Watching an AL Central team play in the World Series, and one that isn’t the Tigers, shows the Minnesota Twins the exact blueprint in regards to their return to relevance.
The Minnesota Twins are in the midst of searching for their next managerial option after losing 90 games for yet another season. However, with a crop of young talent on the horizon, the future is on its way, and the blueprints have been laid out by the Kansas City Royals, now will the Twins follow them?
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From a comparison perspective, I typically defer to the Tampa Bay Rays as the model franchise. Despite their down season this year, the way in which they trade top tier assets, instead of paying them, for other top tier assets is remarkable. Although I’m not big on analytics, the Rays have exacted the science down to an art. Everything about Tampa Bay, outside of their attendance, is something that every franchise would love to emulate.
That being said, the Twins best chance at returning to relevance is in ditching the “Twins Way” and looking to follow in the footsteps of the Kansas City Royals.
The Twins best chance at returning to relevance is in ditching the “Twins Way”
A Case Study in Kansas City
If you look at the Royals roster, eight players on the 25 man active roster are 25 years of age or younger. Just outside of that group sits Mike Moustakas, the third basemen who was one of the first issued onto the major league club in this new wave of talent.
Looking at Moustakas, the Twins find a case study that is worth monitoring on nearly every level. Promoted at the age of 22 back in 2011, Moustakas was a top prospect with a lot left to figure out. In his first season at the big league level, Moose hit .263/.309/.367 in 89 games. That batting average sits as his career high, and 20 points above any mark since.
He was demoted back to the minor leagues this season after batting under .200 for much of the beginning of the year, and his season line ended at .212/.271/.361. With an extremely high ceiling, the swing and miss tendencies were lived with. Upon his promotion back to the big league club, it made sense as to why.
Despite hitting under .200 for the beginning of the season, Moustakas turned in a .247 average through the month of September while also playing a solid third base. The patience has paid off in the postseason however.
With his average sitting at .241 through eight games, all wins, Mike Moustakas has also hit four home runs for the Royals. An integral member of this potential World Series roster, Moustakas is just one cog of a Royals roster showing the Twins what they have done wrong.
Moustakas is just one cog of a Royals roster showing the Twins what they have done wrong.
Building From Within
Minnesota has three top tier prospects immediately ready down on the farm. Alex Meyer is 24 years old, two years beyond where Moustakas was when promoted, and toiling away meaningless inning for the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings. Miguel Sano will be 22 at the beginning of next season, while Byron Buxton will be 21.
The Twins find themselves with holes in the rotation, outfield, and in need of power bats, things all three players bring to the active roster. Despite the typical slow promotion of talent, it’s time for the trend to end.
As Kansas City has promoted the young talent, they have also supplemented through free agency, a practice the Twins also need to emulate. Spending for the sake of pleasing fans with the payroll total doesn’t make sense, but doing so to coincide with rising stars is the perfect formula.
Supplementing the Talent
The Royals went out and traded for James Shields, they acquired Wade Davis, they signed Omar Infante and Nori Aoki, and they grabbed Josh Willingham. Those additions, paired with the names from within, are what have Kansas City knocking on the door of their second World Series in consecutive trips (albeit nearly 30 years apart).
So for the Twins, the door of opportunity is there, but it will be on Terry Ryan to knock on it. There’s no more excuses, and there’s no more waiting. Signing middle of the road players, or doing nothing, is no longer acceptable. Slow promotions need to end. The next wave of Twins winning is coming, and failure to act should ensure the current front office is not along for the ride.
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