Kimmes: Twins are going to the Series


The Minnesota Twins won the American League Central Division for the third consecutive year last Monday, a team record. Each year the Twins have made significant changes on their roster, yet they continue to flourish.

This year’s playoff roster will have many different names on it. Gone are bullpen fixtures LaTroy Hawkins and former all-star “Everyday” Eddie Guardado. Gone is all-star catcher A.J. Pierzynski. Gone is former Gold Glove winner Doug Mientkiewicz.

The starting pitchers have also changed. Eric Milton was traded, Joe Mays had surgery and Kenny Rogers and Rick Reed were not re-signed. Through smart trades, good free agent signings, and a deep farm system, the Twins were able to restock their team and make the playoffs once again. This year’s team features pitchers Joe Nathan and Carlos Silva, first baseman Justin Morneau and catcher Henry Blanco, to name a few.

The Twins have their best chance to win in the playoffs this year. First, they have the best pitching staff in the American League; they have the lowest team earned run average. The pitching staff is led by the best pitcher in the American League, Johann Santana. Santana is the frontrunner to win the American League Cy Young Award. Santana has not lost a game since the all-star break. He had pitched 30 consecutive scoreless innings as of Sept. 19. He is fourth in the American League in innings pitched, second in the AL in wins, first in the league in earned run average and first in the American League in strikeouts.

Having a dominant starter can carry a team far in the playoffs. Randy Johnson almost single-handedly won a playoff series for the Seattle Mariners. A team’s ace pitcher can start twice in a five-game series and three times in a seven-game series. If the ace wins all of his games, the team only has to win one of the remaining three games.

The Twins have a good chance to win another game with a quality number two starter, Brad Radke. He is fifth in the American League in ERA and fifth in innings pitched. He also leads the league in fewest walks per nine innings.

These two starting pitchers are as good as any two starting pitchers in baseball and will provide the Twins with a chance to win every series they are in.

The Twins’ bullpen is also top-notch. It is led by all-star closer Joe Nathan. Nathan is third in the American League in saves and has the best ERA among closers in the American League.

Nathan and fellow reliever J.C. Romero have each had consecutive scoreless inning streaks of over 25 innings this year. Fellow reliever Juan Rincon is having his best year in the major leagues. The Twins have the starting pitchers and the shut-down relievers to win.

Secondly, the Twins also have a solid offensive team. The biggest criticism about the Twins over the past few years has been their lack of power. This is no longer the case.

It is true that the Twins will not have anybody hit over 30 home runs, but they are still sixth in the league in home runs. They have three players with over 20 home runs and nine players with 10 or more home runs.

Minnesota has a chance to tie a major league record with 10 players hitting 10 or more home runs, with two players sitting at eight home runs with a week to go in the season. Minnesota does have one legitimate threat to hit a home run every time Justin Morneau steps up to the plate. He only has 17 home runs, but did not start playing in the major leagues until late July. The Twins do not rely exclusively on power like other teams. They will manufacture runs – sacrifice bunt, hit sacrifice flies, steal bases and advance runners. Minnesota is third in the league in stolen bases. They will take the extra base when the opportunity presents itself, giving themselves more and better scoring opportunities.

Finally, the Twins also have experience in the playoffs. They have turned over some of their roster, but many players have been in the playoffs the last two years. Jacque Jones, Torii Hunter and Corey Koskie are a few of the Twins who have been to the playoffs the past two seasons.

I believe the Minnesota Twins will bring their World Series dreams to fruition. They have what it takes to go all the way.