Leading up to the start of the 2009 Regular Season, Diamond Hoggers will preview each of MLB’s 30 teams. Today’s team is the Minnesota Twins. Stay tuned as Diamond Hoggers will preview every team division by division until the start of the regular season.
The Twins signify purity in big league baseball. They don’t have a high payroll. They rely on the development of their pitching prospects to get it done so they can compete. They hit the ball off that grocery bag wall in right and run like hell. They play on that old turf. It’s great.
The Twins will lead off their lineup with Carlos Gomez, the speedy centerfielder acquired from the New York Mets before last season for Johan Santana. Gomez could have a season in which he steals 40 bases and gets on base at a nice clip which would serve his role well in Minnesota. If he struggles, Denard Span could take away playing time. Alexi Casilla is the second baseman and will hit second on most nights. Joe Mauer, the Golden boy of Minnesota will hit third and catch. Justin Morneau (pictured above) is the quiet superstar, and should be a threat to once again hit 40 home runs and drive in well over 100. Micheal Cuddyer will hit 5th on many nights and be in right field. This is also a make or break year for Delmon Young, who will play left field and hit 6th to begin the season; or 5th if he can be a consistent run producer. Jason Kubel will be the DH. Infielders Nick Punto and Brendan Harris round out the lineup.
The rotation and possibly this team will go as far as Francisco “Lights Out” Liriano can carry them. He is the ace of the staff and had to be shut down for the year last year coming off major arm surgery. Scott Baker seems pretty ordinary to us but the Twins locked him up to a multi-year deal so they must see something we don’t about this kid. He’s been a fixture in the rotation and innings eater the past few years, always a plus. Kevin Slowey is the third starter. Nick Blackburn and Glen Perkins will round out the rotation. We are high on Blackburn.
The bullpen is headlined by one of the cadillac’s of closers in all of baseball, Joe Nathan. Nathan is piling up some milestones in this quiet baseball city. Jesse Crain is the fireballer setup man. Matt Guerrier, Craig Breslow and Phil Humber are the guys who will be looked to for innings in the rest of the pen.
You have to give the angry troll Ron Gardenhire credit. The guy simply gets results, as evidenced by this team earning a 1 game playoff last year with the White Sox to see who advanced to the postseason. This team had no business being in that position. While they’ll definitely play above expectations, it might be a rough year for the Twins. We like every team but the Royals better on paper then Minnesota. Mauer and Liriano are question marks health-wise, so that isn’t in their favor.