Written by Bjoern Hartig
Published: 06 February 2008
Johan Santana (SP): The best pitcher in baseball.
Joe Mauer (C):
Last year, Mauer had some leg problems and appeared in only 109 games. Compared to his stellar 2006 season, his numbers dropped considerably last year, but he is still very young (24) and if completely healthy, should easily give you .290+ average, 12+ HR, 5+ steals and 80+ RBI from the catcher’s spot with a good chance for even more.
Joe Nathan (CL):
Justin Morneau (1B):
Like Mauer, Morneau came back to earth last season after winning the (arguably undeserved) MVP-Award in 2006. However, fantasy wise, 31 HR and 111 RBI still looked pretty solid. Morneau is a sure bet to give you 30+ HR and 100+ RBI again with an average around .280, although any base he steals is pure luck. He is just 26, so there is still room for improvement, especially in the power department. I just might have put him in the Top Tier category had his slump last season not occured in the second half, which makes it a little bit suspicious.
Delmon Young (OF):
Young drove in 93 last year in Tampa, but he was also an out machine with an OBP .316 and 127 strike outs. But he is young and figures to get more patient while developing more power. He can probably reach 20 home runs and 100 RBI with the Twins and trow in a dozen steals or so. If only he keeps his temper in check.
Mike Lamb (3B):
Right now, it looks like Lamb will get the everyday third base job in 2008. Buried behind Morgan Ensberg in Houston, he has actually been a pretty good hitter and given regular playing time, he has a pretty good shot at reaching 20 home runs and 80 RBI and hit .280, although he won’t steal many bases. MLB ranks him #33 among third baseman, but I’d take him over the likes of Audrey Huff, Casey Blake or Melvin Mora any time.
Michael Cuddyer (RF):
Cuddyer is a solid, average outfielder, not more and not less. He’ll give you something between 15 to 20 home runs along with 80 to 100 RBI and the occasional steal. He is also entering his age 28 seaoson, so he’s your choice if you don’t like the high risk – high reward guys in the late rounds.
Joe Nathan (CL):
Don’t get me wrong, Nathan is first tier closer material who had 37 saves, more than a K per inning and a 1.02 WHIP in 2007. Nobody has converted a higher percentage of his save opportunities than Nathan the last two years. BUT he is also a prime candidate to get traded during the season and who knows if he still closes for his new team or if goes to the NL (if you’re in an AL only league). If the Twins ink him to an extension before your draft however, he will be one of the four or five first closers picked.
Jason Kubel (OF, DH):
Kubel has a pretty good minor league track record and he hit .303/.379/.511 after the All-Star break. If he can secure an everyday job in spring training, he might very well duplicate whatever teammate Cuddyer will produce. But he might also serve platoon duty if he starts slow.
Francisco Liriano (SP):
Liriano is coming back from Tommy John surgery and you never know what you get from those guys. Just to tease you, here are his numbers from 2006: 12-3, 2.16 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 144 K in 121 IP. That’s as good as it gets, IF you get the Liriano of old.
Brandon Harris or Alexi Casilla (2B):
Harris had in pretty good campaign in Tampa, hitting .286/.343/.434 with 12 HR and 59 RBI. However, he regressed in the second half and his defense is suspect. Alexi Casilla on the other hand, has good OBP skills and lightning speed, but so far has been overmatched in the majors. Given the Twins’ focus on defense (and history of playing no-stick infielders), I like Casillas chances. Take a flyer on him in the late rounds if you can.
Philip Humber, Kevin Mulvey (SP):
Both pitchers came over from the Mets in the Santana trade. It looks like they will start the season in the minors, but one of them could earn a rotation spot with a strong spring. Mulvey is the safer bet right now to make the team while Humber, once considered a top prospect, should have more upside. Neither is worth more than a flyer at this point though.
Carlos Gomez (OF)
: Gomez also came over from New York and he might earn the job in center field vacated by Torii Hunter. In that case, he should be able to give you some steals, given that he stole 12 last season while being on base only 37 times (in 15 tries).