Minnesota Twins

Manager: Paul Molitor
Stadium: Target Field
2008 Record: 88-75 (2nd in AL Cent)
Team Page | Roster | Schedule

LINEUP

08: Batting | Runs (3rd in AL)
PLAYER B POS
Denard Span L LF
Alexi Casilla B 2B
Joe Mauer L C
Justin Morneau L 1B
Joe Crede R 3B
Jason Kubel L DH
Michael Cuddyer R RF
Carlos Gomez R CF
Nick Punto B SS
OFF THE BENCH
Delmon Young R OF
Brendan Harris R INF

PITCHING

08: Pitching | ERA (7th in AL)
ROTATION T POS
Scott Baker R SP1
Francisco Liriano L SP2
Kevin Slowey R SP3
Nick Blackburn R SP4
Glen Perkins L SP5
BULLPEN
Jesse Crain R Setup
Matt Guerrier R Setup
Joe Nathan R Closer
 
Nebraska produces linemen, Canada develops hockey players, and the Twins churn out pitchers who pound the strike zone. How does Minnesota do it? "We start at the rookie level," says GM Bill Smith. Catchers throughout the system are discouraged from setting their targets at the fringes of the zone. Okay, maybe they're actually threatened a little. Twins pitching coach Rick Anderson recalls watching an instructional league coordinator yank a catcher from a game with this admonition: "I told you not to move to the outside." It's hard to argue with the results: The Twins have ranked first or second in fewest walks allowed in baseball for six consecutive seasons, a stat that's been a great equalizer of efficiency for a small-market team. They've turned over much of their rotation with the 2007 departures of Johan Santana and Carlos Silva, but now they have Scott Baker, Kevin Slowey & Co. to carry on the strike-throwing tradition. As long as those guys are throwing to Gold Glove catcher Joe Mauer, who's been slowed by back problems, the Twins can win the division.
-- Buster Olney

ESPN The Magazine's Twins preview Insider

PROSPECTS

HITTER TO WATCH:

Danny Valencia has a long swing and doesn't make enough contact, but he has power and plays a capable hot corner, so he could replace Joe Crede when the latter suffers his annual back injury.

PITCHER TO WATCH:

Lefty Jose Mijares struggled this spring but has the raw stuff to pitch in the seventh or eighth inning in more than just a specialist's role.
-- Keith Law, Scouts Inc.

ESPN Conversations

Comments

You must be signed in to post a comment

Already have an account?

AL
NL
 

SPORTSNATION

How many games will the Twins win in 2009? Is Justin Morneau the best first baseman in the American League? Is Joe Nathan the top closer in the AL? Register your vote.

AL poll page

Featured Comment

AL Manager of the Year: Ron Gardenhire, finally.


LestersLegends

American League fan previews

FANTASY

SLEEPER

The Twins believe in Jason Kubel, and they gave him a huge contract. So you know he'll get the at-bats. If he can connect against lefties, he may have the breakout season that makes him worth every penny.

BUST

Injuries are always concerning, but even more so with a catcher, a position that lends itself to physical abuse. If Joe Mauer is healthy, he's among the catching elite. But will he be healthy? We'd rather not risk it.
--AJ Mass

INJURY TO WATCH

This ranks up there with the most unusual of baseball injuries. Then again, Joe Mauer has a history of complicated and unique injuries. Mauer underwent surgery last fall to address a kidney obstruction, with the hope that it would remove the back pain he had been experiencing late in the season. After some initial relief, the symptoms returned and prevented him from running at all this spring. Further testing revealed inflammation at Mauer's right sacroiliac joint (where the spine meets the pelvis). The finding in and of itself is highly unusual, especially in the absence of trauma, even more so following an offseason of rest and recuperation from surgery. The Twins insist that new medication should be enough to address the problem, but inflammation is generally a symptom, not a source, meaning the possibility of recurrence exists. Mauer will start the season on the disabled list, and the team has not issued a timetable for his return.
-- Stephania Bell

MORE

30 Questions: Is Francisco Liriano a fantasy ace?

PRESEASON POWER RANKINGS

  • Jayson Stark

    Stark
    No. 9 overall
    (1st in
    AL Central)

  • Tim Kurkjian

    Kurkjian
    No. 11 overall
    (2nd in
    AL Central)

  • Buster Olney

    Olney
    No. 7 overall
    (1st in
    AL Central)

  • Rob Neyer

    Neyer
    No. 14 overall
    (3rd in
    AL Central)

  • Jim Caple

    Caple
    No. 7 overall
    (1st in
    AL Central)