Explanation of ratings system and other team previews here
Overall – 71 points (23rd MLB, 10th AL)
Starting Rotation – 23 points (26th MLB, 12th AL)
Line-Up – 32 points (18th MLB, 8th AL)
Bench/Bullpen/Defense – 16 points (T-5th MLB, T-3rd AL)
Offseason Additions – Delmon Young, Carlos Gomez, Livan Hernandez, Brendan Harris
Offseason Subtractions – Johan Santana, Torii Hunter, Matt Garza, Jason Bartlett
Biggest Strength- Young hitters
The Twins have an impressive core of young hitters. Justin Morneau, 26, already has an AL MVP to his credit. Joe Mauer, 24, will be the best catcher in the majors as soon as he can stay healthy. Delmon Young, 22, could very well be the next Manny Ramirez…if he stops throwing bats at umpires. Carlos Gomez, 22, was apparently good enough to be the main piece in a trade for the world’s best pitcher – now he has to prove it. Throw in the talented Jason Kubel and kind-of young Micheal Cuddyer (28 years old) and the Twins have a bunch of good young bats to keep an eye on.
Biggest Weakness- Starting Pitching
The Twins traded 2 of their 3 best pitchers last year (Johan Santana and Matt Garza). They lost their 3rd best starter via free agency. Their best pitcher this year could be dominant, or injured all year (see below). They did get a couple decent pitchers in Santana deal - but for ’08, they are going to rely on a bunch young guys (including a guy named “Boof”), and Livan Freakin’ Hernandez to carry the load.
Key Player in ’08– Francisco Liriano
The most important “young guy” mentioned above is clearly Francisco Liriano. Liriano exploded onto the scene 2 years ago, going 12-3 with a 2.16 ERA and 144 K’s in 121 IP – all at age 22. He is the type of pitcher that when you watch him, you can’t help but laugh, because the hitters just look so helpless trying to make contact. Last year, he was recovering from Tommy John surgery. Hopefully he will make a full recovery this year, and look a lot like that pitcher suiting up in Queens these days.
Player to Keep an Eye On– Delmon Young
When I said Delmon Young has a chance to be the next Manny Ramirez, I wasn’t really over-stating his talent. Actually, he could be more like Manny Ramirez, with Vladimir Guerrero’s arm in the outfield. He has dominated every level since he hit .320 with 25 HR and 115 RBI in 131 games as an 18-year in single-A ball. Last year, his first full year in the league, he had 93 RBI, 38 2B and 13 HR, at age 21. The Rays traded him because of his questionable talent (and because they got a damn good pitcher in return), but if Young can put it all together, he, Morneau and Mauer could really terrorize the AL Central.
Outlook/Prediction– 4th Place, AL Central. As I said in my White Sox preview, I really had a hard time deciding who should finish 3rd in this division. I love the Twins, and it pains me that their fanbase had to go through losing Santana and Hunter in the same offseason, so I would like to pick them 3rd. However, there are too many question marks in their rotation for this season. As for the future, I would feel a lot more comfortable with the old GM. As for the new one, when your first move is to trade the best pitcher in baseball for 50 cents on the dollar – you aren’t off to a very good start.