Friday, March 28, 2008

What to watch for in a rebuilding year

By Michael Haas

The one thing all the baseball pundits, and most of the fans, say about the Twins chances this season: they won't compete for the division. The national media seems to be really down on Gardys club this spring, citing the botched Santana deal and the loss of 3/5ths of the rotation. We lost Torii Hunter for nothing. We have Mike Lamb, Brendan Harris and Adam Everett in the infield. The team looks worse than last years team that only won 79 games.

But rather than focus on what we don't have, let's see what we do have. Here's the projected lineup:

1. CF Carlos Gomez
2. C Joe Mauer
3. LF Delmon Young
4. 1B Justin Morneau
5. RF Michael Cuddyer
6. DH Jason Kubel/Craig Monroe
7. 2B Brendan Harris
8. 3B Mike Lamb
9. SS Adam Everett

and rotation:

1. Scott Baker
2. Boof Bonser
3. Francisco Liriano
4. Livan Hernandez
5. Kevin Slowey

Man, just imagine how good we'd be if we had Johan Santana, Matt Garza and Torii Hunter. What? Oh yeah, we're focusing on what we have.

Joe Christenson recently wrote an interesting piece with a hilarious headline: The Twins Are Better Than They Look On Paper. It's an odd declaration from because it comes from a Twins beat writer. But he explains that a lot can happen over the course of the season, and he's decided to pick them 3rd in the division. It's a good read.

So everyone agrees that the Twins won't compete for any titles this year, I don't think it's very productive to argue about where the Twins will finish in the standings. In a rebuilding year, I think we should focus on the player development and the roster evolution. Here are some things that I'd like to see this year:

1. Carlos Gomez and his "Toolbox"

How many bases can this kid steal? Can he really hit for power? And for average? He's got a gun, is this the best throwing outfield ever? Can his fielding make us forget Torii Hunter's gold glove?
Can he remember the names of his teammates? Actual Gomez quote: "...Morneau, the catcher, and the other guy.."
A less important, but more interesting question is this: will he be sent down at any point this season?

2. Joe Mauer

We talked about his lack of a desire for social interaction yesterday, but that's not the only thing to look for in 2008. It would be huge if he could stay off the disabled list. That's really all I ask. We can talk about the lack of home runs or all the bouncers to the 2nd baseman, but I just want him to play a whole season, and we'll go from there. If not, will the Twins admit they have given thought to The Mauer Position Switch?

3. Our pitchers Dietary habits.

When will Pat Neshek start eating meat again?
Boof Bonser scale watch.
I don't know why, but I want Neshek to break down and eat a huge steak.

4. These guys Mike Lamb, Brendan Harris and Adam Everett - we have to get something on them so they are worth mentioning here. Are they interesting?

5. The minor league guys.

I don't follow the minors too much, but there are some blogs that do. Guys like Anthony Swarzak, Denard Span, Trevor Plouffe, and the three pitchers we got for Santana. Obviously, I don't know shit about these guys. I'll have to research this some more. I smell a blog poooost.

What else would you like to see in '08? Goals and predictions: your comments!


Karleeee said...

No shit, let me guess what I want to happen in 08'? Maybe what everyone kind of wishes.But won't addmit.

Short stack. Small fry. Nicky Punto to GET OUT HIS SLUMP, I mean it was kind of fun to make fun of for a while, then it got kind of sad...and I felt bad for him.
But now Karlee is angry.

Ohhhhh and I also predict Bert will be drunk more than half of the games this year, and he won't say fuck he'll end up saying something else that is frowned upon during a live broadcast.

Anonymous said...

TFRezac2002's predictions:

Gomez with steal 75 bases. One every time he gets on base. Delmon Young will win the RBI crown and the home run crown but lose out to team mate Joe Mauer on the triple crown, when the former catcher gets the minimum amount of at bats to qualify for the title after another pulled hammy. The rotation will hit a new low when ultra utility man, Nick Punto, leads the team in ERA and wins.

Haasertime said...

it's fun to rip Punto, but it is awfully cliched.

I bet Bert will say crazy shit this year. He's older, more bitter and will be broadcasting for a losing team.

Thats an interesting point, Tfrezac. There's now way Mauer can win any offensive titles, cuz he won't get enough at bats to qualify. It's an effin Joke.

Carlos Gomez swings and misses a lot, from what I understand.

If Nick Punto pitches this year, it would be hilarious. I can't imagine it.

Daymonster said...

I wouldn't even be mad if punto pitched. It would be good to get him to contribute without having to touch a bat.

Karleeee said...

well, he CAN play center field, so who knows exactly what he can do, but we already know what he cant do.


Tell him to stop sucking because I feel horrible whenever I make wise cracks at him. He just looks so, innocent and child-like.

ps: posted a new blog ;)

Pills said...

The twins will be better then everyone thinks. I am not saying they will be good but I do not think they will be any worse then they were last year. Baker, Bonser and the Franchise will have good years and 2 of the 3 will win 12-15 games. Morneau will revert to 2006, Cuddyer and Young will have good years. Mike Lamb will hit 20 hrs, yes 20 HR and Brendan Harris will go .290/13/75. The twins lineup will be better then it was in 3 years and the pitching staff will be up and down. Let them play before we crown them the worst team ever to play.

TwinsWin83 said...

I think they will be somewhere in between the predictions of futility most seem to be handing this years squad and the rather optimistic outlook Pills has. Your right that the offense will improve while the pitching staff will struggle but Im not so sure about the big years from Lamb, Harris or even Morneau.

It will be interesting to see how Morneau responds if the team gets off to a poor start and flounders near the bottom of the division. Will he give up on his teamates or will he step up and be the leader his paycheck suggests he should be?

Another interesting thing to watch this year is how the fans in Minnesota will react to all of the new faces. Last year the Twins didnt have a great season but attendance was great for most of the year and fans still seemed to get behind their team because they still felt they knew the majority of the players. Will folks still come out to the dome in decent numbers this year to support a team that might not be that great and that is full of new players?

I really hope that all of the people who jumped on the Twins bandwagon in 2001-02' stay with the team if things dont go as well this as they have over the past few years.

soup said...

Our offense will be better than last year. I think it may even be a lot better. I'm actually pretty excited to watch it. I love that Gomez quote. I am a little concerned with him moving from a relatively obscure team like the Mets into the media spotlight that is Minnesota.

I actually don't really love our pitching this year. It will be okay I guess. I think we'll get 3rd in the division.

side note: I think the royals are overrated.