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Written by Jonathan Leshanski (Contact & Archive) on February 17, 2003
First in Al Central
Home Field: The Metrodome
The 2003 version of the Twins looks familiar, and uncannily so. In fact, perhaps only the Anaheim Angels are as unchanged as the Twins. Not surprisingly, they are two of the most competitive teams in the American League. Concerning the four playoff teams, these two and the Oakland A’s are virtually the same teams. The other team, the New York Yankees, have done a lot of overhauling, because the other three teams are that good.
The Twins go into this season with an embarrassment of riches. They have a stocked farm system, proven pitching, and an offense which is strong enough to compete with almost anybody. If anyone wanted to find fault with this team, the only thing you could really look at is an ownership which would have rather been contracted, than fielding a team this year.
This is not last year’s lineup - well actually it is. Any changes here have been for the better, as the Twins top prospects have developed into potential top rookies. Both Michael Cuddyer and Michael Restovich fit that mold, and will compete for the right field jobs. Both should be good enough to play everyday, but my bet would be that Cuddyer gets the job.
The Twins pitchers did not have a great season last year. In fact, many of their top pitchers could fairly be called underachievers, mostly due to injury and control problems. Brad Radke, Joe Mays and Eric Milton all failed to live up to their 2001 numbers, and Mays missed a lot of the season before minor arm surgery. Fifth starter Kile Lohse may or may not find his job in peril due to the emerging Johan Santana.
The only real change in the bullpen was the addition of another right handed long reliever, Jose Cabrera. He may also fill the role of spot starter.
Jacque Jones (LF)
Christian Guzman (SS)
Corey Koskie (3B)
Torii Hunter (CF)
Doug Mienkiewicz (1B)
Michael Cuddyer/Restovich (RF)
Matt LeCroy (DH)
A.J. Pierzyniski (C)
Luis Rivas (2B)
As I said before, this team is virtually unchanged, and looks like they may be that way for quite some time. The commitment to the future was solidified when the Twins offered a 4 year / $32 million dollar deal to fan favorite Torii Hunter. In doing so, owner Carl Pohlad, who wanted to take the buyout money which he could have gotten with contraction, actually raised his team payroll to a division high $55 million.
That commitment should pay dividends as the Twins must still be considered the team to beat in the AL central, where the White Sox are the only challenger.