Spring Training 2011: On The Fringe
With the Twins now in Fort Myers, FL, for Spring Training, they’ve been getting more media attention than usual due to issues like Morneau’s concussion comeback, Nathan’s Tommy John rehab, and the new Japanese SS whose name I’m too lazy to look up for spelling (probably should get on that).
However, there are three other areas I would like to comment on that perhaps slip our minds in the midst of the “bit stories”:
1. Alexi Casilla has never been an everyday player for a full season. Whenever he’s been given the opportunity to start, he’s droppped the ball (sometimes even in the literal sense). Considering Gardy’s love of guys like Matt “The Next Punto?” Tobert or the newcomer Luke Hughes, Casilla still has a lot to prove and will not be handed the job by any means.
2. Can “Valencia Mania” continue? A favorite example of mine of this case comes from 2000, when the Mets had an outfielder named Timo Perez (heck, he might be bouncing around somewhere yet) who, in August-September that year, looked like the next coming of Junior Griffey. He then made a few World Series blunders, pitchers figured him out, and he’s been a fringe player since. Pitchers now have a similar “book” on young Danny-Boy, so those fat pitches will be fewer and farther between.
3. Besides a summer (June-July) that was out of control, Delmon Young was very average at the beginning and end of 2010. What if that “Beast Mode” doesn’t occur again in ’11, or for nearly as long? He’s always been a streaky hitter.
Keep an eye on these issues, as they could be every bit as important as “the big boys”.