Monday, April 1, 2013

Notes from the weekend

It's Opening Day — at least for most of the majors. It'll be a frigid one for those of us at Target Field, and I don't expect to see a full house there.

Trying to guess at the weather in making the April schedule is impossible, of course. Last year we had 70 degree temps on April 1, but the home opener came a few days later and was quite cold. This year we might have something considerably warmer a few days after the opener — when the Twins have hit the road.


Ron Gardenhire spent much of spring training using Brian Dozier (and others) in the second spot in the batting order. But this weekend the manager said he will move Joe Mauer up to the two-hole and elevate the other middle-of-the-order guys one spot each, while hitting Dozier eighth.

This makes perfect sense to me; I called for it in January as part of my Benchmarks for 2013 series.

Dozier may become a good top-of-the-order guy. He certainly didn't perform like that in 2012, and it seems wise to put him at the bottom of the order until he demonstrates that he merits a more prominent role.

Elevating Mauer, Josh Willingham, Justin Morneau, etc. one slot each will, over the course of the season, get them about 25 more plate appearances apiece. Dropping Dozier from second to eighth should take about 150 plate appearances away from him. Right now, there's no reason to believe the team is helped by giving him those at-bats.


The Twins on Friday lost relief pitcher Alex Burnett, who had already been optioned out, on waivers to the Toronto Blue Jays.

Waiving Burnett opened a spot on the 40-man roster for outfielder Wilkin Ramirez. As I said last week, I doubt that Ramirez is going to last long on the active roster.

But I also doubt that the Twins will have as much reason to regret exposing Burnett to waivers as they did in 2009 when they lost Craig Breslow that way. I used to envision Burnett emerging as a Juan Rincon-type of set-up man, but after three seasons of declining strikeout rates, it had become clear that that wasn't going to happen.

The Twins have plenty of other right-handed relief candidates they can turn to.


Play Ball!

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