Minnesota Twins: 2010 Preview

SportsPickle is previewing each MLB team as the 2010 season opens. Today:Minnesota Twins (2009: 87-76, AL Central champion).

STARTING PITCHINGAlthough Minnesota is the defending AL Central champion, there is nothing remarkable about their starting rotation. Guys like Scott Baker, Kevin Slowey and Nick Blackburn don't cause anyone to lose sleep. Well, actually, I suppose that's not completely true. Some opponents might be up late Googling stuff like "Who is Nick Blackburn?".
LINEUPWith Denard Span, Joe Mauer, Justin Morneauand Jason Kubel, Minnesota will be able to score runs. The Twins can also relax now knowing that Mauer is locked up through the 2018 season. So they'll have him through the remainder of his prime. And also for all of his decline. And well beyond that, including those two or three years when he's shoved out their Cal Ripken, Jr.-style like some sort of museum piece and everyone talks in hushed tones about him as though he's dying, terrified he'll humiliate himself at any moment. So that's nice.
BULLPENThe Twins suffered their biggest loss of the season before the season even started. Closer Joe Nathan is gone to injury. Can anyone else pitch the 9th inning? I mean, it's TOTALLY different than pitching the 7th or 8th inning. A lot of relievers can do that well. But the 9th inning, now … that inning is way harder to pitch because … umm … it's … umm … I'm going to go with: it's later at night? I guess? Yeah. That makes sense. You try doing 5-10 minutes of semi-aerobic exercise at 10:00 p.m. at night. Now try doing it at 9:30 or 9:45. It was harder later at night, wasn't it? Exactly. And that's why closers make the big bucks.
BENCHMinnesota's bench features Nick Punto, Alexi Casilla and free agent acquisition Jim Thome. Thome has now been with the Indians, White Sox and Twins. What a Central division slut. This time next year he'll probably be doing it with the Royals or Tigers, the whore.
OVERALLThe Twins hope to open their new outdoor stadium with a championship. And I hope they do. I want to see outdoor baseball played in Minnesota in late October. Finally bunting — specifically into three-feet of snow and then running around the bases for a home run while the opposing team searches for the ball — will be celebrated in baseball.