MLB, Joe Mauer

Welcome To Outdoor Baseball (Again), Minnesota. [2010 MLB Previews: Minnesota Twins]

3/3/10 in MLB   |   Chief_aka_James   |   3292 respect

The 2010 Minnesota Twins are a team coming off another AL Central title, their seventh in the past nine years, and their second consecutive season of playing a 163rd game to determine the division. This year’s team is introducing a few new faces, along with a brand new stadium.

Strengths

1-5 in the order
The biggest strength the Twins have is the reigning AL MVP in Joe Mauer, and the men he has directly above and behind him in the lineup. Denard Span in the leadoff spot has proven to be the perfect person to create runs for this team with his ability to take a lot of walks and running out infield/bunt hits. Minnesota improved greatly on what was one of their biggest weak points in 2009 (whoever batted in the second spot not named Mauer) – in Orlando Hudson. Protecting Mauer is 2006 MVP Justin Morneau and DH Jason Kubel who is coming off his best professional season of 28 HR and 102 RBI.

Bullpen
Another strength this coming season for the Twins is the bullpen. Jose Mijares, Matt Guerrier, and Joe Nathan are easily one of the best late-inning combinations in all of baseball. Pat Neshek is coming off of almost two years of absence due to Tommy John’s, and the final parts of Jon Rauch, Clay Condrey, and Jesse Crain are what makes this bullpen unit very similar to the previous Twins’ bullpens have had ranked 1st in the American League.

Weaknesses

Starting Pitching
Seemingly the only question the Twins have had coming into Spring Training has been “Who will be the 5th starter?” It’s a pretty nice question. Francisco Liriano, Brian Duensing, Jeff Manship, and Anthony Swarzak – all of whom started at least twice last season, are the ones who will have the opportunity for the final starting position. Whoever wins out will be behind the rotation of Scott Baker, Carl Pavano, Kevin Slowey, and Nick Blackburn. None of them are thought of as a real “ace” in the staff, and those most critical on this team are saying that will be the largest downfall for the Twins this season. Baker is possibly the closest to being that “ace”, but for a guy who just finished his fourth full season, and still in his twenties, there is definitely time for his performance to improve. Slowey is coming off an elbow injury, and Pavano who is known for previous injuries in New York, beg the question of how healthy the rotation will be for a full 162-game season.

Key Additions

2B Orlando Hudson (via FA)
DH Jim Thome (via FA)
SS JJ Hardy (via trade)
RHP Clay Condrey (via FA)

Target Field
It is still an unknown as to how the Twins will play in their new home, but for the fans of the Twins - it will be an entirely new experience for their team. This is the first time since 1981 that Minnesota will see outdoor baseball, and for many, it is long overdue. The dimensions of new Target Field compared to that of the Metrodome are similar – The Metrodome had 343’ down the left field line, 385’ to left field’s power alley, 408’ to center, 367’ to right field’s power alley, and 327’ down the right. Along with the “baggie” covering the right field football seats. In Target Field, the dimensions are 339' to Left; 377' to left field's Power Alley; 404' to Center; 367' to right field's Power Alley; and 328' to Right. The outfield walls are 8' from the left field foul pole to right center field and 23' from right center field to right field foul pole.

Key Losses

CF Carlos Gomez
(via trade)
C Mike Redmond (via FA)

The Metrodome

While it may have been a dump in terms of baseball stadiums, there was no question to how the Twins were able to use it as an advantage while playing there with their aptly named “Dome Field Advantage”. The noise, the pale white roof (especially during day games), the lights, the turf, etc. – it was easily the reason to many, many wins over the course of its 28 season existence as the Twins’ home.

Predictions for the 2010 Season

Predicted Lineup

1.    Denard Span – CF
2.    Orlando Hudson – 2B
3.    Joe Mauer – C
4.    Justin Morneau – 1B
5.    Jason Kubel – DH
6.    Michael Cuddyer – RF
7.    Delmon Young – LF
8.    JJ Hardy – SS
9.    Nick Punto – 3B

Predicted Rotation

RHP Scott Baker
RHP Carl Pavano
RHP Kevin Slowey
RHP Nick Blackburn
LHP Francisco Liriano

Predicted Results
91-71, 1st AL Central
ALCS Appearance

The AL Central will not be a completely easy road, but I do believe that it will be spaced out to a 7 or 8 game lead by the time September ends. 

Once the playoffs roll around, Joe Nathan, while a fantastic closer in the regular season, has not yet proved to be a playoff-ready closer, and that was no clearer than it was against the Yankees in last year’s ALDS. I think 91 wins will be enough for the 2nd best record in the AL, and assuming that the wildcard will be going to the AL East, the Twins will have to matchup against the Yankees, Red Sox, or Rays in the ALDS with home field advantage. That will be enough in my opinion to reach the ALCS because of the addition of JJ Hardy and Orlando Hudson in the middle of the infield, but depending on whether they have home field or not will be the difference in a chance at the World Series in November.
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3/15/10   |   mnstar1959   |   376 respect

Chief_aka_James wrote:
Where in the state are you at? Was in Minneapolis today and live in St. Paul - all I saw was 55 at the highest.

And my thermometer

3/15/10   |   mnstar1959   |   376 respect

mnstar1959 wrote:
And it was 65 today!..........

Eagan....News, WCCO, reported it. Folks "playing at Lake Harriet. Also, on radio

3/14/10   |   Chief_aka_James   |   3292 respect

(Edited by Chief_aka_James)

Where in the state are you at? Was in Minneapolis today and live in St. Paul - all I saw was 55 at the highest.

3/14/10   |   mnstar1959   |   376 respect

And it was 65 today!..........

3/13/10   |   torontolui   |   112 respect

good on you minnesota, april is tough on all the east coast team fans, won't be exactly balmy in the al east, al central

3/12/10   |   capeman48   |   3 respect

suzanneclark12 wrote:
Love opening day when its 28 degrees and snowing  :-P

you need to get your facts straight before you make mention of it snowing

3/12/10   |   capeman48   |   3 respect

suzanneclark12 wrote:
sounds like a tropical paradise..I stand corrected..should I cancel this weekend in the Keys and have some fun in the sun in Minnesota?  : O

we should really talk Suzanne

3/12/10   |   capeman48   |   3 respect

suzanneclark12 wrote:
hey Gophers luv it!!  :-P

yea this is right...I use to wn 3 sports stores and supported both the Red Sox and the Twins .. when I lived there.. had spring training box seats for the entire spring training

3/9/10   |   mnstar1959   |   376 respect

suzanneclark12 wrote:
hey Gophers luv it!!  :-P

Only Golden Ones........they just can't seem to play basketball very well in it

3/5/10   |   suzanneclark12   |   435 respect

Chief_aka_James wrote:
rolling eyes I guess Minnesota isn't for everybody.

hey Gophers luv it!!  :-P

3/5/10   |   Chief_aka_James   |   3292 respect

suzanneclark12 wrote:
sounds like a tropical paradise..I stand corrected..should I cancel this weekend in the Keys and have some fun in the sun in Minnesota?  : O

rolling eyes I guess Minnesota isn't for everybody.

3/5/10   |   kantwistaye   |   4210 respect

suzanneclark12 wrote:
sounds like a tropical paradise..I stand corrected..should I cancel this weekend in the Keys and have some fun in the sun in Minnesota?  : O

 Its going to be like 45 degrees this weekend in the upper Midwest. Its awesome. 

/serious
//but no, don't leave Florida.

3/5/10   |   suzanneclark12   |   435 respect

Chief_aka_James wrote:
When's the last time you were up here in Minnesota to know what the weather is like in April?

I'm enjoying 40+ degrees right now in late-February/early-March anyways.

sounds like a tropical paradise..I stand corrected..should I cancel this weekend in the Keys and have some fun in the sun in Minnesota?  : O

3/4/10   |   mnstar1959   |   376 respect

Chief_aka_James wrote:
You sound like Paul Konerko. You're right, that powerful A/C is what made a team like the Twins benefit to air being pushed out, despite being one of the lowest HR teams (prior to the 2009 season), and pushing the air back in against the opponents, despite giving up one of the highest HR totals.

LOL....it really was the roof and its coloring and the extra bounce turf that helped out.

3/3/10   |   WhoDat12   |   2252 respect

Wait...Carl Pavano is actually still in the league? I thought George Steinbrenner had vaporized himafter his epic fail with the New York Yankees.

3/3/10   |   Chief_aka_James   |   3292 respect

kantwistaye wrote:
You missed the biggest advantage of the Metrodome - how the game crew manipulated air flow to benefit the Twins. But yeah, that place was crap and everyone should be happy that at least the Twinkies are out of it.

You sound like Paul Konerko. You're right, that powerful A/C is what made a team like the Twins benefit to air being pushed out, despite being one of the lowest HR teams (prior to the 2009 season), and pushing the air back in against the opponents, despite giving up one of the highest HR totals.

3/3/10   |   Chief_aka_James   |   3292 respect

mnstar1959 wrote:
I think you downgrade their btting order a little bit  by not mentioning Cuddyer's power. If Young can get right there is another "man on base" along with Hardy coming back strong, potential this year. With Thome, always a threat to go long, and the pesky Brenden Harris I like our offense this year. Our pitching should hold up again. Every year it's "Twins have no starting pitching" yet they seem to be in the thick of ,if not winning, the Division title. Neshek, to me, will be the key.....Liriano has pitched his best Winter ball in three years and won't be surprised if he ends up being our No. 1. I look forward to the Twins chances this coming year, even though it will be outdoors.   Go TWINS!

I still have little/no faith in Young, I don't care how much they try and fix his batting stance or the way he holds his bat - if the guy is still swinging at pitches above his head and bouncing to the plate, he'll never be what the Twins expected when they traded for him.

Cuddyer could have a big year too, I guess I was too focused on the 1-5 then thinking about him in the #6 spot.

Liriano I talked about a month ago basically saying I don't care what he looks like in Winter ball anymore, if he keeps it up during the season that actually matters, and not get injured doing so, then he'll be back to that 2006 kind of way. I have about as little faith in that as I do Young though.

3/3/10   |   Chief_aka_James   |   3292 respect

suzanneclark12 wrote:
Love opening day when its 28 degrees and snowing  :-P

When's the last time you were up here in Minnesota to know what the weather is like in April?

I'm enjoying 40+ degrees right now in late-February/early-March anyways.

3/3/10   |   RunningDawg   |   248 respect

I am certainly dissapointed they did not put a retractable roof on the place, but it will be nice to NOT play in the Hump Dome!

3/3/10   |   WBKsports   |   366 respect

The Hanky Dome had some great air conditioning vents...Especially on days that it would blow out to RF. A couple of my close friends were born in Minnesota and moved out to So-Cal during High School. (Kind of like Rod Carew in a sense...) My buddies still hold up that Twins pride every year....I miss Kirby Puckett and Kent Hrbek...even Gary Gaetti. 

The Twins have had several other HOF'ers like Jim Kaat and Harmon Killebrew...Tony Oliva.  Bert Blyleven almost pulled off 4,000 K's and half of them were with Minnesota

The latest bunch of Twins are hitting machines and at a low cost to Minnesota Twins Ownership. Joe Mauer is a phenom, and I hope he wins his 3rd straight/4th overall batting title this season.

The Twins farm system is equivalent to the Braves and Dodgers, but the media never mentions it.

I'd love to see the Twins get back to World Series again.

3/3/10   |   Boski93   |   375 respect

As a White Sox fan I do not care if it -15 degrees, that is a lot better than having to play in that bleeping bleep dome!

Good write up sir.

The Twins should be the team to beat in the Central. To me they will have it locked up if they get Liriano to revert back to form, and get production out of Hudson.

3/3/10   |   kantwistaye   |   4210 respect

You missed the biggest advantage of the Metrodome - how the game crew manipulated air flow to benefit the Twins. But yeah, that place was crap and everyone should be happy that at least the Twinkies are out of it.

3/3/10   |   mnstar1959   |   376 respect

(Edited by mnstar1959)

I think you downgrade their btting order a little bit  by not mentioning Cuddyer's power. If Young can get right there is another "man on base" along with Hardy coming back strong, potential this year. With Thome, always a threat to go long, and the pesky Brenden Harris I like our offense this year. Our pitching should hold up again. Every year it's "Twins have no starting pitching" yet they seem to be in the thick of ,if not winning, the Division title. Neshek, to me, will be the key.....Liriano has pitched his best Winter ball in three years and won't be surprised if he ends up being our No. 1. I look forward to the Twins chances this coming year, even though it will be outdoors.   Go TWINS!

3/3/10   |   Lizzo   |   324 respect

It's Minnesota! It's supposed to be cold! Go Twins! I am a die hard Cardinals fan, but the Twins are my AL team.

3/3/10   |   MrOrangeman   |   42 respect

Opening Day forcast:

28 degrees & snow showers. 

Way to go building an open air stadium in Minneapolis. rofl

http://madnessofmarch.sports.officelive.com/rules.aspx

3/3/10   |   suzanneclark12   |   435 respect

Alpha_Dawg wrote:
I like what the twins have done this off season, and think they will continue  their push deep into the playoffs despite having a lower payroll than that of the yankees, red soxs and angels. I am rooting for the underdog twins this year to open up the new ball park with a winning season and a run for the championship. By the way I always hated baseball in a dome. worst idea ever. 

Love opening day when its 28 degrees and snowing  :-P

3/3/10   |   Alpha_Dawg   |   1258 respect

I like what the twins have done this off season, and think they will continue  their push deep into the playoffs despite having a lower payroll than that of the yankees, red soxs and angels. I am rooting for the underdog twins this year to open up the new ball park with a winning season and a run for the championship. By the way I always hated baseball in a dome. worst idea ever.