FanPost

Know Your Enemy - Minnesota Twins Preview

I'm hoping to make a post for each of the Royals opponents in the Central.  Here is the first, let me know what you all think.

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2007 Record (79-83) Pythag (80-82) (28-44 VS Central) (9-9 VS Royals)

Adios

Johan Santana
Jason Tyner
Lew Ford
Matt Garza
Torii Hunter
Carlos Silva

The New Guys (ML or close to ML ready)

SP - Phil Humber (25, NYM)
CF - Carlos Gomez (22, NYM)
3B - Mike Lamb (32, HOU)
SS - Brendan Harris (27,TB)
RF - Delmon Young (22, TB)
LF - Craig Monroe (31 CHI)

2007 OPS+ Leaders

Torii Hunter 122
Justin Morneau 121
Joe Mauer 117
Michael Cuddyer 111
Jason Kubel 109

2007 ERA+ Leaders

80+ Innings

Johan Santana 130
Matt Garza 118
Carlos Silva 103
Scott Baker 102
Kevin Slowey 92

50+ Innings

Joe Nathan 230
Matt Guerrier 184
Pat Neshek 147
Juan Rincon 85

The Twins finished 2007 with their first losing season in seven years.  Former Assistant GM Bill Smith took over this offseason after GM Terry Ryan decided to step down.  Smith began this offseason as the regulator of the"Santana Sweepstakes".  Several teams tried to woo baseball's most dominant pitcher.  In the beginning it looked as if the Yankees or the Red Sox would snag Santana.  But as time wore on the Mets swooped in for the biggest acquisition of the offseason by sending a group of minor leaguers who Bill Smith hopes will anchor the Twins rebuilding efforts.  18 year old right hander Deolis Guerra has all of the intangibles of a young and budding power pitcher. However, at this point in his career he is a boom or bust type prospect.  The Twins also brought in toolsy Carlos Gomez who I believe will be the Twins starting CF in 2008.  Looking at Gomez's stats I find a lot to be desired.  With a career OPS in the minors of 735 displaying little power and slightly below average on base skills it looks like Twins fans might not like how Gomez pans out in comparison to the other offers supposedly on Smith's table (Ellsbury, Lester, Hughes, Cabrera, etc).  But, at 22 years old it is hardly a sure thing how he will pan out.  But one also has to wonder if the Twins even got as much as the A's got for Dan Haren or the O's got for Erik Bedard.  While that is highly debatable, if Bill Smith is in a rebuilding mode, why is Joe Nathan still on the team?  He could certainly still be dealt, but at this point I'm hearing rumors that the Twins may make a deal with him.  If I were in the Twins position having just given up Santana, I would be next to the phone waiting for Nathan deals 24/7.  

But anyways.  On to 2008, the short term.  Francisco Liriano returns from Tommy John surgery this year.  He will be a strong contributor to  this year, albeit not necessarily too quickly coming off arm surgery.  The Twins brought in former uber prospect Delmon Young (still just 22) who will anchor right field for several years to come.  It also looks like Gomez will play CF and Cuddyer will be in left as usual.  The Twins infield will see a few new faces as the abysmal (as in worse than Jason Larue) Nick Punto will be replaced by Mike Lamb who has a career 96 OPS+ (definite improvement there).  Craig Monroe and Jason Kubel look to split time at DH, although it would be wise for Kubel to get more AB's given he's going into his age 26 season with a lot more upside than Monroe (887 OPS in minors).  Kubel also could be a 4th outfielder. Brendan Harris and Alexi Casilla look to play up the middle this year as well.  

Positives going into this year include Morneau and Cuddyer being locked up for the next few years.  Both will play a part in any sort of playoff push this team could make in the next few years.  This also obviously includes Joe Mauer who is signed for three more years as well.  Another strength of the Twins is their starting pitching depth in the minors, and also currently at the major league level including Scott Baker, Kevin Slowey, and Glen Perkins.

Negatives include the return for Santana.  I don't like the way that Gomez projects.  If there was ever an Ellsbury/Lester or Hughes/Cabrera offer on the table then I think the Twins blew it.  Having Mike Lamb will be an improvement at 3B, but so would I over Nick Punto. The Twins long term needs at 3B have not been solved.  Also, while having Joe Nathan on your team is never a negative thing, it makes you wonder what "mode" Bill Smith is in currently.  When you look at how to rebuild a team just look at what Billy Beane is doing. Just blow that thing up and start over.

Look out in the minors for... John Manuel's man crush Nick Blackburn, who had a very solid AAA season last year (2.36 ERA  75K/19BB in 148.2).  Manuel controversially named Blackburn the Twins #1 prospect at age 26.  The guy is obviously a control artist, but certainly not a frontline starter.  22 year old Kevin Mulvey from the Mets looks to vie for time this year also.  He posted a 3.2 ERA in mostly AA with a 54K/22BB in 71 innings.  24 year old Brian Duensing will also likely be a part of the Twins staff at some point after posting a 3.07 ERA in 167 innings at AAA.  OF Jason Pridie, the proud owner of an 839 OPS in the minors will battle for a spot as the Twins 4th OF.

2008 Minnesota Twins overall record prediction - 77-85 and 4th in the AL Central.  Any thoughts?

This FanPost was written by a member of the Royals Review community. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the editors and writers of this site.

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