2016 Twins Spring Training Coverage from Fort Myers. Day 0: What to expect

Tomorrow after a couple of flights, I will be arriving at Fort Myers, FL, for my annual coverage of the Minnesota Twins Spring Training.  This year, it will be for about 10 days, and like every year it will conclude with my annual prediction about how the Twins will do this season.   Last year, after I saw the team, I wrote this in my Spring Training Redux post:

Conclusion: This will not be another 90 loss team, unless something weird happens.  80-82 is the baseline.  Another factor:  I did get some 1987-like excitement there, like this might be a magic year (like that one.)  But I think that they are one year away.  So my prediction for 2015 is that the Twins will have the same record as their Pythagorean in 1987: 79-83.  But, yes, this year feels a lot like 1987, and you never know what is going to happen...

Even though the Twins got closer to the actual 1987 team record last season (83-79 vs 85-77), I think that this 79-83 prediction is probably the closest 2015 preseason prediction to their actual record.
Speaking off,  this was my 2014 prediction in that Spring Training Redux post:
My prediction: I hate to say it, but 70-92 and 5th place.   But I do hope that this time someone is held accountable for this...
That one hit the bull's eye on both counts.

What else to expect the next couple weeks?

A: True, fair, realistic analysis of players, both major leaguers and prospects, without fear of losing my "access privileges", because I do not have any.   Here is another excerpt form my 2014 redux:

I got a really bad feeling last week.   And it was there precipitated and displayed in front of the eyes of the 100 of us who remained late Tuesday night to see the last pitch at that Twins' night game hosting the Rays.  And it had not much to do with Vance Worley's right arm and the batting practice projectiles he was throwing, but by the lackadaisical play and non-effort by the position players the whole spring.  And not only the ones who are fighting for a job per Rob Antony.  And not only at that game, but this was the epitome. 
 On the flights to Fort Myers and back I have been reading Cool Of The Evening: The 1965 Minnesota Twins by Jim Theilman (an excellent book and highly recommended, btw.)  Thielman mentions that one of the turning points of the 1965 magical Twins' season came at the middle of Spring Training in Orlando's Tinker Field:  At the middle of a game, because of lack of effort, Sam Mele, the Twins' manager, took Zoilo Versalles (the eventual 1965 MVP) out of the lineup, benched him for a while and fined him $300, an amount very high for the time.  This gave the message that it is expected for even the best players to give 100% even during Spring Training and set the tone for the rest of the season.
How many times the last 3 seasons have you seen plenty of Twins' players not giving it all?  And with what consequences?   And it is continuing this Spring and I do not think that the Twins will go anywhere unless they go back to full effort (Mele's season, piranhas' season or whatever, take your peak.)   Examples (from that game) :

  • Josh Willingham hits a scorcher past third base to left that bounced just over the bag, half a foot fair and rolled all the way to the corner.  As the ball was hit, I was thinking triple all the way.  Mr Willingham jogged around the bases and managed to get himself thrown out at second by a few feet.  It ended up being recorded as a single with the hitter thrown out at second trying to stretch it into a double. On the field It was much more.
  • Vancy Worley was hit hard. Very hard.  And at about four times, if Trevor Plouffe was guarding the line on inside fastballs, he would have made outs out of those 4 hits.  I do understand it if it happens once.  Then you adjust.  And the Twins have a special infield coach who should supposedly help these days too. On paper it was four hits (a couple doubles as well.)   On the field it was much more. 
  • Alex Presley gets on base.   Gets a good jump trying to steal second.  He is there before the throw.  He over-slides the base.  He is tagged out.  For the third time.  On the paper it was recorded as an CS.  On the field it was much more.
  • Later in the game there is fly ball to the short left field.   LF Wilkin Ramirez goes in, SS Eduardo Escobar goes out to catch the ball.  Ramirez yells "I got it".  Escobar stops 7-8 feet away.  The ball drops in front of Ramirez.  On paper it was an error.  On the field it was much more.
I suspect that you cannot find many other sources that described this game that way

B: Live tweets, pictures and insights on the games that are not given any place else.  Like this.  My Twitter is @thrylos98, please make sure you add me, if interested.

C: Minor league reports like this from last year.

Here is a link to the whole 2014 Spring training coverage and here one to the 2015 to give you an idea of what else to expect.

Win Twins!


Dave Thompson said...

I am not ready to offer any predictions for this team. If Nolasco "wins" the last starting pitching spot after his dismal spring, I think 79 wins is too high. If Milone wins it, and Nolasco is the long reliever, I think 81 wins. Also, I haven't seen enough of Sano in the OF or Park/Buxton at the plate. My best case is, 85 wins, which might be enough for a wild card spot.

thrylos98 said...

As I said, I got to see them to predict. I like what I have seen with Park both with the glove and the bat and what I have seen from Sano with the glove so far. Need to see the pen and then make any conclusions.

Not that sold on Duffey as an MLB starter based on last September yet