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Twins Manager Ron Gardenhire
Division Winner: Minnesota Twins
This division is plagued with players coming back from injuries, personal problems and question marks. But that hasn't stopped the Minnesota Twins from snatching the division crown for the past two seasons.
The Twins are an organization that other small-market teams look to for a blueprint of how to compete year in, year out in a divisional landscape that changes constantly (outside of the Royals for the past decade). Though there are many reasons they have survived, it all starts with one man...
The Reason: Ron Gardenhire
Say what you will about the man's record in the playoffs (3-19, advanced to only one ALCS), but the man has managing a team during the regular season down to a science (winning 87 or more games in seven of nine seasons).
The general worry about the Twins is the number of question marks they have punctuating the beginning of their season:
- Will Justin Morneau be 100 percent?
- Will Tsuyoshi Nishioka make a seamless jump to MLB?
- Will Joe Nathan be able to return to form?
- Will Denard Span and Michael Cuddyer rebound?
- Will Brian Duensing be able to transition to a starter?
These are all valid questions, and while I can't give any definite answers, I trust that the skipper will do everything in his power to make sure that all of these questions are forgotten by the first few months of the season.
By then there will only be one question: Can anyone catch the Twins in the Central?