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I wrote this piece in September, changed a few things, commented on others:
As we look at the end of the Minnesota Twins' 2007 season, there are some bright spots that we hope will carry over. Some things are near locks such as Jason Kubel’s strong finish has probably assured him the 2008 opening day start in LF (Actually will go to Delmon Young and Kubel will be pushed to platoon DH duty with Craig Monroe), Carlos Silva looking just good enough to assure him $4 Million/year (Got $12 Million/year from the Seattle Mariners, who actually then traded for an even better pitcher), and Jason Bartlett’s play has only gotten better as the season has progressed (While true... we traded him, so we won't reap the benefits). But other things are not so certain. Things like Torii Hunter (curretnly on the Angels), Johan Santana (traded), Justin Morneau (signed a Contract Extension), Billy Smith, and a starting rotation. In this two-part series, I will look into the crystal ball and predict the Minnesota Twins 2008 season.
So... what can look forward to in 2008?
Aside from what every fan, columnist, and talk-show host thinks, Joe Mauer will be the starting catcher in 2008, with Mike Redmond backing him up. As long as Joe stays healthy, which he seems to be able to do every other year…that position should be very strong.
What about the infield? At first base, the Twins have Justin Morneau, who, unfortunately, is having an opposite year from 2006. He was hot early, but has cooled (and now at ice cold) down, making him the target of angry fans. Next year, he will hit 30+ HR’s, drive in 100+ RBI’s and still play pretty good defense. That will be what Justin Morneau does year in and year out. If Nick Punto and Jason Bartlett man the middle of the diamond (which Gardy has said they will), we know we will get stellar defense and pretty good hitting (What was I thinking??). The nice thing would be if both of the players did both of those things. Bartlett’s fielding will get better, and Punto can’t hit any worse than he already has, can he? Third base is the question mark here. Brian Buscher would be serviceable, but a FA like Mike Lowell or a trade for Garrett Atkins would fit pretty well. (but we signed Mike Lamb).
Outfield has only one big hole, but it could be filled before it is open. Billy Smith will make a splash by resigning Torii Hunter to a 5-year deal and starting in the outfield for the 2008 opener will be Jason Kubel, Michael Cuddyer, and Torii Hunter (Cuddyer, Gomez/Pridie/Span, Young). Kubel will be better served hitting in front of Mauer all year (Gardy won't even play him enough), Cuddyer is Cuddyer and Hunter will put up the Hunter numbers (just not for us) (about, .280, 25, 90). Jason Tyner and Garrett Jones are serviceable back-ups (unfortunately both bat left-handed) (and both won't be on the team... well maybe Jones).
I know that these guys all had "career-years" in 2006, but even though they're just getting a pretty-good year out of all most of them, or just getting clutch hitting out of them will make the Twins better in 2008.
We will see Billy Smith make some splashes because "Carl and Co." will realize that they need to spend now to reap the benefits of a new team. If we win the World Series in 2008 or 2009, then the 2010 season will be a sell-out!
They resigned a few guys. They traded for a couple more. This offense should be better, but the pitching... let's talk tomorrow:
New Predictions: My Guess: 83-79, 3rd in Al Central Division Joe Mauer (.321 AVG, 14 HR, 78 RBI (gold glove)) Justin Morneau (.276, 35, 127) Brendan Harris (.264, 12, 56) Adam Everett (.234, 2, 23) Mike Lamb (.243, 13, 62) Delmon Young (.296, 22, 92) Carlos Gomez (.278, 8, 41 SB) Michael Cuddyer (.264, 21, 85) Jason Kubel (.278, 13, 64) Craig Monroe (.242, 15, 60)