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30 Teams in 30 Days: Minnesota Twins Preview | Inside Pulse

30 Teams in 30 Days: Minnesota Twins Preview

Twins

Minnesota Twins

Management: GM Bill Smith, Manager Ron Gardenhire
Key Additions: JJ Hardy, Orlando Hudson, Jim Thome, Clay Condrey
Key Losses: Brian Buscher, Orlando Cabrera, Joe Crede, RA Dickey, Armando Gabino, Phillip Humber, Carlos Gomez, Bobby Keppel, Ron Mahay, Juan Morillo, Mike Redmond

Projected Starters
C Joe Mauer
1B Justin Morneau
2B Orlando Hudson
3B Brendan Harris
SS JJ Hardy
RF Michael Cuddyer
CF Denard Span
LF Delmon Young
DH Jason Kubel

SP Scott Baker
SP Fransisco Liriano
SP Kevin Slowey
SP Nick Blackburn
SP Carl Pavano
CP Jon Rauch

Preview: Two weeks ago I thought the Twins would run away with the division. They had the best offense, they had a solid starting staff and they had the best closer in the division. Then Joe Nathan blew out his elbow and the closer position became one of turmoil. There are a lot of people who think the closer position is over-rated and it’s all a bunch of similar guys who can do a similar job. For the most part that’s true, but at the upper end of closers is where that ceases to be true. Mariano Rivera, Jonathan Papelbon, Joe Nathan and Jonathan Broxton are not your typical closers. And in a division that is always as close as the AL Central, a closer like Nathan is even more important. Rauch can have a good year and still blow twice as many saves as Nathan. While that may still only be a difference of 3 or 4, 3 games in the AL Central can sometimes drop you 2 spots in the standings. And those are just saves, think of all the times during the year a closer comes in with the score tied in the 8th or 9th or 10th or whenever. Nathan was excellent in those situations, who knows how Rauch or anyone will handle it. Not to mention the fact that you’ve now got to reorganize your entire bullpen to make up for the loss of one pitcher. The loss of Joe Nathan could easily be a 10 game swing for the Twins. The one thing that could stop that from happening is the offense. I’ve heard people say the Twins have the second best offense in the AL behind the Yankees jugernaut. And really, if JJ gets back to where he’s been and Delmon plays like he did in the second half last year, and Punto sees nothing but mop up defense time, there really aren’t any holes in the lineup. Span is a great leadoff hitter, Hudson is an ideal number 2, and then you’ve got back to back MVPs in their prime. Hopefully the offense can score enough to cover up the bullpen woes, i’m hopeful, but not expecting it.

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