The Enemy Has Put Us on Notice, General

[Editor’s Note: With the regular season just a week away, we asked some friends and frenemies of the 35th Street Review to weigh in with what they see from their corner of the baseball world. If you would like to contribute a blurb or two, drop a line to

Today, we go directly to the Hot Zone with probably-not-all-that-overconfident Twins fan and frequent 35th Street contributor Ira Brooker, and also get a report from Katie of Oh, It’s THOSE Girls. Enjoy.]

Does it count as a prediction if it’s just common sense? Because the Minnesota Twins are clearly going to win the division. They’re overstocked with quality outfielders, they added a solid bat at third base (and simultaneously subtracted one from their chief rivals), and there’s no reason to think last season’s crop of outstanding young pitchers has done anything but improve in the offseason. Add in the emotional factor of playing a final season under the roof of baseball’s greatest home field advantage, and it looks pretty damn certain that the shiny confines of Target Field will be sporting a crisp new championship banner come 2010.

Not that the Twins have a perfect squad, of course. Young Mauer apparently has the back of a man three times his age. If there’s a way to hit into a double play with no men on, you can be sure Nick Punto will find it. With the departure of Dennys Reyes and the injury to Boof Bonser, they’re sorely lacking in the portly and maddeningly inconsistent middle reliever department. Nevertheless, the Twins are on a righteous mission of vengeance this year, and I’m predicting they won’t need to rely on a coin-flip and a geriatric one-trick pony to lace up the division.

— Ira Brooker

When I was asked to write a few words about of the Twins’ ’09 outlook, I thought it’d be a good idea to come up with one bold, decisive thesis statement and work from there. So, I started out with this: “This ’09 squad will prove once and for all that the Minnesota Twins are the singular greatest sports entity in the history of the world. . . nay, the UNIVERSE! Mwahahaha!”

And I think that this would be an appropriate time to mention that I have been taking a lot [seriously, a LOT] of cold medication.

Really, though, I think we ARE going to be pretty awesome. Of course, I think this every spring. But this year, I’m even more convinced than usual. Obviously, Joe Mauer is currently broken to an undisclosed degree, but the Twins have done their best to minimize that potential setback, even going so far as to obtain yet another backup Joe. You might be familiar with him. His name is Joe Crede. He used to be evil, but is apparently reformed now. And, through a variety of scientific experimentation I have proven that Crede is actually 37-39% hotter in a Twins uniform. [However promising that information is, I should probably disclose that I have picked May 23rd on the “When Crede Goes On the DL” calendar pool.]

Other than that. . . what’s not to love? Our pitching remains phenomenal. Our first baseman remains gigantic and Canadian. Our centerfielder is guaranteed to remain speedy, whichever one we go with on any given day. You White Sox fans better be ready. . . because we’re bringing the A-game. Really, my biggest worry about the season is how many bat boys and utility players Sidney Ponson might devour if he does wind up in our division again. But I guess that’s a concern for all of us. Maybe we can bond through shared terror?

— Katie