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Good year, no matter how it ends

September 15, 2008

by Aaron Schultz

Like most Minnesota Twins’ fans, I looked at my favorite Major League baseball team before the season and expected the worse.

Could you blame me?

They lost Torii Hunter to free agency, and traded two-time Cy Young award winner Johan Santana for what could simply be described as not much.

Then, you look at who the Twins did sign as free agents during the off-season, and you are left with just one guy still on the roster from a group that started with the likes of Mike Lamb, Craig Monroe, and Livan Hernandez.

The one free agent signee that remains is little used, and even littler hitter, Adam Everet.

Despite all of these facts, the Twins entered this past weekend just one game behind the Chicago White Sox in the Central Division race – who would have thunk it?

Not me, that is for sure.

Of course, the Twins have been helped along the way by Detroit and Cleveland both stinking up the place, and a just slightly-above-average White Sox team.

Think about it – over the past two weeks the Twins have taken a nose dive, due pretty much exclusively to a bullpen that is as bad as us Twins’ fans have seen since the days of Ron Davis.

Despite all of these losses over the past several weeks, the White Sox have failed to pull away from the slumping Twins.

That fact, more than any other, has me believing the Twins will be playing October baseball this year after winning the Central Division.

Of course, I don’t see the Twins making much of a splash come postseason play, but heck, it is still playoff baseball, and it doesn’t get much better than that.

There is always a chance, and a pretty good one if history has told us anything, that I will be wrong, and the Twins will end up failing to make the playoffs.

No matter, it has still been an outstanding season.

Should the Twins go ahead and lose every game from here on out, and don’t make the playoffs, I’ll still be happy with their season.

Why?

Simple. I was looking forward to 2009 even before the 2008 season started, and now I am even more excited for 2009.

First off, the 2009 season will be the Twins’ last in the Metrodome. That alone makes me excited for 2009.

Then, take a look at the Twins’ roster as it currently stands, and the optimism for 2009 even becomes higher.

The Twins have their two big stars – Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer – locked up in long-term contracts.

The rest of the line-up has some flexibility with a glut of outfielders, but there is a lack of a true left side of the infield.

Hopefully, General Manager Bill Smith could use those extra outfielders to go out and get a true third baseman or shortstop.

Maybe a move back to third base for Michael Cuddyer is in the cards.

Whichever way the Twins end up going in 2009, I don’t think they can lose.

Then for the real reason to be excited about the Twins in 2009 – the starting pitching.

All five starters are young, and are locked up through the next few years.

Those five starting Twinkies should only get better next year, and that spells success for the Twins in 2009.

So, just enjoy these few final weeks of the 2008 season, and should the Twins make the postseason – bonus!

But if the Twins do falter down the stretch, start looking forward to 2009 along with me, because next season (the final in the ‘Dome, thank God) is going to be an exciting one.

Rose Bowl for the mighty Gophers?

I’ll be the first one to say it, even if it is tongue-in-cheek. The Gopher football team is going to the Rose Bowl!

Okay, so they might not be, but what the heck, they have already doubled their win total from 2007.

Go Gopher Nation!