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Monday, March 31, 2008

Predictions from MVB

It's finally here, the moment we all (or I) have been waiting for. The day when every team (well except for the Atlanta Braves b/c of last night) is in first place! It's Opening Day across America today which means the start of the Major League Baseball season.

I am heading to the game tonight in Minneapolis to see the Twins take the field and watch Hunter stroll out to centerfield, but wearing a different cap. I'm curious to see if there will be more cheers or boos for Hunter, I'm guessing cheers. Expect a Opening Day post later this week recapping the entire event.

In honor of Opening Day, the Twins MVB will be making his 1st annual Season Predictions. The division winners are in bold. Here goes...

NL East: New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies, Atlanta Braves, Washington Nationals, Florida Marlins
NL Central: Chicago Cubs, Milwaukee Brewers, Cincinnati Reds, St. Louis Cardinals, Houston Astros, Pittsburgh Pirates
NL West: Arizona Diamondbacks, Los Angeles Dodgers, Colorado Rockies, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants
NL Wild Card: Philadelphia Phillies

Playoffs: Cubs over Phillies, Mets over Diamondbacks
Mets over Cubs
NL Pennant: Mets

AL East: Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, Tampa Rays, Toronto Blue Jays, Baltimore Orioles
AL Central: Cleveland Indians, Detroit Tigers, Minnesota Twins, Kansas City Royals, Chicago White Sox
AL West: Seattle Mariners, Los Angeles Angels, Oakland A's, Texas Rangers
AL Wild Card: Detroit Tigers

Playoffs: Tigers over Red Sox, Indians over Mariners
Tigers over Indians
AL Pennant: Tigers

National League Awards
MVP: David Wright, Mets
Cy Young: Johan Santana, Mets
Rookie of the Year: Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers

American League Awards
MVP: Miguel Cabrera, Tigers
Cy Young: C.C. Sabathia, Indians
Rookie of the Year: Joba Chamberlain, Yankees

World Series: Tigers over Mets (6 games)
CHAMPS: Detroit Tigers

There you have it, let me know your thoughts of the predictions. Agree? Disagree? Now we wait for October, and until then...


Sunday, March 30, 2008

Delmon and the Sages

A hilarious new ad (the third released of the season) features new Twin Delmon Young showcasing his acting skills. Also, the hitting sages Tony Olivia, Harmon Killebrew, and Rod Carew, see if you can guess who makes a cameo in his hunting hat and gear.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Roster Set, Liriano sent down

Yesterday's move to send Francisco Liriano down to Single-A Fort Myers to make two more starts was the last step in finalizing the opening day roster.

With Liriano out for two starts, the rotation will look like this: Livan Hernandez (Opening Day), Boof Bonser, Nick Blackburn, Kevin Slowey, and Scott Baker. Blackburn steps in with the vacancy left by Liriano. Baker will start in the 5th slot as he heals and builds his stamina, but he will certainly be moving up in the rotation order.

The remaining arms in the bullpen include: Matt Guerrier, Brian Bass, Juan Rincon, Jesse Crain, Dennys Reyes, Pat Neshek, and Joe Nathan.

The likely lineup Gardenhire will fill out on Monday night: Joe Mauer C, Justin Morneau 1B, Brendan Harris 2B, Adam Everett SS, Mike Lamb 3B, Delmon Young LF, Carlos Gomez CF, Michael Cuddyer RF, and Jason Kubel DH.

The bench will be filled by: Mike Redmond C, Nick Punto IF, Matt Tolbert IF, and Craig Monroe OF.

So there you have it Twins fans, the roster is set. Expect to see many more arms throughout the season (Liriano, Glen Perkins, Brian Duensing, Philip Humber, and Kevin Mulvey) and we'll see how the improved lineup works. I'm excited and if you're a Twins fan you should be too!

This year there are no expectations. We have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Monday night. just go out and watch the kids play.

YOUR OPINION: Who are you most excited to watch this season? Leave a comment and let me know.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Bullpen, Twins lock up Nathan

Now that spring break is over and I have internet access, there is a lot to write about with only 3 days until the season opener!

First, I'd like to finish the 2008 Team Preview by taking a look at the bullpen. It was fitting that I hadn't written this post yet as the Twins made big news during the week regarding their star closer Joe Nathan. Monday, Nathan and the Twins agreed to a 4-year $47 million deal.

Across the blogosphere the deal seemed to come with mixed reviews. It is curious to see the Twins invest so much money in a player after seeing former stars Torii Hunter and Johan Santana leave this offesason, especially at a position like closer which is usually only considered a luxury. For a 33-year old closer to be the highest paid player on a team and be making $47 million is unique, but I'm not necessarily upset at this move. The deal certainly has its risk as Nathan could wear down and be grossly overpaid when he's 37, but it does provide stability at the end of the bullpen and is another sign from Twins management that they want to remain competitive.

Although $11.25 million per season is a lot for a close on a small market team that could have replaced Nathan with a cheap option like Pat Neshek, Nathan is a relative bargain compared to the mega-deals locked up my the Yankees Mariano Rivera and the Reds Francisco Cordero this offseason. Of all the closer is MLB, Nathan has proved to be on the of the most durable and efficient performers. Plus, I know Joe is incredibly happy in Minnesota and I'm happy to have him in the new ballpark.

This news allows me to segue into the bullpen team preview. We now know Joe Nathan will be closing many more games for the Twins and very likely become the team's all time saves leader by the time his new contract is over. This means submariner Pat Neshek is firmly planted in the setup role with the rest of the bullpen looking like Matt Guerrier, Juan Rincon, Dennys Reyes, Jesse Crain, and after recent spring training cuts Brian Bass.

Neshek had an amazing first half of 2007 putting him on the ballot for the All-Star Final Spot selection for the midsummer classic, but he seemed to tire down the stretch and ended with an average year. He worked on strengthening and conditioning during the offseason and does not have an earned run this spring. Look for Neshek to be a big contributor for the Twins in '08. I also expect Guerrier to have a big year for the Twins. Like Neshek, his first half numbers in 2007 were better than the second half, but he finished with a strong season and should see many innings in '08 due to the youth and inexperience in the Twins rotation.

Crain, Rincon, and Reyes all struggled with injuries last year and were unable to match the great seasons the trio had in 2006. Rincon certainly seems to be on a steady career decline but may still have a little gas left for the '08 campaign. Crain missed nearly the entire year last year pitching only 16 innings, yet the hard throwing righty has looked pretty good this spring. Look for him to perform well this year but expectations should be low after coming off of a big injury. Reyes will resume is roll as the lefty specialist and will also hope to bounce back from a disappointing '07. He should remain effective against lefthanded hitters but will most likely never match his insane '06 campaign.

Bass was a surprise to make the 25 man roster, but after Glen Perkins struggled all spring, Bass's numbers looked pretty good and he will take the bullpen role of long-reliever (aka mop-up man). I'm sure he will get plenty of innings with starters struggles and games get ugly.

All and all, the Twins bullpen is considered a strength of the team and should provide a solid backbone to the young starting rotation. If the starters can pitch solid games into the sixth inning there is a very good chance with a Guerrier/Neshek/Nathan combination that the Twins can pick up the win. The Twins will need the bullpen to be a source of consistency and health should be the only factor that could threaten this team strength. It'll be great to see Nathan coming in in the 9th for the clutch save, let's hope the Twins have plenty of leads going into the 9th inning.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Michael Does Magic!

Saw this video today on ESPN.com. Good to see the Twins having fun in the sun down in Florida and learn something you may have not known about Michael Cuddyer. I love the watching the young kids, Denard Span and Kevin Slowey, just laugh at the goofy veteran.

If you want to see more of Michael's magic, check out this link.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Starting Rotation

With so many questions in this year's rotation only one thing is for sure: 2 time Cy Young Winner and former Twins ace, Johan Santana, is gone.

In the 2008 rotation you have a 33-year old veteran who has pitched in two World Series, a 24-year old All-Star recovering from Tommy John surgery, two so called "veterans" who each have 48 career starts, and an empty spot.
As of today, the rotation looks like this: Livan Hernandez, Francisco Liriano (as long as he is fully recovered by season opener), Scott Baker, Boof Bonser, and an empty spot. Each pitcher brings something to the mound along with some question marks.

Hernandez was signed to provide some veteran leadership and to pitch 200 innings; however, the veteran has lost his velocity and posted a 4.93 ERA in 2007. Liriano is the star of the rotation but hasn't pitched in an MLB game since August 2006. Liriano's health is the key to a successful 2008 season for the Twins. Baker nearly pitched a no-hitter last season and emerged as legitimate starter; however, Baker seemed inconsistent at times and has already suffered injury trouble early this spring which could keep him out at the start of the season. Bonser brought some strong performances early last season and then seemed to fade down the the stretch as his weight seemed to increase. He reported to spring training fit and slim and is ready to pitch an entire season at a high level. At this point the final spot in the rotation seems to be a battle between Kevin Slowey, Glen Perkins, and Nick Blackburn. Slowey has the inside track based on his experienced last year at the MLB level. Perkins in coming back from missing nearly an entire season and Blackburn has been the most impressive so far this spring. So I truly have no idea who will take the ball on the 5th day, but with Baker likely to start the year on the DL and the readiness of Liriano to still be in question who knows, maybe all three will get a chance to play.

With a seemingly improve offense for 2008, the starting rotation is definitely the question mark this year for the Twins. The growth and development of this young rotation will determine the success (or failure) of the '08 year. Most importantly, no matter the record at the end of the season if these young arms improve and show progress at the end of the season it'll be a good sign for the Twins future.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


After another trip kept me away from the internet, I am back and ready to finish the team preview and prepare for the upcoming season. With only 20 days left until the season opener, there is a lot to talk about and a lot that still needs to happen for the 2008 Twins.

Thankfully, the leftfield position which has been a question mark ever since Shannon Stewart left is now a certainty. Newcomer, Delmon Young, will be manning the leftfield wall with his cannon arm and immense amount of potential.

In his rookie season, Young hit .288 with 13 HRs, 93 RBIs, 10 stolen bases, and finished 2nd in the AL Rookie of the Year award to Boston's Dustin Pedroia. Young who is incredibly young, only 22, comes to the Twins as a former #1 overall pick (the Twins now have two on the roster with Young and Joe Mauer) with loads of potential and a tarnished reputation. Known mainly for his infamous bat throwing incident at AAA Durham which cost him 50 games, Young is believed to be a bad boy across MLB but the Twins say he has since cleaned up his act and has shown nothing but maturity and hard work during Spring Training.

I believe Delmon has the capability this year to hit .300 with 20 HRs, knock in 100 RBIs and steal 20 bases. This is obviously a big year, but Young's ability is too good and in his second year in the Majors it is fair to predict bigger and better things. However, without putting too much pressure on the 22-year old, the Twins need Young to have this type of a season. Young was acquired to fill the void left by veteran Torii Hunter and although those are big shoes to fill, I believe he can do it.

I'm excited to watch Young this year and I hope to see him become a mainstay and a star in the Twins lineup for the next 10 years. I'm confident that Young has moved on from his troubled past and I think the Twins clubhouse will be a positive place for him and will give him the opportunity to start over.


Looks like new pitcher Livan Hernandez will be starting the season opener. One word: Yikes! I sure hope this visual does not describe the Twins 2008 season.

The centerfield battle is still in full swing but may have lost one competitor. Manager Ron Gardenhire hinted that the starting role is now between speedster Carlos Gomez and Denard Span.


Delmon Young and Carlos Gomez represent the two Twins in camp with the most potential as well as the most question marks. ESPN Fantasy Baseball looks at these two young stars from a fantasy perspective.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008


I apologize as a family emergency has delayed my reports on the 2008 team preview. I thought perhaps this delay would make the outlook on the starting centerfield position a little more clear, but after three spring games the leader in this intense position battle remains quite murky.

The battle is a three horse race between Carlos Gomez, Jason Pridie, and Denard Span. Gomez was the centerpiece of the Johan Santana trade to the Mets, Pridie came over this offseason in the Matt Garza deal with Tampa Bay, and Span was a 1st round draft pick in 2002 with the Twins. Each candidate is young, inexperienced, raw, but full of potential.

Gomez instantly becomes the fastest player in the Twins organization. Former Mets teammate Jose Reyes said Gomez was even faster than he was (Reyes lead MLB in 2007 with 78 steals). Gomez is only 22 years old and was rated as one of the Mets top prospects before coming over to Minnesota. Scouts believe he was rushed through the Minors by the Mets as Gomez hit just .232 in 125 at bats last season for the Mets and showed clear troubles at the plate. Gomez does have some pop to go along with his speed and solid defense, but will need to show some development and plate discipline this spring to get the starting nod from the Twins.

The Twins have always shown some affinity for Pridie as they acquired him in the Rule 5 draft in 2005 but he did not make the 25 man roster. Now he has another shot at taking the Twins CF vacancy. The 24 year old batted a combined .304 with 14 homeruns and 66 RBIs at the AA and AAA levels last season. Pridie has shown steady improvement throughout the minor leagues but has no major league experience. He too brings speed, defense, and a decent bat.

The third candidate is the in-house draftee, Span. Span was selected in '02 with the intentions that someday he would fill the void left by Torii Hunter. The Twins figured an '02 selection would be just right to break out when Hunter's contract expired at the end of the '07 season. Span batted just over .300 in '05 between A and AA, he hit .285 in '06 at AA-New Britain, but dropped to .267 last year at AAA-Rochester. The Twins are concerned as Span has seemed to regress over the years, but still have hope he can be the player they believed he could be.

Gomez has been batting leadoff and starting in CF this spring in games that Gardenhire is filling in the "full" lineup, but it's still far too early to tell who is the frontrunner. I think Gomez has the most potential and I could see Twins management wanting to put a player involved in the Santana deal on the field in 2008, but many scouts think Gomez has been rushed through the minors and could use a bit more seasoning. I think Pridie can do a fair job, but I don't see him being a big contributor. As far as Span, I do believe he has the potential to be a good player, but he hasn't shown it yet, and unless he overwhelms during Spring Training he'll start the season at AAA.

My prediction: I think the Twins will give Gomez the starting role because of his tremendous speed and potential to become a great player. I also predict Pridie will make the 25 man roster as an extra outfielder, and will play every outfield spot in a bench role like Jason Tyner has done the past few years. One thing is for sure, I can guarantee there will not be just one centerfielder the entire year. Gardenhire will have to a little more than simply write in "Hunter" on the lineup card like he has for the last 10 years.

MVB readers... who do you think should be the starting CF in 2008?