"This is the best team I've ever been a part of," center fielder Torii Hunter said of the '07 ballclub. "I feel this is the best chance I've had out of all my years to get to the World Series. And I think we can do it."Even with all the talented pieces in place, Twins general manager Terry Ryan is hesitant to label this team as his team most primed for a World Series title. After all, the most talented club isn't always the most successful. "That's very difficult to equate, what you have on paper and the type of season you're going to have," Ryan said. "We'll play this next six months to decide where this team is. We've got a club that accomplished a lot the last number of years. Last year, we had more individual awards than ever, but it's bullpen, it's defense, it's speed, it's power, it's balance, it's run production, it's innings by starters, reliability. Before you can start equating what kind of club you have, you have to play 162 games because it doesn't matter what you look like on paper." Though there is comfort in knowing that many of the pieces are in place, there is also a sense of urgency. That's in part due to the fact that the team doesn't know exactly how long it will be able to keep many of its key players in Minnesota. One of the team's most integral pieces for the past eight years has been Hunter, and he could likely be gone at the end of the season. The center fielder is signed only through the end of '07 and with the free agent market exploding the way it has over the past few winters, Hunter is sure to draw some lucrative offers. But he's not the only core player that the Twins could lose in the coming years. Santana's contract runs out after the '08 season and Nathan could also be a free agent after '08. There are plans in place to try to sign the two players to extensions, but so far that has not taken place. With so much in question about the makeup of the team when it comes to the future, there is a feeling that this could be the season when the team needs to put everything together to reach its biggest goal -- the World Series. "You don't really want to look ahead to '08 because we have yet to play '07, but in a way it does give you a sense of urgency," Michael Cuddyer said of the potential players leaving in the coming years. "Knowing that some of those guys may or may not be back, I think everyone wants to step up and see what this group can do." The outsiders may have written this award-winning group off into the sunset, but there is a belief around the club that what's going on inside these walls is something that only the team can truly understand. "We know what kind of team we have and we're excited about it," Redmond said. "We've built up such a great camaraderie and chemistry in this clubhouse. And we're going to push each other to be ready. We're going to get this thing going and in the right direction.
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less