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Gotta give my 2014 Twins Preview!!!

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This has probably been said multiple times yesterday and today, but I am going to say it again, one of my favorite times of the year, MLB opener!!! Our beloved Minnesota Twins start the 2014 season in Chicago at 3:10 vs Chris Sale and the Chicago White Sox. Before the game, it only makes sense to give projections and thoughts on what the Twins are going to accomplish this year. Here are all of my random thoughts and predictions for 2014 and your Minnesota Twins.

I have heard every opinion out there from hardballtallk.com, SI.com, ESPN.com, and every writer and sportscaster in the twin cities picking the team to have a 90 loss season once again. This puts the Twins with a maximum of 72 wins. The offseason would have had to added 7 wins this year from last years 66 win performance. 7 wins in a division that is better than last year, (except for the White Sox) is tough to do, especially when they didn't add any bats to the lineup, and got worse at C in terms of offense. I am putting the Twins at 70 wins this season, 4th in the Central. Here are the reasons and predictions.

Ricky Nolasco will be Ricky Nolasco. Consistent in IP, ERA, and K's. Yes he is coming from the NL, but pitching at Target Field offsets some of the AL/NL difference. 3.80 ERA 200 IP getting 14 wins this season.

Phil Hughes will be much better than pitcher we saw in NY. I am not saying moving over is the biggest difference ever, or going to transcend Hughes, I am saying he is going to welcome Target Field, and welcome the Twins loving media here. A change of scenery is exactly what Hughes needed, the Twins have wanted him for years and now is his chance. 3.95 ERA 200 IP 12 wins this season

Mike Pelfrey, my favorite signing of the season, especially at that price. I think he needed this year after the Tommy John thing, and is going to have the most surprising year of anybody on the pitching side of the rotation. Another 4.00 ERA season, keeps the Twins in games, and gets them to a good bullpen, which helps him get 10 wins this season. He should also finish around 200IP this season. (Caveat to Pelfrey is he is probably one of the first rotation guys to get traded this season, which changes MN Twins stats)

Kevin Correia, my favorite signing last year. I was a big fan of the Twins signing Correia last year, and he was the only one that fulfilled what the Twins were looking for. I guess you can look for the same things this year from Correia 4.20 ERA, along with 10 wins, 185 IP.

Kyle Gibson, everyones person in wait last two years is finally here, in the rotation healthy. The Twins marketing directors have put him as a top of the roation guy for years, and in reality he should be a solid 3. He is healthy, and this should be his year to start making that push to be a good 3. Help is coming in the rotation with Meyer/May, and adding a good Gibson would be nice to see. If you split some of the difference from Minor League ball to MLB experience, we can put Gibson at that 4.2 ERA, hoping for 160 IP, 9 W and holding on to that rotation spot until one or two of the other guys in the rotation gets traded in July, then you have Gibson and Deduno in the rotation, and probably seeing Meyer making appearances this season.

All being said, the rotation is much better!!! This doesn't include the fact of Suzuki being a great defensive catcher, and the Twins wanted him to call games and help the roation, he will do that!! 55 Wins for the starting rotation vs. 35 W, over 11 different starters that included these names: Pedro Hernandez, Andrew Albers, Cole Devries, Scott Diamond, PJ Walters, Vance Worley, Liam Hendriks, Kevin Correia, Mike Pelfrey, Samuel Deduno, Kyle Gibson. What a difference in the rotation from 1 year to the next!!!! My projections are not that overly homer IMO, and I really think w/o injury, and even if, we have depth with Deduno and Meyer this season.

Getting into games deeper will be a huge difference this season, as the bullpen was good last year, and it hasn't changed. The Twins will be in more games this year. The rotation makes the difference to make it to 70 wins, and could bolster the Twins season to get to 73 wins.

The lineup has a lot of flaws:

1. We don't have a leadoff hitter, my prediction is Aaron Hicks will be our leadoff hitter come June. Aaron Hicks will be the most improved Twins player this season, and that isn't that bold of a statement after batter under the Mendoza line last year.

2. Willingham is old, and Arcia K's too often. Where is the runs going to come from after Mauer hits a double to the gap and we didn't have a guy on base.

3. Bottom 3rd of the lineup is atrocious. Florimon, Suzuki, ?? not sure how the lineup is going to play out, but we are not going to get production out of that bottom.

All reality is the Twins are going to be in the bottom of the AL in runs scored unless Plouffe finds his magic from his 24 HR season, Willingham has something left int he tank and stays on the field, Arcia doesn't strikeout every 3rd AB, and Hicks really improves from last year. That is a lot of ???'s and hopes. This is the reason why the Twins will still lose 90 games this season.

The lineup needs to look like this by May to have a chance to score more runs.
Hicks
Dozier
Mauer
Willingham
Arcia
Plouffe
Kubel
Suzuki
Florimon

I am guessing by September it is going to look like this:

Hicks
Dozier
Mauer
Arcia
Sano (DH)
Plouffe
Buxton
Suzuki
Florimon

Which transitions into 2015. I know I put Sano in there, they did say they are not ruling him out for DH, and to bring fans into the stadium in September I can see this happening.

Overall this team is watchable, in my previous blog I didn't have too much positivity, and I don't as far as record, but I can easily see the Twins being in many more games when you compare depth and talent in the starting rotation, it isn't even close.

Tigers winning the division
Cleveland
KC
Twins
Chicago

I am betting on the over for the Twins this season, just based off rotation improvement. I am more than rooting for a few players to really succeed this season. Plouffe, Pelfrey, Hicks, I can't wait for the opening pitch today as everyone has a new record and a chance to compete in 2014. Go Twins!!!!!
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