For the Twins: A New Year, but the Same Outlook

The Minnesota Twins made some acquisitions but little has really changed in the organization. Terry Ryan decided to go buy some pitching and bring back some long lost teammates. Since when do we go out and buy pitchers, the thought has always been, we have better stuff in our prospects than we can get on the market. So here we go…

PITCHING:

The starting rotation looks unrecognizable from 2 years ago. Some would think that is a plus, but when you are relying on recovering Tommy John pitchers, and others that are looking to just find a place to play, I’m not very optimistic. Management thought that Correia and Pelfrey did well enough to bring back. They also decided to go get Phil Hughes and Ricky Nolasco, both of whom have struggled recently. And our 5th is the only pitcher that I feel could actually develop, and that is Kyle Gibson, who is home grown but still getting back to 100% after TJ surgery. Diamond was sent to AAA, Deduno is in the bullpen, Alex Meyer is still at least months away, Worley was dealt (let go), May is still waiting in until next year most likely. I bring up pitching because I feel that it is still the Twins biggest weakness. After 2 weeks, the starters are still among the worst in all of MLB and don’t look to be getting any better.

 

Hitting:

One of everyone’s biggest worries at the end of Spring, is the strongest part of the team so far. Here again is were I say, do not expect the Twins to finish 3rd in the league in scoring, this hitting is not going to continue all season. Hitting comes and goes and that is why I am still more worried about the starting rotation. Here is the Opening Day lineup:
2B Dozier
1B Mauer
LF Willingham
DH Collabello/Kubel
RF Arcia
3B Plouffe
C Suzuki/Pinto
CF Hicks
SS Florimon

Since that day, Willingham is out with a wrist injury, Arcia is out with a wrist injury. Replacing them on the roster was Bartlett and Mastroiani. Since then Bartlett is out with a bruised ankle. So the lineup today as I write this is as follows:

2B Dozier
1B Mauer
3B Plouffe
RF Colabello
LF Kubel
DH Pinto
C Suzuki
CF Hicks
SS Florimon

It is never good to see that much turnover in the roster but they are still getting things done. That is another reason that I am saying to not expect this type of output of almost 6 runs per game to continue. That is why Pitching and Defense wins championships but Hitting puts butts in the seats. The only thing that is scaring me about hitting is strikeouts again. Last year was a record for the Twins and some players are still under the spell. The biggest concern to me is Mauer. Up until last year he was known as a great contact hitter that rarely struck out and last year I saw him being made to look absolutely foolish at bat. His contact seems to be down and just not seeing the ball as well as he used to.

 

Fielding:

This is something that I feel has truly improved. So far the Twins just committed their 3rd error of the season as I write this and it just so happens to be Correia’s 2nd of the season. I feel that the play in the field is where the team has improved the most as long as we do not have to spend extended series with Kubel or Bartlett in the OF. Neither should be playing there. Bartlett has been a middle infielder for his entire pro career and Kubel just has no range. Florimon is getting it done at SS, Dozier is a lot better, Plouffe is starting to look like a true 3B. The biggest hole on defense in the infield is Mauer and that is only because he has around 30 games of experience at the position. Suzuki is awesome behind the plate but he is just playing as a tutor to Pinto until he is ready to be an everyday catcher. Hicks on defense was never an issue in CF, for him he just needs to keep hitting (at present under .200 again).

 

Seasonal Outlook:

I am going to try to be as real as I can with this so don’t view this as negative or pessimistic. I just don’t see the Twins getting back in the top half of the AL. I see the Twins making small improvements over last season. I see the W-L record right around 90 losses again, maybe a tad better. The hitting is better than last year but I still don’t see enough productive at bats in scoring situations. The defense is improved and you will see it throughout the season but no one will win a Gold Glove because we are Minnesota and only Mauer has the name recognition to get it but not at 1B. Suzuki could at C but I don’t see him getting enough playing time throughout the year because I am hoping that Pinto makes the improvements to steal a bunch of time from Suzuki. Pitching is where the Twins will take it right on the chin again this year. Meyer and May can continue to progress and make some noise this Summer/Fall. The bullpen is always a bright spot until the end of the season when they get over used. The Twins will improve but I still could see them finishing the season back at the bottom of the Central Division because of the improvements that Chicago made.

Either way the season goes, there is still nothing better than return of baseball after a long Winter, which Im sure was a lot longer for everyone other than me. Well from sunny and almost 90 degree Orlando, best of luck to the Twins and every fan’s fantasy teams this season.

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