Season Preview Minnesota Twins
Season Preview Minnesota Twins
The Twinkies are coming off a shockingly bad season in which they lost a league high 99 games. Their 2 star players, Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau, missed almost the entire season due to injury. This year, Ron Gardenhire’s club is looking to stay healthy and rebound in a big way, ideally earning a return trip to the postseason. Unfortunately for the Twins, there are possibly as many as 3 teams in their own division that are better than they are. Rest assured though, Minnesota will improve on last year’s performance.
- Denard Span (Cf)
- Jamey Carroll (ss)
- Joe Mauer (c)
- Justin Morneau (1b)
- Josh Willingham (Rf)
- Ryan Doumit (DH)
- Danny Valencia (3b)
- Alexi Casilla (2b)
- Ben Revere (Lf)
- Carl Pavano
- Francisco Liriano
- Scott Baker
- Nick Blackburn
- Jason Marquis
Upside: If everything breaks right for Minnesota, this could be a very dangerous club. Joe Mauer is one of the best players in baseball when healthy and can contend for a batting championship for sure. Likewise, if Morneau can stay in the lineup, he can be one of the scariest power threats in the league. Ryan Doumit has been inconsistent in his career but he may benefit from being able to be in the lineup without having to catch. He’s got the potential to knock 25 or so out of the park this year. Last season, Ben Revere showed some flashes of brilliance, perhaps he can emerge as a very good player this season. If the Twins are as lucky this season as they were unlucky last season, watch out.
Depth: The Twins have a solid starting lineup and some decent backups. This year, Doumit joins Drew Butera as the backup catchers so they don’t sacrifice all the offense generated by Mauer when he’s not in the lineup. Tsuyoshi Nishioka was the starting shortstop last season but is the backup middle infielder this year. Trevor Plouffe is one of the backup outfielders and he can play. If anything positive came from last year’s dreadful season it’s that a few young guys got some quality big league experiance and showed that they can be productive ballplayers.
Outfield Defense: Ben Revere and Denard Span cover a ton of ground in the outfield. They’re both quite slick with the glove.
Risk: As shown last year, you really do live life on the edge when your best player, your highest plaid player, and the face of your franchise is a catcher. Joe Mauer, plagued by injuries, played only 82 games last year and hit only 3 homers. Justin Morneau, dealing with post-concussion symptoms, played in only 69 games and hit only 4 balls out. The injury risks exist big time again this season for these players because Mauer is still a catcher and concussions like the one Morneau suffered are really hard to shake. (see Roberts, Brian).
Pitching: It’s average. Really really average. Matt Capps is an average major league closer at the back end of a bullpen that could either be good or really really bad. Carl Pavano is the Twins Ace but he’s not in the conversation about the game’s best. Francisco Liriano used to be but he’s coming off a terrible year in which he posted a ERA over 5. Jason Marquis is playing for his 93rd franchise (roughly) and is a good, but very average, starting pitcher. Baker had a good year in 2011 with an ERA of 3.14 but he threw only 134.2 innings and, importantly, his opponents BABIP was .297. Look for some regression in his performance based upon that.
Can Mauer stay healthy and produce?
Can Morneau stay healthy and produce?
Will the Twins make it to the playoffs only to lose to the Yankees in the ALDS again?
How will Danny Valencia play? Valencia is young and has shown power. Some believe he has 25 homer power and the ability to be a center piece of this offense. Will he live up to the hype in only his second full season?
83-79. 3rd place, AL Central. The Twins are talented and have a deep roster but they have a long way to go to rebound from last year and there are at least 2 teams better than them in their own division.
- Joe Mauer regains his old form hitting .312 with 20 HRs in the spacious Target Field.
- Josh Willingham struggles, hitting only .218
- By the deadline, the Twins realize they miss Jim Thome and trade with the Phillies (who realize they can’t afford his roster spot) to get him back.
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