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Tuesday, October 03, 2006

2006 Twins Preview (reviewed)/Playoff thoughts too

Oh the quiet child awaits the day when she can break free
the mold that clings like desperation


Wow, grab a lunch because this is a long one. This is my 2006 Twins preview--reviewed from here. Let’s see how my predictions came about.
Also below I got my thoughts on the playoffs.

Pitching
Johan Santana: Basically he’s regarded as the best starting pitcher in baseball and why not? Just looking at his career 2nd half stats puts him in the best of the best (and I’m talking historically) with a 1.90ERA and a record of 30-3 and that’s with the Twins crappy offense! Last year he started out pretty rough but found the gummy berry juice to destroy the competition despite losing the Cy Young award even though he was more deserving than Bartolo Colon. This year how could anyone see him doing anything other than being as dominant. It’ll depend on the hitting but I think that will be remedied to an extent this year
Projected: ERA-2.90, W-L 18-6
Actual: ERA-2.77, W-L 19-6
How is THAT for a prediction? Santana pitched phenomenally all year and is hands down, the Cy young. What’s even more impressive is that he blew away the National Leauge too. Typically the National League always leads the majors in pitching because they pitch to pitchers as opposed to DH’s.

Carlos Silva: I firmly believe Silva got screwed as much as anyone last year from the Twins offense. The guy doesn’t overpower people and he doesn’t grab the strikeouts but he can get the outs. He only gave up 9 walks last year and was one of the league leaders in ground ball outs. He has a remarkable ability to get the hitters to make contact but not by giving up runs. In his first full year of starting pitching and an offense that completely sucked ass he had an ERA of 3.44 (which isn’t bad for the American league). He should’ve had a solid 15 win season with that ERA alone but his run support was awful. This year I do expect him to reach the teens for victories and be a solid #2 guy in the rotation.
Projected: 3.45, 13-7
Actual: 5.94, 11-15
Silva was actually a bit of a surprise in how much he sucked this year. What’s weird is that now he’s either really good (dominant like himself last year) or really bad. I believe he led the league in home runs allowed so that sucks.

Brad Radke
If only he could pitch in the first inning…which he can’t. Radke again got screwed by the run support last year (not to the extent that Silva and Santana though) and he’s a solid number 3 starter. He can eat the innings and pitch the quality starts. He’s another guy that never walks anyone.
Projected: 4.40 8-6
Actual: 4.32, 12-9
It’s amazing for how bad Radke was in the first couple months of the year, that he still maintained such a low ERA and twelve wins. I actually think he could be considered an MVP candidate

Kyle Lohse
Basically the Twins are just dangling Lohse in the faces of GM managers everywhere. He could be yours for the price of a decent hitting prospect. Last year he was up and down but still managed a decent ERA of 4.18. He’ll probably be traded at some point this year but he’s a quality 4th starter.
Projected: 4.70, 7-10
Actual: 7.07, 2-5
Lohse sucked. He basically couldn’t do anything and paved the way for one of the rookies to come along. Lohse was eventually traded to Cincinnati for some minor leaguer.

Scott Baker
Ahhh now we’re getting into the fun part, the rookies. Scott Baker and Francisco Liriano have been listed together in trades, call ups, and the competition for the 5th starter. Think of this, Liriano would easily be a starting pitcher for 80% of the other clubs. He was even offered in a trade straight up for Soriano and the Twins said no. Despite all that, the Twins clearly like Scott Baker as the 5th starter instead of Liriano.
That should say a lot. Baker did pitch pretty well last year in a part-time starting role. It’s hard to predict what a rookie will do in the majors but I don’t think he’ll tank.
Actual: 6.37, 5-8
He did kinda tank but I still remember how he plowed through the Yankees both times he played them.

Francisco Liriano
Actual: 2.16, 12-3
For all the hype that Johan Santana gets this year about how he leads the majors in everything, the scary thing is I firmly believe that Liriano was better. Easily better in my opinion. Had Liriano stayed healthy not only would he of been the Cy Young award winnner and the rookie of the year, but probably MVP and he would’ve also made the Twins the hands down World Series favorite. Liriano was just filthy and it was interesting watching opposing hitters look at Liriano in awe as they walk off the mound.

Boof Bonser
Actual: 4.22, 7-6
Boof was a pleasant surprise as he was really clutch in the 2nd half of the year. He held the Tigers down to a run in 7 innings and can strike out hitters when he can. It’s even more impressive as he’s going to be a starter in the playoffs. I never would’ve thought that.

Matt Garza
Actual: 5.76, 3-6
Garza was also a pleasant surprise seeing as he was an emergency starter for the 2nd half of the year. He wasn’t as dominant as Liriano (who is) but I think he held his own in the majors. This is a guy who spent the beginning of the year in A ball and moved his way up to the majors in a matter of months--Mauer spent 2 years in the minors and he was always considered a blue-chipper.

Bullpen
The bullpen is unbelievably good
Closer: Joe Nathan
Set up: Juan Rincon
7th inning guy: Jesse Crain
Long relief: Matt Guerrier
Long relief: Willie Eyre
Lefty: Francisco Liriano

Nathan is one of the top closers in the league. Rincon is one of the best set up men in the league and Crain would be one of the best set up roles in the league if Rincon wasn’t on the team.

What really sticks out is Liriano in the Lefty slot. It’s like having Vladimir Guerrero as a right handed pinch hitter. Basically if you’re a left handed hitter and you’re facing Liriano, you better hope you get beaned because that’s the only way you’ll make it on base. He was the most surprising player on the Dominican Republic WBC team even with all the all star players. Last year when he pitched he had a shaky ERA of 5.70 (but that was in only 23 innings). The big stat last year is that he struck out 33 hitters in 23 innings. Not bad for starting out.
Lirianio will probably end up being a starter after the All star break and when that happens, watch out. Scouts have already rated his pitches as “as good as” or “even better” than Santana’s. He’s going to be good folks!

The bullpen was unbelievably good. Best in the league in fact.
The additions of Pat Neshek and Dennys Reyes were key in that they can dominate against right and left handed hitters respectively. Basically opposing teams believe that if they are losing in the 6th inning when the Twins bullpen comes out, the game is over.

Hitting
No turd could be big enough to represent the Twins hitting from last year. It’s 90% of why the Twins lost the games they did. Look at the Runs given up the last four years.

2002 712
2003 758
2004 710
2005 662
2006 683

Now look at the runs scored
2002 768
2003 801
2004 780
2005 688 (almost a 100 run backward step)
2006 801

Basically the hitting on this team was as bad as the pitching staff was good. If you pitching staff only gives up 662 runs then it doesn’t take much for a team to win some games. Except if your team has no hitting, which the Twins did not last year.

Hopefully it wont be as bad because we don’t have Rivas and the overrated Jacque Jones on the team. While I don’t think this team will be hitting force to be reckoned with, I do think the Twins made some decent improvements.

The Twins this year had the impressive pitching of last year (even more impressive when you consider how bad the pitching was the first couple months) and they had as good of hitting as anyone could hope for.

Catcher: Joe Mauer
Joe Mauer is only 22 years old. Joe Mauer is also one of the top two catchers in baseball already. And you wont hear much disagreements nationally with that either. He’s about as good as Pudge by only allowing 21 stolen bases last year. He’s got a caught stealing percentage of .416 which is third best in baseball. He’s an excellent hitter as well (and the only bright spot in 2005). He hit .296 last year in his first full year as a starter. If you were to ask me which player I would’ve taken between Mauer and Prior now, I think it’s Mauer in a landslide.

Projections: .310, 88(RBI’s), 19(HR)
Actual: .347, 84, 13 **AL batting champ
What can I say, who would’ve thought that 23 year old Mauer would win the batting title? I didn’t but good lord he can hit.

1B Justin Morneau
Last year Morneau had about as bad of a year as a player could have just short of going back to the minor leagues. One thing to remember is that the guy was only 23 and batting cleanup. Also for his crappy year he did manage to hit 22 homeruns which would nearly put him up to Babe Ruth status in Minnesota. I think we’ll see some noticeable improvement from Morneau this year. He hasn’t been hit by every sickness known to man (like last year) and he’s got some help in the lineup. I even think he’ll hit 30 homers this year.
.275, 95, 33
.321, 130, 34 **MVP candidate
He actually hit 30 home runs! I’ve never seen a Twins player hit 30 home runs in my life and two players actually did it. Morneau has been the clutch player of the Twins sniffing in all the RBI’s. He is the threat the Twins have been needing for the past 15 years.

2B Luis Castillo
To go from Luis Rivas to Castillo is like going from Sarah Jessica Parker to that awesomely hot Taco Bell woman. This is the most underappreciated signing for the Twins because Castillo is bonefide. He can hit (career average of .293), he can field (3 gold gloves including last year), and he can get on base (.370 lifetime average). Castillo seems like he was built to play for the Twins.
.304, 45, 3
.296, 49, 3
I can’t remember how hot that Taco Bell chick was but it was a pretty good example how much Castillo meant to the Twins. He can run, steal, field, and get on base. I wonder what ever happened to Luis Rivas?

SS Jason Bartlett
Basically the only reason he’s starting is because he can field and he has potential to hit. He didn’t play very well last year but it was also his first year. His fielding wasn’t too bad either.
.245, 45, 9
.309, 32, 3 (in 99 games)
Why they had Juan Castro at SS, I will never know. I think there’s some sort of contractual thing involved but whatever. I actually think Bartlett would be a better MVP than Morneau simply because he’s proven himself to be a damn good SS and a 9 hitter. This guy has repeatedly hit .300 all year.

3B Tony Batista
For as refined and profession a hitter Castillo is Batista is pretty much the opposite. The only reason why the Twins got this guy is because he was cheap and he can hit home runs. That’s about it. If he can be an average 3B and hit .250 with a relatively high home run total, I’ll be happy. Hell, I didn’t think he would make it through spring training.
.230, 56, 27
.236, 23, 5
Ugh…Tony Batista was not a good idea. For a period of time the left side of the infield was the worst in the league. Why would anyone pay this guy cash-money?

3B Nick Punto
Oh and what a third basemen this guy was. He made plays, was the spark plug for the offense. Nick has already been established as the 2007 3B and makes for one of best infields in the game.



LF Shannon Stewart
If I were standing out in Left and someone hit a popup to me I would have to take a ten yard running start, catch the ball, throw my shoulder over my body, and pray. Even then the ball may slowly roll to home plate. Stewart is not much different then my arm in that respect, but the guy can field and hit. He’s got a career .300 average and is a proven hitter.
.298, 60, 12
.293, 29, 2
What ever happened to Shannon? I think his two homers were hit the first two games of the year and then his feet fell off.

CF Torii Hunter
In my eyes, Hunter is the most overrated player on the Twins. He’s a great CF but…that’s about it. It’s vomit worthy watching him chase after balls two feet out of the strike zone. He does have speed and can hit the occasional homer but he’s not that awesome. Regardless, he’s still a good 6th hitter for the team.
.274, 90, 25
.278, 98, 31
He really surprised me. I wanted to trade him back in June and now knowing the kind of September he had, I can’t imagine the team without him. I think he’s actually playing up to his 10.75 million dollars he’s getting.

RF Jason Kubel
I remember a couple years ago the stuff I was hear about Kubel. It mirrored the potential that Liriano had last year and he even made a spot on the postseason roster. Then he suffered his Daunte-like injury and had to sit out all of last year. This year signs from spring training has shown that he is on his way to coming back to his ‘04 self. That alone should be better than Jacque Jones who sucked at the plate
.260, 45, 15
Little did we know that a young Michael Cuddyer would end up being the permanent fixture in right field. Nowadays Kubel would be hard pressed to run long enough to make out a double.
Micheal Cuddyer
.284, 109, 24
I never thought Cuddy would be this easy 109 RBI guy. He even scored 100runs as well which I think makes him incredibly valuable. Cuddy's arm is also something I never noticed as he has a complete cannon for an arm.

DH Rondell White
I’ve always been a bit of a White fan since he was on the Expos (remember them?). This year he’s the exclusive DH so he doesn’t have to worry about buying a glove or anything. I think White will be a damn good addition to the lineup compared to Matthew LeCroy. Compared to Frank Thomas, Mike Piazza, and Nomah, I’d rather have Rondell White.
.290, 60 20

And the lineup looks like
Stewart
Castilla
Mauer
Morneau
White
Hunter
Batista
Kubel
Bartlett

The lineup ended like
Castillo
Punto
Mauer
Cuddyer
Morneau
Hunter
White
Tyner
Bartlett

Quite the change eh?



So if the Twins can drive in 770 runs, the division is theirs in my opinion.

Haha they got 801 and took the division on the last day!

AL Central predictions
Ok here’s what I don’t get, every damn media outlet predicts the Indians are the clear cut number two team in the division. Yeah, maybe if we were playing in game 163 from 2005 but they lost Millwood, Crisp, and they lost some key bullpen guys, and not to mention that Bob Wickman is their closer (who sucks).
The team everyone should look at is the Tigers (and I’m not saying that because of Ron). The tigers have a solid lineup with Pudge, Young, Ordonez, and Guillen. Then their pitching staff is due to mature as well.
I do think that the White Sox have the clear cut lead in the division though and it has nothing to do with Jim Thome (I think he’s a bust). I just think the White Sox have the perfect mix of a team with their role players and excellent pitching staff. Their bullpen may be a different story but I think the White sox have it.

With that said, I honestly believe the AL central will be one of the most competitive divisions in baseball. I think Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, and Minnesota are all bonafide teams and I wouldn’t be surprised if any of these teams takes the division (seriously). Here are my predictions though

Kansas City
Chicago
Cleveland
Minnesota
Detroit

Haha just kidding
Chicago
Minnesota
Detroit
Cleveland
Kansas City

I think I was mostly right on with this except I don’t think anyone expected the White Sox to be as crappy as they were.

This season was a little crazy in how the line up and starting rotation completely changed as the season went on. Twins went from being one of the crappiest teams in the league to one of the best because they got their pitching in order (and from 3 rookies no less). They finally got that 30 home run hitter and the threat in their lineup.

*******

As for the playoffs,


Tigers/ Yankees
I find it fascinating that everyone is still blindly picking the Yankees because “oh their lineup is so disgusting” but it’s the same lineup that only managed two more wins than the Tigers. Also the Yankees really don’t have any pitching and no pitching against Mags, Monroe, Pudge, and Inge is not a good thing. For as bad as the Tigers have been playing I wouldn’t be surprised if the Tigers take this series and at the very least I believe this will go into 5 games easy.

Twins/A’s
I want to hold my breath because I really like the Twins odds but the A’s have silently been that snake in the grass team that could very well strike when the games start to matter. What I find odd about this series is that no one brings up how the Twins have relied on two rookie starters in Boof and Garza. Hell, they might even start both players in this game which is scary enough.
For as scrappy and fundamentally sound the A’s are though, the Twins seem to overtake every strength the A’s have.
For instance they have the ace in Barry Zito. Twins have the best pitcher in baseball with Santana
A’s have the deep threat with Thomas. Twins have the lineup protection and the righty lefty combo of Morneau and Hunter
A’s have the little guys that make things happen. Twins have guys referred to as piranhas which are deadly on the bases.
It’s really weird because the Twins look like they have all the pieces/characters that make a championship team and why that is weird is because it just came out of nowhere.
They have that ace (Santana)
They have that hitter (Mauer)
They have that base stealer (pick any of the piranhas)
They have that left and right combo (or in the twins case the left,right,left,right combo) of Mauer, Cuddy, Morneau, and Hunter (420RBI’s, 371R, 102HR’s)
They have that closer (Nathan)
They have that jokester (Redmond)
They have the pitching depth
And everyone has the defense.

It don’t know it just looks very eerie

2 comments:

Orbitron19 said...

God, I wish I had your confidence! If we win this series, the city would absolutely go insane!
Realistically, I just hope it goes 5 games.

Orbitron19 said...

BTW, Congrats to the Twins. They went out and took the championship. I hope we meet in the ALCS.