Last week on this site we had a preview the upcoming Cubs season, and I’m sure Jerod will at some point put together something on his beloved White Sox. For now however, let’s focus on a team that actually has a chance of winning something this year: the Minnesota Twins.
The Twins come into this season with two former MVPs, an increased payroll, and a new stadium. Expectations are as high as they have been in quite some time. Instead of figuring out how to fill roles vacated by Johan Santana or Torii Hunter like years past, the Twins showed aggressiveness in free agency.
Up until Joe Nathan’s (potentially) devastating injury, the Twins looked like the preseason favorite to win the almighty AL Central. Let’s take a look at the reasons why.
Minnesota Twins 2010 Preview: Infield
The Twins traded for former All-Star JJ Hardy in exchange for Carlos Gomez. Gomez was a huge fan favorite and a great energy guy, but it is hard to keep a guy around who weighs more than his batting average. Hardy has friends within the Twins organization and is looking to return to his All Star form and solidify the shortstop position.
Orlando Hudson was a great free agent pickup, signing a one year contract. Everything I’ve read about Hudson is that he has an infectious personality and never stops talking. Sounds like a great teammate to me.
Justin Morneau is healthy and back at first base, looking for his fourth 30 HR season in the past five years and a return to the AL MVP ballot. While the team didn’t show signs of a devastating collapse when he went down last year with a back injury, he is still a cornerstone of this team.
Third base is a huge question mark. Brendan Harris is slotted to fill the position for now. The Twins have a good prospect in Danny Valencia, but they are convinced he isn’t ready yet. Harris is a decent fielder, but not someone who is an everyday player on a World Series contending team. If the Twins are to make a trade this year, I think it will be to lock up the hot corner spot.
There is also this guy named Joe Mauer at the catcher spot. I don’t know much about him but apparently he swings a good bat. He has been compared to something called a Jonny Bench, whatever that is. He is definitely a player to watch this year.
Minnesota Twins 2010 Preview: Outfield
Denard Span is a name you NEED to get used to.
This is a guy who was stuck in the Twins farm club finally got called up a few years ago as an injury replacement and played so well that he convinced management to keep him around. He has developed into a solid leadoff hitter as well as one of the most versatile outfielders in the league, playing all three positions last year before settling in center for this season. He recently signed a 5-year extension.
Delmon Young and Michael Cuddyer will fill the rest of the outfield. Young is trying to prove why the Twins have kept him around, and he made a good case for himself after having a big role at the end of the season after the Morneau injury. Cuddyer showed signs of why he got a multi-year contract extension after a big 2006, leading the team in home runs last year with 32. He also stepped up last year after the Morneau injury, filling in at first place.
Minnesota Twins 2010 Preview: Pitching
The Twins came into Spring Training with four of the five starting spots filled. Fransisco Liriano and Glen Perkins were set to compete for the final spot, but so far it hasn’t been much of a competition.
Liriano had great outings in the Dominican winter league and has continued that hot streak, and with Nathan being hurt, word of Liriano filling that closing spot was starting to form. Unfortunately Perkins hasn’t shown he can fill the role of a starter, meaning the Twins will have to look elsewhere for a replacement.
Projected Batting Order
1. CF Denard Span
.311 BA, .392 OBP, .415 SLG, 8 HR, 68 RBI in 2009
2. 2B Orlando Hudson
.283 BA, .357 OBP, .417 SLG, 9 HR, 62 RBI in 2009
3. C Joe Mauer
.365 BA, .444 OBP, .587 SLG, 28 HR, 96 RBI in 2009
4. 1B Justin Morneau
.274 BA, .363 OBP, .516 SLG, 30 HR, 100 RBI in 2009
5. DH Jason Kubel
.300 BA, .369 OBP, .539 SLG, 28 HR, 103 RBI in 2009
6. RF Michael Cuddyer
.276 BA, .342 OBP, .520 SLG, 32 HR, 94 RBI in 2009
7. LF Delmon Young
.284 BA, .308 OBP, .425 SLG, 12 HR, 60 RBI in 2009
8. SS J.J. Hardy
.229 BA, .302 OBP, .357 SLG, 11 HR, 47 RBI in 2009
9. 3B Brendan Harris
.261 BA, .310 OBP, .362 SLG, 6 HR, 37 RBI in 2009
Projected Pitching Rotation
1. Scott Baker
15-9, 4.37 ERA in 2009
2. Carl Pavano
14-12, 5.10 ERA in 2009
3. Nick Blackburn
11-11, 4.03 ERA in 2009
4. Kevin Slowey
10-3, 4.86 ERA in 2009
5. Francisco Liriano
5-13, 5.80 ERA in 2009