Twins look to rebuild, improve, againPublished 10:03am Monday, April 1, 2013
Well Minnesota Twins fans, another winter has gone by and it’s time for our ball club to take the field once again.
Although the major league season technically began last night with the Houston Astros hosting the Texas Rangers, most teams will be playing their first regular season game today.
The Twins will host the defending American League Central Division champs the Detroit Tigers at Target Field at 3:10 p.m. with not much promise predicted this season.
I hate to be the one to burst the bubble for many of you young fans that don’t know what a rebuilding Twins team looks like, but this team is comparable to the mid-1990s. A few iconic names on the roster, but mostly just young talent that will eventually, fingers crossed, be good.
After back-to-back 90-plus losing seasons, Twin’s General Manager Terry Ryan promised to address the Twins pitching staff, that posted the third worst ERA, in the offseason.
Ryan’s way of addressing the issue was picking up pitchers Rich Harden, Mike Pelfrey, Kevin Correia and trading outfielder Ben Revere for right-hander Vance Worley. Ryan has once again used patchwork to try to stop the bleeding of a club that dominated their division for most of the decade.
Worley is coming off a year where he regressed from his rookie year, while the rest of the players signed would have been great pitchers five-to-six years ago.
The best pitcher in the lot maybe closer Glen Perkins. Several prognosticators believe that Perkins could be reach 40 saves this season, if the offense finds a rhythm.
The Twins also let go of former ace Scott Baker after coming off Tommy John surgery.
Ryan also packaged up starting center fielder Denard Span and shipped him to the now surging Washington Nationals for prospects.
Ryan has worked diligently to replenish the farm system that former GM Bill Smith dismantled, making the group, once again, the tops in the majors.
For Twins fans this reads, “we are not going to be good this year, check back in 2015”.
With having notoriously stingy ownership, Ryan has been able to capture lightning in a bottle during the early 2000s with trades for prospects, but fans have yet to see the success that has been fleeting since 1991.
In the infield, the Twins will hope that Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau will play as many games, if not more, as they did last season. Mauer split time between catcher and first, but was once again competing for a batting title and actually went into double digits in homeruns. Morneau played in 137 games last season and seemed to find his stroke after the all-star break.
Trevor Plouffe exploded last season after early struggles, finishing the year with 24 homeruns and winning the starting third base job. The team will once again need his offensive production, but hope that he also makes better contact from the plate.
The middle infield will be a shuffle as Jamey Carroll still remains with the Twins, but Brian Dozier and Pedro Florimon will get the first look this year.
The outfield maybe the only spot that doesn’t have many questions. Josh Willingham proved to be a better option then fan favorite, Michael Cuddyer, after belting 35 dingers and 110 RBI last season and has locked down the spot in left, while Chris Parmelee will get a shot in right.
The Twins former first rounder, Aaron Hicks, will make his major league debut today. Hicks was able to beat out his competition for the center field job and has been compared to a young Torii Hunter.
Ryan Doumit will get the nod as the Twins designated hitter, as his versatility will allow Mauer, Morneau and Willingham a night off from the field.
The best situation that the Twins can find themselves in this season is playing competitive ball in September as their offense is able to keep their pitching in most games. This will not be a team that shocks analysts like the ones from the previous decade, but it may bring hope for 2014.
On the negative end, the Twins could see Mauer and Morneau on the disabled list again, Willingham traded for more building blocks and a triple A ball team playing games as early as July.
My prediction for the year is mostly positive. The Twins will improve this season and stay out of the 90 loss column. They will end the season in the middle of the Central, but will never truly have a shot at winning the division. Appearances by pitching prospects Kyle Gibson and Trevor May will showcase the future of the team.
Final Prediction: 76-86, fourth in Central Division