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MFFL
03-24-2002, 02:07 PM
Here's the link (http://www.dfw.com/mld/startelegram/2002/03/23/sports/baseball/mlb/2919174.htm)

Rather than talking baseball in spring training, the Twins have been forced to talk contraction.

Unless a new ballpark is built in the Minneapolis area - and there is only talk so far - the Twins will be one of two teams Major League Baseball will shut down after the season. Only a court order saved them this year.

But the Twins are hoping that a good season, perhaps even a division title, will kill any idea of taking away their team. With the Indians slicing payroll, the Twins' pitching staff could carry Minnesota to its first division title since 1991.

"A lot of people forget about the White Sox," Twins center fielder Torii Hunter said. "They had one bad year, but those guys are good. They're good. We have some pitching and good players over here, so we should be the favorites to win it. But the team for us to beat is the White Sox."

The Twins' staff of Eric Milton, Joe Mays, Brad Radke and Rick Reed is as good as any in the American League. The other spot in the rotation will be filled by hot prospect Adam Johnson, Kyle Lohse or Matt Kinney.

"We are really happy with the guys we have," Twins first-year manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Those three [Milton, Mays and Radke] are as good as anybody's in baseball. To get an opportunity to manage a team like this your first time, it's pretty much a dream situation."

But while the rotation is a dream, the bullpen is a mess.

LaTroy Hawkins blew nine saves last season and lost his job to first-time closer and longtime Twin Eddie Guardado. With Guardado vacating his setup position, the team has no reliable right-handed middle reliever.

The infield appears set with Doug Mientkiewicz at first, Luis Rivas at second, Corey Koskie at third and Cristian Guzman at shortstop. Rivas needs to play better at second base, but he's coming off a solid second half in which his average was 38 points higher after the All-Star break.

Hunter and Jacque Jones are solid, everyday outfielders, but the right field spot is wide open. Rookie Michael Cuddyer may have the chance to jump from Double A to the majors.

A lot must go right for the Twins to better their second-place finish of last season. But even more has to go right for them to avoid extinction.

"I just know we played well, and I still don't know why they want to contract us," Hunter said. "We have something good going here."

Drbio
03-24-2002, 04:50 PM
I think that the Twins will be a good team this year. And I also don't think that they will even come close to being contracted. Just a feeling I have.

Murphy3
03-24-2002, 08:49 PM
it's hard not to pull for the twins this year... i used to hate the twins.. back in the 80's to mid 90's..but i'm pulling for them now