Lovin' The Line-Up

It is difficult for me to contain the excitement I have for this upcoming Twins season.  The team looks very strong.  I am greatly encouraged by the way the organization has gone about this offseason.  It appears that they recognize as the Vikings did, that they now have pieces in place to make a deep run in the playoffs.  Yes, the Vikings didn't make it to the Superbowl, but it was a heck of a season and gives them something to try to repeat and better.  The Twins have always been scrappy, always had the hustle guys, always played smart baseball and always had young players with good potential.  The down side has always been, that when a player is finally showing there potential, the team looses them in Free Agency.  Johan Santana, Torii hunter, David Ortiz, Matt Garza and Jason Bartlett can illustrate this.  Another down fall of the organization is the type of free agents they have signed in the past.  For example, last year the twins signed Joe Crede, the year before that they signed Mike Lamb.  These two players are capable but were on the decline. It was as if the organization was simply trying to squeeze a good year out of this guy for cheap.  While some of this off-seasons appear to be similar to those I believe for a couple of reasons they are moves in the right direction.  

A look at the line up using (best year stats going back to the 2006 season)

1.  2009 Denard Span   .311 Ave      8 HR      68 RBI        CF

2.  2007 Orlando Hudson   .294 Ave      10 HR       63   RBI        2B

3.  2009 Joe Mauer    .365 Ave        28 HR       96 RBI       C

4.  2006 Justin Morneau     .321 Ave    34 HR      130 RBI     1B

5.  2009 Michael Cuddyer      .276  Ave     32 HR      94 RBI       RF

6.  2009 Jason Kubel       .300 Ave      28 HR      103 RBI      DH

7.  2007 Delmon Young     .288 Ave    13 HR       93 RBI        LF

8.  2008 J.J. Hardy        .283 Ave  24 HR   74 RBI        SS

9.  2007 Brendan Harris    .286 Ave   12 HR     59 RBI      3B

This looks pretty good to me.  Toss in two bench players:

2006 Nick Punto     .290  Ave     1 HR     45 RBI

2006 Jim Thome    .288     42 HR     109 RBI

This looks very nice.  While of course this is highly optimistic (it's not really fair to expect a team could have 6 players with more than 90 RBI's.  But when you look at the stats it shows that the players in the line up can get the job done.  Another notable thing, is that the twins line up still looks really good with out a strong third baseman.  It appears that third base will be a battle between, Punto, Harris, Tolbert and Danny Valencia (AAA).  I thing this position will end up as a platoon anyway. 

Also last year the team got into trouble when they played against Left-handed starting pitching because the heart of the line up (Mauer, Morneau, Kubel) is lefty dominated.  This allowed for opposing managers to go to their bullpen early and put a Lefty Specialist relief pitcher in to face the big dogs.  Now that Jim Thome is around now on the bench ready to pinch hit late in games, opposing managers will have to worry about Thome's left-handed power late in the game.  

Another great thing about this line up is that it starts with three high OBP guys who are followed by three high RBI guys.  This definitely has a good ring to it.  The other trio have the potential to be solid hitters, or at-least fun little piranhas.   

One of last years downfalls that I noticed was that because the team began to hit HRs last year, they seemed to

forget how to do the little-things.  This is why I like Nick Punto.  This site is very interested in Punto so I thought I'd

take a stance as-well.  I like the little guys who hustle their ass off because that is the kind of athlete third I am myself.

I think putting Nick Punto at third this year seems to fit pretty well.  As J.J Hardy is getting older most likely he is

losing range.  Punto's range playing third would diminish the effect of lack of range at Short Stop and infuse the line

up with the piranha ideology (but, move the baserunner, steal bases).  If this Twins line up stays pretty healthy and

individually plays close to their best in the last four seasons, they will be contenders offensively.

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