Posted at 7:09 PM on March 10, 2009
by David Zingler
1. The Twins will be glad they didn't trade Delmon Young.
I have been one of the few people who have stuck with Delmon Young. If you read this blog regularly, you've seen me outline my reasons several times, so I won't repeat myself now.
This is the clichéd "make-or-break year" for Young with the Twins organization. That seems funny considering he's only 23, but if the former #1 overall pick doesn't show significant improvement in 2009, the organization will likely cut their losses.
My prediction for Young is a .290ish average, .350ish OBP with 25 homers and 100ish RBIs.
2. Francisco Liriano will win 18-21 games.
After returning from his pro-longed rehab stint in the minors last August, Liriano looked close to his old, dominating self. This spring, he's been lights out. Do I smell a Cy Young?
3. Joe Mauer will spend time on the Disabled List.
As great of a player as Mauer is, when he gets hurt it never goes smoothly. All signs point to a frustrating season for Mauer and increased play for the soon-to-be 38-year-old Mike Redmond.
4. Michael Cuddyer will be traded.
It's hard to believe, but Cuddyer is the longest tenured Twin. If Young steps up and Carlos Gomez improves however, the baby-faced outfielder could become expendable. His $6 million salary will also figure into the mix. A healthy, productive Cuddyer could net an arm or two for the team's shaky bullpen.
5. Jason Kubel will hit 30 homeruns.
With more consistent playing time, I see no reason why Kubel can't improve on last year's total of 20.
6. Joe Crede will play well enough to become too expensive for the Twins to re-sign.
This year is a salary drive for Crede and strong play would be mutually beneficial to him and the Twins. With the added motiviation, the 31-year-old should play well enough to warrant a longer, more expensive contract for 2010.
7. The bullpen will be an issue...and not in a good way.
Other than Luis Ayala, the Twins did nothing to improve their bullpen. And Ayala posted a 5.71 ERA and an opponent's batting average of .344 in 2008, so you could make the case the Twins did nothing to improve their bullpen. Pat Neshek is out for the year and Denys Reyes is in St. Louis. This can't end well.
8. Brendan Harris will be a factor.
If Bill Smith knew this blog existed, he would like how I am thinking. If Harris and Young have big years, his signature trade won't look so bad (the Santana trade was dictated by economics, Young/Garza deal was voluntary). Harris is a solid baseball player who can play 3B, SS, 2B and maybe even 1B with a little pop in his bat. In '07, the utility man hit .286/.343/.434 with 12 HRs and 59 RBI. If he matches that production or improves on it a little, the Twins will be thrilled. Also, Harris' role could greatly expand if Crede can't stay healthy or Punto falters.
9. Tears will be shed as the Twins exit the Metrodome.
We've all taken shots at the Metrodome over the years and it's been blamed for everything from poor attendance to player injuries, but it has been home to our two marquee pro sports franchises for over a quarter century and it deserves some respect. After all, an entire generation of fans grew up watching the Twins play in and win two World Series in that structure. The good memories will rush back into our consciousness when the finality of the situation sinks in.
(Photos courtesy of Getty Images)