Twins '06: Is the Future Still Now?

Snapshots of a long-shot season to come

—a) the White Sox and Cleveland's team charters collide in mid-air, or b) Terry Ryan finds the will and the means to deal a couple of his only-adequate starting pitchers—or one of them plus either Baker or Liriano—for upgrades to the offense. An impact hitter at third base or one of the corner outfield spots would look mighty nice about now, as would a shortstop who could hit a lick. The latter's not as rare a commodity as it used to be, though you'd never know it by examining a Twins roster of recent vintage. —Perry

—all of their pitchers throw well, or both Baker and Liriano establish themselves alongside Santana, Silva, and Radke as the best rotation in the American League. —Robson

—the planets align, which only happens in Trip Shakespeare songs. That said, a lot can come together if Hunter starts clearing the bases, Bradke gets off the early-inning home run curse, and Jesse Crain becomes comfortable as Joe Nathan's set-up man. It's ridiculous to put Scott Baker in the rotation instead of Francisco Liriano—bundling Michael Cuddyer or Lew Ford with a prospect for a lefty in the bullpen would take care of two problems. Which brings us to a lack-of-depth issue: Cuddyer's got better offensive skills, but only Ford can replace an aching Hunter in center on this team. And there is no real backup at first base. An injury-free season—unlikely for any team—is required. —Anderson

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