2. Minnesota Twins 91-71
The Twins are a dead lock to compete this year. Last year they just missed out on the playoffs and this year they will too. In 2008 catcher Joe Mauer had limited time behind the plate do to injuries. 2009 will be nothing different due to Mauer’s back. In 2009 Mauer will start the season on the D.L. However Michael Cuddyer seems healthy and is projected to bounce back from an injury plagued 2008 and the signing of Joe Crede will help even more.
The Twins did not do much this offseason besides sign Joe Crede. They signed Luis Ayala who is largely responsible for the Mets collapse last year. That was about it. They made some minor moves here and there but the 2009 Twins are a lot like the 2008 Twins and that is not a good thing.
The 2009 Twins are a lot like the 2008 Boston Red Sox. Both teams had nearly the same roster the year before and both teams are in a division with a breakout team. The main difference is Minnesota will not make the playoffs. I believe that you must make moves in the offseason no matter what because if you do not then pitchers might figure out your offense.
The Twins have a good bullpen led by closer Joe Nathan. They have two candidates for setup man which also helps. First is Jesse Crain which in my opinion makes it an eight inning game. Some people disagree though and point to the 29 runs he gave up last year in 62.2 innings which means he gave up one run about every two games. If Crain does have a problem being the setup man then have him pitch the seventh and put Craig Breslow in. Breslow pitched 38.2 innings last year and gave up only nine runs. Which means he gave up one run about every four innings.
The Twins have a good offense with Mauer, Cuddyer, and Justin Morneau. Last year though the Twins did not win with offense. Morneau hit only 23 home runs, Cuddyer hit only three, and Mauer hit just nine for a total of 35 home runs. This year Baseball Prospectus projects them to hit a total of 45 home runs however I see them hitting a total of 55 home runs.
The Twins main problem is not really a problem. On most teams it could be good. The Twins do not have an ace. All five of their starters are about at the same skill level. However Francisco Liriano should be the ace. Liriano is the youngest starter for the Twins and the most promising. Francisco Liriano is the next Johan Santana. I see Liriano winning fifteen games this season while having a 2.75 ERA.
An interesting pitcher to look out for this season is Glen Perkins. I now some of you guys might be going “who”? Well after this season every one will no his name. Well first off Perkins has a MLBlog. Second, I am going out on a limb a saying that Glen Perkins will pitch a no-hitter this year. Even so though Perkins will not become an ace this season. Perkins will have a down year and go 6-8 with an ERA close to five an strikeout only fifty.
The Twins have one of the best fielding outfields in baseball led by Denard Span. When Span was a kid he would toss balls into the air a jump, dive, and do whatever he needed to to catch the ball. That has obviously helped him in his carer. Last year while watching ESPN they called Span “Mr. Web-gem”. I do not know if they keep a record of how many web gems players make but last year Span must have set a record.
The Twins will be around for a long time. Just not this year. The main reason for their success is manger Ron Gardenhire. He works great with prospects, stars, veterans, and benchwarmers. Don’t worry Twins fans. Minnesota is not going down the drain their just crashing into a wall.