Time for pitchers and catchers to report
FELDY: Phersy, the four greatest words of winter are upon us: Pitchers and catchers report. The Twins held their first workout today, a sure sign that spring is coming (along with, y'know, the fact that my driveway no longer resembles a skating rink). The man with the most violent arm action on the roster, Francisco Liriano, says he's ready to go. But will he be a Twin the first week of April, when games begin to count?
PHERSY:I'll say yes, Liriano will still be a Twin because there's nobody in the front office who wants to be responsible for pulling the trigger on a deal that costs them a talented, young, left-handed pitcher. There's been much debate about unloading Liriano. He flashed brilliance at times last year, but is he a legitimate ace? I'm not certain. While it's scary to lose a guy with his potential, the Twins shouldn't hesitate if the right offer is presented. When other teams learned Liriano could be available, they started drooling. So Feldy, if you were the GM, what would it take to pry Liriano from your cold, dead, lifeless hands?
FELDY: The Twins need to deal Liriano now, while his stock is high. He's an annual injury risk and will be just one year away from unrestricted free agency after this season. Teams aren't willing to pay a steep price for guys who are close to hitting the market. They can't just give him away, though. Looking at the Yankees, a guy like catcher Jesus Montero — who has been described as the best hitter in the minor leagues — would have to be part of the deal, along with a couple of young arms who could potentially help out of the 'pen or in the rotation. … Delmon Young avoided arbitration by signing a one-year deal on Wednesday. Can he match his 2010 numbers (.298, 21 HRs, 112 RBIs)?
PHERSY: Man, I think so. I've bagged on Young before. And I feel it was deserved. But he made such great strides last season. He was the team's most reliable hitter at times. Now, he'll still make that one swing per game when you're thinking, "What the heck is this guy doing?" But he is improving in the batter's box, and frankly, he's become one of my favorite Twins. Young is never going to win a Gold Glove, but I can see him being an All-Star in 2011. ... Feldy, what concerns you the most heading into the season?
FELDY: How does a middle infield rotation of Alexi Casilla, Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Matt Tolbert and Trevor Plouffe sound to you? Yeah, it makes me queasy, too. Casilla hasn't played more than 98 games in a season, and Nishioka is making his MLB debut, but they're penciled in as starters at second or shortstop. Plouffe has 22 games of big league experience and Tolbert has less than a season's worth (160 games) in three seasons. It's asking a lot of these guys to be productive members of the lineup for 100 or more games. … Joe Nathan says he's healthy. Do you trust him, or should Matt Capps prepare for this season as though he'll be needed as a closer?
PHERSY:I'll just say having Capps around makes me feel a whole lot better. Nathan says he's healthy, but coming off of surgery, you never know what's going to happen. Capps is a capable closer, despite some of his struggles late last season. I'd be worried if the Twins were rolling into the season with no backup plan at closer. But with Capps and Nathan around, I'm confident there's at least one guy — if not two — who can lock things down in the ninth inning. While some might disagree, I see the bullpen as a strength this year. OK, maybe I'm just praying it will be.