Boo Losing! Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE

Point/Counterpoint - "Going for it" in 2013

Point – The Twins should push all their chips in and try to make the playoffs in 2013

Yay Wins! Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-US PRESSWIRE

Did you watch baseball in 2012?  Baltimore and Oakland both made the playoffs.  Did anyone think that would happen?  These two teams came completely out of nowhere to make the playoffs.  The Twins aren’t even coming out of nowhere.  It is easy to forget that the Twins made the playoffs in 6 out of 9 seasons, prior to 2011.  This team was wildly successful in the previous decade and still has a team that resembles those of the 2002-2010 glory years.

The offense was great in 2012.  2012 is not viewed as a successful season, but this team can hit.  Josh Willingham and Ryan Doumit were excellent additions.  Joe Mauer and Denard Span had very strong seasons.  Justin Morneau bounced back, while Trevor Plouffe broke out.  There are young players ready to contribute as well, in Chris Parmelee, Aaron Hicks and Oswaldo Arcia.  If the team can use the 2012 off season to address the lack of starting pitching, there is no reason this team can’t ride a solid offense and an improved pitching staff to a 7th AL Central title.

2011 and 2012 were seasons filled with injuries and other bad luck.  2011 was a nightmare season for the Twins.  Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau and Denard Span all missed significant time.  In 2012, the pitching staff completely fell apart.  How can a team contend with so many players injured?  No one can predict what will happen in 2013.  It is entirely possible that the Twins will have zero injuries.  If they add the right pieces, they might even have some depth to cover for possible injuries.

There is no reason to take a step backward.  The Twins should constantly be moving forward.  No one wants to watch a team rebuild.  Fans want to support a good, competitive team.  There is no reason why the Twins can’t make a few key additions and contend in a weak AL Central.  Sure, the AL Central is weak, but last I checked the AL Central Champion was just in the World Series.  The Twins have a promising future, and there is no reason why the present can’t be surprisingly promising as well.  I’d say, there is no reason why any team should not try to win in any given season.

Counterpoint – The Twins are not likely to contend in 2013 and should begin a rebuilding process

Many will point to Baltimore and Oakland’s 2012 success and assume the Twins can reach that same level.  This is a very misguided assumption.  Typically, teams perform as well as is expected.  There are often surprise teams, but rarely do teams come completely out of nowhere.  Two consecutive last place finishes would indicate that it would take some sort of magic to contend in 2013.  I don’t believe in magic and I don’t think a professional baseball team should rely on magic.  This team needs to rebuild and blow up the team.

This team needs a ton of pitching.  Did you see the guys they trotted out to the mound last year?  Realistically, the team needs 4 starting pitchers, and 5 if you think Scott Diamond‘s performance was a bit of a fluke.  The Twins do not have a history of signing free agent starting pitching.  Unless they completely shift gears and sign a few free agents, this team will be relying heavily on similar pitchers next year.  If this is the case, all the offense in the world won’t make a difference.  This does not even address injuries, as the Twins offense stayed relatively healthy all of last year, something that is very difficult to duplicate.

The Twins need to trade the assets they have to build a farm system filled with young pitching.  Don’t waste a chip like Denard Span on some MLB ready pitcher that isn’t really great.  Find some young A ball flamethrowers and see how they develop.  There are no guarantees with young players, but isn’t the allure of a prospect more exciting than guaranteed mediocrity?  Trade Span, Josh Willlingham, Justin Morneau and anyone else that a team will trade young pitching for.  I’ll admit this isn’t an easy proposition, but that is why the decision makers are money makers.

Trying to win in 2013 will put this team in a hole going into 2014 and beyond.  This team needs to rebuild while it has attractive assets.  The continued lack of young, talented starting pitching has finally caught up to the Twins.  You can’t just sign young pitching, so you have to trade for it, draft it and develop it.  This takes time.  Patience is virtue; the 2013 Twins might be bad again, but by 2015, this could be a monster team.  Citing other teams’ success is not a good enough reason to mortgage the future.  2013 could be a disaster, but it could also be the season when things truly start to turn around.

Where do you stand?

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  • Brad Swanson

    Full disclosure: I’d like the Twins to go for it. Why not? I recognize that the Orioles and A’s had seasons that are extremely rare, but how fun must that have been for the fans? I think a fairy tale season might actually be more fun than a season that meets high expectations, even if both of those seasons end with equal levels of success.

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  • Hector S.

    As much as I would love to see them contend, I would be thrilled just to see them play competitive baseball at this point. Agree 100% on trading away major league talent from positions of organizational depth for as many talented young arms as they can land. One problem is the pitching has been so bad that people are overlooking the sub standard defensive play and lack of fundamentals of a team that at one time could have been viewed as a benchmark organization in these critical areas. Trade Morneau and Willingham for sure and use the money you save to go out and get a young SS and a nice veteran who can contribute every day while helping the young guys coming up for the next two to three years! Trade Span if the price is right, or for christ sake lock the guy up for 5 years beyond what he is already signed to and part with some of your outfield prospects for a pitcher or two. In my opinion 2013 is already over if you are expecting a run at the playoffs but that doesn’t mean the front office does not have to make some moves for the future and do everything it can to be competitive for 162 games. Roughly 25 – 30 million of payroll cut w/ Pavano, Capps, Baker, Nishi, Liriano… They should have the finances to buy some talent as well; just hate to see them try to solve all their problems with a $3m a year starter or $850k washed up 3rd basemen..

    • Brad Swanson

      You make some great points. I completely agree that the last thing fans want is the stop-gap, cheap players that help neither the present or future.

      I hadn’t even thought of extending Span, but that isn’t a bad idea. I’m not sure what the market is for Ben Revere, but I’d certainly prefer to keep Span long term over Revere. Ideally, Span would move to left or right, to make way for Aaron Hicks in 2013, but that is contingent on a few factors (Hicks’ continued progression, moving Willingham, Parmelee).

      I also tend to agree that the playoffs in 2013 is a dream.

      • PMinell

        Forgive me if this is nuts, but I’m fairly certain I could be more logical if it wasn’t ridiculously late/early in the day. Any way to combine Hicks, Span & Revere in the outfield, DH Willlingham, catch Doumit, Mauer at 1B, trade Morneau (I just cried a little bit) for pitching help???

        • Brad Swanson

          I actually like that outfield a lot. The defense would be insane, especially if the Twins put Hicks in center and Revere in left. You could platoon Doumit, Mauer and Willingham at 1B, C and DH, although obviously Willingham can’t play catcher. I’d rather trade Willingham as well, and make room for Parmelee. I hate to see Morneau go, but it might be time. There are just so many other options and Mauer is going to need to play first more often as the years go by.

  • Paul Pleiss

    I want a WS Title in Minnesota in 2013, but I’ll be happy to see them making moves to be competitive w/in the division this year with a real goal of being serious playoff contenders in 2014, 2015. I dont think blowing it up is the right move, we’ve got a lot of good parts, just not enough to fix the team in 1 off-season.

    • Brad Swanson

      I completely agree. There are really good pieces on the MLB team and in the farm system. There is no need for a full re-build, but some moves from positions of depth would be wise.