RF: The Rifle (Hopefully Locked and Loaded)
Before the 2008 season, the Minnesota Twins gave right fielder Michael Cuddyer a long-term (I believe it was either 4 or 6 years) contract. Due to injuries, however, that money has not turned out to be a good investment (yet), as bad-luck injuries plagued Cuddy the entire season.
During the fifth game of the season, Cuddyer dislocated his right index finger sliding into third base and was out about a month. He came back at the end of April, played throughout May, and just when his timing was starting to come back, he strained a tendon in the same left index finger, putting him on the shelf for a much longer period. Cuddyer rested and rehab the finger throughout June and July, and just as he was predicted to return, a freak line drive from teammate Garrett Jones in a Triple-A rehab assignment smashed him on his foot (he was on first base) and broke a bone. Thus, Cuddyer did not return to the Twins full healthy until late September, when the lineups were already pretty much set for the stretch run. He did pinch hit a few times, but that was about it.
Essentially, then, the 2008 season was a lost one for Michael Cuddyer. However, he should come back healthy in ’09, and when that happens he is a huge asset to our lineup. Offensively, he provides the righty antithesis to Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, and Jason Kubel and can hit 20 home runs per season. Defensively, he has the strongest arm on the team (and playing with Gomez, Young, and Span makes that quite an achievement) and has become very familiar playing the tricky “Baggie” out in right.
Though his return muddles the CF situation (Span or Gomez?), Cuddyer is a bat and glove the Twins need in the middle of their lineup.