March 25, 2012; Jupiter, FL, USA; Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Brian Duensing (52) on the hill during a spring training game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Roger Dean Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports
Pitchers and catchers report in one week!
I’ve been giddy about next Tuesday for something like two months. (That’s only a slight exaggeration.) I mean, football is an okay way to pass the offseason, but my first thought after Sunday’s big game was NOW everyone can finally focus on baseball. (I guess I don’t even count basketball or hockey…)
195 losses. It’s been a rough two seasons for the Minnesota Twins, especially after the fantastic inaugural season at Target Field in 2010. In keeping an eye on fans comments about the upcoming season, there is a significant contingent that is up in arms over what they expect 2013 will look like. After all, the Twins didn’t sign Zack Greinke, they did sign Kevin Correia, and they traded both Denard Span and Ben Revere.
However, I really think that the fans who are angry about this offseason have unreal expectations of what is even possible. I mean, really, if you were Greinke, would you sign with the Twins? Correia seemed to get a little more money than he might have been worth; at the same time, the Twins clearly had a limited number of free agents willing to sign, and the fact that Correia even considered coming to Target Field may have given him the ability to demand more than he might be worth to the average MLB team. The Twins project nowhere near average this year. If a fan really thought the Twins were a move or two away from the 2013 playoffs, the Revere trade, which came close on the heals of the Span trade, showed what the Twins thought was realistic for the upcoming season: the playoffs aren’t happening this year, but we can get ourselves ready for 2014.
It’s difficult to hear but, friends, it’s the reality. The Twins won’t be in the playoff mix in 2013, and that’s not because the front office is made up of morons. In fact, I contend that they intelligently recognized that 2013 success is virtually impossible; rather, the best move for long-term success is to improve for the near future of 2014.
And so, standing on the assumption that the Twins will be nowhere near the 2013 playoffs, here are my top three goals for the 2013 season:
- Give the Twins’ top prospects significant major league experience, especially (in no particular order) Aaron Hicks, Alex Meyer, Kyle Gibson, and Trevor May. Why? Let them work out the kinks this year, when everyone knows the team doesn’t have a shot at the playoffs. No harm, no foul if they flounder a bit, but if they can work out the jitters this year, they can start 2014 strong.
- Trade Justin Morneau just before the trade deadline. Why? First of all, it absolutely pains me to say that. However, that’s why I’m not the GM. I’d have a hard time making tough decisions for the good of the team, especially when sentimentality is on the line. So why trade Morneau? Because one of two things will happen as the trade deadline approaches. Either A) Morneau tanks again due to injury and the Twins can take part of his large contract off the books, or B) Morneau has a phenomenal early season and the Twins can maximize his trade value. The guy is only getting older and has a history of injury, not a winning combination.
- Judge Ron Gardenhire‘s success with reference to the team’s capabilities, not with reference to his previous level of success. Why? Because Gardenhire doesn’t decide who is signed, traded or called up. It’s like he inherits a chess game already in progress and has to take over, no matter where the pieces are on the board. The question should be whether or not Gardenhire can manage the team so as to meet or excede the expectations of the sum of the parts of the team, not whether or not the team makes the playoffs. It is a foregone conclusion that the Twins won’t earn a playoff spot, so that can’t be a reference point for judging Gardenhire this year.
What are your goals for the Twins? Do you think I’ve hit the nail on the head, or am I way off base? Give us your thoughts in the comments below.