Monday, March 30, 2009

The 2009 Minnesota Twins


Here we are, a week out from the beginning of the Twins season. They will start the season at home against the Mariners a week from today, which, frankly, will probably give fans an inflated perception of how wonderful the team is. Anyways, here is a realistic look at the team, which the more I think about it, is better than I thought.

Catcher: It all depends on Joe Mauer, of course, and when he can come back. One of the advantages to the team is that they get so much offensive production out of the catcher spot, one not typically known for such success. If he's out, that's a lot of offense taken from the lineup, but honestly, if Mike Redmond catches, that should keep the team in contention, more or less.

Infield: If this goes like every other year, Joe Crede will start the season in a bit of a slump, and no matter how well he recovers, Twins fans and Ron Gardenhire will be all over him and pull him out of the lineup, and no matter how awful the Credeless lineup is, Nick Punto, Brian Buscher and Alexi Casilla will be in the line up every day. I'm hoping I'm wrong, but there is a precedent. Justin Morneau can hit 30 home runs, and I think the Twins desperately need him too. Having a healthy Crede or even a good Jason Kubel batting behind him would help. The middle of the infield is quality with the glove, although Nick Punto is incredibly overrated. I think Brendan Harris off the bench is due for some sort of offensive explosion.

Outfield: Right now, the Twins depth chart has Michael Cuddyer starting in right, Carlos Gomez in center and Denard Span in left. It's funny, because everyone that projects the Twins depth chart outside of the organization has Span as the teams fourth outfielder. Apparently, the Twins are the only people that don't see the value in starting the outfielder who led the outfield in home runs and hit .290 over the season, thanks to a few months in which he hit well over .330. Yes, I'm talking about Delmon Young, and I think its absolutely inexcusable if he doesn't play almost every day. Michael Cuddyer puts up similar numbers when healthy, albeit with more home runs (although if Young's finish last year translates to this season, he will have substantially better numbers than Cuddyer). The problem is, Cuddyer has missed large chunks of the season for the past couple of seasons. Denard Span is a slap hitter and Carlos Gomez isn't a hitter at all. You could really replace any of those guys with Young and I would be happy. Actually, as much as I complain, it's not a BAD outfield. I just think Young should be playing every day. Of all those guys, I think Gomez is the one who should be out, probably in AAA. Inevitably, however, someone will get hurt and Young will be back in there. Probably Cuddyer. In other news, I think Kubel is a great choice for DH.

Starting pitchers: The pitchers are talented and young. They will only get better. The best case scenario is that they pitch more innings than last year. That's the key. Why? Because....

Relief pitchers: ... the relief pitchers will be successful only if they aren't over worked like they were last year. That was the problem. There were injuries in the pen and short outings by the starters and the relievers just broke down last season. Luis Ayala is a new face, and it remains to be seen how he does, but I think he can succeed, again, if he isn't over used.

The x factor, I think, will be Ron Gardenhire. The team's successes to this point can be attributed to his abilities as a coach. The failures can be attributed to his falures as a game manager. We'll see if he learned from his mistakes. 2nd place, I think, this year.

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