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Opinion

Despite losing Santana, Twins season looks bright

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March 27, 2008

In 2001, the Minnesota Twins came off another losing season. The Twins were an afterthought in not only the baseball world, but their own state.

  The Twins averaged about 9,000 fans a game and showed little promise of improving. The Twins’ marketing staff had to do something to get fans to the games, so they launched a marketing campaign called “Get To Know ‘Em.” The campaign focused on learning who was on this team and who these guys were off the field. 

  In 2008, the Twins marketing genius may want to dust off that campaign. The Twins lost pitcher Johan Santana and outfielder Torii Hunter, which may cause issues among fans.

  However, where there are negatives with the 2008 Twins, there are plenty of positives. The Twins pitching rotation has a very high ceiling. Scott Baker has stepped up as the leader of the pitching staff so far in spring training and Kevin Slowey has also pitched very well.

  Aside from the pitchers that will make the rotation, the Twins will have good options in the minor leagues if a pitcher fails to perform. 

  The Twins will also have Francisco Liriano, who was lights out in 2006 until he was sidelined by Tommy John surgery.

  The Twins sent Matt Garza and Jason Bartlett to the Tampa Bay Rays for Delmon Young. Young was labeled as a malcontent during his time in Tampa, but he’s also been labeled as a young Frank Robinson. 

  Young should improve the Twins offense and provide a strong middle of the order. Another positive is the addition of centerfielder Carlos Gomez. Gomez could probably outrace Dale Earnhardt Jr’s car at Daytona … on foot.

  Gomez is expected to add speed to the top of the order, which will hopefully make the pitcher concentrate on first rather than the plate. This would mean more fastballs thrown to Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Michael Cuddyer and Young.

  The lineup also includes a rebuilt infield with Mike Lamb, Adam Everett and Brendan Harris. The Twins also brought in Craig Monroe to add more power to the designated hitter position.

  However, the biggest ray of hope for the Twins has been the newfound willingness to keep this core of players together. Over the winter they signed Cuddyer and Morneau. On Monday, they signed Joe Nathan to a four year, $47 million extension. 

  Since the end of the season, the Twins have thrown out $153 million to their players, which is a lot compared to their frugal past.

  While some fans whine about how the Twins didn’t make an effort to keep Santana and Hunter, it’s noted that the total would have been more if they had not turned down lucrative offers from the Twins.

  The Twins may not be a top team this season, but with the change of heart by the Pohlad family, the Twins have a bright future ahead of them when they move into the new ballpark in 2010.

Chris Schad is a student at UW-River Falls.