Twins will be good, but how good?
So where will Ron Gardenhire be taking his Minnesota Twins this season?
The American League's Manager of the Year in 2010 has another good team to run but how good is the question.
As the Twins gather in Fort Myers to find some answers some fans are full of trepidation.
Justin Morneau never played after a July 7 collision in Toronto left him with a concussion. The Twins showed some real character over the last half of the season and won the American League Central but as many of us feared, they badly missed Morneau's bat in their playoff series with New York.
If Morneau regains his health then Minnesota's chances for a three-peat in 2011 look pretty good but concussions are tricky.
So is coming back from Tommy John surgery. That is what 36-year-old reliever Joe Nathan has to do after an entire season away from the game.
Nathan's success as a reliever has always been wrapped up in throwing the ball past hitters. If the surgery has robbed him of this ability then the Twins are going to have to lean heavily on Matt Capps.
It is a temptation to say that everything depends on Minnesota's ability to come up with a top-notch pitching staff. The Twins did not have a pitcher of the same caliber as Tim Lincecum, Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay or C.C. Sabathia last year. They did not trade for one in the off-season. So how can they expect to push past the first round of the playoffs this year even if they do make the post-season?
Maybe it is all going to come down to how determined the Twins are in 2011. How much do they want to reach that next round or even push into the World Series?
The only year the Twins have played for an the American League pennant since Gardenhire took over was in his first year as manager when they beat Oakland 3-2 for a berth in the ALCS finals against Anaheim. Since that time they have reserved their best ball for the regular season. The Yankees have knocked them out of the playoffs four times since 2003. The A's did it once. In all that time the Twins have only one losing season.
Taking it to the next level is what 2011 has to be all about for the Twins.