By Joe Christensen
When ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick was writing this piece on the best and worst lineups in baseball last week, he knew things were changing quickly. At the time, he ranked the Twins with the 26th worst lineup in baseball, above only the Pirates, Nationals, Royals and Giants.
I did my own lineup projection recently, but since then, the picture has become more clear. The Twins non-tendered Jason Tyner and signed two Houston Astros — Adam Everett and Mike Lamb — with hopes that they’ll form the left side of the infield.
Clearly, the Twins need to address center field. And you know what? They still need to address the leadoff spot, too, which helps explain why they are so high on Jacoby Ellsbury in their Johan Santana trade talks. Melky Cabrera is a nice player, but I’m not sure he fits this equation quite as well. Here’s their best lineup moving forward:
1. The CF to be named later.
Trade candidates include Ellsbury, Coco Crisp and Cabrera. Free agent candidates include Corey Patterson and Kenny Lofton. In-house candidates include Denard Span and Jason Pridie.
2. Brendan Harris, 2B
Alexi Casilla and Nick Punto are other options for second base, but the Twins sound committed to giving Harris an everyday role because of his bat.
3. Joe Mauer, C
4. Michael Cuddyer, RF
5. Justin Morneau, 1B
6. Delmon Young, LF
7. Jason Kubel/Craig Monroe, DH
Kubel would get the bulk of the at-bats in a platoon since most pitchers are righthanded, and Monroe is a career .273/.319/.495 hitter against lefties.
8. Mike Lamb, 3B
His lefthanded bat makes things a lot more interesting. Punto and Harris are options here if the Twins become despondent about Lamb’s defense.
9. Adam Everett, SS