HIBBING — It’s time to say goodbye to January, which means we’re one month closer to spring.
It also means that spring training is just two weeks away.
Pitchers and catchers will report first on Feb. 13, then position players will report a few days later.
So far, they expect to start on time. Whether there’s fans or not is yet to be determined, but that’s a sure sign of spring once the spring-training games start on Feb. 27.
The Minnesota Twins have been relatively silent this offseason.
They got rid of Eddie Rosario, then signed some relief pitchers.
Last week, Thad Levine signed pitcher JA Happ to a deal.
Happ is a 38-year-old left-hander, who last pitched for the New York Yankees.
I don’t know if we’re supposed to be thrilled with this signing or not.
He made his major-league debut in 2007 with the Philadelphia Phillies, then he’s pitched for Houston, Toronto, Seattle and Pittsburgh, before moving on to the New York Yankees in 2018.
He has a career 3.90 ERA, and he’s 123-92. At least he’s above .500, but he is a bit on the old side. He’s probably using more guile and cunning when he pitches now more than blazing speed on his fastball.
With Jose Berrios, Kenta Maeda, Michael Pineda and Happ, you could say that’s a solid starting rotation. Randy Dobnak would probably be the fifth starter.
Offensively, the Twins still haven’t signed Nelson Cruz, and I don’t know where those talks are at the moment.
If the National League isn’t using the designated hitter, the priority should be getting him signed.
Minnesota did sign Andrelton Simmons this past week. He was the shortstop for the Anaheim Angels last season.
He’s a career .269 hitter, which isn’t terrible. He only has 67 career home runs since 2012 when he broke into the league.
He won’t provide over-the-fence power, but he does hit several doubles and triples per season, so he has gap power.
He will, however, fill a need at shortstop. He’s committed only 88 errors in nine seasons. He’s won four Gold Gloves during that time span.
If he stays healthy, which has been a problem after he hurt his ankle last season, shortstop shouldn’t be a problem in 2021.
Jorge Polanco will move to second base, which he’s probably more suited for, and Luis Arraez will move around the infield, and possibly play some left field.
With Rosario gone, it’s time for Alex Kirilloff to start his professional career.
It should be an interesting season for the Twins, and since February begins Monday, it’s time to start the countdown to spring training.