Sunday, March 21, 2010

A Look at Spring Training - Problems Being Solved

Spring Training is getting closer and closer to completion, but there are some issues requiring Gardenhire's attention. Let's take a look at a couple of the current questions remaining. The answers could be vital in how the season plays out.

Will Francisco Liriano become the closer in place of Joe Nathan since Joe Nathan cannot pitch this year?

While many sportswriters have said that Liriano is an option for the closer role, and even though this was being talked about in the clubhouse, Liriano will not be the closer this upcoming year. According to, Ron Gardenhire said that Liriano is going to be a starter, not a closer. This is an issue that this was lingering in the clubhouse throughout Spring Training, and it needed to be solved as it was probably a big distraction. Will that mean that he will get the fifth spot in the rotation? He has been lights out so far in Spring Training. Liriano was amazing in Winter Ball also this year, so he has been consistently good. His slider is making hitters look foolish. It seems as unhittable as it was in 2006. All doors are open for Liriano if he continues to pitch at his 2006 form. As it looks right now, I think he will win the 5th spot in the rotation over Brian Duensing and Glen Perkins.

Will the Twins need another relief pitcher since Nathan cannot pitch this year?

The Twins are probably going to be looking for another pitcher to solidify the bullpen. Reports recently say that the Twins have been looking at Heath Bell for the job. The Twins would have to trade the San Diego Padres for him, but he would be worth it. Bell has been a very good pitcher over the years. If he comes to the Twins, he would probably be placed in the closer role. How much will Bell cost the Twins though in trade? Kevin Towers (Former General Manager of the Padres), said that if he was still the General Manager of the Padres, he would want Aaron Hicks, Ben Revere, or Angel Morales from the Twins in exchange for Heath Bell. All three of the players are outfield prospects for the Twins, and very highly touted prospects at that. I rated Aaron Hicks 1st on my Twins top prospect list, Ben Revere 4th, and Angel Morales 8th. For now I think the Twins would rather not trade Hicks or Revere, but Morales might be expendable. If the Padres offer Bell for Morales, I would pull the trigger. The Twins have a surplus of outfield prospects while they don't have nearly as many relief pitching prospects. Heath Bell would really contribute to the Twins bullpen, so hopefully the Twins will work something out.

There is less than two weeks left in Spring Training, but there are still more problems to be solved. Some problems include who will win the starting third base job and who will make the finals cuts for the 25-man roster out of Spring Training. Those and more will be topics that I will cover before the end of Spring Training. Stay tuned.