Thursday, December 9, 2010

Nishioka soon to sign; Hardy deal to follow

Twins 2011 Lineup Taking Shape
By Bullpen Catcher

The Twins need to get Tsuyoshi Nishioka signed and my guess is it will happen very soon. Nishioka is a great gamble and could really become an integral part of the lineup and infield. Even if he hits .270 and bats in the No. 1 or 2 spot, he'll be a huge part of the team simply because I suspect he'll be in the lineup every day and remain consistent as many of the Nippon League players have been.

I personally think the Twins will sign Nishioka in the next few days. They have until Dec. 26 to get him under contract and I'll guess it'll happen at the winter meetings or soon thereafter. The agents are at the meetings and that's a good time for P.R. to get that done. It also is a good time to start shopping JJ Hardy for a trade if they suddenly have a new SS. I think if he's half as good as Ichiro it makes the Twins very good. He's a middle infielder who can run and hits for a bit of power. I heard Bill Smith compare him to former Twin Greg Gagne in terms of fielding ability, baserunning prowess and occasional power. I'd take that any day.

I will bet that the Twins trade Hardy to Baltimore for minor league pitchers.

The Twins will make zero changes in the outfield for next season. It will be Span, Cuddyer, Young, Kubel and Repko (who recently signed). Bank on no changes in the outfield.

Here's my opening day lineup:
1. Denard Span (L), CF
2. Nishioka (S), SS
3. Mauer (L), C
4. Morneau (L), 1B
5. Cuddyer (R), RF
6. Kubel (L), DH
7. Young (R), LF
8. Valencia (R), 3B
9. Casilla (S) 2B

I can envision a situation where Casilla and Nishioka trade their spots in the lineup, especially at the beginning of the season.

For further fun, here's the bench:
10. Repko (R), OF
11. Plouffe (R), MIF
12. Tolbert (S), MIF
13. Butera (R), C
14. Morales (S), C/1B/DH

Here's the pitching (subject to change very soon depending on Hardy returns and Pavano situation):

1. Liriano (L)
2. Baker (R)
3. Slowey (R)
4. Duensing (L)
5. Blackburn (R)

Middle Relief
6. Manship (R)
7. Slama (R), Neshek (R) or Burnett (R)
8. Perkins (L) or trade return
9. Mijares (L)
10. Capps (R)
11. Nathan (R)

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1 comment:

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