The Minnesota Twins pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training for the first time in 2009 in six days, and baseball is starting to get talked about again. The Twins haven't done much in signing players, especially free agents. They have just re-signed key players that made an impact last season.
There are five questions I have for this season's Minnesota Twins, and I will even have an early season prediction for my Minnesota Twins.
Question No. 1 for the Minnesota Twins: How will they react to just barely being in the playoffs last season?
Last season was tough for the Twins, but very exciting. They had a one-game playoff with the Chicago White Sox, but the White Sox won the game, and the division to clinch a playoff spot. (The White Sox would lose to the Rays in the divisional playoffs.) I think the Twins need to start off with momentum, and fuel inside of themselves to win games, to start fast, and to finish strong. The Twins young players again need to step up for this team like they did last season.
Question No. 2 for the Minnesota Twins: Can the young starting pitchers pitch strong, and can the bullpen be strong again? Can Liriano get back to his strong form after missing a year because of Tommy John surgery?
Assuming Liriano comes back as a starter, I think the Twins should monitor his pitch counts, and not push him so hard. Liriano has special talent, and hopefully his elbow doesn't affect his pitching in 2009, and in the future. The Twins can't just rely on Liriano, they have other good pitchers too. Slowey, Perkins, Baker, and Blackburn all need to share the load, and perform well for this ball-club this season. Lastly, the Twins have to get strong production out of their bullpen. We know Joe Nathan can perform, but who else will step up with Neshek out for the year. Guerrier, Crain, Bonser, and Mijares all need to step up for this team. I think Jose Mijares can set-up Nathan, and be hopefully he will get a chance to do so for the Twins in 2009.
Question No. 3 for the Minnesota Twins: Who will start the season in the outfield?
The Twins have a loaded outfield, and it all depends on how they're going to use that talent in 2009. Carlos Gomez, Delmon Young (who I'm not sold on yet), Michael Cuddyer, and Denard Span all have superb talent. Gardenhire must make up his mind on who will be the guys to start in 2009. Jason Kubel, who mainly plays DH, is another occasional outfielder that can play the outfield. Gardenhire has to make up his mind on what he going to do with this outfield in Spring Training.
Question No. 4 for the Minnesota Twins: Who will step up for the Twins in the infield?
Besides Morneau and Mauer, the Twins have to find consistent play out of their infield. Nick Punto is one of the best defensive fielders in the game, but struggles at the plate. Alexi Casilla is speedy and shows great hustle for the Twins, but can he continue to do so? Brendan Harris can play multiple positions, but how will the Twins use him is the question. Finally, who will play third base? Will it be Punto, Harris, Buscher, Tolbert, possibly Cuddyer, or another player? All these questions need to be answered in Spring Training, and will affect how the Twins play in 2009.
Question No. 5 for the Minnesota Twins: Can the Twins win the division in 2009?
I believe they can, but they must answer the questions that I listed above to be the best they can in 2009. The Twins have talent, and lots of it, but now they must show it once again to the rest of Major League Baseball.
My prediction for the Twins will be a division title, and possibly even a World Series title. To win the World Series, the Twins need to answer the questions I have listed above to be a serious contender. I would love to see the Twins win a final World Series championship in the Metrodome, especially since they will be moving out of the dome at the end of the season. All I have to say now is: Go Twins!