Pretend For a Moment...


The American League has undergone some major changes over the last couple of weeks.  From Dunn going to the White Sox, Victor going to the Tigers & Adrian Gonzalez and Crawford to the Red Sox, things are very, very different from 2010. 

Today I am thinking about a what if;  What if the Twins manage to win the AL Central in 2011.  And, let's say they manage to get to the ALCS and play the Boston Red Sox.  Let me first say that both of these hypothetical's are tremendously large tasks all things considered.  But let's say it happens.  Here is the lineup they could be facing.  I don't know exactly whether Crawford will lead-off or if Ellsbury will... or if Ellsbury will become the player to be named later in the Gonzalez trade with San Diego.  All is possible.  Take a look at this possible line-up though:

1. Carl Crawford, LF

2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B

3. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B

4. Kevin Youkilis, 3B

5. JD Drew, RF

6. David Ortiz, DH

7. Marco Scutaro, SS

8. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C

9. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF

 Playoff Pitching Rotation:

1. Josh Beckett

2. John Lester

3. Clay Bucholz

4. John Lackey


Now, compare that line-up to a possible Twins line-up:

1. Span, CF

2. Nishioka, 2B

3. Mauer, C

4. Delmon, LF

5. Morneau, 1B

6. Cuddyer, RF

7. Kubel, DH

8. Valencia, 3B

9. Casilla, SS

Playoff Pitching Rotation:

1. Liriano

2. Baker

3. Duensing

4. Blackburn/Slowey


Roster Changes Before 2011 Playoffs

Some things to think of is the Red Sox will not go into 2011 with Salty handling the majority of the catching duties.  Rumors about Russell Martin joining that team make perfect sense for them.  Salty is out of options so I wouldn't be shocked if they released him after spring training if they feel like he is not going to be their guy.  Then they would go with Martin and Varitek.

I also believe that the Red Sox will work very hard on improving their bullpen.  This could include our very own Jesse Crain to be a 6/7th inning guy behind Bard/Pap. 

I put Becket #1 on purpose.  If the Red Sox rotation is going to be truly formidable in 2011 he would be one of the big reasons why.  Lester, Buck and Lackey would make a great 2, 3, 4.  And a solid, but not overly intimidating 1, 2, 3.  But if Beckett is the Beckett of old then that is a great 1, 2, 3, 4.

The Twins proved last year that they are committed to a solid bullpen and will make the additions late in the year if they feel like they have to.  I wouldn't be surprised if they did that again in 2011.


The Series

So now we come to the series itself.  To me, it looks one-sided.  The reason for this isn't just the line-up.  I like the Twins line-up.  A question in the Twins line-up is the health of Morneau.  But that same question could be asked about Pedroia and Youkilis too.  So let's assume relative health on both teams.  That being said the big difference... and it is huge... is the rotation.  I have consistently said that the Twins will not make a move for Greinke but in this particular match-up it is Greinke alone that could turn the tables into the Twins favor.



Zach Greinke has #1 stuff.  There is no question about that.  If you don't think so go to and watch any archive game.  He throws 94+, has great command, mixes his pitches and has great off-speed stuff.  What will it take to get him?  Probably Delmon... for sure Kyle Gibson & Aaron Hicks.  I feel like Delmon could be our #4 hitter next year.  He would give the line-up a great left-right-left combination throughout.  Do you take out your #4 hitter for a #1 pitcher?  I say no.  Not if you also have to give up our #3 starter and our starting RF in 2012.


LF Replacement

If the Twins trade Delmon, Hicks and Gibson for Greinke who would start in LF?  Kubel?  Sign Thome and have him DH full-time?  That's a possibility but not exactly the speed line-up Gardy is hoping for.  With Hicks gone you could plug in Ben Revere and put him in the 8th or 9th spot in the line-up.  Maybe Joe Benson if he is ready?  Benson at least gives them a little more pop than Revere.


The Bottom Line

The current Twins roster is not good enough to beat the Red Sox in a playoff series as it is right now.  Between now and the 2011 Trade Deadline they are going to have to go out and get a #1 pitcher; At least a #2.  If they can do that without trading Delmon I say that they have to make the move.  It isn't that I think that Delmon is that great I just think this year, as it is now, he is an essential piece to that line-up.  Depending on the health of Neshek and Nathan, the Twins may have to go out and get another piece for the back-end of that bullpen as well.  Of course, this is assuming they can beat the Tigers, beat the White Sox and, of course, beat the Yankees.

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