I wrote this piece in September Also: While not all of the predictions were right...I nailed a few things:
In Part I, I looked at what we can look forward to for the 2008 Twins position players. Here in Part II, I will look at what could be the make or break position for a successful year...the pitching.
There is a chance that the Twins could have five (4) different starters from the ones they had on opening day 2007. Johan, Boof, Ramon Ortiz, Carlos Silva, and Sidney Ponson are a thing of the past. I do think that if Johan returns, then Carlos Silva will also return, but if Johan is traded then Silva is outta here. (nailed it!!) I think the Twins will trade Santana for a slew of prospects. While I think Torii Hunter will be resigned, if he walks, then it is 100% certainty Johan is traded for prospects (NAILED!!!) (most likely to the LA Dodgers for Andy LaRoche and Matt Kemp). So, what will our rotation look like? How about Francisco Liriano, Matt Garza, Scott Baker, Kevin Slowey, and Nick Blackburn (If Johan stays then sub in Johan and Silva for Blackburn and Slowey). I also see Brian Duensing, Glen Perkins, and others getting some spot starts here and there. While this group is young and inexperienced, Baker has shown flashes, Liriano can be dominant, Garza has looked good (on the road, which will be good because he will be in Tampa), Slowey is Orel Hershiser and Brad Radke... isn’t he? And Blackburn skyrocketed to the majors this year.
What about the bullpen? Joe Nathan will close again and put up his normal numbers. Pat Neshek and Matt Guerrier will continue their dominant bullpen performances. Glen Perkins will begin the year in the bullpen and be a good left-handed specialist. Filling out the bullpen will be some mop-up long man and probably another lefty. I can’t even speculate because I assume a low-level free agent signing.
My Guess: 83-79, 3rd in Central Division (am I a homer or what?) Pitchers: Francisco Liriano (15-8, 3.54 ERA, 215 K) Livan Hernandez (13-13, 4.93, 164 K) Scott Baker (13-9, 4.32 ERA 115 K) Kevin Slowey (7-10, 4.88 ERA, 92 K) Boof Bonser (16-12, 4.45 ERA, 192 K)