Monday, February 17, 2014

2014 Outlook: Minnesota Twins

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.

The cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul will be the host of this year's All-Start game, as they get to show off Target Field, one of the game's most beautiful stadiums. (I've not been there, but a few of my friends have and they say it's spectacular. Definitely on my must see list)

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.

Now that's not all to say there is nothing to be excited about for Twins fans this year. Joe Mauer returns, and will likely go down as an all-time great Twin, with Kirby Puckett and Harmon Killebrew.The Twins had to let go of Justin Morneau last year to allow Mauer to move to 1B full time, a wise and obvious move all at the same time. Morneau was a great source of power and timely hitting for many seasons, but the move had to be made.

I look for a young stud, Oswaldo Arcia to be a very, very similiar player to Justin Morneau. He's big and strong and will provide the Twins with a lot of fireworks.

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.

Quietly though, the Twins have built a very strong one-thru-three trio of pitchers. Kevin Correia really came on strong last year, and the additions of Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes, I think, are very good acquisitions. In that ballpark, those guys should flourish.

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.

Well he got it, and I think he picked the perfect place.

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.


  1. Does this mean you have the Twins dead last in the majors? I have to respectfully, completely disagree. Don't get me wrong, I think they will suck and will contend for last place in the division, probably with Cleveland or Chicago. But they weren't THE WORST team in the league last year, and they improved based on the two starting pitchers they added alone. The lineup sucks, but it was just as bad last year. If you think Arcia is going to be a force, that's an improvement right there, Mayer may produce more not catching, and wishful thinking, but if Hicks can actually contribute anything this year, that would be big. They suck, but 30th... NO!

  2. That's fair. I can't say I won't disagree. One thought I do have, is you can improve, and still not improve enough to be better than someone else. The only reason I put them below the Astros is because the Astros have more major league ready talent in the pipeline we'll likely see this year than the Twins do. Granted their current big league talent is pathetic, I can't say the Twins' is much better.

  3. I think you are right about the Twins building something solid...Buxton and Sano should be pretty special, and they have a decent amount of young arms on the way.Putting them last is a bit pessim; especially when you have the white sox all the way up at 18. Perplexing. I would say that Minny would be in the 20-26 range if I was doing a list; I actually think they will be better than Chicago in the central.