Clearing the Bases : Minnesota Twins

Last year in Minnesota the Twins needed one more game to decide the AL Central winner. The fans had their homer hankies waving in the air for their team to get a chance to make the playoffs. It was a happy ending for the Twins in the final regular season game at the Metrodome. Not for long though as they were swept out of the playoffs by the new World Series Champions, the Yankees. It is a new season now though. The Twins will play outdoor baseball at Target Field this season. Many wonder how it will affect the team. It will sure not be as loud and the turf will be gone. Will Mauer have another MVP season? Will Justin Morneau have a big impact? Will Francisco Liriano return to full strength? These questions will show if the Twins have a good season or not.

Lets start with Joe Mauer the reigning MVP. I expect another solid season from Joe Mauer. Remember he was out for a bit to start last season and yet still posted spectacular numbers. Mauer’s .365 batting average is the highest by a catcher in MLB history and led the league. He was very valuable for the Twins too. Posting one of the top WAR’s in the league. 8.2 to be exact. WAR does not account for catchers defense. So he would of had a higher WAR. If he can stay healthy the Twins should be alright. No one is too sure of what he will do in Target Field, but we can project using CHONE’s projections. They have him at a .408 OBP and a .510 SLG. Mauer will make a good case to keep his MVP award in 2010. The Twins also need to spend the money on this guy to keep him in his hometown. He’s the best player at the most valuable position on the diamond.

Justin Morneau left the Twins with a stress fracture in his back on September 14th. He might have affected the AL Central race a bit more with being only .3 points away from his 2008 WAR. It might have not been decided in a 1 game playoff. If he can come back healthy he should have a good season and make the Twins middle of the line up very dangerous.

The rotation will be much better this season if Francisco Liriano can return to full health. He looked alright in the winter league, but can he return to his 2006 form? He had a 4.5 WAR that season. Towards the end of the 2006 season Liriano need Tommy John surgery. He missed the whole 2007 season. He was then called up for the injured Slowey on April 11th 2008. After posting an 11.32 ERA in three starts he was sent back down. For a pitcher who went under this surgery its almost lucky for them ever to get back. It will take some work and mostly luck for Liriano to return to form. He is probably the biggest piece to say if the Twins are a World Series contender or not.

The Twins needed a few pieces to fill out their line up. They needed a shortstop to replace Orlando Cabrera. They traded Carlos Gomez for J.J. Hardy of the Milwaukee Brewers. Hardy doesn’t bring much offense to the Twins, but he is a big defensive upgrade. He had a 6.7 UZR and a 8.8 UZR/150 last season. So the Twins made a good move right here to snag Hardy.

Another needed position was second base. They recently decided to go with Orlando Hudson. It was either Hudson or Lopez basically for the Twins, and thought Hudson was the best option. Hes not the best defender, but at least he has a bat. I remember saying this is the guy for Minnesota. Here are his 2009 stats.

OBP/SLG/wOBA/WAR

.357/.417/.342/2.9

The 2010 Twins starters.

Catcher – Joe Mauer
First Base – Justin Morneau
Second Base – Orlando Hudson
Short Stop – J.J. Hardy
Third Base – Brenden Harris
OutField – Denard Span
OutField – Delmon Young
OutField – Michael Cuddyer
DH – Jason Kubel/Jim Thome

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