When Michael Cuddyer was drafted in 1997, he was taken ahead of some hefty names. Like Lance Berkman. The Twins have long hoped to see him become the prospect they drafted eight years ago. I believe when he wins the third base job this year, we should see that fulfilled.
There are, of course, other possibilites for third base. Eric Munson is one. He has a powerful bat, but he hasn't quite developed into a consistent hitter and his defense isn't an upgrade by any means to Cuddyer's. Munson should end up on the bench this year and he should be a vast improvement over Jose Offerman from last year (whose defense was embarrasing). And as we've mentioned, there is the possibility of having Rivas at short, Cuddyer at second, and Munson at third. But its not likely to happen.
Cuddyer should have a good year and should be a fine replacement for Corey Koskie. Koskie was a streaky hitter with a long swing much like Shawn Green's. Sure, like Green, he would get into grooves and slam HRs left and right. But usually, it wasn't great. And he couldn't handle lefties. Cuddyer should be consistent. He's a great overall athlete with an excellent swing. I see .280-.300 average, 20 HRs, 80 RBIs. Those are good numbers, and they could be even better. Defensively, Cuddyer may seem a little unfit now, but he'll adjust quickly. He's an outstanding athelete who should have no problem at third after getting adjusted.
Overall, I expect Michael Cuddyer to be this year's everyday third baseman. I think, out of the expected infield, Cuddyer and Morneau will have good years, while Rivas and Castro or whomever plays short are big question marks.
And in other Twins news, Johan Santana pitched three scoreless innings today in a 2-3 loss to the Devil Rays. Joe Mauer had two hits as a DH. Yesterday, Joe Mays and Brad Radke both had bad outings. This could be a bad sign, as Mays needs to be a counted on as a stable 5th starter.