Phil Miller covered three seasons of Twins baseball, but that was at a different ballpark for a different newspaper. Now Miller returns to the baseball beat after joining the Star Tribune as the Gopher football writer in 2010, and he won't miss the dingy dome for a minute. In addition to the Twins and Gophers, Miller covered the Utah Jazz and the NBA for six years at The Salt Lake Tribune.

Postgame: Contemplating the Twins best lineup for Friday and beyond

Posted by: Phil Miller under Twins game coverage, Twins offense Updated: July 22, 2011 - 1:32 AM

With Jason Kubel returning from the DL on Friday, and Joe Mauer likely moving back to catcher, I'm guessing the Twins lineup will look something like this against Tigers starter Max Scherzer:

1. Ben Revere, CF
2. Alexi Casilla, 2B
3. Joe Mauer, C
4. Michael Cuddyer, 1B
5. Jason Kubel, RF
6. Danny Valencia, 3B
7. Jim Thome, DH
8. Delmon Young, LF
9. Tsuyoshi Nishioka, SS

Again, this is only a guess. Manager Ron Gardenhire hinted that Thome could see less playing time, but Thome is 4-for-8 lifetime with a home run against Scherzer.

It's possible Kubel will be the DH, with Thome on the bench. Gardy could play Cuddyer in RF and start Luke Hughes at first, since Hughes is 1-for-2 with a homer off Scherzer.

I'm not trying to play manager here, simply showing the options Gardenhire has now that Kubel is back.

*** Mauer will continue to be an option at first base on days Carl Pavano pitches (since Drew Butera is his personal catcher) and on day games after night games.

I know everyone wonders what's going to happen when Denard Span returns from the DL. I wonder, too. I'm not trying to dodge the question, but I don't know if it's worth contemplating, with Span still a long way from returning. He has yet to play a full game for Rochester, and is 1-for-12 so far on his rehab stint.

I think a case could be made to keep Ben Revere in the lineup when Span returns, but let's see how Revere handles this slump. He is 1-for-21 in his past five games.

Trade musings

I also wonder if the Twins would consider trading Kubel or Young before the July 31 deadline. Kubel can become a free agent after this season, and Young will be eligible for free agency after 2012.

Another option would be trading Revere or Span. The Nationals are looking for a center fielder, and maybe one of those two players would help the Twins get reliever Drew Storen. (Pure speculation on my part.)

Nationals scout Bill Singer, the scout most responsible for helping Washington acquire Wilson Ramos for Matt Capps, has been here at Target Field recently.

*** Ultimately, I do not think an outfielder will get traded. Here's my prediction: The Twins will make one move before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. They'll take the best offer they can get for Kevin Slowey, adding a middle-reliever to their bullpen.

Optimal lineup?

The Twins would have a serious logjam if everyone were healthy, but that seems so hypothetical for the 2011 Twins. Yes, Justin Morneau could be back playing games by mid-August (on a rehab assignment, at least), but who's to say everyone else will be healthy then?

If it ever happens, here's the ideal alignment for the Twins, in my humble opinion:

1. Denard Span, CF
2. Alexi Casilla, 2B
3. Joe Mauer, C
4. Justin Morneau, 1B
5. Michael Cuddyer, RF
6. Jason Kubel, DH
7. Delmon Young, LF
8. Danny Valencia, 3B
9. Tsuyoshi Nishioka, SS

*** A case can be made for Casilla taking over shortstop with Cuddyer, Luke Hughes, Trevor Plouffe or Matt Tolbert at second base, if Nishioka doesn't get into an offensive rhythm soon.

BENCH
OF: Ben Revere
DH: Jim Thome
C: Drew Butera
INF: Trevor Plouffe or Luke Hughes or Matt Tolbert

*** Jason Repko does have a minor-league option remaining.

In other words, there's room for everybody. I think Gardenhire could give Revere at least two starts per week, adding his speed, energy and defense to one of the corner-outfield spots.

*** As good as Revere has been in CF, I think Span deserves his job back. Revere might be faster, but Span has the better arm. Span was terrific in CF before suffering his concussion, posting a 9.7 UZR, according to FanGraphs.com. In a slightly smaller sample size, Revere's UZR is 5.9.

Let's not get too caught up in bickering over the best lineup. We spend all winter and all spring doing that, and guess how many times Gardenhire has used his Opening Day lineup? Once.

Seriously, he hasn't used those same nine players at those same positions twice. For proof, see here.

So what's the point of all this? Just food for thought.

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