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  1. Top Stories for 2013: #1 Gardy's Gauntlet

    Twins manager Ron Gardenhire is on the hot seat.In many ways, Ron Gardenhire’s present situation reflects the paradox faced by the 2013 Minnesota Twins.

    After two straight 90-loss campaigns, the long-tenured manager has been put on notice. He enters this season without a contract extension in place. Several of his assistants have been reassigned or released, and it’s been made clear that his performance will be under stringent evaluation. If we don’t see tangible improvement over the last two miserable ...
  2. Position Analysis: Relief Pitcher

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ID:	3608Perhaps no group on the Twins suffered more as a result of the starting staff’s struggles last year than the bullpen. Success stories were overlooked, dominant relief outings were often wasted in losses and the unit as a whole was generally taxed and overworked.

    That’s too bad, because the significant strides made in this department sort of got lost in the shuffle. One year after ranking last in the American League in bullpen ERA (4.51) and WHIP (1.46), ...
  3. Position Analysis: Starting Pitcher

    If ever there was a clear culprit for a ruined season, it was the Twins' starting pitching corps in 2012. While reasonably decent in the lineup and bullpen, the team stood no chance of competing thanks to an outrageously bad year from the rotation.

    Pinpointing exactly what went wrong within that unit is more complicated. When you're talking about a group that ranked last in the AL in ERA, hits allowed and opponent OPS, there are obviously a multitude of factors in play. But if you had ...
  4. Position Analysis: Right Field

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ID:	3582Likely Starter: Chris Parmelee
    2012 Stats: .229/.290/.380, 5 HR, 20 RBI, 18 R

    Potential Backups: Darin Mastroianni, Wilkin Ramirez, Ryan Doumit

    One of the big storylines for the Twins this year will be the trio of former first-round draft picks getting opportunities to prove their worth in the majors. Aaron Hicks is the headliner, and Trevor Plouffe has plenty of fanfare after launching 24 homers last season, but Chris Parmelee has slipped ...
  5. Position Analysis: Center Field

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ID:	3575Likely Starter: Aaron Hicks
    2012 Stats (AA): .286/.384/.460, 13 HR, 61 RBI, 100 R

    Potential Backups: Darin Mastroianni, Joe Benson

    Those who were eager to see an intense and compelling spring competition for the starting center field job have surely been disappointed.

    Aaron Hicks was the front-runner before camp got underway and then took firm hold of the job with his truly stellar exhibition performance. Joe Benson was demoted ...
  6. Position Analysis: Left Field

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    2012 Stats: .260/.366/.524, 35 HR, 110 RBI, 85 R

    Potential Backups: Darin Mastroianni, Ryan Doumit

    Since joining the Minnesota Twins last winter, Josh Willingham has been destroying long-standing conceptions in addition to baseballs.

    There was a belief that prominent free agents wouldn’t sign in Minnesota. Yet Willingham, coming off a big season in Oakland, came aboard on a favorable three-year ...
  7. Position Analysis: Shortstop

    Pedro Florimon will man short for the TwinsLikely Starter: Pedro Florimon
    2012 Stats: .219/.272/.307, 1 HR, 10 RBI, 16 R

    Potential Backups: Eduardo Escobar, Jamie Carroll

    On April 1, Pedro Florimon will become the Twins' ninth Opening Day starter at shortstop in 10 years. Will he be able to become the first player since Cristian Guzman to hold the title for consecutive seasons? Magic 8-ball says: outlook not so good.

    The path that brought Florimon to the Twins is brushed ...
  8. Position Analysis: Third Base

    Trevor Plouffe homers for the Minnesota TwinsLikely Starter: Trevor Plouffe
    2012 Stats: .235/.301/.455, 24 HR, 55 RBI, 56 R

    Potential Backups: Eduardo Escobar, Jamie Carroll

    Identifying a solution at the hot corner has turned into a game of hot potato for the Twins. Since Corey Koskie’s departure, the list of players who have had a hand on the gig is lengthy: Tony Batista, Mike Lamb, Joe Crede, Nick Punto, Brian Buscher, Brendan Harris, Danny Valencia and more. Unfortunately, in each ...
  9. Position Analysis: Second Base

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ID:	3521Likely Starter: Brian Dozier
    2012 Stats: .234/.271/.332, 6 HR, 33 RBI, 33 R

    Potential Backups: Jamie Carroll, Eduardo Escobar

    From the outside, nothing about Brian Dozier’s career path suggested stardom was in the cards. In fact, there was little to suggest that he possessed the capability of turning into an MLB regular.

    A Southern boy out of Mississippi drafted in the eighth round, Dozier debuted in 2009 with good numbers ...
  10. Position Analyis: First Base

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ID:	3509Likely Starter: Justin Morneau
    2012 Stats: .267/.333/.440, 19 HR, 77 RBI, 63 R

    Potential Backups: Chris Parmelee, Joe Mauer, Jeff Clement

    It’s been so long since we’ve seen Justin Morneau at his best, it’s easy to forget what “his best” even looked like. In the two-and-a-half seasons since his fateful concussion in Toronto, Morneau has shown only the occasion glimpse of elite hitting ability. Beyond the lingering effects of the head injury, ...
  11. Position Analysis: Catcher

    Likely Starter: Joe Mauer
    2012 Stats: .319/.444/.587, 10 HR, 85 RBI, 81 R

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    Potential Backups: Ryan Doumit, Drew Butera, Chris Herrmann

    Joe Mauer wasn't officially honored as the American League's Comeback Player of the Year last season, losing out to Fernando Rodney, but he had an awfully good case. His 2011 campaign was as tumultuous as that of any player in baseball, seeing him descend from idol to villain in the eyes of a fan base ...
  12. Recapping the Week in Ft. Myers

    I returned to Minnesota on Sunday night after a six-day excursion to southern Florida that featured plenty of baseball, beaches and beer. The vacation was perfect medicine after a long, cold winter here in the northland.

    If you haven't journeyed to Ft. Myers in March before, I can't recommend it highly enough. Beyond the incredible weather and tasty eats in the area, the Twins do a great job of providing fans with a stellar experience at Lee County Sports Complex, whether you're taking ...
  13. Spring Training Report: March 7

    The headliner on Thursday was Aaron Hicks, who blasted three homers in a game against the Phillies in Clearwater. I didn't make the three-hour trip, opting to stay back in Ft. Myers for the home half of the split-squad set, and thus missed out on my favorite prospect's banner day.

    I can hardly complain. While hanging around the Lee County Sports Complex, I had the opportunity to check out plenty of intriguing prospects, and while the home game against Boston wasn't anywhere near as ...
  14. Spring Training Report: March 6

    After watching my hometown get blanketed with several inches of snow on Monday and Tuesday, I finally said, "Screw it, I need to get out of here." So I hopped on a plane and flew to Florida.

    OK, it wasn't quite that spontaneous, but I am down here in Ft. Myers, and making several trips to the ballpark this week, so I figured I would share some of my observations. On Wednesday, I had the chance to take in the tilt between the Twins and Puerto Rico's World Baseball Classic squad at Hammond ...
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