As it looks now, there isn’t much talent left out there worth going after, at least at the prices the Twins would have to pay. And I really don’t see any further trades coming along that will make sense for the Twins. So I’m hoping Terry Ryan decides it’s time to take a nice long winter vacation and roll with what he’s amassed at this point. 2013 is a rebuilding year and definitely should be treated as such. It’s time to see who’s going to be on the boat when it starts sailing back into contention in the coming years. The following is who I’d love to emerge from spring training or within the first two months to form the base Twins roster for 2013.
Catcher: Joe Mauer, Ryan Doumit, Chris Herrmann – while the Twins may be tempted to keep Drew Butera around to help groom a young pitching staff, I think coaching is his eventual role in that. He doesn’t belong on the bench of a competing team with his historically weak bat. Herrmann seems to be developing well as a catcher after being moved there by the Twins. He throws well and reports are that his overall defense is at least average. He doesn’t have a lot of homerun power but has the potential to develop gap power and has good plate discipline and could be an above average hitting backup catcher. Mauer and Doumit are locks. Mauer will likely again get half the starts there, with Doumit and the backup splitting the rest.
1B: Justin Morneau – Morneau had a bit of a resurgence last year and should continue that this year. It seems senseless to try and trade him since his health history and contract most likely make his trade value almost nil. And he’s still young enough he could re-emerge as a premier slugger at 1B and DH. Mauer and Chris Parmelee will also likely spend significant time at 1B.
2B: Brian Dozier – I still believe in Dozier and don’t think we saw the real him last year. He brings a lot more potential to the position than anybody else they would put there. He could be an ideal number two hitter who’ll see some pitches, take some walks, make good contact and has some speed. And he profiles better defensively there with good range at 2B and an arm better suited for 2B than SS.
SS: Pedro Florimon – Florimon doesn’t excite me at all but I fear he’s the best we’ve got. He profiles as a weak spot in the lineup who plays solid defense. I don’t think he’ll ever be an asset but if he can hold down the position, that’s OK.
3B: Trevor Plouffe – he needs to keep working on his defense and his batting average probably won’t ever be great, but I’ve always liked his power potential. The ball jumps off his bat and I think he has the physical tools to eventually be an asset defensively there. 2013 is a chance for him to solidify his role on the team going forward.
Utility IF: Jamey Carroll – Carroll brings a solid veteran presence and he’s a better player than you think when you watch him. He’s a valuable guy to have around. It also seems likely Eduardo Escobar will get a chance to establish himself as the utility infielder going forward.
LF: Josh Willingham – he’s still signed for two years and if he stays productive can really help transition this team back into contender
CF: Joe Benson – Darin Mastroianni is the favorite to win the job, with Aaron Hicks in the wings, but I’d like to see Benson grab this job and run with it in spring training. I still like Benson’s power/speed potential and willingness to take a walk. This can keep Mastro as the 4th OF and delay Hicks’ arbitration clock. And when Hicks is ready, Benson could shift to right field and provide a lot of range over there.
RF: Chris Parmelee – it’s time to give Parmelee a full time chance to show if the end of 2011 and his AAA last year were for real. If he does, the Twins will find a long term place to play him. If not, he keeps the position warm for Benson or Oswaldo Arcia.
Reserve OF: Darin Mastroianni – he’s got speed to play all three OF positions, can steal a base, and can be a definite asset on the bench. Doumit will also see time out there, as well as possibly Plouffe.
2013 will be an opportunity for some of the younger guys to prove they should be building blocks for the future. And if they fail, there are younger guys waiting in the wings. And some of the older guys will be playing to re-establish themselves or working toward one more big contract in their careers. In all, this could be a pretty good lineup if a few guys step up, but there’s also the potential that the young guys won’t produce and some of the older guys won’t have as strong of years as last year. In that case it could be a rough year offensively. The infield defense could be pretty good if Plouffe can step up his game. The outfield will lack range on the corners.