Tuesday, March 01, 2005

 

2005 Season Preview: Minnesota Twins

On to the Twins, who I feel will finish in second this year to the Indians. I think the Twins are a better team than they were last year, but the issue for me is that the rest of the division (exclusing Kansas City) is stronger as well, and that will make the race tighter. Or so I hope.

Juan Castro, Futility Infielder: I hope this is just an April Fool’s joke. Like the Twins tell him he’s starting at shortstop and then bust out laughing and tell him to get out of their stadium. What a waste of money and roster space. And time. And ink. Seriously I apologize for wasting your time with this guy as well. Why am I still writing about him?

Terry Mulholland, RP/SP: At least it’s a minor league deal. They should’ve had him pitching to Pat Borders at the end of that Division Series so I could’ve hit my head harder at its conclusion.

Eric Munson, 3B: All I can think of is Roy Munson from Kingpin. Maybe Eric will finally come around. Hopefully he doesn’t have to lose a hand first. .212/.289/.445…please just hit a little higher average and a few more walks Eric, and we can let it all slide like Jose Valentin.

C.J. Nitkoswki, RP: Apparently the Twins didn’t think their bullpen was weak enough, so they added Nitkowski to help screw them up in the playoffs in 2005. Why would you hurt your strength like that damnit. Not like they knew how to use it to their advantage in the first place. I don’t care that the Sox won the World Series and got to beat the Yankees, I’m still bitter that Gardenhire lost to the Yankees 3 games to 1. Non-biased Nitkowski opinion time: He’s a LOOGY (Left-Handed-One-Out-Guy) I <3 John Sickels’ acronyms.

Brad Radke, SP: Radke = excellent pitcher. Benson = he could be good I guess.
Radke = $9 million per season…Benson = $7.5.
Terry Ryan = good negotiator at least this one time.

Mike Redmond, C: Funny thing about Redmond is that the team he is coming from (Marlins) needs him more than the Twins did. Lo Duca’s value is tied up in his average until he gets to August, where he hits a wall and dies…BUT HE DIES LIKE A GREAT LEADER SHOULD! Anyways back to the Twins…Redmond is a good backup and will spell Mauer’s knees, which probably hurt more than he lets on. He's no Henry Blanco behind the plate, but he's better with the bat.


Nick Punto is taking over at SS for Cristian Guzman, so hopefully half of the black hole that is there middle infield will disapear eventually. The other half, Luis Rivas, is still allowed to breathe the same air as guys like Johan Santana, Radke, and Morneau. Sad.

Jason Kubel was supposed to take over for Jacque Jones in RF, giving the Twins a capable bat rather than a guy who swings at every single pitch he sees, but he tore the ACL and a little extra according to reports. So another year of Jones for Twins fans...*sigh*

Joe Mays comes back to take the last rotation spot, which should simulaneously thrill and depress all Twins fans. Thrill because Mullholland is no longer starting...depress because its Joe Mays.

Finally, Joe Mauer comes back supposedly healthy to catcher for the Twins. This will be a huge boost to their offense if he can stick around.

1) Shannon Stewart
2) Joe Mauer
3) Lew Ford
4) Justin Morneau
5) Torii Hunter
6) Jacque Jones
7) Michael Cuddyer
8) Luis Rivas
9) Nick Punto

If Mauer's bat really takes off I can see him switching with Ford in the lineup, but then again this is the manager who let Mientkiewizc bat third for 161 PA with a stunning .246/.340/.350 line last year. Mauer and Morneau are the keys to the lineup. If everyone else does what they did last year and those two do what they are capable of at this stage this lineup won't be full of mashers, but it will sure beat its middle of the road offense of 2004. Maybe Radke can actually have a good record this year.

1) Johan Santana
2) Brad Radke
3) Carlos Silva
4) Kyle Lohse
5) Joe Mays

Santana is the best pitcher in baseball to some, and one of the top 3 or top 5 to others. Whichever way you look at it, he's the ace and the most important piece of this puzzle. Radke is a great compliment out of the #2 spot, even though I expect some decline from last season's masterpiece. Carlos Silva is at worst a capable innings eater, which out of the #3 spot with those two guys in front of you is a good thing to have. Very strong 1-2-3...as for Kyle Lohse, he needs a switch to the bullpen and to never return to the rotation. Lohse was one of the 4 or 5 worst pitchers in the league last year, and his peripherals show the performance was genuine. Not something you want to see out of any starter, nevermind your #4 guy. I was never a big fan of Joe Mays at any point, since his K/9 and K/BB are below average and the league hits roughly .295/.345/.475+ against him, which is basically like having Garrett Anderson beating you senseless every at-bat. Not the best asset to have.

The bullpen is quite possibly the strongest in the AL, with Joe Nathan, Juan Rincon, Jesse Crain, and J.C. Romero all capable of dominating lineups. Regression from Nathan is possible, but the addition of a full season of Jesse Crain should make up for it. Maybe if the Twins make the playoffs Gardenhire will use Crain this time around, since he was lights out in 22 regular season games.

Second place is a distint possibility for this team, because I don't feel that Terry Ryan will make a good enough move to bolster the rotation come trade deadline time. He will probably continue to sit on prospects that are blocked by players such as Jones and Rivas rather than try to win now...it is always next year for Terry Ryan, not matter how close they are. I have more faith in Mark Shapiro of Cleveland fixing whatever issue Cleveland may have come deadline time, and they have the depth in the minor leagues to get just about anything they need. If Jason Davis and Kyle Lohse can't come around, I see Lohse continuing to raise the level of suckitude in Minnesota while Davis gets relegated to the pen in Cleveland for the new starter in town.

Comments:
Hey Marc,

Nice site. It should be a good race between the Twins and Indians this year. But I think the Twins will get them in the end. Their bullpen is so, so far ahead of Cleveland's, it's not funny.

I think this could be a break out year for Lohse. The reason they've left him in there for so long is he has filthy stuff. One umpire said it was among the best in the league! So if he can just throw a %&$*ing strike in one of the first two pitches of an at bat - he'll make a huge improvement. That said... I'm not holding my breath.

Anyway, keep it up man. And check out my site too...

http://twins.mostvaluablenetwork.com
 
I agree with you there, Twins bullpen is light years ahead of Clevelands. Definitely a race I'll be watching.
 
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