Only one item for you today, and it’s the surprise I was talking about. It’s an interview with fellow Twins blogger Seth Stohs from http://sethspeaks.net/. There’s a lot more to get to, but my internet was out all day yesterday so I only had time to paste the interview in. Look for some arbitration notes on Friday!

My interview with Seth:

Assuming that Johan Santana starts on opening day, who do you see filling up the next 4 spots of the rotation, and why?

Johan absolutely will start opening day. that is a given probably for as long as he remains with the Twins. Carlos Silva‘s option was picked up, and at that price, he will be in the starting rotation. Boof Bonser‘s ceiling may be exactly what we saw from him in September, but that was enough to make him a definite for a starting spot to open the season. Of course, there becomes the question. As of how I feel right now. I think that the Twins will want Sidney Ponson to eat up some innings. I think that he will make the opening day rotation if even just to give one of the rookies a few AAA starts first. I think that Scott Baker is on about his last shot as a starter with the Twins. His AAA numbers are spectacular. They just need to transfer to the big leagues. I think that happens in 2006. Ponson won’t be around too long, and I think Matt Garza will be permanently in the rotation by June.

What do you think Glen Perkins‘ and Kevin Slowey‘s chances are for getting big league starts this season? Does it depend on whether or not the Twins are out of the playoff race by September?

If the Twins are out of contention by September, I think we will see a lot of starts from Perkins and Slowey. Also, if Silva and Ponson pitch as poorly as I almost assume they will, we will see a lot of them even sooner. I actually think that Glen Perkins could be called up sooner if there is a need in the bullpen. That said, I think that the best thing for both of them would be to get regular starts at Rochester and be ready if needed by midseason. Slowey could be a sleeper to start the season in the rotation too, although the fact that he is not on the 40 man roster makes it unlikely.

What are your predictions for Johan Santana’s season stats?

23-6, 2.64 ERA, 0.93 WHIP. 258 strikeouts in 238.7 IP. Wins, of course, are impossible to predict since they have almost nothing to do with how will a pitcher pitches. However, I have him posting his best season yet. That is scary for the rest of the AL teams. He is still just 28!

Switching to the lineup, who will be more beneficial to the Twins this year: Joe Mauer or Justin Morneau ?

I think that if you just look at flat numbers, Justin Morneau will put up a monster season. I’m not sure that he can hit .310 again, but I think he is capable of more power. However, when he factor in the importanct of On-Base Percentage and defensive metrics, Mauer will likely again be the more valuable player. He also just seems to have some great leadership skills which will only help the team and particularly the pitching staff.

Which player has the best chance of being replaced because of offensive production: Jason Bartlett or Nick Punto ?

This one is easy. I think that Nick Punto could falter. Having Jeff Cirillo around and knowing that the team offensive need was primarily 3B tells me that his job is not set in stone. He would need to perform to the level he did much of last year from June through August. I guess I don’t see that happening. Also, I think that Bartlett could have a breakout season offensively. He can be a doubles machine.

How do you think Jason Kubel will produce as a DH?

I projected him to play 138 games and hit .299/.355/.473 with 23 doubles and 17 homers. To me, he is a potential .310 hitter with 25-30 homer potential. I think he can be that good. His swing is just so natural. Clearly he was not 100% last year, particularly in the 2nd half. But that stretch before the All-Star break gave us a glimpse of what could be. That said, health is the key! Maybe just DHing will be the benefit.

Will Rondell White be the Rondell from September-October or the Rondell we saw from April-August?

Neither? First of all, I can’t explain April – August. White has been a good, solid hitter for a long time and was clearly better than that. Maybe it was injury. Maybe it was DHing. Whatever it was, I believe it is in the past. He was a monster late in the year and in the 3 playoff games, and I don’t know if he’s capable of that over a full season. I projected him to hit .280/.330/.472 with 19 homers. An 800 OPS from your likely 7 or 8-place hitter would be terrific!

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