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Article: The Twins Are Going to Win 80 Games in 2017

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 01:21 PM
I wrote for Cold Omaha today that I think the Twins will win 80 games this season. Discussion, as always, appreciated:    http:...
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Different Dodgers Trade

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 12:48 PM
I read an article linked to Ken Rosenthal's Twitter feed:   http://www.foxsports...bo-notes-011917   Here is a quote:   "F...
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Article: The All-Time Worst Twins: Matt Walbeck

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 12:48 PM
This part of the deep offseason can be full of a lot of downtime for baseball fans. Lucky enough for readers of this site, I have been of...
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Keith Law System Ranks

Twins Minor League Talk Today, 11:37 AM
Twins are ranked #11.   http://www.espn.com/...er/post?id=6115   Summary is that the Twins have some depth of talent in the min...
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Article: Twins To Deploy More Platoons In 2017?

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 11:06 AM
The ever-shrinking bench of an American League team may seem limiting, but there are still a number of things a team can try to accomplis...
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Position Analysis: Second Base

Likely Starter: Alexi Casilla
2011 Stats: .260/.322/.368, 4 HR, 21 RBI, 52 R, 15/19 SB
Attached Image: Alexi_Casilla_2.jpg
Potential Backups: Luke Hughes, Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Brian Dinkelman, Brian Dozier

We've been down this road before.

Alexi Casilla was the Opening Day starter at second base in 2009, and at shortstop last year. In neither instance did he hang on for long. With a career .185/.232/.219 hitting line in April, the Dominican infielder has made a habit of stumbling out of the gates, and there's no question that it's hurt him. When a player shows no signs of life early in the season, fans are quick to pass judgment and coaches begin looking at other options.
[PRBREAK][/PRBREAK]
Most would agree that Casilla has the tools to be a starting middle infielder in the big leagues. He's got the athleticism, quickness and arm strength to hold his own defensively, and he's shown flashes of competence at the plate. Putting it all together for extended periods of time has been a challenge, but the Twins are giving him another chance this year. In all likelihood, it'll be his last chance.

After struggling through a putrid first month last year, Casilla hit .281/.344/.407 the rest of the way. The Twins are hoping he can approach that sort of production this time around, and with a modest a price tag of $1.4 million, he's worth the gamble. He can't be relied upon to stay in the lineup all year though, given that he's never even made it to the 100-game mark before, so depth at this position will be key.

Luke Hughes figures to fill in at second from time to time; he offers some offensive upside and will likely pinch-hit for Casilla in tight games. Tsuyoshi Nishioka would be a somewhat capable backup if he makes the roster. In the event of a significant injury to Casilla, the Twins might call up Brian Dozier and hand him the reigns.

All in all, there are a number of solid options to plug in at second. For that reason, and because they've been around the block with Casilla several times before, the leash might be shorter than ever. Another horrible April, combined with a quick start for Dozier in Rochester or some early flashes from Hughes, could put Casilla on the hot seat quickly.

With that being said, he may benefit from lowered expectations; as the No. 8 hitter, all the Twins need him to do is hit a little bit and make plays in the field. If he can stay focused and healthy, there's no reason to believe he can't do that. He'll have no shortage of motivation, as this is a pivotal year in the 27-year-old's career.

Predicted Hitting Line for Casilla: .270/.330/.350, 3 HR, 30 RBI


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