Five random predictions for the 2010-2011 season, just cause I REALLY want to go to bed. I suspect you have your own – throw them in the comment section below.
1. A lot of outfielders are going to have really big years.
Delmon is turning 27. Span gets past last year’s sophomore slump. Cuddyer’s contract year adds a little “F U” to his attitude. And Kubel progresses to the “mean”, as in “not Mr. Nice Guy anymore.” There might be some problems with this offense, but it ain’t coming from those guys.
2. Neither Joe Nathan or Matt Capps is the closer for this team in September.
This will be the major source of rending of garments and gnashing of teeth. I don’t know who will be the closer in September, and he may not even be in the organization yet. But I think this is going to be THE topic of the summer. And I’m really, really, REALLY not looking forward to that.
3. Alexi Casilla is fine.
By fine, I mean he grades out slightly above average defensively and puts up an OPS around 700. Which will earn him lavish praise given how low our expectations are about shortstops.
4. Someone who is not in the starting rotation right now wins 10 games this year.
There are just too many arms – Kevin Slowey, Kyle Gibson, Glen Perkins and even Scott Diamond - waiting their turn. And, to be brutally honest, there aren’t any sure things in the starting rotation.
5. Twins win the AL Central.
I’m not sure how they win 90 games given prediction #2, but this still looks like a good team. The biggest question marks in my mind are:
a) Can they stay healthy?
I think so. Health has been such a focal point this offseason, I think everyone is paying special attention to it. My biggest concern on that front is Joe Mauer
b) Can the bullpen do the job? I think so. I like a lot of the guys that are going to be given middle inning jobs. And I trust the coaching staff to eventually solve the gaps that might develop at the end of games.
c) Can Tsuyoshi Nishioka replace Orlando Hudson? I think so. I’m mostly concerned about whether or not he can get on base batting from the second spot in the order. From what he’s shown this spring, I’m optimistic.
If those questions are answered correctly, this team isn’t much different than last year’s division winner. It may be a rocky start to the year, but Gardenhire’s teams seem to thrive once they have shed expectations. The Twins make another strong second-half charge and edge out the Tigers and White Sox.