Anyone out there find a national pundit who hasn’t picked the Minnesota Twins to finish in last place in the AL Central? I haven’t.
There’s no reason to think the Twins will be anything but terrible. I know it’s hard to believe, but I contend a lot of things went RIGHT for the Twins last season despite losing 96 games. They had career years from Josh Willingham, Ryan Doumit and Trevor Plouffe and relatively healthy years from Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer. And don’t forget about Scott Diamond‘s big season on the mound too. I have a hard time believing Diamond can repeat that, and starting the year on the DL only decreases the likelihood of 2012 Part Deux for him.
The Twins have actually taken away from their offense this season by trading Denard Span and Ben Revere, although Aaron Hicks has promise (I’ll get to that in a second). They’ve added a few starting pitchers, but is there any reason to think Kevin Correia, Mike Pelfrey and Vance Worley will be much better than Francisco Liriano, Carl Pavano, etc.? I don’t think so. And my gut feeling is the bullpen’s ERA will be worse than it was a year ago. I’m thinking a 64-98 season is ahead. Tough to stomach for many of you.
There’s enough to be sour about with this group, and the shortcomings have been widely reported. Here are a few things for fans to be optimistic about heading into this season:
- I have a hunch that Justin Morneau is going to return to his pre-concussion numbers. Maybe not the blistering start he was off to in 2010, but I think he’s going to have a very good season. Let’s go with a .290 average, 25 homers, 90-95 RBIs and an .870 OPS.
- Aaron Hicks has looked real good this spring. The stats he posted were impressive in Florida. But beyond the numbers, I saw a player who has a great eye at the plate, something he demonstrated in the minors. He looks similar to Denard Span in that regard. I’ve liked Hicks for awhile because of his on-base percentage skills and his defensive ability. Very interested to see how he does skipping Triple-A.
- While the major league rotation will be dreadful and is banged-up already, the minor league system has the potential to produce some big-time arms. Twins GM Terry Ryan told me earlier this spring that he sees plenty of promise in the likes of Jose Berrios, Trevor May, Alex Meyer, Kyle Gibson and B.J. Hermsen. The last four names mentioned aren’t too far away from the majors with the proper amount of development, and Berrios probably has the highest ceiling of them all.
Enjoy the season. The summer is near.