By Joe Christensen
OK, I promised some answers to your questions today and since my editors keep urging me to keep my posts short, I decided to send these out in waves. Please, check back later for some more, but here goes:
I am looking forward to another year of Twins baseball. However, I would have liked to see them go out and get a little bit more pitching help. What are your thoughts on Glen Perkins making the club this year? What is your take on the stadium fiasco? (Only in Minnesota) Finally, Where is a good place to eat down in Fort Myers? Thanks!
1. Watching Glen Perkins pitch at Fenway Park last year was about all I needed to know this kid can handle big-time pressure. That said, he pretty much skipped Triple-A, other than his impressive performance in the International League playoffs. I feel the same way about Perkins as I do about Matt Garza. I think he’s going to be a terrific major league pitcher. But another stint at Rochester (1-3 months) will help guarantee that he gets that last bit of polish pitchers need before reaching the big time.
People are blasting the Twins for inviting Ramon Ortiz and Sidney Ponson into camp. But if you want to see real mistakes, watch teams that rush promising but unpolished pitchers by placing them on an opening day roster. The pressure is extraordinary because the expectations immediately are set so high. Most young pitchers are going to be up-and-down as rookies, and those downs can do major damage to their psyches.
2. As for the stadium fiasco, that’s a good word. I wish I had a crystal ball to tell how this thing’s going to end. We have other reporters covering the stadium issue. All I can tell you is this impasse over the land isn’t sitting well with Twins officials.
3. A good place to eat in Fort Myers? The waits are so long just to get seated, I shouldn’t give any secrets here. But there’s a nice little Italian place called Nino’s in a strip mall near Hammond Stadium. I highly recommend it to you on any night I’m not waiting for a table.
4. Qualler asks: What about Scott Baker? How is he fitting into the rotation?
I came to Fort Myers picking Baker as the sleeper to make the Opening Day roster. He made it last year, but proceeded to have a season (5-8, 6.37) that left everyone skeptical about his big league future. But here’s the thing: He’s only 25, and if you scroll through his minor-league numbers, you’ll see success at every level. I can tell the Twins are down on him. They have probably missed their best window to trade him for optimum value (last offseason). But he came to camp in great shape, and I’m letting him have this year (not just this spring) as a make-or-break season. Even if he begins the year at Rochester, I think he could eventually help this year’s team like Garza and Perkins.