Thursday, January 29, 2009

Why the Minnesota Twins will be the 2009 AL Central Champs

I could write about how bad the Jazz will be while Boozer and Kirilenko are out, but I don't want to write it and you don't want to read it. All these injuries that the Jazz are having is making me look forward to baseball opening day even more.

You can bet that there will be much more Twins player-by-player analysis/projections/outlooks on this blog as opening day approaches. For now we will take a quick glance at why the Twins have as good a shot as anybody to win the AL Central this year.

1. They won't have any innings pitched by Livan Hernandez. Those innings will be taken over by a full season of a healthy, confident Francisco Liriano, who looks to win his first AL Cy Young. The rest of the young rotation stays the same, a rotation that was responsible for much of the 2008 success.

2. No at-bats from Craig Monroe, Mike Lamb, or Adam Everett. Those guys were black-holes last season. The Twins haven't signed a big bat, but Jason Kubel, Brian Buscher, and Brendan Harris will likely put up better numbers than those other three did last year.

3. The bullpen should be better this year. Again they haven't brought anybody new, but Jose Mijares should take over the 8th inning role nicely, setting up for one of the best closers in the game, Joe Nathan. Jesse Crain is one more year removed from that cuff surgery and he should be better, and Boof Bonser could be a force in the bullpen now that he is getting adjusted to not starting.

4. They will have a full season from Michael Cuddyer and Denard Span. Span was a key cog for the 2nd half of 2008. Cuddyer was the valuable cleanup hitter for the great 2006 year.

5. Delmon Young and Carlos Gomez will be one year older and wiser too. These guys were two of the youngest players in the majors last year. Young especially should be much better this year. They will only get better with time, and could turn into big-time stars.

6. Out of the other competetors only the Indians got better. The White Sox traded or didn't resign a lot of key guys from their team. The Tigers are old. The Indians won't have Sabathia this year, Cliff Lee won't repeat the success he had from last season, they did sign and trade for guys like DeRosa and Kerry Wood, but they lost others like Casey Blake.

7. They re-signed Nick Punto. Ok that one is a joke. But the Twins are so young, and most these guys will get better. Not too many of them have hit their prime yet. It should be an exciting season, as long as injuries don't ravage them. But a blow to Joe Mauer, or Justin Morneau, or a couple of staff members like Kevin Slowey and Scott Baker and all bets are off. I hope I didn't just jinx them.


Matt said...

Why wasn't Pat Neschek mentioned? Won't he be back and healthy?

Tim Sederberg said...

Pat Neshek had Tommy John surgery after the end of last season, meaning he will miss all of 2009 recovering.