Honestly didn't expect to see Twins appear in this column, but they made it in twice.
In the Free-Agent Flop category, Cliff Corcoran predicted:
Phil Hughes, Twins, RHP
[FONT=verdana]Hughes' back problems, which have hampered him to varying degrees in each of the last three seasons, stem back to a herniated disc suffered in 2004, the year he was drafted. Since returning to the Yankees' rotation from a brief and wildly successful stint as a setup man in 2009, he has averaged just 147 innings a season and posted a 91 ERA+. At his best over that stretch, he was a league-average starter -- 2012, when he put up a 4.19 ERA (101 ERA+) in 191⅓ innings. At his worst, in early 2011, mysterious shoulder problems sapped his velocity and resulted in a four-digit ERA.[/FONT]
[FONT=verdana]The distance between the "Phil Franchise" expectations in New York and his modest $24 million, three-year deal with the Twins, with whom he'll play second-fiddle to Ricky Nolasco, should work in his favor, as should the ballpark. Target Field is a safe haven for flyball pitchers like Hughes, who has a 2.11 ERA there in three career starts. But he won't get to face the Twins' lineup there anymore, and he won't have the Yankees' bats supporting him, either.[/FONT]
And in the Bold Prediction for the season category, Joe Sheehan had this:
The Twins will contend for a playoff spot[FONT=verdana]
[FONT=verdana]Minnesota has lost at least 96 games three seasons in a row, but the Twins will hang around .500 and the fringes of the wild-card race for much longer than anyone expects them to. Free-agent signings Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes will bolster the rotation in front of an improving defense.[/FONT]
Some disagreement between the two about Hughes, obviously. Nice to see someone fairly optimistic about the Twins this year, though. I find it unlikely, but I guess if way more things break right this year than we have a right to expect, it could be a good season.