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    by 03-12-2012, 09:09 PM

    Today's links include the analytical, the hopeful and the whimsical:

    Thryloss updates his bullpen and bench dashboards with yesterday's results. A couple of previously maligned bullpen arms put their best foot forward, as did Brian Dozier.

    Twins Fan From Afar is getting hopeful watching Danny Valencia this spring. He reviews Valencia's time in the majors, both good and bad.


    MrHorrorPants relates the Twins upcoming season to a Civil War campaign. It's every bit as righteous and scary as one might expect.
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    by 03-12-2012, 08:59 PM

    Aaron & the Twins Geek discuss Perkins' new contract, the Twins history of long-term contracts and then review Vegas' over-under predictions for the Twins and the rest of the AL. Here are:

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    by 03-12-2012, 01:03 PM

    Likely Starter: Alexi Casilla
    2011 Stats: .260/.322/.368, 4 HR, 21 RBI, 52 R, 15/19 SB

    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.
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    by 03-11-2012, 11:18 PM

    The voting for preseason AL Central catcher and first basemen will continue for another day, but let's get the discussion going on "Which AL Central Second Baseman will be the best in 2012?" Vote now and comment your rankings.

    THE CANDIDATES (2011 stats)
    Minnesota Twins - Alexi Casilla - .260/.322/.368 (.691) with 21-2B, 3-3B, 2-HR, 21 RBI

    Chicago White Sox - Gordon Beckham - .230/.296/.337 (.633) with 23-2B, 0-3B, 10-HR, 44 RBI

    Cleveland Indians - Jason Kipnis MLB - .272/.333/.507 (.841) with 9-2B, 1-3B, 7-HR, 19 RBI (MILB - .280/.362/.484 (.846) with 16-2B, 9-3B, 12-HR, 55 RBI)

    Detroit Tigers - Brandon Inge - .197/.265/.283 (.548) with 10-2B, 2-3B, 3-HR, 23 RBI
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    by 03-11-2012, 03:47 PM

    If you're looking for some more to nibble on from this weekend, try these

    - Thryloss has brought executive style management techniques to spring training. (I'll let you decide if that's a good or bad thing.) He's updating two executive style dashboard reports, one for the bullpen and the other for the bench battles. Check them out and see how your favorite dark horse is running.

    - Speaking of dark horses, minor league catcher Chris Herrmann might be one to make it to the show sometime this year. Over the last year or so he's overcome his clear obsession with redundant consonants to position himself as a lineup fixture as early as 2013. You can find out a bit more about him in a profile by ShawnTheRoad.

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    by 03-11-2012, 03:45 PM

    Letís be clear: ultimately, itís about the wins. I get into at least a half dozen debates per month where I feel the need to remind people that all this fun baseball stuff we analyze Ė coaching tactics, offseason pickups, roster changes, revenue tendencies, trades, minor league development Ė are not goals in and of themselves. They are the means to an end. And that end is wins.

    That said, even if the Twins somehow win the AL Central, 2012 will answer several questions that will seriously impact the rest of the decade for Twins fans. Besides the wins, letís take a look at five other developments worth paying attention to if youíre a Twins fan.
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    by 03-11-2012, 02:49 PM

    After struggling during the first week of spring training with the bat, the Twins go three home runs on Sunday afternoon to top the New York Yankees 5-1. Joe Benson got the Twins on the board with a long, solo home run in the 5th inning. In the bottom of the 7th, Danny Valencia gave the Twins a 2-1 lead with his second home run in as many days. In the bottom of the 8th, Michael Hollimon hit a long, 3-run homer into the wind that gave the Twins the 5-1 lead. (Hollimon is now 4-6 on the spring with the Twins.)

    The Twins continued to pitch well also. Nick Blackburn started and threw three scoreless innings. He gave up three hits and was helped by his defense. With speedy Brett Gardner on first base, Curtis Granderson hit a long drive to center field. When Joe Benson (who was in the lineup because Denard Span had a stiff neck) realized he couldn't make the catch, he played the ball perfectly off the wall. He uncoiled a strong throw toward the infield. Alexi Casilla grabbed the throw and relayed a perfect strike to Joe Mauer to get Gardner easily at the plate.
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    by 03-11-2012, 08:47 AM

    The voting for preseason AL Central catcher will continue for another day, but let's get the discussion going on "Which AL Central First Baseman will be the best in 2012?" Vote now and comment your rankings.

    The First Basemen (2011 stats)

    Minnesota Twins - Justin Morneau - .227/.285/.333 (.618) with 16-2B, 4-HR, 30 RBI
    Chicago White Sox - Paul Konerko - .300/.388/.517 (.906) with 25-2B, 31-HR, 105 RBI
    Cleveland Indians - Casey Kotchman - .306/.378/.422 (.800) with 24-2B, 2-3B, 10-HR, 48 RBI
    Detroit Tigers - Prince Fielder - .299/.415/.566 (.981) with 36-2B, 1-3B, 38-HR, 120 RBI
    Kansas City Royals - Eric Hosmer - .293/.334/.465 (.799) with 27-2B, 3-3B, 19-HR, 78 RBI
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    by 03-10-2012, 08:15 PM

    It's no secret that the Twins have really struggled offensively to this point in spring training. That remained the case on Saturday when, in this sixth inning, the Twins were down 2-1 to the Pirates. Valencia stepped to the plate with two runners on and uncorked a long home run to give the Twins a 4-2 lead. The bullpen held the lead and the Twins got the win.

    For Valencia, it was his first home of the spring. For the Twins, it was just their third spring home run (Chris Parmelee and JR Towles had the other two). In his previous at bat, Valencia had ripped a double to the right center field gap. On the day, the Twins managed just four other hits.

    Terry Doyle got hit pretty hard by the Pirates. In 2.2 innings, he gave up two runs on seven hits and a walk. He was aided by a popped up bunt and a runner caught stealing on a pitch-out.
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    by 03-10-2012, 12:16 PM

    I thought I'd start a new series here and see how it plays out. I thought it would be fun for Twins Daily readers to vote on the preseason All AL Central team. The question with each of these rankings will be "Which player do you think will have the best season in 2012?" In other words, it has nothing to do with what happened in 2011 or earlier, and it isn't asking which you would build a team with. It is, which player will be the best in 2012. (Click Here to Vote!)

    Let's start with the Catcher candidates:
    Minnesota Twins - Joe Mauer - (2011 numbers - .287/.360/.368 (.729) with 15-2B, 3-HR, 30 RBI)

    Chicago White Sox - AJ Pierzynski - (2011 numbers - .287/.323/.405 (.728) with 29-2B, 1-3B, 8-HR, 48 RBI)
    by 03-09-2012, 04:59 PM

    Yeah, it's only the second week of March. But early in spring training, positive signs have been hard to come by for this offense.

    Today at Hammond Stadium, the Twins snapped a string of 27 consecutive scoreless innings, but did so without a run-scoring hit. Their two runs both came on bases-loaded walks. The latter took place with two outs in the ninth inning, drawing the Twins within a run of the Cardinals before Rene Tosoni grounded out to second on the first pitch of the next at-bat to end the game.

    Aye, aye, aye.
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    by 03-09-2012, 09:23 AM

    If you follow the tremendous work of 1500 ESPN's Phil Mackey, you know that every Sunday, he posts an updated 25 man roster projection. Phil is in Ft. Myers and talking to players, coaches and front office personnel, so he may have some insider information. But, I think that we can all do our own roster projections because until we get to April and the team has to announce their 25 man roster, anything can happen. I hope to post my projection updates each Friday and hope that you will leave your projections in the comments and discuss.

    The players in
    Red are players that I believe are givens to make the roster
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    by 03-09-2012, 08:43 AM

    What was I supposed to expect going into my first Spring Training? As my report date neared, I decided I had no clue what to expect. And as I thought more about it, that is how it seemed it should be. Where would the fun in life be if we knew everything that was going to happen? So I embraced the surprises at every turn and figured the less I plan (outside of waking up in time for the bus) the better it would be.

    As I got off the plane in Ft. Myers on Tuesday, bag after bag with the Twins logo was pulled from the carousel. Some groggy faces, some smiling faces, some lost faces, yet everyone had something in common, we were going to chase our dream. The ever present headphones kept the conversation to a minimum as everyone tried to get their bags off the baggage claim and into the waiting vans. Surprise number one came as I walked outside and found Corey Williams waiting to pick up myself and Matt Koch. I had lived with both of them last year in Elizabethton, but as it turns out Matt already scheduled the pickup and when we found ourselves on the same flight, he added me to Coreyís chauffeur list.
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    by 03-09-2012, 01:05 AM

    Question: Why is this graph smiling?

    Answer: Because its owner just locked in $10.3 million guaranteed.

    On Thursday morning, the Twins announced that they have extended Glen Perkins through 2015with an option for 2016. Heading into 2011, based on his substandard results such as his strike out rate, this would have been unheard of, a Twitter punch line among baseball fans. Glen Perkins to a multi-year deal? Get the eff out of here.

    Without question, it was hard to see this season coming. Take Baseball Prospectus - an entity that touts it as having ďdeadly accurateĒ predictions - and their forecast on Perkins:
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    by 03-08-2012, 03:40 PM

    The Rays finally found a way to beat the Twins on Thursday afternoon: just don't let them score. Eventually, that worked, but it wasn't until the top of the ninth inning that the Rays pushed across the game's lone run, winning 1-0.

    It didn't have to be that way. The Twins threatened in the first inning, when Denard Span singled and then nabbed his first of two stolen bases. Trevor Plouffe then coaxed a walk for an early scoring opportunity. But on a 3-1 pitch, Joe Mauer lined weakly to left field which held the runners. Justin Morneau flew to center and Josh Willingham grounded to shortstop and then early rally was stifled.

    Twins pitchers nearly matched the Rays. Francisco Liriano threw the first three innings, striking out five and walking none, while giving up just one hit. Liam Hendricks, Scott Diamond and Daryl Thompson then worked scoreless inning. Jeff Manship struck out the side in the seventh inning. Brendan Wise got the Twins through the eighth inning.
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    by 03-08-2012, 11:35 AM

    Likely Starter: Justin Morneau
    2011 Stats: .227/.285/.333, 4 HR, 30 RBI, 19 R, 0/0 SB

    Potential Backups: Joe Mauer, Luke Hughes, Ryan Doumit, Chris Parmelee, Sean Burroughs, Steve Pearce, Aaron Bates

    Through a couple weeks of camp, this much can be said for Justin Morneau: he hasn't raised any warning flags yet. He's been able to get through all his workouts, he's participated in a few exhibition contests and he laced a hard double in yesterday's 'B' game that impressed spectators.

    But we've been through this song and dance before. A year ago Morneau made it through spring training without issue, then endured a nightmare season that was marred by numerous injuries and cut short in August by persisting concussion complications, the effects of which lingered deep into the offseason.

    All of this has fans wondering: will we soon reach a point where Morneau can play no more?

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