Why are people so optimistic about this team? The starting pitching will still be awful, the offense will be meh, they won't have a CF until May or June and expect him to learn on the job, and the bullpen has two reliable arms, not to mention the continuously eroding fundamentals by this team.
I voted 60-69. I just have a hard time thinking this team is any better than the past two seasons.
I can't speak for everybody but I am optimistic for the following reasons:
1) The starting pitching is almost certainly going to be better than last year. Last year was an aberration - every single pre-season starter was out of the rotation by July, and the club had to scramble just to throw somebody (anybody) out there. That's a once-in-a-lifetime thing. We may not set the league on fire in ERA+, but I see no where to go but up.
2) Morneau came back much better than I expected, Mauer is back in form at the plate, and even with the lack of production from the middle infield we did show the ability to score runs last year. Inconsistent, to be sure, but it is there. Similar years for M&M this year, Willingham at 80% of what he was, a surge by Plouffe or Parmelee (neither of which is out of the picture), and replacement value hitting from the rest should score us enough runs to be competitive and make a run at .500 ball.
3) Yes, CF is a gamble, but one everyone knew we had to take, and given the depth in the farm system, one that is not unjustified. I'm going to trust that the organization wouldn't have given away both Span and Revere unless they felt there was enough to bring up to at least fill the gap and allow the farm system to develop further.
4) Bullpen pitching is notoriously unpredictable. Every year it's a coin toss whether it gels or not. Last year was a pleasant surprise; the previous year wasn't. Who knows what we'll have this year, but even if it's not as reliable as last year, if the starters can get deeper into the game (into the 7th inning) it will reduce any impact.
5) Because life is more pleasant when you think about good things instead of bad things. I choose to hope for the best and not assume the worst, especially in February and March. We have enough to be depressed about in Minnesota in winter; why add this to the list?