Since we're all huge baseball fans here at the Thigh, we've decided to examine each MLB team and where they currently stand. We'll look at how the team did last year, changes that happened or could happen with the team this offseason, and how it looks like the team will do in 2009 as of now. We'll even toss in the hottest thigh associated with each team. In this edition, we look at the Minnesota Twins.
2008 Outcome: 88-75, Finished 2nd place in the AL Central, after losing a one game playoff to the White Sox.
What They've Lost: SS Adam Everett (signed with Tigers), RP Eddie Guardado (Signed with Rangers), RP Dennys Reyes (signed with Cardinals), SP Livan Hernandez (Signed with Mets)
What They've Added: RP Luis Ayala (Free agent), 3B Joe Crede (Free Agent)
Needs: A power bat, they were one of the weakest HR hitting teams in all of baseball last year, with just 111, and they didn't do much to address the need. Crede may help out some in that area if he can stay healthy. Their lack of power in the outfield is still astounding though. They could also use an upgrade in the middle infield and some bullpen help.
The Talk: The Twins really didn't do a whole lot this offseason. They lost a few minor parts, made no trades and added only Joe Crede and Luis Ayala. They will pretty much go at it in 2009 with nearly the same team they had in 2008. Of course a healthy productive year out of Francisco Liriano will help the team a great deal. He will be joined in the starting rotation by Scott Baker, Kevin Slowey, Nick Blackburn and Glen Perkins. all of whom had very consistent and productive 2008 campaigns. The Twins don't really have a true ace but they are as consistent 1 through 5 as any team in the league.
As for the bullpen, Joe Nathan will again be the anchor, he has been one of the more consistent closers in the game for some time now. Getting to him may be tough at times though. Jesse Crain is a solid setup man, but the Twins really wanted an upgrade in their pen. Juan Cruz was on their radar for a long time, but they were not willing to give up a 1st round pick to get him through arbitration rules.
On the offensive side, the Twins will once again use contact and small ball a great deal, which is rare these days for an AL team. The Health of Joe Mauer is one of the biggest concerns. Without his bat in the lineup they may struggle to score enough runs to keep pace ion the AL Central. Of course their one true run producing stud is Justin Morneau who should continue to put up big numbers. Joe Crede will be counted on to provide some extra pop at 3B. In the outfield the Twins have a real lack of run producers. Delmon Young has the ability and raw talent to be a power hitter, but thus far in his career the homers have not come. He will man left field with Carlos Gomez and Denard Span rounding out the outfield. Michael Cuddyer is also likely to see time.
The middle infield in Minnesota is also filled with guys lack of any power. Alexi Casilla and Nick Punto will likely see the most time at 2B and SS respectively with Brendan Harris acting as the primary backup for both. Brian Buscher may also get some middle infield time along with backing up 3rd base. Jason Kubel will get the bulk of the ABs in the DH spot.
The team really doesn't look to special but they have no glaring holes and somehow the Twins always seem to be there in the end. They will scratch across their runs and their pitchers will be good enough to give them chances to win games.
Free Agent Signing/Trade Prediction: They may try to add a bullpen guy later in the season, they may also look for corner outfield help if Gomez or Span struggles
Young Player To Make 2009 Impact: Jose Mijares, RP.
The young left handed reliever looked very good in his brief time with the Twins in September last year. He was used in critical situations down the stretch and could make a big impact as another late inning reliever to help get the ball to Joe Nathan. He doesn't have overwhelming stuff, but he is very tough on lefties and keeps the ball down.
2009 Outlook: On the surface, I think I would probably pick the Twins to finish 3rd in the AL Central,. but as I said above, they seem to always be there in the end. They have been the most consistent team in the division for a long time. If they can keep Mauer healthy and get a bounce back year from Liriano then their chance of winning the division could be as high as any.
Still I don't see them winning games in the 90's and if the Indians or the Tigers can bounce back and have a big year the Twins will likely be on the outside looking in.
Hottest Thigh Association: Chelsea Cooley
The former Miss USA is the girlfriend of Twins catcher Joe Mauer. She was miss North Carolina in 2005 and went on to win the Miss USA Pageant. During her time as queen she raised over 22 million dollars for womens cancer research. Ff course along with being world famous and helping to make the world a better place, she also has a very hot thigh. Joe Mauer is a lucky bastard.
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