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All Ex-Twins Team, 2014

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Welcome back to one of our (almost) annual posts. Try not to let the fact that the ex-Twins team is better than the real Twins team get you down.

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Outfielders. So, so many outfielders. But the real hard part? Nixing A.J. Pierzynski. For the first time since I've started putting these teams together, I couldn't in good conscience give him a roster spot. Perennial favorite and ageless wonder LaTroy Hawkins, however, still makes the squad - so, y'know, no worries there. In case you want to take a spin through the incarnations of previous years:

2013 |  2011 |  2010 |  2009 |  2008 |  2006

Let's roll through this team and then you can give me your thoughts.

The rejects

That's probably an unfair name, but these guys were all at the very least written down if not compared to their contemporaries who were eventually awarded roster spots.

  • A.J. Pierzynski
  • Drew Butera
  • Garrett Jones
  • Alexi Casilla
  • Yangervis Solarte
  • Darin Mastroianni
  • Josh Willingham
  • Sam Fuld
  • Liam Hendriks
  • Kevin Correia
  • Evan Meek
  • Kevin Slowey
  • Sam Deduno

Starting Rotation

Player GS IP ERA WHIP K/9 With Twins
Kyle Lohse 31 198.1 3.54 1.15 6.4 2001 - 2006
Francisco Liriano 29 162.1 3.38 1.30 9.7 2005 - 2012
Matt Garza 27 163.1 3.64 1.18 6.9 2006 - 2007
R.A. Dickey 34 215.2 3.71 1.23 7.2 2009
Vance Worley 17 110.2 2.85 1.21 6.4 2013

Edit: It was pointed out to me in the comments that I'd somehow blanked on Vance Worley. He gets that fifth starter's spot and Sam Deduno is out. Following paragraphs have been edited appropriately.

It's not a great group, but it's not terrible by any means. I like the guys in the first four spots, though, and I feel like that quality would help you skate by with a guy like Worley as the number five. I'm happy that Worley was able to revive himself a little bit this year, but losing him for nothing is looking like more of a disappointment now than it did when it actually happened. You just wish the Twins had noticed some of the things that Pittsburgh's coaches apparently did.

Just like last year, Lohse and Dickey are the 200-inning guys while Liriano and Garza make up the Enigmatic Duo. At least we don't have to settle for Deduno, Hendriks, Correia, or Slowey as the number five.

Bullpen

Player G IP ERA WHIP K/9 With Twins
Joe Nathan 62 58.0 4.81 1.53 8.4 2004 - 2011
Pat Neshek 71 67.1 1.87 0.79 9.1 2006 - 2010
LaTroy Hawkins 57 54.1 3.31 1.20 5.3 1995 - 2003
Grant Balfour 65 62.1 4.91 1.44 8.2 2001 - 2005
Joe Beimel 56 45.0 2.20 1.18 5.0 2004
Craig Breslow 60 54.1 5.96 1.86 6.1 2008 - 2009

There's a lot of experience in this group, which is a nice way of saying that it's a group that's getting old. Breslow and Neshek are 34, and they're on the young side. Hawkins will be 42 (42!) in December; Nathan is 40 (40!!) in about three weeks; Beimel, who hadn't pitched in the Majors since 2011, will be 38 in April; Balfour is 37 in December.

Could this be an effective relief crew? Potentially. There's a lot of closer experience here (Hawkins, arguably, was the best of the closers in this group in 2014), there are a couple of strikeout arms, and the experience in general means that there would never be a situation where your relievers wouldn't be calm, cool, and collected. Even if they twitch like a horse.

Almost all of these guys have their best days behind them, but what do you think? Could the best of this group get you through a season?

Bench

Player G PA HR SB AVG OBP SLG With Twins
Wilson Ramos (C) 88 361 11 0 .267 .299 .399 2010
Steve Pearce (1B/OF) 102 383 21 5 .293 .373 .556 2012
Danny Valencia (UT) 86 284 4 1 .258 .296 .371 2010 - 2012
Delmon Young ("OF") 83 255 7 2 .302 .337 .442 2008 - 2011
Ben Revere (OF) 151 626 2 49 .306 .325 .361 2010 - 2012

All things considered, that bench is pretty solid. It could be one of the best benches we've ever had for an ex-Twins team. And that's great, because finding a seventh reliever would have been really hard. Finding a fifth bench player, this year, was easy. It does mean the team is weak in the middle infield, but we were pretty thin on the ground there, too.

On the other hand, the bench provides some good offense in terms of some good contact hitters and a little power, but it also provides some first-class speed in community favorite Ben Revere. You're also allowed to punch Danny Valencia, whenever you want, just because of his smile.

It's a fake team and I'm granting you access. No, I'm not condoning that you punch Danny Valencia in the face in real life. Even if I might understand why you'd want to.

Starting Lineup

Player G PA HR SB AVG OBP SLG With Twins
Denard Span (LF) 147 668 5 31 .302 .355 .416 2008 - 2012
Michael Cuddyer (3B) 49 205 10 3 .332 .376 .579 2001 - 2011
Carlos Gomez (CF) 148 644 23 34 .284 .356 .477 2008 - 2009
David Ortiz (DH) 142 602 35 0 .263 .355 .517 1997 - 2002
Justin Morneau (1B) 135 550 17 0 .319 .364 .496 2003 - 2013
Torii Hunter (RF) 142 586 17 4 .286 .319 .446 1997 - 2007
Rene Rivera (C) 103 329 11 0 .252 .319 .432 2011
J.J. Hardy (SS) 141 569 9 0 .268 .309 .372 2010
Nick Punto (2B) 73 224 2 3 .207 .296 .293 2004 - 2010

This is a fascinating group. Span had a great season all around, Gomez is a legitimate star, Hunter and Ortiz continue to be productive players well into their late 30s, Cuddyer and Morneau have excelled in Colorado, and Rene Rivera had a career year at the dish. He earned himself the starting catcher's job. Which was entirely unexpected.

As for Cuddyer at third - I know, I know. But he did play three games there this year, and I told you at the start - we had too many outfielders. It was this or Danny Valencia, and I think we can all agree that I've made the right call. Disagree if you want but you're wrong. Wrong, I tell you.

Using Baseball Musing's lineup tool, this offense (and this lineup construction) would score 5.294 runs per game. That's 858 runs in a year, which is more than good enough to cover any multitude of sins committed by the pitching staff or any defensive liabilities.

With that, there's only one thing to ask. How would this team do if it were a real roster?