I’m just going to spitball here. None of my predictions are based on any analytics or what I think Ron Gardenhire and crew might do with their Opening Day starting lineup for the Minnesota Twins, this is what I would do with the Opening Day starting lineup as we stand today.
My preparation for this task is being the editor of Puckett’s Pond, reading the news and pulling up the team roster to know who’s here and who’s gone. If this was a musical recording this would be my acoustic album, my ‘Ghost of Tom Joad’, but hopefully more widely accepted.
Catcher – Kurt Suzuki
Earlier this offseason I was a big backer of the Twins just handing the reigns to Josmil Pinto and letting him ride this thing all season long, but that was before the Twins signed Suzuki and when we weren’t quite sure if the Twins were going to make a move. Now that the Twins have brought on Kurt Suzuki, you do this the right way and start Suzuki with a majority of the playing time for at least the first couple months of the season. It will soon be Pinto time fully.
First Base – Joe Mauer
This has been obvious and known since the Twins and Mauer announced that Mauer would be moving full-time from behind the plate to full-time first base which was made possible with the late-season departure of Justin Morneau. The journalist/blogger in me says that he won’t be as great at first as he was behind the plate, but the homer in me says that he’ll flourish over at first. Right now the homer is winning simply because we haven’t started the new season yet.
Second Base – Brian Dozier
Dozier is another strong lock from a season ago. Dozier has been improving in his major league career and there is no reason to derail that now. Keeping Dozier in the lineup for the forseeable future seems to be the best course of action.
Third Base – Trevor Plouffe
I want so bad to say Miguel Sano, but I just can’t get myself to do it. I want Sano to be the starter, but we all know that he won’t be. Sano has just a slightly better chance at being the Opening Day third baseman than Mauer has to be the Opening Day catcher. If the Twins sign someone to compete with Plouffe, I’d being putting them in this slot, but I doubt it’ll happen. It has to be Plouffe, just be circumstance. I really hope that Plouffe starts to prove me wrong.
Shortstop – Eduardo Escobar
I’ve made my stance known that I love Eduardo Escobar and I am a full-fledged supporter of the #Eddie400 movement. Pedro Florimon has never impressed me much and I’d like to see more of Escobar. Escobar seems to have an it factor and I’d like to see that play out. Florimon will more than likely get the nod on March 31, but I’m going to stand strong in this stance where I wilted on Miguel Sano.
Left Field – Alex Presley
Presley came over in the Morneau trade and it’d be nice for once for the Twins to get some return in a trade, something that hasn’t happened since A.J. Pierzynski left and Joe Nathan, Francisco Liriano and Boof Bonser arrived. Presley is playing in left field for me more out of circumstance than anything, which we’ll get into in a little bit, but he did seem to know what he was doing after coming over from Pittsburgh. Presley has also played more games in left than in any other position on the field.
Center Field – Aaron Hicks
Round Two for Aaron Hicks and he better make it count. Last Opening Day didn’t go too well for Hicks, but looking back it maybe wasn’t the best thing the Twins could have done. Hicks needs to prove himself now, because very soon Byron Buxton will be ready to be the center fielder for, hopefully, a long time. This season is Hicks’ audition to be a corner outfielder for the future Twins, he has the stuff to do it, let’s hope he does.
Right Field – Oswaldo Arcia
Where’s Waldo? In right field! Yes, I will use horrible ‘Where’s Waldo?!’ jokes until Oswaldo leaves and is gone for at least 20 years. Arcia has some pop and not that great of defense, which might make him the DH in a couple of seasons, but for now Arcia will be just fine in the outfield. Oswaldo seems fun, I like fun, and a young guy that could also really cement a place for the future this year.
Designated Hitter – Josh Willingham
Josh Willingham should not be put in the outfield. He was brought in for his bat, so the Twins should utilize his bat and utilize some better defense out in left. It seems simple to me, plus, I am not totally sold on how wonderful Jason Kubel will be. If Kubel does something in Spring Training, he’ll probably get the start at DH, but I’m going to do what I believe is the smart thing and put the Hammer in the best place to Hammer.