The Twins spring schedule kicks off tomorrow. I know many are looking forward to it, even without the belief that the Twins will be competing for an AL Central crown this fall. That doesn't make this spring any less interesting.
So with that in mind, I'm going on record and making predictions... some bold, some not.
*The Twins will finish in last place in the AL Central.
They'll win between 69-72 games.
*The Twins will be sellers at the deadline.
Justin Morneau, Josh Willingham and Mike Pelfrey will bid farewell before the end of July.
*The battle to start in CF is already over.
After trading Span and Revere, we've been led to believe Darrin Mastroianni, Aaron Hicks and Joe Benson are in a three-way battle to be the everyday centerfielder. Benson, who is far removed from a successful minor league year and not as far removed from microfracture surgery, has no shot at being the Opening Day centerfielder. Hicks, for both service reasons and having taken zero at-bats at AAA, will get sent down until a) he absolutely proves he's ready or b) Mastroianni proves he absolutely isn't the answer.
*The opening-day 4th OF will be a guy not currently on the 40-man roster.
Clete Thomas, who blew our mind for about two at-bats last year, before making us want to blow our brains out, is the likely frontrunner. (I think the bigger question is, when Thomas gets DFA'd and clears waivers, does he accept his assignment to Rochester or elect free agency?)
*Chris Parmelee will be the everyday rightfielder... until it's Oswaldo Arcia
. It's going to be an interesting first couple of months. Parmelee isn't best-suited to play the outfield. He's likely good enough to keep the seat warm for Arcia, and that's likely - hopefully, in the Twins mind - going to happen when Morneau is traded away and Parmelee moves to first base. But what happens if Parmelee can't get it done offensively or defensively? Who knows...
*Oswaldo Arcia will have more impact on the 2013 Twins than Aaron Hicks.
Arcia will hit and play serviceable D. Hicks will play a solid D but struggle to hit. Next year at this time, I see discussions being the same... is Hicks ready to be a leadoff hitter at the major league level? While the right field job is not up-for-grabs in spring training (because Arcia has a stranglehold on it).
*Chris Colabello will be a major-league player this year.
Another guy that just rakes. Sign him up.
*Trevor Ploufee will be frustratingly hot-and-cold both offensively and defensively
, but TwinsDaily readers will rejoice that he's not Danny Valencia.
*Drew Butera will spend less time in the major leagues in 2013 than any season since debuting in 2010
... and TwinsDaily readers will still complain!
*Jamey Carroll's option will vest with 401 plate appearances
despite the Twins making an effort to see that it doesn't happen.
*Pedro Florimon and Brian Dozier will leave the fan base wishing for Luis Rivas and Cristian Guzman.
Or Orlando Hudson and J.J. Hardy. Or basically any 2B/SS combination you can think of.
*Joe Mauer will be Joe Mauer.
Many will be unhappy.
*The rotation will be better than last year.
Hardly went out on a limb there...
*One year from now we'll feel really good about the rotation.
2014 will include Kyle Gibson (who won't compete for ROY, but be solid amid a limited-innings year), Scott Diamond (who will regress, but still be a solid lefty), Vance Worley (who fans will love because he goes after hitters and works quick), Liam Hendriks (who will actually look like he belongs in the major leagues this year) and Kevin Correia (who was signed to be a #5 pitcher). This isn't mentioning any of the prospects who could be knocking on the door.
*The bullpen will be good - again.
Glen Perkins and Jared Burton will be fantastic in their late-inning roles.
*Brian Duensing will continue to thrive and/or make strides as a left-handed reliever.
*Tim Wood will absolutely be in the Opening Day bullpen.
This isn't the second coming of Jeff Gray. Tim Wood signed a $675,000 contract with the Twins. He has less than a year of service. Anthony Swarzak, who has over 2 years of service, got $502,500. No Twin who had their contract renewed got over $530,000. That makes Tim Wood, who has had no MLB success - and almost as little experience - the 12th highest-paid Twins player this year.
Crazy? Just a little bit.
*Sam Deduno will figure something out this year.
Either, "Hey, I do know how to throw it through the zone" or "You know what, this baseball thing isn't for me."
*Trevor May makes his September debut coming out of the bullpen.
*Ryan Pressly doesn't make the team...
and the Red Sox will not be willing to work out a trade, unfortunately.
Go ahead, be bold... or not bold.