Minnesota Twins Collection

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Four in the Outfield

With my blog, I also wanted to write, not just about baseball cards, but about the team. This post will be a first in a number of season previews. Though, the preview will not be about where I think the Twins will stand in the Central Division after Game 162 (because we all know I'm going to say they will be first), but just some of the aspects about the team.

First, we have four starting outfielders where there is room only for three: Michael Cuddyer, Carlos Gomez, Denard Span and Delmon Young. Cuddyer is coming back from injuries that caused him to miss most of last season. Gomez at first surprised opposing teams with his quickness off of bunt hits and his range in the outfield, but was figured out when teams figured out he would swing at every bad pitch. Span, who started last year in Rochester, but was called up after Cuddyer's injury and secured a spot on the Twins roster. Young, the former #1 pick traded from Tampa Bay, disappointed in the field and at the plate early in the season, but established himself later on. There has been talk of simply rotating all four equally throughout the season, but I'm not sure any player, or fan, wants to see a rotating outfield.

I am most anxious to see how Delmon Young will bounce back from his first season in a Twins uniform. Part of the reason was because I was at one of the games in 2007 when the Twins played the Devil Rays. The Twins won that game 12-5, but Young was a beast in that game. He hit 2 for 4 with a double. But, from right field, he has a cannon for an arm making triples into doubles and doubles into singles. During this series, Young his .294 with a HR and 2 RBI. Young was third in the American League in outfield assists in 2006; Michael Cuddyer was first.

After, Young was traded to the Twins, he became the starting left fielder. Despite the slow start at the plate and a number of blunders in left, Young ended the season with a .290 average and lead the Twins outfield with 11 assists.

However, I'm hoping comments made by manager, Ron Gardenhire, in the offseason has lit a fire under him. Young is having a hot spring and it's looking like he is ready to earn a starting outfield spot.

Michael Cuddyer, of course, is coming back from injuries and is looking to get back into form. Some fans and sports writers have suggested moving him back to third to clear up the outfield, but I don't know how you can see how well he plays in right and how horrible he was at third in 2005 and say that with a straight face. However, since his breakout 2006 season in which he drove in for than 100 runs, we haven't seen that production in 2007 or 2008. I really like Cuddyer, I even had an autographed Michael Cuddyer baseball, and I would like to see him get back to his form.

Carlos Gomez was exciting to watch at the start of last year with the Torii-esque plays in the outfield and those bunt hits that would catch pitchers by surprised. However, teams started to figure him out and found out he chased about every bad pitch. Still, he has a lot of upside. If he can get past the mental lapses in center, Gomez can become a Gold Glove outfielder. If he can start watching his pitches, he can become one the leagues best lead-off hitters. There's also talk that he has home run power to harness. Gomez is also off to a hot spring hitting .313.

Denard Span, the Twins #1 pick in 2002, was called up to the big leagues in 2008 after the injury to Cuddyer and showed that he deserved a starting spot in the outfield. While he played right field and center field last year, he has been playing some in the left field this spring. However, Span has been pretty cold at the bat hitting only .111. Did we see the best of Span last year or is this only a minor slump?

However, the outfield turns out, I'm hoping all four can improve from last year.

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