SLEEPER Jason Kubel is poised for a breakout season. He's healthy, will get regular at-bats, and has the batting eye and power to make them count.
BUST The third round is too early for Joe Mauer, whose value is position and batting average dependent. And that was before his leg acted up.
HITTER TO WATCH: Denard Span, OF Span might pop up as a fifth outfielder and could play center for a week or two if Torii Hunter was unavailable, but he has zero power, doesn't get on base, and is an average runner.
PITCHER TO WATCH: Glen Perkins, LHP
Perkins is a strike-throwing lefty with an average fastball and plus changeup, and as a University of Minnesota product, he has the hometown connection in his favor.
MLB Preview 2007
FIXED It was the easy plays that frustrated Jason Bartlett -- the grounder bobbled, the DP missed. "I would think, 'What did I do wrong?' " he says. "And then all of a sudden, I wouldn't be relaxed out there." The Twins tried to install Bartlett as their everyday shortstop last year, and twice he was demoted to the minors. "When I got sent down, I said to myself, 'This has got to stop.' I decided to just go out and have fun." When he came back, Bartlett cut down on the careless errors and hit .309 overall. As 2007 begins, there's no question who the shortstop is. So Bartlett can relax.
NEEDS FIXING The team's No. 3 starter last year threw 97 mph and averaged 1 K per three hitters. But Francisco Liriano had off-season elbow surgery, so after ace Johan Santana, the Twins have a bunch of veteran castoffs, Carlos Silva (5.94 ERA) and raw kids. Pitching coach Rick Anderson is encouraged that Sidney Ponson has been among the first to arrive in the clubhouse daily, and the energetic Ramón Ortiz is already a coaching staff fave. That's all well and good, but can they get anybody out?
"The Twins are seriously thinking about having Sidney Ponson in the rotation
rather than this Garza kid? That's crazy." -- An AL scout, talking about RHP
When Ozzie Guillen dubbed the Twins "little piranhas" last year, he inadvertently coined a phrase that inspired T-shirts, fishing lures and ads. Yes, Minnesotans love their little piranhas (highest player rating, third-highest overall rating in MLB), and with a roster that includes the 2006 MVP (Morneau), Cy Young winner (Santana) and a homegrown batting champ (Mauer), what's not to love?
"Time for a happy ending! The Twins just have too much talent to not win the division, and if they lock up Morneau, Santana, Hunter, and Nathan, they will be good for many years to come."