The Twins move into a new stadium at open-air Target Field and finally stopped acting like a small-market club this winter. They still have to sign Joe Mauer to a long-term contract, which should cost over $100 million, but they added nice parts in Orlando Hudson, J.J. Hardy and Jim Thome.
It should be a banner season in their new home, perhaps even an AL championship one.
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How will Target Field play? Well, it should be hitter-friendly in the summer months, but it figures to be pitcher-friendly from April to mid-May and during the latter weeks of September.
It promises to be cold at times and difficult to hit in the upper midwest with this open-air stadium, but Target Field is deemed roughly the size of Fenway Park and could fit inside the old Metrodome. The former "homer dome" had dimensions of 343 feet in left, 385 in left center, 408 in center, 367 in right center and 327 in right. Target -- aptly named for the sluggers (Hit it here) -- is just 339-377-404-367-328. If you want a comparison park, the homer-happy Citizens Bank Park in Philly goes 334-374-401-398-333.
So don't worry if you're locking up Mauer or Justin Morneau long term, like the Twins will try to do. This ballpark plays right into their hands, as long as you can bear through the early spring and early fall chills.
So, with the Twins' expected potent offense there has to be some wins beneficiaries. Those would be front-line starters Baker and Slowey. While they could give up more homers in this park in the summer months, they figure to start and finish hot. Also, those homers might be of the solo variety. These two guys might be hittable, but they don't hurt themselves with walks. Walks and homers tend to go hand in hand. Baker and Slowey should be on the board after the top 25 starting pitchers on Draft Day, but we could see them being real big winners for the first time.
Bust: Jim Thome, DH
We are taking the easy way out here, but we did it to remind the uninformed that the Twins signed Thome to be a left-handed hitter off the bench, not their DH. The Twins figure to give Michael Cuddyer, Denard Span and Jason Kubel full-time at-bats, while Delmon Young remains too promising to not be granted one more chance. If everything goes as planned, Thome will be getting mere spot starts this season. That makes him useless in mixed leagues and a very low bid in AL-only formats. We still like Thome's power, especially if he gets time batting behind the likes of Mauer and Morneau, but you are justified avoiding him in all leagues right now.
Sleeper: Francisco Liriano, SP
Liriano might not be drafted in early mixed league drafts at this point, but the reports from winter ball were promising, if not downright impressive, old-school Liriano-style. Reports had his velocity at 95-96 and his slider was at its 2006 form, according to the GM. If he can regain his control and command, he is going to represent a huge bang for the buck in deeper leagues. We are too stubborn to give up on this talent, even if many Fantasy owners have. Pick him up late and patiently wait for a potential resurgence to elite status. He could be this year's Chris Carpenter spring training find. Remember, Carpenter, by widely outperforming his draft position, was the winningest player in CBSSports.com's leagues last season.
| ||Pos.|| |
|1||Denard Span||CF||1||Scott Baker||RH|
|2||Orlando Hudson||2B||2||Kevin Slowey||RH|
|3||Joe Mauer||C||3||Nick Blackburn||RH|
|4||Justin Morneau||1B||4||Carl Pavano||RH|
|5||Michael Cuddyer||RF||5||Francisco Liriano||LH|
|6||Jason Kubel||DH||Alt||Brian Duensing||RH|
|7||Delmon Young||LF||Top bullpen arms|
|8||J.J. Hardy||SS||CL||Joe Nathan||RH|
|9||Brendan Harris||3B||SU||Jose Mijares||LH|
|Top bench options||RP||Matt Guerrier||RH|
|R||Jim Thome||DH||RP||Pat Neshek||RH|
|R||Nick Punto||UTL||RP||Jon Rauch||RH|
|1||Aaron Hicks||20||OF||Low Class A||High Class A|
|He didn't impress in his first pro season, but he still has plenty of years to fill out as a speed-and-power OF.|
|2||Ben Revere||21||OF||High Class A||Double-A|
|Burner could push for time with the Twins later this season, but that is a crowded outfield to try to crack.|
|Mauer isn't going anywhere, so it is likely Ramos is used as trade bait, if not a career caddy for their star.|
|With just Harris blocking him in Minnesota right now, Valencia could be an impact in-season call-up in June.|
|5||Tyler Robertson||22||RH SP||High Class A||Double-A|
|Baseball America is less jazzed about him than us, but he had good numbers and could help the Twins in '10.|
|Best of the rest: Kyle Gibson, SP; Miguel Sano, SS; Carlos Gutierrez, SP; Angel Morales, OF; Dave Bromberg, SP; Max Kepler, OF; Matt Bashore, SP; Luke Hughes, 3B; Jeff Manship, SP; Shooter Hunter, SP; Deolis Guerra, SP; Chris Parmelee, 1B; Mike McCardell, SP; Joe Benson, OF; Erik Lis, OF; Bradley Tippett, SP; Ryan Mullins, SP; Trevor Plouffe, 3B; Joe Gaetti, OF; Rob Delaney, SP; Tim Lahey, SP; Dustin Martin, OF; Juan Portes, 3B; Drew Butera, C; Loek Van Mil, SP; Alex Burnett, SP; Oswaldo Sosa, SP; Jair Fernandez, OF; Rene Tosoni, OF; Estarlin De Los Santos, SS; Deibinson Romero, 3B; James Beresford, SS; Tom Stuifbergn, SP; Jose Lugo, RP; Anthony Slama, RP; Matt Moses, OF; Billy Bullock, SP; Ben Tootle, SP; Derek McCallum, 2B; and Juan Morillo, RP.|
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