We have Willingham; we have Doumit; we have Carroll. Joe Mauer reported that he's happy, healthy, and is ready for a rebound season. Justin Morneau's workouts are reportedly going well (I think I've heard that before, though). Willingham effectively replaces Michael Cuddyer's offensive production (and we didn't have to pay him $10.5 million to do it), and may even be a better overall player. Doumit hits for average and some power, though he has had significant injuries. Carroll, though no spring chicken, is an on-base percentage guy with a decent bat, and should do well as a table-setter for the middle of the lineup guys. Long story short, it's feeling better as a Twins fan than it did a month ago.
If the season were to start right now, I peg the Twins as a .500 team. Yes, this could be a pretty good offense. Span/Carroll/Mauer/Willingham/Morneau/Doumit/Valencia/Casilla/Revere. I see some speed at the front and back of the lineup, some power in the middle, and a balance of lefty and righty hitters. I also note, however, that the 3-6 hitters in this projection each have significant injury risks, so who knows the likelihood of seeing this lineup intact throughout the season. In any event, though, it is a much superior lineup to the Tosoni, Parmelee, Dinkelman days of 2011. Nothing against those guys, but I do want this team to be competitive now, not in 2014.
What's left? Pitching, then a little bit more pitching. Followed by just a pinch of pitching. That's what will get this team above the .500 mark. I don't know how they are going to acquire it, but I do know that good starters are expensive. This is no time to close up the wallet, though. If the organization really was committed to spending $25 million on Cuddyer, even after landing Willingham, then logic would suggest that the roughly $8 million a year is still available -- for the right player or players. Perhaps a trade is possible? I honestly haven't spent much time analyzing the possibilities, because, frankly, it feels like an exercise in futility. Plus, many others have. As a fan I would rather just see pitching deals get done. Edwin Jackson is an option, though he reminds me of Francisco Liriano.
But I do now have reason for cautious optimism: the organization wouldn't already be pushing $100 million for 2012 payroll if it was in a rebuilding mode, and would not have handed out multi-year, multi-million dollar contracts to veterans. Hopefully Terry Ryan won't be resigned to dumpster diving for pitching. Perhaps talks for a starter that can miss opponents' bats are in the works already? Maybe I should give him a little time - - it has, after all, been a busy week in Twins Territory. Today, Friday, is a day for optimism. Things look much better than they did just weeks ago. This lineup, though perhaps not the favorite to win the Central Division, at least won't lose 99 games.
What do you think? Am I drinking too much of the Terry Ryan Kool-Aid? Am I happy because I'm taking a half-day off today? Thanks for reading.