Tuesday, March 27, 2012

2012 MLB Preview: Minnesota Twins

The Twins were once the class of the AL Central, winning 6 division titles in 9 years. Then they opened up Target Field, and their two best players became injury prone, and their farm system stopped producing impact players. The team has a payroll approaching $100 million, but it seems unlikely that they will contend in 2012.

The lineup starts with Denard Span, who can be an effective hitter; however he suffered a concussion in June, and had only 284 at-bats. Ben Revere stole 34 bases as a rookie, but has no power, as he had 14 extra base hits in 450 at-bats. The team needs Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau to return to past glory; but they have major injury concerns. I like the pickup of Josh Willingham, but Target Field might damper his home run potential. Ryan Doumit was also a big-time bargain on the free agent market. Here is how I project their lineup.

CF: Denard Span
LF: Ben Revere/Trevor Plouffe
C: Joe Mauer
1B: Justin Morneau
RF: Josh Willingham
DH: Ryan Doumit
3B: Danny Valencia
SS: Jamey Carroll
2B: Alexi Castilla

The Twins rotation does not have that top-of-the-rotation guy, but has a decent collection of mid-level starters. Carl Pavano has turned his career around in Minnesota, but gives up way too many hits(262 in 222 innings). Francisco Liriano has been solid--when he is actually healthy. The same can also be said about Scott Baker. Nick Blackburn and Jason Marquis are very average--at best.

The bullpen is led by Matt Capps, probably one of the least intimidating closers in baseball. Closers are known as power pitchers, however Capps struck out 34 guys in 65.2 innings. Yuck. Glen Perkins is solid, but the bullpen offers little more than that. Here is the Twins projected rotation.

SP: Carl Pavano
SP: Francisco Liriano
SP: Scott Baker
SP: Jason Marquis
SP: Nick Blackburn

Teams with $100 million payrolls should not be rebuilding, but this team seems to be. The Joe Mauer contract looks to be a colossal failure, and the farm system does not have much help on the way. 2012 could be a very rough year in the Twin Cities.

Prediction: 74-88, 4th in AL Central.

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