The Justin Morneau's and Joe Mauer's will no doubt be major keys to any success that the Minnesota Twins see in 2009. Yet the one thing that may eventually decide where the Twins finish is the bench and the depth of the organization.
With the likes of Brendan Harris and Brian Buscher on the bench; along with an excess outfielder such as Carlos Gomez or Delmon Young, the Twins without a doubt have one of the better benches in the league.
This past week, with both Alexi Casilla and Joe Crede struggling, manager Ron Gardenhire gave each a break and entered both Harris and Buscher, respectively.
The result was a jump in production at the plate. Brian Buscher collected two of the team's few hits in the series finale against the Blue Jays, and with the performance earned another start in the next game, the series opener with the Los Angeles Angels.
Meanwhile, Harris was given a shot in the series opener to step in for Casilla at second, and drove in two while hitting a homerun. With Harris in the lineup, the offense finally was productive, and the veteran was given another start only one night later. The result? Three more hits, and another breakout night for what had been an anemic offense.
With Mauer's return likely coming upon the Twins within a week or so, the bench could just get better. The return of the two-time Batting Champ will move one of the better backup catchers, Mike Redmond, to the bench.
Not only do the Twins have productive hitters on the bench, they also have players who've started and can handle stressful situations. There will be many factors that will decide whether the Twins will be in the race this season, but the bench could be one of the biggest.