Ah, it’s finally here. Somehow, the grass is greener, the birds are more musical, and the sun shines brighter. I don’t know when Spring officially starts (and let’s face it, I’m much too lazy and too busy not really caring to look it up), but this is the day we banish winter for another year: Opening Day is here! For the Angels, that means the Twins come to town for four games, the beginning of a seven-game homestand that also has us playing the A’s, before heading to New York and Toronto. But, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Up first for 2010 are the defending AL Central champion Minnesota Twins.
Much like last year, our so-called ace is on the DL to start the season. This time around it’s Jered Weaver who gets the ball, coming off of perhaps his most productive season to date. He goes up against Scott Baker, a solid starter for the Twins, but clearly not an ace on the level of Johan Santana. On the Twins side of the ball J.J. Hardy and Orlando Hudson are now their middle infielders, but a major off-season signing has made sure Joe Mauer remains the class of their lineup. Their offense is actually fairly solid, finishing in the top 5 last year in AVG, OBP, and runs scored.
For the Angels, Jered Weaver is one of the two best pitchers in the 2010 version of their rotation, competing with Scott Kazmir for the best pitcher among the group. He’s backed by a defense that has some question marks around it, including who will be manning second (Kendrick? Izturis?), how good Brandon Wood will be at the hot corner, and whether the fielding decline of the outfield will continue, and at what rate. The offense, as well, has some question marks, Brandon Wood again among them. Hideki Matsui also takes over for fan favorite and former face of the franchise Vladimir Guerrero, Kendry Morales is coming off of what was clearly a breakout year, and Torii Hunter will be trying to repeat his career best season.
As for opening day itself, there are only a couple things I’d like to see: Brandon Wood getting off to a nice start, if only to get the ball rolling in the right direction, Weaver having a solid outing, and the bullpen handling things without too much drama. Of course, all of those things could go in the complete opposite directions, but that’s why the play the games, right?
Tonight, April 5th, the Angels will be taking on the Twins at 7:05 p.m. Pacific Time, on Fox Sports West and ESPN2. I’ll see you there!