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    by 03-24-2012, 08:43 AM

    The last couple of weeks, Twins Daily readers have had the opportunity to vote for the preseason all-AL Central All Star Team. Here are those results:
    • Catcher – Joe Mauer, Minnesota Twins
    • First Base – Prince Fielder, Detroit Tigers
    • Second Base – Jason Kipnis, Cleveland Indians
    • Third Base – Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers
    • Shortstop – Asdrubal Cabrera, Cleveland Indians
    • Left Field – Alex Gordon, Kansas City Royals
    • Center Field – Denard Span, Minnesota Twins
    • Right Field – Josh Willingham, Minnesota Twins
    • Designated Hitter – Billy Butler, Kansas City Royals

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    by 03-23-2012, 08:46 PM

    I remember the first time I saw Bull Durham. It was 2004 and I was still living in mom and dad's basement. I was drinking cold bottles of Miller High Life with my buddy Al, and we were flipping channels when we stopped just in time to see Susan Sarandon – who was still in Vintage Babe Form back in the late 80s – walk out of her house and into a minor league ballpark. She delivered an A+ monologue to start the movie, and I was hooked as soon as she mentioned that there are 108 beads in a Catholic rosary and 108 stitches in a baseball. I've since learned this is an outright lie, albeit a poetic, beautiful tiny lie, but even so, her claim cemented for me a relationship between spirituality and baseball that I had always felt but had never been able to express. She called it The Church of Baseball.

    Even if the rest of the movie weren't wonderful, even if it rested on the laurels of its opening monologue and Kevin Costner's passable home run swing, I would have loved it still. Thankfully, the movie goes on to hilariously and sincerely portray the difficulties of love and friendship, as well as the beauty and tragedy of the sport. Just as Harbach's The Art of Fielding isn't just a book about baseball, Bull Durham isn't only a baseball movie; like Millie says of Ebby Calvin "Nuke" LaLoosh, it's "sort of all over the place."
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    by 03-23-2012, 09:57 AM

    The past two weeks, I have attempted to project the Twins Opening Day roster. This week, we’ll try it again. I still believe that there are 20 “Givens” at this point, two weeks before Opening Day. I also believe that the five remaining positions are all pretty intriguing and could have several possibilities at this point, especially since there are some injury questions with Scott Baker and Justin Morneau.

    There are still 39 players in Twins big league camp which means 14 players need to be sent back down before the season starts. The manager, coaching staff and front office has some tough decisions. Terry Ryan stressed competition in spring training, and he has received that! The 40 man roster is not an issue as the Zumaya injury and Terry Doyle's return to the White Sox allows some flexibility too.

    (The players in Red are players that I believe are givens to make the roster (obviously pending injury). Those in black are potentially up for grabs. Discuss my selections and be sure to post your roster projections in the Comments as well.)

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    by 03-23-2012, 08:16 AM

    [Originally published at Twins Fan From Afar]

    He wasn't a household name last year at this time, even among many followers of the Twins' minor league system, but much has changed in the past 12 months. Depending on whom you speak to in the front office, there seem to be differing interpretations on Dozier's role in the Twins' organization this season. Make no mistake -- everyone is speaking of him highly right now. Terry Ryan, for instance, recently mentioned that he would not hesitate to call a player like Dozier up to the major leagues straight from AA New Britain, saying, "[t]hat's not going to scare us off. If he looks like he's mature enough . . . ." And we all know, now, that Ron Gardenhire actually wanted Dozier on the team last season, but that request was refused by management (side note: what does that tell you about how dire the Twins' middle infield situation was?).

    If Dozier stays healthy, and remains productive, it's a matter of when, not if, he will make his Twins debut. But today, I want to give you 8 reasons I think the Twins should add Dozier to the 40 man roster, award him the starting shortstop job in Minnesota for 2012, and call it a done deal.
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    by 03-23-2012, 06:34 AM

    Original Post from North Dakota Twins Fan
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    It felt good to get back to a full week of Twins coverage here at NoDak Twins Fan and after my vacation in Arizona it was great to get caught up on all of the happenings across Twins Territory. We are only a few short weeks away from baseball being played under the sun at Target Field. It will be a welcome sight to see the hometown nine take the field for the first time and for the memories of an awful 2011 to go away.

    The NFL continues to get all of the major headlines in the sports world but for fans of baseball there continues to be a ton of content to peruse through on a weekly basis. Here are a handful of the stories that I enjoyed from the last week with some fun stuff sprinkled in for a little spice.
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    by 03-22-2012, 09:34 PM

    Following Monday’s 0-for-2 performance, lowering his spring batting average to .100, Justin Morneau addressed his struggles:

    "It's gotten better. It's not where I want it to be yet. The swing's getting better. The swing feels a lot better than it did when I first got down here. It's a process, it's moving along. I just have to keep telling myself that it's slow, and just because it's not here now doesn't mean it's not going to be here a week from now."

    Sound familiar?

    A year ago, Morneau was coming off a serious concussion injury and slowly easing back into the game in mid-March. For the majority of the time in Florida in 2011, he struggled. He failed to leave the yard in his 11 games and batted .152 but managed to knock a trifecta of doubles. Reflecting on his performance, told the Star Tribune’s LaVelle E Neal that his “timing is starting to come .”

    Despite his claim to the contrary, in the regular season Morneau’s timing never came.
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    by 03-22-2012, 08:47 PM

    Likely Starter: Josh Willingham
    2011 Stats: .246/.332/.477, 29 HR, 98 RBI, 69 R, 4/5 SB

    Potential Backups: Trevor Plouffe, Joe Benson, Darin Mastroianni

    When he hasn't been needed elsewhere, Michael Cuddyer has spent most of the past six years roaming right field for the Twins. No player has spent more time in front of the big blue baggy and limestone overhang.

    Cuddyer was a fan favorite, a media darling and a community staple. He was also a productive player, putting up an .806 OPS while averaging 18 homers and 79 RBI during that six-year span.

    The notorious clubhouse magician pulled off a final disappearing act this winter, ending his 15-year tenure in the Twins organization to sign a lucrative contract with the Rockies. The man replacing Cuddy has his work cut out for him.
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    by 03-22-2012, 02:07 PM

    So most of you by now know I'm headed to New York City to inhabit the MLB Fan Cave this season and to be honest, I couldn't have done it without all of you. Twins Territory definitely stepped up when it came time to get a Twins fan into the Cave and I am so thankful for all of your support! I promise to make you all proud in New York City (and to boo the Yankees any chance I get)!

    It's been a wild ride and since most people have been curious about my experience, I figured I take a second or two and give you a sneak peek into what my life has been like the last few months.
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    by 03-22-2012, 11:06 AM

    On Thursday morning, the Twins front office performed one of their most difficult tasks. They informed six minor league players that their dream of playing in the big leagues for the Minnesota Twins was at an end - that they had been released. I'd like to highlight the players released because they all put in some quality time in the Twins organization and deserve to be recognized once more as they exit the organization. Some of them may be able to hook on with another organization. Some may play some independent league baseball. Some may end their baseball dream all together and go another direction. In any case, I certainly wish the best to all of them.
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    by 03-22-2012, 07:29 AM

    On Thursday morning, the Twins sent their third batch of players to minior league camp. There were:
    • RHP Sam Deduno
    • LHP Phil Dumatrait
    • C Danny Lehmann
    • IF Ray Chang
    • OF Matt Carson
    None of these moves would be considered a surprise. Dumatrait spent a lot of time in the Twins bullpen in 2011, but with Glen Perkins and Brian Duensing already set in the bullpen and Matt Maloney's emergence, there wasn't room for him any more.
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    by 03-22-2012, 06:32 AM

    On Wednesday, the NFL decided to take the news headlines away from the other sports again by announcing the penalties for the Saints “Bounty” situation. Head coach Sean Payton was suspended for a year and the team will lose its next two second round picks. Others, such as Rams’ Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who was ‘credited’ with offering the bounties was also suspended.

    Bla Bla Bla… it’s football, so it really doesn’t matter. It’s baseball season.

    But the story did get me thinking… is there a baseball scenario that would be equivalent to Bounty Gate? What would a baseball manager have to do to warrant a one year suspension?
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    by 03-21-2012, 09:08 PM

    Likely Starter: Denard Span
    2011 Stats: .264/.328/.359, 2 HR, 16 RBI, 37 R, 6/7 SB

    Potential Backups: Ben Revere, Joe Benson, Darin Mastroianni

    A good case can be made that during his first two seasons in the majors, Denard Span was not only one of the most underrated players on the Twins, but in all of baseball. Between 2008 and 2009, Span hit .305/.390/.422 with 41 steals and 63 extra-base hits in 238 games.

    A young, cost-controlled leadoff man with a .390 OBP, a bit of pop and the athleticism to competently play center field? That's not a solid contributor, that's a stud.
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    by 03-21-2012, 10:50 AM

    After sending Tsuyoshi Nishioka to Rochester, many fans began to think that Brian Dozier may have done enough this spring to entice the powers that be to include him on the major league roster. On Tuesday, manager Ron Gardenhire squelched that notion.

    According to the Star Tribune’s Joe Christensen’s tweet which paraphrased Gardenhire’s comments on the situation, the Twins will not be bringing Dozier northward but rather sending him to Rochester to start the season. The Twins’ manager added that the team would not hesitate to summon Dozier if anything should happen to either
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    by 03-20-2012, 09:40 PM

    When the Twins sent Tsuyoshi Nishioka down, they admitted that they might need to replace him with a guy from another team’s roster. They’re right. Looking at the guys that remain in camp, there isn’t another really good option, at least not one that can play shortstop.

    Fortunately, this is the right time to find just such a player. At the end of spring training, teams make all kinds of guys available: players without options, Rule 5 draft picks or just guys that are dropped from the 40-man roster to make room for someone else.

    In fact, the Twins took advantage of that just two years ago.
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    by 03-20-2012, 07:21 PM

    Two weeks ago, I had a post where I guessed the probabilities of four non-roster invitees successfully making the Twins’ Opening Day roster. At the very bottom was “savior” Brian Dozier, stating that his probability was an F. No chance. Nada.

    Well, it looks like one of the Twins brass doesn’t agree. General Manager Terry Ryan stated that the recent demotion of Tsuyoshi Nishioka “has nothing to do with Dozier,” but that could easily be interpreted to mean “Nishioka’s only shot of starting the season with us was as a utility infielder, and Dozier’s not going to fill that role for us.”
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    by 03-20-2012, 10:37 AM

    [Originally published at Twins Fan From Afar]

    The Twins certainly don't have a surplus of major league ready talent at most positions, such as catcher, third base, middle infield, starting pitching, and the bullpen. -- just to name a few areas of concern. But if there is one position where there is a good amount of talent, both on the major league club and in the minor league system, it probably is centerfield.

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