This weekend, I wrote some 2012 off-season/2013 season previews for each team in the AL Central. I posted each of them on my old blog and they give a good overview of what the rest of the division has been up to since October. Here they are, in order of how I think they will finish: Tigers, Royals, White Sox, Indians. Click each link for detailed reports. Now, let’s investigate the Twins off-season and find out what the future holds.
The Twins made some solid moves this off-season. They have improved the long-term future of this franchise. They made some puzzling moves as well, but overall, the team has a brighter future than it did at the end of September. However, is the team better in the short-term? What does the 2013 season hold for the Minnesota Twins?
Let’s find out!
Minnesota Twins 2012 – Actual W-L 66-96; Pythagorean W-L – 68-94
Seriously? Actual key losses - Baker and Span. Revere is fun to watch, but I think he is one of the more overrated players in recent Twins past. If May develops, that trade will be an absolute steal. Even if only Worley contributes, it should still be a win for the Twins.
Addition by Subtraction – Matt Capps, but only for fan sanity. I still think he has something to give a team. Here is my analysis of his signing with the Indians for more on that.
Waiver Claims - Josh Roenicke, from the Rockies
Former Twin Update! – Carl Pavano injured his spleen when he fell in the snow. He had to have it removed. This would be funny if it weren’t so serious.
According to eHow.com: “The majority of the spleen’s functions are related to the immune system or the blood supply. The spleen removes old red blood cells, called erythrocytes, from the blood supply and removes, stores and produces white blood cell lymphocytes. These stored lymphocytes produce antibodies and assist in removing microbes and other debris from the blood supply.”
Read more: What Is the Function of the Spleen? | eHow.com
So, while the word “spleen” is very funny, damage and subsequent removal of said spleen is not a laughing matter. Hopefully Pavano will have a full recovery and no long term effects from this injury.
Bullet Dodged - The Twins did not overreact to their lack of starting pitching by signing Kyle Lohse (yet). In addition to being overrated, Lohse would cost the Twins a second round pick. Perhaps that pick isn’t all that valuable, but it could prove very valuable for a rebuilding Twins team if they choose wisely/get lucky.
The 2012 season was a disaster. The starting pitching fell apart almost immediately when Scott Baker had to have season-ending surgery. Francisco Liriano was a disaster and Carl Pavano missed most of the season. Liam Hendriks gave up 40,000 home runs. Nick Blackburn did Nick Blackburn things and Brian Duensing declared to the world, “I am a reliever!” On the positive side, Scott Diamond became a household name (see photo below), Minnesota-native Cole De Vries got to show his stuff and we all learned what it means to be “effectively wild,” from Sam Deduno.
The offense was much better than the pitching, but not good enough to overcome the poor pitching. Joe Mauer had a great season, leading the league in OBP and nearly winning the batting title. Josh Willingham rewarded the Twins’ faith in him by slugging 35 home runs. On a smaller scale, Ryan Doumit proved to be a smart signing, Denard Span and Justin Morneau returned to form after concussion issues and Trevor Plouffe briefly played the part of “Babe Plouffe.” When you add bullpen successes Glen Perkins and Jared Burton, the Twins 2012 season was not a total loss.
The off-season was spent improving the starting pitching. The Twins traded Ben Revere for Vance Worley, who is under team control for many years. The Twins also landed Trevor May in that deal. May is a promising starter with good stuff and iffy command. If he can improve his command, he can be big part of the Twins’ future. The Twins also traded Denard Span for Alex Meyer. Meyer is a giant man and pitches like it. If he can harness his stuff, he can really be something. Meyer is likely the most important prospect in the Twins’ system, with honest “Ace” potential. The Twins also signed Kevin Correia, Mike Pelfrey and Rich Harden to contracts. Each pitcher is likely an improvement over some of the pitchers used last season.
The Twins did little to change or improve their offense. In fact, it is probably a bit worse. Denard Span was a really important player. He is a great lead-off hitter and a great centerfielder. However, the Twins have great outfield depth in the farm system. Trading Span for Meyer was a smart trade, but it certainly hurts the 2013 team. Aaron Hicks is the current favorite to start in center, but his offense might be a bit behind his defense. He won’t give the Twins what Span did at the plate, but he could exceed Span’s defensive prowess. Our own Michael Longoria provided a great piece on Hicks yesterday, and you should read it. The rest of the outfield defense could be a train-wreck, with first basemen Josh Willingham and Chris Parmelee on the corners.
The middle infield is not great. I don’t think Pedro Florimon will hit, but Brian Dozier might. If Dozier can resemble the player he was in 2011, he could become a good #2 hitter. It will be interesting to see what Plouffe, Parmelee and Hicks can provide at the plate. If two of the three can hit, the lineup will be fine. Mauer, Willingham, Doumit and Morneau can be counted on for offense, but likely with differing results.
Are they better than last year? Not really, but maybe somewhat. Although, I am not sure that getting better for 2013 was the ultimate goal of this off-season. It seems the team is working on more of a long-term improvement plan. The three starters acquired in trades can help in 2014 and beyond. Worley will also help in 2013. I think they have improved the starting pitching beyond just Worley. You can read why here. There are still huge holes, but the farm system is deep and the future may be very bright.
How the Twins can avoid the basement - It’s going to be tough. If you read my thoughts on the other teams in the division, I feel that 3 teams got better and the other (White Sox) didn’t get any worse. The Twins aren’t much better, if better at all. However, I could honestly see the 2015 Twins contending for a division title. If they supplement the deep farm system through trades and smart free agent signings, there is the chance for a good core developing by that time. It is a long way off, but certainly worth waiting for. Two more tough seasons might be in our future, but beyond that, I see major reasons to be optimistic.
Predicted Division Finish - 5th. Twins fans, it hurts. Three straight last place finishes is on no one’s wish list. However, one more bad season might be it. There are really exciting players coming up through the farm system, and quite a few will be in Minnesota by 2014. If things really click, the 2014 Twins could resemble the 2001 team that put this franchise back on the map after nearly a decade of losing. Don’t lose hope and faith in this franchise. All teams go through this (except the Yankees). If you stick with this team, your patience will pay off.
In the coming weeks, I am going to outline the Twins’ organizational depth. In addition, I have a list of things to look forward to that I will be unveiling in a few weeks. While 2013 could be another poor season, there are still plenty of excellent reasons to watch this team. It will be a fun season, 100 losses or not!
What are your expectations for the Twins in 2013? Do you think they will be better than in 2012 or worse? What did you think of their moves this off-season? Please share in the comments or send me a message on Twitter – @bridman77. Just click on my name and let me know. I want to hear from everyone! Let’s get the 2013 season discussion going early.