As always, these could change if something major happens.
One thing I'm trying to temper this year in my projections are my power expectations. Specifically, home runs. Since I've been doing this I've tended to be a bit optimistic in regards to home run totals, mainly from guys who I've thought were capable of putting a few more out of the park. I had to do this with Joe Mauer, as I initially ran his numbers with 13 home runs, but it just blows his slugging percentage up too far. Joe did slug .507 in '06, but he hasn't been close to that since, and it's a bit more realistic to be incrimental about his increases in this area. Otherwise, in regards to Mauer and Mike Redmond, I'm not taking too many chances one way or the other. I still expect Mauer to rack up a few doubles, take a lot of walks and have excellent control over his bat, and I still expect Redmond to be a good contact hitter.
Offensively, it's Justin Morneau in the infield and nobody else. I'm looking for a mild regression from Alexi Casilla this season as he works to adjust to the adjustments that have been made to him, but honestly there aren't any real threats at the plate for Minnesota in this group...apart from, of course, that massive Canadian. I think you'll find most of these guys won't embarrass themselves; they're not horrible. But none of them are going to bank the offense the runs they'll desperately need in order to contend with Chicago and Cleveland next summer. That charge will be laid heavily on a largely inexperienced outfield.
Otherwise, in terms of playing time, most of these guys are splitting time, in some form or another, with someone else. Nick Punto, Brendan Harris and Matt Tolbert at short; Brian Buscher, Matt Macri, Harris and Tolbert at third; Casilla, Punto and Tolbert at second. It's going to be hard to keep track of.
Right now the whole outfield situation is hard to predict, and so basically I've straddled the line and assumed that Ron Gardenhire will go through some semblance of a rotation. While Gardenhire is likely to lean on Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel as the "veterans" of the outfield, Carlos Gomez, Denard Span and Delmon Young are three talented but inexperienced players. It would be comforting in some ways to believe that a hard line would be taken one way or another between who's a starter and who's a backup, but knowing how Gardenhire likes to mix up playing time, and particularly understanding that none of these guys will allowed to rot on the bench (and knowing Gomez will probably not be sent to Rochester), this is the best I could come up with.
At some point this summer, I believe that a couple of these guys will play themselves into a position where they'll be reigning in a majority of playing time, and one or two of the others will be relegated to less prominent roles. But for now, I'll stick with this.
As things sit today, I expect the Twins to be competetive in 2009 offensively, although they'll be far from dangerous. They still lack supplemental hitters to back up what could be a notorious 1-5, and the left side of the infield will still be hoping to break even between offensive production and defensive prevention, but there's also a lot of young talent there that could blossom anytime.