Minnesota Twins Opening Day has arrived. We have made it. October, 2010, saw a quick and dreadful exit from the playoffs, and the offseason was somewhat disappointing to many fans, but you have to admit that the starting 9 look pretty good on paper. Given the (lack of) production we saw last year from the middle infield combo of Hudson and Hardy, I think, in the aggregate, that Nishioka and Casilla will be at least equal, if not an upgrade. Nishioka in particular I expect to be an offensive catalyst. This lineup, if healthy, should be able to compete with any major league team. The pitching has me a little worried, but the Twins have been adept at filling holes midseason through trades and other pick-ups. You never know who's going to be on the block in June and July.
As others have written, it is somewhat ironic that Justin Morneau, playing his first game since last July, will be taking the field at the same ballpark where he suffered his serious and debilitating concussion. Unlike Jim Souhan, who suggested that perhaps Morneau should sit out the first series in Toronto, I think it's best if he gets back on track as soon as possible. Tonight is probably one of the bigger games in his career, and I think he's anxious to just get it out of the way. I honestly don't expect much from him offensively these first few weeks. From the little I have watched, he does not yet look comfortable at the plate. And that's fine - it might take him 50 or 100 at-bats to feel comfortable again. I'm willing to wait. Although every game counts the same, I want him healthy and productive in September and October more than on April 1.
I think this is going to be a great year for Twins baseball. Bert Blyleven will finally be inducted into the Hall of Fame and join the ranks of Twins legends such as Kent Hrbek and Harmon Killebrew by having his number retired, a Tony Oliva statue will be unveiled, and the organization will be celebrating the 20th anniversary of the 1991 World Series, which is generally regarded as one of the best World Series in modern day baseball. As long as the 2011 Twins can keep pace in the division, I like their chances down the stretch, and I have confidence that the front office will make a move or two, when necessary, to help the team reach the postseason again.