By Joe Christensen
You’re furious. We can tell. The Twins will head north this week with Johan Santana, Boof Bonser and three guys who combined to go 26-36 last year. But something struck me yesterday, as I was watching Joe Mauer play a scrimmage for Class AAA Rochester: That Rochester team is going to be phenomenal.
No disrespect to Mr. Santana, but scouts have said that Rochester’s rotation could be better — or, at least more promising — than Minnesota’s. Rochester opens its season April 6 against Ottawa, and as beat writers, we’ll be following the action at http://www.minorleaguebaseball.com/ every single night.
The Red Wings rotation will include Matt Garza, Glen Perkins, Kevin Slowey, Scott Baker. The lineup will have speedsters Denard Span and Alexi Casilla at the top. It appears the trimmed down Matt Moses will be playing third. Garrett Jones will be there, honing his power stroke. Assuming he’s one of the last cuts of the spring, Triple-A veteran Josh Rabe will be back to anchor the lineup. And Matthew LeCroy will be on the squad, offering a Crash Davis presence.
I remember the disappointment Jason Bartlett felt last year when the Twins sent him to Rochester at the end of spring training. On getaway day, that Rochester team pummelled the Twins 15-3, with Bartlett going 4-for-5 with a home run and three runs scored. That sent a message for the entire season. The Twins won the AL Central, and Rochester played for the International League championship, losing the fifth and deciding game to Detroit’s Toledo affiliate.
By season’s end, several members of that Rochester team became integral pieces for the Twins during their 71-33 finish: Bartlett, Jason Tyner, Dennys Reyes, Rabe, etc. I spoke to a member of last year’s Rochester squad recently, and he playfully noted how the Twins/Rochester game isn’t on this year’s schedule. But those packing their bags this week, shouldn’t fret. Those of us who follow the Twins, will be following every Red Wings game.