Column: Sometimes we have to take a leap of faithPublished 12:00am Thursday, March 27, 2008
By Jon Laging, Talking Sports
Ever since the turn of the century, I have been optimistic about the Minnesota Twins chances for post-season play. It&8217;s very difficult this year to hold out much hope. On the positive side the offense seems to have taken a step forward. That&8217;s not very difficult, it could have hardly been worse than last year. But the pitching, oh my, the pitching. A number of things have to happen for the starting pitching to reach the major league level, much less average or above.
This year it requires a &8220;leap of faith&8221; to find some reason to hope for meaningful games in September. With that phrase in mind I goggled the Internet and found philosopher Soren Kierkegaard. He said that a leap of faith is &8220;subjectivity at its highest.&8221; In other words, belief with nothing to back it. It was likened to Indiana Jones taking that last step above the canyon, not seeing, but finding the bridge beneath him.
Such is needed to believe in the Twins&8217; chances this year. But yet, maybe it&8217;s not quite that bad. When I interviewed Kent Hrbek seven years ago, I asked him, did the Twins have a chance? Hrbek replied, &8220;Yes, if everyone has a career year.&8221; Than requires less belief than Kierkegaard&8217;s &8220;Leap of Faith&8221; and is within the realm of possibility. Let&8217;s throw in a little wishful thinking, rose colored glasses, a few small miracles and outline some career years.
Rookie of the year Carlos Gomez justifies the Santana trade all by himself, hitting 292, stealing 52 bases and becoming the team sparkplug.
Batting second, Joe Mauer has an injury free year, stops hitting grounders to second basemen, finishes second in the batting championship with a 346 average, 22 home runs and 95 RBI. He throws out 27 of 40 base stealing attempts and at the end of the year opposing teams no longer try to steal on the Twins. (He&8217;s 3 for 3 throwing out Torii Hunter). Joe wins catching&8217;s Gold Glove.
Batting third Michael Cuddyer has a banner year hitting 301 with 30 home runs and 110 RBI. He finishes second in the Gold Glove voting for rightfielders and is given the Harry Potter award for best magician in the Majors.
Justin Morneau batting fourth, more than lives up to his clean-up role with 49 home runs, tying Harmon Killebrew for most Twin&8217;s home runs in a season. He&8217;s expected to be the American League&8217;s premier slugger for a number of years. He bats 329 and drives in 151 runs despite missing two weeks of the season. Morneau reminds old baseball viewers of Detroit Hall of Fame slugger and first baseman Hank Greenberg.
Batting fifth, Delmon Young provides the best left field coverage since the days of Bob Allison. He increases his batting average, home runs and RBI by ten. Each by ten. He receives the Mr. Nice Guy award given each year by Twins&8217; management.
Batting sixth is Mike Lamb who takes advantage of the opportunity of playing every day by hitting 295 and driving in 101 runs. Lamb improves his fielding and is a force in the batting lineup.
Jason Kubel and Craig Monroe combine to hit 285 with 27 home runs and 85 RBI. They are voted the best left-right combination in the Majors. Not since the days of Casey Stengel have two players been platooned so well.
Nick Punto surprisingly plays most of the season at second base after starting the year as a utility man. Punto recovers his 2006 play and is the piranha of old.
Shortstop Adam Everett is a defensive genius forming with Punto the best double play combination in the Majors. Hits 265 and provides some clutch hits at the end of the season.
I have nothing to say about the Twins starting pitching as leaps of faith or career years cant be stretched just so far.
A prediction will be coming in the future with a realistic look at the Twins&8217; upcoming season.