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Monday, February 18, 2008

Second Base

As we move across the infield more questions open up for the Twins lineup. After Mauer and Morneau, the starting second baseman for 2008 is a little more uncertain. The candidates for this 2008 campaign include the veteran Nick Punto, the youngster Alexi Casilla, and the newcomer Brendan Harris.

Each player offers their own combination of strengths and weaknesses. Punto is the veteran and has always been a favorite of manager Ron Gardenhire because of his intense approach to the game. Punto brings the best glove of the trio but also the worst bat. Last year, Punto severely struggled batting only .210 with 1 homerun and 25 RBIs.

Casilla has the most potential of the bunch but also needs the most work. The 23-year old hit .222 in 189 at bats last year and at the end of the season was basically handed the starting 2B role. However, he faltered having defensive issues as well as the Twins questioning his motivation and work ethic. The speedster did steal 11 bases in 12 attempts.

The newcomer Harris was brought over in the November trade with the Tampa Bay Rays. Besides the swap of P Matt Garza for OF Delmon Young, the Twins and Rays swapped infielders Jason Bartlett for Brendan Harris. The 27-year old Harris had a solid season last year for the Rays batting .286 with 12 HRs and 59 RBIs in 137. Harris brings the strongest bat of the bunch which is a plus for the Twins weak offense. His glove is average at best, but Harris can play 2B, 3B, and SS which he played last year in Tampa.

I believe on Opening Day, Gardenhire will pencil in Brendan Harris at 2B. I believe the Twins will need Harris' strong bat and because the Twins are going defensive at SS with newcomer Adam Everett (who does not hit well) the Twins will want a little more pop in their infield. Punto will certainly make the team and can be a back up at three positions. He will also offer a veteran presence to a young team and a spark off the bench. My guess is that Casilla may very well be the second baseman by the end of the season, but the Twins feel like he is still rough around the edges and they will want him to play everyday. Thus, Alexi will be starting at AAA Rochester this spring.

I think Harris will be the man, but anyone can win or lose this position battle during Spring Training. So only time will tell.

YOUR OPINION: Who do you want to see as the starting 2B on March 31 in the Metrodome? Check out the poll.

The Star Tribune offers 10 Questions the Twins must answer this spring training.


Scott D. Meyer said...

the real question is: does 2B matter? who was the last 2B the twins had who could hit? it wasn't newman, i'll tell you that. as long as they can turn the dp they make the roster.

Anonymous said...

I agree they should try Harris at 2B since they traded for him, let Cassilla season some more and use Punto as a utility man. We need as punch as we can get in the offense.
Stay warm in Iowa! Dad