Rebuilding the Twins: Designated Hitter
The Twins have used future Hall of Famer Jim Thome to man the designated hitter spot for the last few years, but Thome has signed with the Phillies and it is not certain if previous DH Jason Kubel will resign with the club. This has created an opening for someone to take the brunt of those at bats.
However, with the current state of the team and many players dealing with nagging injuries, I don’t believe that the Twins will bring anyone in to fill that role next year. I think it will be kept open to keep people fresh and give the opportunity to keep players in the lineup. With that in mind I am going to look at the players I believe we will see getting starts at DH this year:
Joe Mauer: Mauer had a very frustrating season on almost every level, dealing with all sorts of injuries. There has been a lot of speculation recently that Mauer’s legs will prevent him from spending the rest of his career as a catcher. Due to those worries Mauer started a handful of games at first base last year. He has also started numerous games as a DH throughout his career in order to keep him in the game if he needs a day off behind the plate. I think Mauer will get a significant amount of starts at DH if the Twins are able to spend some money this offseason on a capable backup catcher.
Justin Morneau: Morneau is another prominent player who had an injury shortened and frustrating season. Morneau has been nowhere near the player he was a couple years ago after suffering a devastating concussion halfway through the 2010 season. Ever since then, he has struggled to stay on the field. There would be no better opportunity for him to do that then by being DH next season. Morneau is a great fielder, but his style of defense leaves him vulnerable to sustaining those reoccurring concussion symptoms.
Trevor Plouffe: The impending signing of Jamey Carroll has forced Plouffe into a backup role. Plouffe spent the last part of last season at shortstop, but had fielding issues and frequently airmailed his throws into the stands. Plouffe still possesses a bat with pop, so he will find a spot in the lineup somewhere; the only question is where it will be. Terry Ryan has said that he will play in the outfield for the foreseeable future, so my guess is that he will play there and get the occasional start at DH.
Of course there could be other players that get the occasional start, but my gut feeling is that it will be these 3 getting the brunt of the starts at DH.