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  1. Spring Training Preview

    The Twins invited a staggering 66 players to big-league camp this year, which seems more than a little excessive when you consider that only 25 will make the Opening Day roster and very few of those spots are legitimately up for grabs.

    So why the prodigious assembly at Lee County Sports Complex? I'd guess it has something to do with the coaching staff wanting a chance to familiarize themselves with as many guys as possible. Forty-five different players either took a swing or threw a ...
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  2. What to Watch in 2012: Revere's Average

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ID:	143When he was a prospect coming up through the minors, Ben Revere showed promise as a lightning-fast outfielder who could make things happen with his legs and with his glove. He was drafted in the first round in 2007, put himself on the map by leading the Midwest League with a .379 average in 2008 and graduated to the majors by the age of 22.

    Revere's projected value in the bigs is overstated by minor-league numbers that include a .326/.385/.408 slash line ...
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  3. What to Watch in 2012: Pavano's Strikeouts

    When the Twins acquired Carl Pavano in August of 2009, his fastball was averaging almost 91 miles per hour and he was striking out 16 percent of the batters he faced. In two seasons since, his velocity has dropped by two miles per hour and his K-rate has descended steadily, to 13 percent in 2010 and 11 percent in 2011.

    Among qualifying major-league starters, only Brad Penny had a lower K/9 mark last year than Pavano's 4.1. A lack of whiffs isn't necessarily a death knell, especially ...
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  4. What to Watch in 2012: Perkins' Slider

    As we count down the days until pitchers and catchers report to Ft. Myers, I'm going to run a series of columns this week detailing some of the less high-profile story lines worth following in the 2012 season. We've heard plenty about the redemption quests of Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Denard Span and Francisco Liriano; in the coming days I'll be examining some other factors that could significantly impact the 2012 season. Today, I look at the pitch that turned around an embattled southpaw's ...
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  5. NTB Top 10 Prospects 2012

    While many, like me, are holding out hope that the Twins can find a way to compete in a 2012 season where the odds are stacked pretty heavily against them, we must acknowledge that there's a good chance the big-league club won't catch the number of breaks it needs, and that by the mid-season point fans will be looking elsewhere for signs of hope.

    Those signs will hopefully come from some of the players listed below in my annual preseason ranking of the organization's top ten prospects. ...
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  6. Dangerous Gambles in the Rotation

    Teams generally enter every season with a few question marks in the rotation. The Twins, unfortunately, look like they'll head into the 2012 campaign with five.

    With each starter slated to occupy a spot in Minnesota's rotation, there is a fair amount of upside and also significant downside. At this point there's no way to know which versions of these various Jekyll-and-Hyde acts we'll be seeing, so all we can do is hope that the Twins can come up heads more often than tails as ...
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  7. Is Butera's Reign of Terror Over?

    The Twins had a lot of players miss significant time last season, but no one's absence was felt more than Joe Mauer, who sat out 80 games with a variety of ailments.

    This isn't just because he is the team's best player. It's also because no position carried less depth in the Twins organization than catcher. Mauer was able to start only 47 games behind the plate, and when he was unavailable those nods largely went to Drew Butera, whose miserable .167/.210/.239 hitting line tagged ...
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  8. Was Ryan Too Trigger-Happy?

    I've generally been pleased with the moves the Twins have made this offseason. In his return to the helm, Terry Ryan has wisely allowed some overpriced free agents to depart while signing solid producers like Josh Willingham and Ryan Doumit to bargain deals with little downside.

    Two moves that have rubbed me the wrong way, however, are the Kevin Slowey trade and the Matt Capps signing. This isn't because I take issue with the decisions that were made trading Slowey was certainly ...
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  9. Fielder Hardly Seals Division

    Name:  Prince1.jpg
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Size:  17.5 KBWhile many people had already written off the Twins as contenders in 2012 following a 99-loss season, I've been bullish on their (admittedly slim) chances, reasoning that a whole lot can change health-wise from one season to the next and that no club in the AL Central was looking like a world-beater.

    The entire division has largely been in a holding pattern all winter. The White Sox, Indians and Royals haven't made impact additions. The Twins have brought ...
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  10. On Slowey, Twins Sold Too Low Once Again

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ID:	75The Twins have often been criticized in recent years for the paltry returns they've gotten back when trading away players. We've seen Wilson Ramos, J.J. Hardy, Delmon Young and others flipped for questionable returns, only to quickly boost their value elsewhere. Jose Mijares was non-tendered earlier this offseason because the Twins didn't want to pay him $750,000 through arbitration, and he went on to immediately sign with the Royals for $950,000.

    In ...
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  11. Morneau and Progress

    About a month from today, Jamey Carroll will turn 38 years old. That will make the veteran infielder, signed by the Twins earlier this offseason to man shortstop over the next couple seasons, the same age as former Minnesota third baseman Corey Koskie.

    Of course, while Carroll is enjoying the best years of his pro baseball career, Koskie has been out of the game since 2006, when a concussion sustained in Milwaukee ended his days as a major-leaguer.

    An athletic baseball ...
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  12. ZOOM! Twins Add Powerful, But Fragile, Bullpen Arm

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    For Twins fans, the image is tough to forget.

    Joel Zumaya was pitching to Delmon Young in the eighth inning of a late June game at Target Field. On a full count, the right-hander reared back and unleashed a 99 mph fastball, which Young fouled off.

    It was immediately obvious that something went very wrong with Zumaya on the pitch, as he quickly clutched his right elbow and collapsed to the ground in extreme pain. His right hand was shaking ...
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  13. Thoughts on Payroll

    Geoff Baker, a scribe for The Seattle Times, penned a lengthy but very interesting column earlier this week about spending in baseball.

    I recommend taking the time to read it, as the themes are very applicable for Twins fans, but the gist of his argument is that ultra-rich baseball owners are gaming the system by soaking up public money and spending far less on payroll than they can afford to. Meanwhile, the baseball community overlooks this injustice and credits general managers ...
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  14. Is Nick Blackburn Undervalued?

    One couldn't be blamed for writing off Nick Blackburn as an afterthought in the Twins' 2012 starting pitching equation.

    After all, he's been pretty bad over the past two seasons. In fact, "pretty bad" might be an understatement he's been one of baseball's most hittable pitchers, prone to stretches of mind-numbingly horrible performance. His once-premier walk rate has deteriorated into mediocrity, leaving him with little in the way of strengths to fall back on.

    So ...
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