2006 Minnesota Twins Preview

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2005 Overview:

The Minnesota Twins were able to provide fans with a respectable year by fielding essentially the same team it did to end the 2004 season. Minnesota finished the year 83-79 while compiling the 2nd best home record within the AL Central (2nd to only the World Series Champion White Sox) going 45-36 at the Metrodome. The power production from the Twins offense in 2005 was led by 1st baseman Justin Morneau (.239 22 79) and outfielder Jacque Jones (.249 23 73) while outfielders Shannon Stewart (.274 10 56), Torii Hunter (.269 14 56), 3rd baseman Michael Cuddyer (.263 12 42) and Catcher/DH Matthew LeCroy (.260 17 50) all combed to help keep the batting order stable.

Unfortunately, Minnesota wasn’t able to find much quality starting pitching in 2005 with Johan Santana (16-7 2.87) and Carlos Silva (9-8 3.44) proving to be their most consistent starters. Pitcher Brad Radke (9-12 4.04) suffered a disappointing summer while starter Joe Mays(6-10 5.60) posted a dismal 1-7 record with a 8.22 ERA after the all star break. Starting pitcher Kyle Lohse (9-13 4.18) also struggled to win games after the all star break, returning only 2 wins against 6 losses to end the season with a disappointing sub-five hundred performance. The bullpen had a few bright spots with Juan Rincon (6-6 2.45) appearing in 75 games, J.C. Romero (4-3 3.47) appearing in 68 and closer Joe Nathan (7-4 2.70) posting 43 saves in 48 save opportunities.

Off Season Moves:

The Twins have had a tough winter. Talks for Alfonso Soriano and several others at the GM meetings went nowhere so Minnesota settled by trading RHPs Travis Bowyer (5.59 ERA in 8 games) and Scott Tyler for second baseman Luis Castillo (.301 4 30). Castillo became available as part of the Marlins dismantling. The Twins also signed Rondell White (.313 12 53) to serve as a designated hitter/right fielder (taking Jacque Jones’ spot) and added Tony Batista (.241 32 110 in 2004 with the Expos), after a full season in Japan, to assume duties at third base.

2006 Analysis:

With the White Sox and Indians making moves to improve their rotation the Twins did little to improve their starting staff. The Twins are hoping that Johan Santana will repeat his 2005 effort and wouldn’t mind if he could pick up another 20 win season, like he did in 2004 – since every little bit will help. If Lohse can put together a better full season that should help take some of the strain off the rotation as well.

The Twins need to be stronger in the infield and they are hoping the addition of Luis Castillo will help in that department. Rondell White is being expected to add a steady bat in the everyday lineup and it will be interesting to see how Tony Batista performs after missing a full year of major league pitching. Batista was a legitimate long ball threat during his last few years at Baltimore and Montreal – so his bat will be a welcome addition. Since the White Sox and Indians are fielding much deeper rotations, it will be very tough for the Twins to compete.

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