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No Need To Panic | January

Life as a Twins' fan may be a roller-coaster, but its ups and downs are very predictable.

Most seasons, Minnesota fans live the summer months on the edge of their seats, waiting either for the Twins to surge ahead of their division rivals or fade out of competition. In the end, Minnesota's chronic competitiveness surprises even the most pessimistic of followers. A late-season let down almost always follows, but the Twins find themselves in the thick of the divisional race each October.

These successful seasons come after a boring winter spent far away from baseball's Hot Stove, where significant transactions involving the Twins were far and few between.

With the selection of Scott Diamond in the annual Rule V draft being the most notable Minnesota move, it's clear the Twins are in the midst of another boring winter. It's tough to watch other teams trading for ___ and signing superstars while your team seems more intent on filling out the roster of their Triple-A affiliate.

But the Twins have gone through winters like these many times before and always seem to find a way to compete. While many fans have spent the last few weeks worrying, the Twins have been busy. A Jim Thome signing was announced recently, and the team seems closer to an agreement with Carl Pavano every day. Neither Thome nor Pavano are the high-profile moves many hoped for, but both are well worth their price tag and a fine allotment of Minnesota's tight payroll.

In spite of another offseason spent nervously chewing on fingernails, Minnesota will manage to field a competitive team once again. Here's a rough outline of what the Twins roster is looking like for the 2011 season, along with projected wins above replacement in attempt to give a vague idea of how many wins to expect (an average of ZiPS, Bill James, and 'Fans' projections):

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C: Joe Mauer, 6.6
1B: Justin Morneau, 3.9
2B: Alexi Casilla, 0.7
SS: Tsuyoshi Nishioka, 2.6
3B: Danny Valencia, 2.0
LF: Delmon Young, 2.2
CF: Denard Span: 3.0
RF: Michael Cuddyer, 1.9
DH: Jason Kubel, 1.3
Subtotal: 24.2

SP: Francisco Liriano, 5.5
SP: Carl Pavano, 3.5
SP: Scott Baker, 3.3
SP: Brian Duensing, 2.5
SP: Kevin Slowey, 2.6
Subtotal: 17.4

CL: Matt Capps, 1.8
RP: Joe Nathan, 2.1
RP: Jose Mijares, 0.1
RP: Alex Burnett, 0.2
RP: Jeff Manship, 0.2
RP: Pat Neshek, 0.2
Subtotal: 4.6

Bench: 3.0
Baseline: 43.5 wins

Grand total: 92.7 wins

I'll take 93 wins any day of the week.

Obviously, there is plenty of nit-picking to be done. I'm not sold on Nishioka being that good, nor am I convinced Casilla will be that bad. These projections won't be able to precisely nail playing time, nor do they account for any teams' incessant desire to continually play bad players. Important factors that these projections don't include are defense and base-running, whether for positive or negative.

Overall, I'd say these projections are a tad optimistic. I'd love for Minnesota to sign another reliever (which would tack on a few more wins) to help the bullpen, but I would put the Twins 2011 win total anywhere from 88-92. Is that enough to win the AL Central? Probably not, the Twins always find a way to compete and will no doubt be in the mix again this summer. I'm not worried.

Where do you peg the Twins in 2011?