Another question going into the season is how this lineup is going to differ from the lineup of years past. One thing is certain; the Twins of 2008 are much more streamlined for one common purpose: Find pitches to hit, put them in play and run around the bases. Over the past two seasons the Twins tried to fool the league, their fans and themselves into thinking that they were a power team. In the middle of the lineup guys like Morneau and Hunter cranked out 30 HR seasons and we expected 20+ from Cuddyer and Mauer. That is not Twins baseball. The Twins will have much more success if they get back to the style of hitting that got them back into the winning ways in 2001 and 2002. Getting men on base and utilizing their speed and contact skills to move them around the diamond, occasionally putting the pressure on their opponentâ€™s defense to make a play. Ladies might love the long ball, but enthusiasts love 5-6 hitter rallies. Iâ€™ve heard it said that the Twins outfielders (Cuddyer, Young, Monroe and Kubel) should combine for anywhere from 80-100 Home Runs this year. It is possible, but Iâ€™d much rather watch the four of them combine for 180 doubles and 360 RBI. Manager Ron Gardenhire knows that he cannot allow his team to get into a bunch of slug fests (especially within the division) and expect to win. First, that isnâ€™t how the offense is built and second, the pitching staff wouldnâ€™t be able to hold up.
The 2008 Twins resembles the Twins of 2002 that made it to the ALCS more than any of the recent teams that have been bounced in the Divisional Series. That being said, a play-off run will be even that more surprising out of this young team. The biggest difference between this team and that team is the fact that a lot of the young players on that team came up playing together whereas this group is a mixture of prospects and veterans that are both home grown and from other clubs. If this group can develop good clubhouse chemistry in Spring Training, watch out. They might not crush the cover off the ball, but they definitely have the potential to be entertaining on a regular basis.
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