Friday, April 2, 2010

2010 Twins Preview: Bench

Jim Thome, PH/DH
One of the most credible power hitters of the past 2 decades, Thome's spring proves that there's still plenty left in the tank. How many PA he will get depends a lot on Delmon Young. If Young takes the step forward we're all hoping for, Thome won't get a lot of starts. If Young gets off to a slow start, look for Thome to slot into the DH spot (especially vs. RHP) and Jason Kubel to head to the OF. That should be the case against select righties in any event - Young needs his off days! If Thome gets 500 PA, he may finish the season within striking distance of 600 career HR.
Expected line: .250/.360/.480, 3/2 K/BB

Brendan Harris, IF
I've never been too impressed with what Harris brings to the table. It seems like the upper levels of the Twins' system have plenty of guys who play multiple IF positions rather poorly, and some of them (like Luke Hughes) have a lot more power potential. Still, he got a 2-year contract, showed up to spring training in great shape, and knocked the ball around pretty well. His range in the field isn't good, but at least he catches the balls he can get to. He should get a lot of starts against LHP.
Expected line: .270/.330/.410, 5/2 K/BB

Alexi Casilla, IF/CF?
It's getting harder and harder to believe in Casilla. He had a solid stint in AAA last season, but he didn't do much in the bigs until the last AB of game #163 (and that was only necessary because he made a baserunning mistake earlier). Then he went to winter ball against lesser competition and didn't do much until his team was deep in the playoffs. He seems redundant for the Twins with both Harris and Nick Punto on the roster, though he may occasionally spell Denard Span in CF. Mostly, I think he'll be a PR after Thome walks. Definitely give him an AB in extra innings of a key game of the pennant race, though.
Expected line: .240/.320/.300, 88% SB, 3/2 K/BB

Drew Butera, C
I was firmly in the Wilson Ramos camp, so the decision to go with Butera disappoints me a bit. Butera's presence is going to encourage Gardy to start Mauer behind the plate a couple more times than he would have, which may have an impact on Joe's durability later in the season. Ramos would have been a viable PH option late in the game. And when Butera does start, he's going to give the opposition 3 or 4 easy outs. Don't start Punto in those games. Get well soon, Jose Morales!
Expected line: .150/.182/.150, 7/2 K/BB

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