The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Ed Thoma

October 28, 2007

Predictions, guaranteed to be accurate (unless they aren’t)

In the field of predictions, it’s difficult to top this gem from a Pioneer Press columnist for covering all the possibilities:

If the Twins can’t re-sign free agent Torii Hunter, plans are to trade, sign a free agent or go in-house to find his center field replacement.

Charley Walters has learned well from Sid Hartman. Whatever happens, Walters will be able to say he saw it coming.

Such vagueness, of course, merely underlines what Walters is trying to hide: He doesn’t know what’s going to happen with Hunter.

Neither do I. But that won’t stop me from making a guess:

He will not return to the Twins. I would rank his likely destinations thusly: White Sox, Rangers, Cubs.

A few more offseason predictions, none of them any more reliable than the first and none of them necessarily worth the price of this newspaper:

* Carlos Silva will get a four-year contract for at least $40 million. That deal will not come from the Twins.

If the contract comes from a National League team in a pitcher’s park — San Francisco, San Diego, the Mets, Los Angeles — Silva will make that team’s general manager look smart. Otherwise, not so much.

* The Twins will trade a young pitcher — most likely Boof Bonser or Kevin Slowey — for a center fielder. Slowey should be the more valuable trading chip.

Most likely trading partners: Mets, Tampa Bay, Cincinnati, Arizona.

* The Twins will reach a contract extension with Johan Santana. Five years, $20 million a year. Good luck getting that one insured.

* Barry Bonds will go loudly into retirement. He wants to play next season, but he won’t take what the market will offer.

Make no mistake: He remains a very productive hitter — his on-base percentage was .480 last season. He would make the Twins lineup better, even if they are already overwhelmingly left-handed.

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Ed Thoma