FLB: Twins preview
After three years of American League Central domination, the Twins slipped back to the rest of the pack in 2005, falling to third place and a mere four games over .500 (83-79). That doesn't mean Minnesota is a franchise once again in decline; more accurately, last season was more of a retooling process to get its young core geared up for a few more pennant chases the next several years. The Twins' current 40-man roster averages 27.3 years old, sixth-youngest in the majors, and of their remaining key contributors from 2005, only four players -- Torii Hunter (30), Joe Nathan (31), Brad Radke (33) and Shannon Stewart (32) -- will be past their 30th birthdays come opening day.
Offense was the primary problem in the Twin Cities a year ago; these Twins managed just 4.25 runs per game, last in the American League and fifth worst in the majors. That's what happens when your top two lineup spots combine for a .313 on-base percentage, third-worst in the majors, your No. 3 hitter (Joe Mauer) is still working on developing power, and your primary cleanup hitter (Justin Morneau) has his power sapped by bone chips in his elbow.
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