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And So It Begins

It’s here. It’s finally here.

It’s like Christmas but it’s warmer.” – Pete Rose

Today is one of the greatest day of the year. Today is Opening Day. Baseball is back. Well, MLB decided to go wacky on us this year and break Opening Day up into two days, with every team playing either yesterday or today, which is pretty ridiculous.

But for Twins fans the wait is finally over. Today we get to, once again, cheer on our Twins as they once again make a run at defending the Central Division title. This year does not come without it’s own question marks.

1. Will the losses of Matt Guerrier, Jesse Crain, Jon Rauch, and Brian Fuentes from the bullpen be to much to bear?

1a. Will the new bullpen be effective?

2. Will Justin Morneau stay concussion free?

3. Will Joe Nathan be effective after returning from Tommy John?

4. Joe Mauer had offseason knee surgery. Will he stay healthy?

5. Nick Blackburn and Scott Baker had offseason elbow cleanup surgery. Will they be healthy and effective?

6. Can Alexi Casilla really handle being a major league starting shortstop?

7. Will Tsuyoshi Nishioka make a smooth transition from Japan to America? How good will he be?

Luckily, some of these questions appear that they will be answered favorably. Justin Morneau looks to be healthy, and hopefully he won’t have to take to much time off. Luckily for the Twins, they have the big bat of Jim Thome to step in when Morneau can’t. Joe Nathan looks to be healthy as well, time will tell if he can be anywhere near as good as he was before he got hurt. Joe Mauer looks perfectly healthy, at least for now, and not playing much in spring training probably did him good. Nick Blackburn and Scott Baker looked healthy enough in spring training, but their effectiveness will be key. Tsuyoshi Nishioka looked very good this spring, he had a batting average of .345 in spring training, and it will be interesting to see if he can perform anywhere near that level during the regular season.

Yes there are question marks, but boy is it good to have baseball season back.

Projections

Twins Projections

Twins MVP: Joe Mauer
Mauer is the best player on the team, plain and simple. How can you pick against him?

Twins Cy Young: Francisco Liriano
Liriano was one of the best pitchers in all of baseball last year.

Twins Best Rookie: Tsuyoshi Nishioka
I think Nishioka will be better than many people think he will be, but he’s no Ichiro.

Most Improved Player: Denard Span
Span was abysmal last year. Look for him to get back on track

A.L. Central Standings Projections
1. Twins
2. White Sox
3. Tigers
4. Indians
5. Royals

MLB Predictions

A.L. MVP: Adrian Gonzalez
N.L. MVP: Hanley Ramirez
A.L. Cy Young: Felix Hernandez
N.L. Cy Young: Tommy Hanson
A.L. Rookie of the Year: Jeremy Hellickson
N.L. Rookie of the Year: Aroldis Chapman
A.L. Breakout Player of the Year: Carlos Santana
N.L. Breakout Player of the Year: Mike Stanton
A.L. Comeback Player of the Year: Justin Morneau
N.L. Comeback Player of the Year: Carlos Beltran
A.L. Playoff Predictions: Red Sox over Twins, A’s over Yankees, Red Sox over A’s
N.L. Playoff Predictions: Phillies over Giants, Rockies over Brewers, Rockies over Phillies
World Series Prediction: Rockies over Red Sox


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