When you talk about the Minnesota Twins, the topic of the future is obviously going to be one of the first things you might go to, and for good reason.
Much like the the way the Mets hosted the All-Star game last year, the talk will be about the one constant in their lineup, Joe Mauer, but the franchise will also get to showcase the phenomenal collection of talent they boast in their farm system.
Unfortunately, when you look at the lineup the Twins are going to have Gardenhire fill out, he doesn't really have a lot of options.
There's not really a great table-setter for Mauer, Arcia or Josh Willingham to drive home in many at-bats. The trio is perfectly capable of 30 home runs, but judging by the line up, they may be limited to a lot of solo or 2-run home runs, which means their RBI totals will be in the 75-90 range, which isn't bad, but it could definitely could be, and it will, get better.
Nolasco in particular, was very good once he left Florida for Los Angeles last year. A lot of that may have to do with the kid was at home, but I think it also had to do with him just finding a new situation in LA. I think he continues to build on the progress he made in Los Angeles, and I wouldn't be surprised if he's an All-Star candidate, not saying he's All-Star, just a candidate, come June and July.
Now for Hughes. The struggles between him and the Yankees, and his struggles in New York are well documented and not lost on me. But the one thing you heard from scouts and experts towards the end of the year, and into the offseason was, it just felt like Phil had given up on the Yankees, the Yankees had really given up on him and he just needed a change of scenery.
In Minnesota, he can be under the radar. The media is not even close to being as brutal in Minnesota as it is in New York. He can get back to developing into the ace he was projected to be. And while it feels like Hughes has been around as long as a guy like Robinson Cano, he's actually only 27, and will turn 28 later this summer. So there's plenty of life left in that arm, and there's still time for him to turn it around. I like Hughes with the Twins, and I think he rights the ship that's been a disappointment of a career so far.
One final positive the Twins will have in their favor this year, is an underrated, and very effective bullpen. That's almost a staple of a Rod Gardenhire team. Glen Perkins on the back end of things with arms that are very good including Jared Burton, Anthony Swarzak and Brian Duensing will give the Twins a lot of one or two-run wins, because they are going to be lights out late in the game. Those are going to be the types of wins the Twins get. They aren't going to be able to get into too many slugfests.
As I said at the top, and as I wrote back in September, Arcia and Mauer are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the Minnesota Twins. There is much, much more coming to the big leagues for this team. I'm not going to rant on them right now, you can go back and read what I had to say.
The Twins are building something special and in an aging American League Central, it's not far fetched to say the Twins could be contenders within a short two or three year time frame.