you most intrigued about the upcoming season?

Third Base Line (P) says:
I'm going to give Terry Ryan an A- overall.

The Tony Batista signing rates a C. He's a proven power hitter, and since the contract wasn't guaranteed (the buyout option was a bit pricey, but still an option), it was definitely worth a shot to bring him to camp and try him out. Since I don't know how much influence TR had on the decision to keep him as our starting third baseman--a decision about which I have grave misgivings--I'm not letting that count against his grade. I did think there were better options out there, though, and he could/should have made a move for one of them.

The Bucket o' Lefties was a good, solid B move. Darrell May, Gabe White, and Dennys Reyes all got minor-league offers and spring training invites, a very low-risk proposition, and gave the team a lot of options. I expected May to do better than he did (I'm sure TR felt the same), and Reyes was a strong candidate and remains a viable option in case of injuries, since he agreed to the minor-league assignment.

But the coup de grace,the move which not only gets him an A+ but some extra credit as well, is the signing of Luis Castillo. 'Bout damn time we got ourselves a real honest-to-gosh second baseman.

What has me most intrigued about the upcoming season is a combination of Justin Morneau, Willie Eyre and Pat Neshek. Morneau is coming into the season healthy, which means we might FINALLY get to see him playing at his peak. I've been rooting for Eyre all spring, and am stunned and pleased that he made the club despite the coaching staff's habitual over-fondness for veterans. Neshek is at the cusp, I think--so very close to being ready for the majors. I expect we'll see him in Minnesota before the season's out and I'm very much looking forward to it.

Thanks to everyone who played, and that concludes this round of Around the Horn.

Or does it?

I'm going to take a page from Carlos Silva and lob this "ball" into the stands. Pick a question, and let's hear YOUR answer.

2 rejoinders:

Jim H. sounded off...

Mr. Wig's reasons to be optimistic about Morneau are solid (and funny). Also, 33 is the cryptic symbol of Rolling Rock beer, which is brewed in Latrobe, PA, which is a french name, as (I think) is Morneau. Neat.

TwinsJunkie sounded off...

"I'm going to take a page from Carlos Silva and lob this "ball" into the stands."

Great line. Less of a lob, more of that chuck, though.