The real real Opening Day

- Alex

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I know that a lot of people (including yours truly) will try to sell you on the fact that Monday was the real Opening Day for baseball, and frankly it's true. BUT. For Twins fans (also such as yours truly) the real real Opening Day is today, since the team plays its first game tonight in Toronto. In that spirit, I'm gonna do a quick season's preview. I'll warn you, we're gonna start with the negative, and then move to the positive. So if you're determined to keep your rose-colored goggles on (I'm picturing a happy Eric Dickerson), skip the first paragraph.

The bad: The bad includes the left side of the infield, the fact that we've got two more utility guys on the bench in addition to the one starting at SS, and the fact that nobody knows what's going on out there in right field. On the left side of the infield, you've got Tony Batista and Juan Castro, two guys who have career On-Base-Percentages below .300, which is bad enough on its own, but they're neither one of them on the right side of 30 to improve. I could probably live with one or the other, but not both at the same time. And while we might need one guy to back up Castro and Castillo in the middle infield, we certainly don't need both Punto and Rodriguez to do the job. It'd be nice to have a decent pinch hitter on the bench instead of one of those guys. And then out in right field you've got Michael Cuddyer, Lew Ford, and/or Jason Kubel. They will apparently play according to however Gardy feels like jerking them around, which isn't exactly an ideal situation either.

The good: Everything else, especially the pitching. The top of the order looks strong with Stewart, Castillo, and Mauer having had solid spring trainings, and Hunter, Morneau, and newcomer Rondell White look like they'll do just fine in the middle. Perhaps that will be enough, since the pitching looks again to be ready to roll. There's some concern about Lohse and Baker on the back end of the rotation, but I'm sure they'll do better than Lohse and Joe Mays did last year. And if anyone goes down, Francisco Liriano is already in town and in the bullpen, ready to step in. Speaking of that pen, Crain and Rincon look ready to set up Joe Nathan, and none of them really give any reason for concern.

It might be enough to get the Twins past Cleveland and the White Sox in the AL Central. I'm not convinced that it's enough to be a viable Series contender, but funny things can happen with good pitching in October. Either way, anything short of that should be a reflection on the manager for not getting it done with the amount of talent given to him. I say the pressure's on Gardenhire this year, and only success or a freak run of injuries will be the accepted outcomes.

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