Next up we have the Twins, who have an uphill battle in a tough division.
Terry Ryan's contract obligations:
C - Joe Mauer - $3.75MM
C - Mike Redmond - $0.95MM
1B - Justin Morneau - $4.5MM
2B - Luis Castillo - $5.75MM
SS - Jason Bartlett - $0.38MM
3B - Nick Punto - $1.8MM
IF - Jeff Cirillo - $1.5MM + incentives
IF - Luis Rodriguez - $0.38MM
LF - Rondell White - $2.5MM
CF - Torii Hunter - $12MM
RF - Michael Cuddyer - $3.575MM
OF - Lew Ford - $0.985MM
DH - Jason Kubel - $0.38MM
SP - Johan Santana - $12MM
SP - Carlos Silva - $4MM
SP - Ramon Ortiz - $3.1MM
SP - Sidney Ponson - $1MM + incentives
SP - Boof Bonser - $0.38MM
RP - Joe Nathan - $5.25MM
RP - Juan Rincon - $2MM
RP - Dennys Reyes - $1MM
RP - Jesse Crain - $0.5MM
RP - Pat Neshek - $0.38MM
RP - Matt Guerrier - $0.38MM
RP - J.D. Durbin - $0.38MM
They have about $69MM worth of players on this projected 25-man roster, up about $5MM from last year's Opening Day payroll.
I think the offense will probably be about average, with a chance to be a touch better if Kubel comes through. I don't have big concerns about Mauer and Morneau dropping off. They're not getting adequate production at power positions like 3B, LF, or DH though.
If you're going to beat the Tigers, Indians, and White Sox with an average offense, you'll need above average starting pitching and defense. As presently constructed, the Twins don't have this. Teams like the Indians and White Sox will knock the non-Santana starters around. My off-the-cuff review says the defense is decent but not spectacular.
The ridiculous part is that the Twins are again going with veteran crap instead of their kids, and it will cost them wins again. Said Aaron Gleeman:
"It's possible that the rotation at Triple-A Rochester will include Garza, Baker, Perkins, and Slowey, which has a good chance of being a better foursome that the non-Santana starters the Twins leave spring training with."
I don't get this. The games in April and May count, right?
The bullpen can at least make up for the rotation's misgivings. It looks to be quite strong again. I went with Guerrier and Durbin for the last two spots at the advice of Seth Stohs. Seth mentions that Durbin is out of options, increasing the chances the Twins carry him. He also notes that the team could go with 11 pitchers.
If Kubel breaks out, the rotation turns over quickly, and the Twins trade for Adam Dunn at the deadline, the could win the division. More likely to me is that they're out of struggling to stay in contention in July and are faced with trading Torii Hunter.
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