Mike Redmond says the current Twins team, which could be headed for the playoffs if the Tigers beat the White Sox today, reminds him of the 2003 Marlins. Florida beat the Yankees in the World Series that year.

"It definitely has the flair for the dramatic," said Redmond, who is now in his fourth year as a backup catcher for the Twins after seven serving a similar role with Florida.

"That team in Miami, we were lights out in the second half of the season. Obviously, this team is way younger than that team. It's amazing. We play great at home."

The Marlins won the championship that year despite a very young rotation, a trait the 2008 Twins share. "We have a lot of young pitchers, good young arms like we did there. We had Josh Beckett, A.J. Burnett, Brad Penny, Carl Pavano, Dontrelle Willis," he said. "We had young pitchers that were just at the start of their career like these guys are."

Burnett, 26 years old in 2003, missed most of the season because of elbow ligament replacement surgery, and Willis, a 21-year-old rookie, pitched out of the bullpen much of the postseason. But Beckett was named World Series MVP at age 23.

The Marlins had speedy position players, too, similar to the Twins' Alexi Casilla, Carlos Gomez and Denard Span. Redmond cited Juan Pierre, who stole 65 bases that season for Florida, and Luis Castillo, who stole 21 bases that year and was traded to the Twins three years later.

Another member of that Marlins team was Miguel Cabrera, a 20-year-old rookie that year now a member of the Detroit team that will try to beat the White Sox today. Cabrera hit 12 home runs in 87 regular-season games that year and another four in the postseason.

"We hit some home runs, too, whereas this team here doesn't hit as many home runs," Redmond said. "We rely a little bit more on our bunts, hit-and-runs, getting guys over and getting runs one at a time. It's a little bit different that way."

That has been the Twins' calling card all season, getting timely hits while using their speed to advance around the bases.

"We're fast. We're aggressive. We put a lot of pressure on teams," Redmond said. "We make pitchers think about other things besides who they are just facing up there as hitters."

Asked if he thought the Twins had a chance to win the division this spring, Redmond said: "We're always optimistic as players. But to be honest with you, I really wasn't sure our pitching was going to hold up as well as it has. For these guys to go out and do what they have done over the season is remarkable."

Yes, Redmond believes he can be part of another miracle, just as he was five years ago.

Vikings still in race

Despite the fact the Vikings might have played their worst game of the season on Sunday in the 30-17 loss to the Tennessee Titans in Nashville, and despite the fact they are 1-3 through a quarter of the season and face a tough schedule the rest of the way, the NFC North is such an ordinary division that the Vikings can still win it.

The Packers are 2-2 after losing to the Buccaneers on Sunday, and they possibly might have lost quarterback Aaron Rodgers for some time to injury. If that's the case, they will have to go with a very inexperienced rookie backup in seventh-round draft pick Matt Flynn.

The Bears beat the Eagles 24-20 on Sunday night to improve to 2-2, but questions remain about Chicago's offense.

And forget about Detroit. The Lions, who had a bye on Sunday, are 0-3 and in disarray after firing President Matt Millen this past week.

Team will improve

One of the big problems the Vikings have had is that the big money the Wilf family spent to sign free agents has not paid off in the first four games.

The suspension of Bryant McKinnie has left a hole at left tackle, even though Artis Hicks has done a respectable job in McKinnie's absence. But Hicks wasn't a first-round draft choice and had previously played the position on a limited basis.

Madieu Williams, the safety who played for the Bengals last year, received nearly $13 million in guaranteed money to sign, and he hasn't played yet because of a neck injury. And even with Cincinnati he had a history of being hurt.

Wide receiver Bernard Berrian, who received $16 million in guaranteed money, has been slowed by a toe injury and hasn't given the Vikings the contributions they had hoped for when they brought him over from the Bears. He has caught only 11 passes for 195 yards this season.

Fullback Thomas Tapeh, the former Gophers player whose signing was hailed as a great move, has lost his starting job to Naufahu Tahi and was not active on Sunday. Jared Allen, traded from Kansas City and given $31 million in guarantees, has played well, but opponents have slowed the defensive end so that he hasn't applied as much pressure to opposing quarterbacks the way he did with the Chiefs last year.

And this was going to be the year that Tavaris Jackson was going to blossom as a much-improved quarterback, but he has wound up losing his position to the veteran Gus Frerotte. Frerotte completed 25 of 43 passes for 266 yards, no touchdowns and one interception Sunday, a rating of 66.6.

Must correct errors

But even if McKinnie comes back and regains his form, and even if the offseason additions start playing to the level they are capable of, you are not going to win football games in the NFL when you turn over the ball four times -- with three of those leading to short fields that turned into easy Tennessee touchdowns.

You are not going to win football games in the NFL when, trailing by 10 points at halftime, your team receives the opening kickoff of the second half and then proceeds to commit three silly penalties on their first two possessions.

So, as coach Brad Childress preaches, you have to hang on to the ball if you are going to win -- regardless of whether the new players begin to contribute.

The Vikings have an extra day of practice to prepare for their next game, which is next Monday at New Orleans. Hopefully by then they will have corrected some of the many mistakes they have made over the first month of the season.

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on his Podcast once a week at www.startribune.com/sidcast. shartman@startribune.com