What do you think when the Minnesota Twins come into a conversation? Do you think about the two World Series titles in 1987 and 1991 all lead by Kirby Puckett, Kent Hrbek, Gary Gaetti, Jack Morris, and Frank Viola?
I am guessing, no.
When most people think about the Twins, they think about a great farm system and a team with small budget. However, what most people don't know is how well this team comes together as a young team.
Players have come and gone and made it big for big market teams like, David Ortiz (BOS), Johan Santana (NYM), Casey Blake (LAD), Jason Varitek (BOS), Torii Hunter (ANA), and even Kyle Lohse who is making a name for himself in the St. Louis Cardinals rotation.
Even though the Twins had a great looking ball club in 2007 with Santana and Hunter on the team, they still didn't make the playoffs. So when the 2008 season approached what was the worst that could happen? A few injuries and another second or third place finish and they miss the playoffs?
But, it was much worse then that.
The Twins traded two upcoming players in shortstop Jason Bartlett and starter Matt Garza to the Tampa Bay Rays for another young phenom, outfielder Delmon Young. On top off that, the Twins had failed to re-sign Hunter, who signed a big-money deal the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim,
The Twins continued to unload all of their older talent, trading two-time Cy Young winner Santana to the New York Mets for four highly rated prospects.
When news broke about this trade, most Twins fans were stunned to hear about this news. They had no idea who the Twins were really getting. Yeah, they knew they were getting a guy that was a high prospect in outfielder Carlos Gomez, who performed well with the Mets in a limited role in 2007, and a few minor league players, but they were no Hunter or Santana.
Knowing the Twins had just let go of some really great talent that had a break out season in 2007 and now they had a team with more new faces then newborns at a hospital.
These new faces on the Twins consisted of, Craig Monroe (LF), Glen Perkins (SP), Carlos Gomez (CF), Brenden Harris (SS), Mike Lamb (3B), Delmon Young (RF), Alexi Casilla (2B), Brian Buscher (DH), and last but certainly not least there is a rookie that goes by the name Denard Span (OF).
Since Span has debuted on April 6, 2008, he is batting .318 and slugging .455. He has unbelievable speed and bunting ability. He fits in great with Minnesota's fundamental baseball.
For the first two months of the season, the Twins really were only testing the waters with all these new players and rookies. As of July 29, the Twins are now only 1.5 games behind the Chicago White Sox in the AL Central race and are looking hot with all the young guns clicking.
So watch out while the Minnesota Twins flex their low salary cap muscles around baseball.
A note to remember: The Twins are one of the best teams in the league in the second half of the season with a .682 winning percentage since 2002.