AL Central MLB MLB Team News — 30 March 2010

Minnesota Twins

2009 regular season record: 87-76, First place, AL Central

2009 playoff record: 0-3, lost in ALDS to Yankees

Major Offseason Acquisitions: Orlando Hudson (LAD), Jim Thome (LAD), J.J. Hardy (MIL)

Major Offseason Losses: Boof Bonser (BOS), Carlos Gomez (MIL), Orlando Cabrera (CIN), Mike Redmond (CLE)

Projected Lineup (2009 stats):

1. LF-Denard Span (.311 BA, .392 OBP, 8 HR, 68 RBI, 23 SB)

2. 2B-Orlando Hudson (.283 BA, .357 OBP, 9 HR, 62 RBI)

3. C-Joe Mauer (.365 BA, .444 OBP, 28 HR, 96 RBI)

4. 1B-Juston Morneau (.274 BA, .363 OBP, 30 HR, 100 RBI)

5. RF-Michael Cuddyer (.276 BA, .342 OBP, 32 HR, 94 RBI)

6. DH-Jason Kubel (.300 BA, .369 OBP, 28 HR, 103 RBI)

7. LF-Delmon Young (.284 BA, .308 OBP, 12 HR, 60 RBI)

8. SS-J.J. Hardy (.229 BA, .302 OBP, 11 HR, 47 RBI)

9. 3B Nick Punto (.228 BA, .337 OBP, 1 HR, 38 RBI)

Projected Starting Rotation/Closer (2009 stats):

1. RHP Scott Baker (15-9, 4.37 ERA, 200 IP)

2. RHP Nick Blackburn (11-11, 4.03 ERA, 205.2 IP)

3. RHP Kevin Slowey (10-3, 4.86 ERA, 90.2 IP)

4. RHP Carl Pavano (5-4, 4.64 ERA, 73.2 IP)

5. LHP Francisco Liriano (5-13, 5.80 ERA, 136.2 IP)

Closer: RHP Jon Rauch…for now (3.60 ERA, 2 saves)

2010 outlook: The Twins are coming off another AL Central Division championship (won in a one-game playoff over Chicago) and once again appear to be the division’s best team going into 2010.

Reigning AL batting champ and MVP Joe Mauer leads a powerful lineup featuring four players that hit at least 28 home runs in 2009.

The major question marks for the Twins as they open their sparkling new stadium lie with the pitching staff.

Closer Joe Nathan suffered a partial tear in the UCL of his right elbow during spring training, and will undergo Tommy John surgery, ending his season.

So, who is supposed to fill in for one of the league’s most consistent closers?

New acquisition Jon Rauch has been reported to be the most likely candidate, but he’s inexperienced in the role, which could prove risky for a team hoping to contend.

Francisco Liriano, who struggled enough in 2009 that he was moved to the bullpen, has also had his name floated out there as a potential closer.

The 26-year-old has electric stuff, but has maintained his desire to remain strictly a starting pitcher.

While the closer spot and final rotation spot remain up in the air, the rest of the Twins look ready for big things in 2010.

2010 Prediction: 90-72, First place, AL Central

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