As we plunked down the money for 2012 Twins season tickets last night, we kept repeating one thing: next year can't be as bad as this year. Of course, that's something you tell yourself when you believe things have hit bottom. There is a tendency to believe these types of thing act in arcs, not anchors -- that you go from a high to a low and swing back up after you've reached the lowest point instead of sticking around for a while. Thinking about it a little more, though, we concede the 2012 season could go in vastly different directions -- primarily because the Twins have pretty close to no idea which players can be counted on next season. As such, we present best-case and worst-case scenarios for how the Twins might look next year, solely in terms of their starting lineup:


If Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau and Denard Span come back healthy and productive ... if the Twins make Tsuyoshi Nishioka an expensive utility player and re-invest some of the money they will shed from their bullpen and/or other free agents that walk into a shortstop upgrade ... if Alexi Casilla can be healthy and productive for 140-150 games ... if Ben Revere can get on base more ... if they can re-sign one of either Michael Cuddyer or Jason Kubel (ideally Cuddyer for versatility, clubhouse presence and right-handed bat) ... if Danny Valencia is seen as a viable long-term solution at third base and can iron out whatever the Twins -- and Ron Gardenhire in particular -- want him to work out ... here is your 2012 starting lineup:

1) Ben Revere (.350 OBP), CF

2) Denard Span, LF

3) Joe Mauer, C

4) Michael Cuddyer, RF

5) Justin Morneau, 1B

6) Trevor Plouffe, DH/utility

7) Danny Valencia, 3B

8) Free agent shortstop X

9) Alexi Casilla


If Joe Mauer, Denard Span and Justin Morneau continue to have lingering health problems ... if the Twins insist that Tsuyoshi Nishioka needs another chance in year two ... if Alexi Casilla, for whatever reason, just can't stay on the field ... if Jason Kubel and Michael Cuddyer both want out of this mess ... if the Twins decide Valencia doesn't do things "The Twins Way" and deal him ... here is your 2012 starting lineup:

1) Ben Revere (.310 OBP), CF

2) ????

3) ????

4) ????

5) Chris Parmelee, 1B

6) Trevor Plouffe, ??

7) ????

8) ????

9) Tsuyoshi Nishioka, ??

There might be a few flaws here -- maybe Plouffe moves up from No. 6 above three question marks -- but we invite you to have at it in the comments.