Minnesota Twins Season Preview

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Last season, I know first hand what Target Field did for Minnesota Twins fans. Sure, it gave us one of, if not the league’s best stadium. But it gave us false hope. It made us Twins fans think that without an ace and a lineup filled with major holes, we still had a chance to compete with the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays.

Well, if the AL Divisional Series was any indication, the Twins are nowhere close to where they need to be if they do in fact hope to make a run at the AL pennant this season.

“But Kyle, they’re on top of the AL Central every season. Doesn’t that count for something?”

No, it doesn’t count for anything. I’m convinced the Blue Jays would be on top of the Central if they would move out of the hellish nightmare that is being a non-New York, Boston or Tampa team in the AL East. But Twins fans have been fine with being slightly mediocre. “Sure, we haven’t won since 1991, but we’ve got Joe Mauer!!!”

The current cycle of sending players that we develop (Johan Santana) away for garbage prospects, is a horrible one. While we did land Mauer and hopefully Justin Morneau for the rest of their careers, the Twins seem to be missing the “it” factor when it comes to baseball. The urgency to win now. The Yankees have it.The Red Sox have it, as do the Phillies. Yeah, you’re damn right they’re greedy, but if you have money to spend, shouldn’t you spend it on the best possible players?

No, not Nick Punto, Minnesota. Gross. Punto reminds me of Denny Hocking. He’s a feel good story and he makes the other 5’9″ white guys  feel better about himself, but that’s about it. And then we decided to pay him $4 million. IS THERE A GOD IN THIS WORLD?!!!!

Let’s look at what happened over the offseason.

Additions: Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Jim Hoey

Nishioka is probably going to end up playing second, being Alexi “I Only Show Up in the Biggest Game of the Regular Season and Give You False Hope That I Might Be Good” Casilla has a stronger arm. There is a lot of talk on Nishioka. The guy is the best hitter from Japan since Ichiro. That excites me.

What doesn’t excite me? The winning bid to negotiate with him was $5 million. Remember Dice K? His was $50 million. If this Nishioka guy was THAT great, wouldn’t have other teams bid on him? Wouldn’t his price go up? Wouldn’t the Yankees just overpay for him so they could trade him?

Something to think about.

Side note: I think Nishioka will hit somewhere around .285 and I think we consider stealing Casilla’s jersey so we don’t have to play him. Mauer will steal his glove. Gardy will steal his cleats. This could work.

The Twins lost basically their whole bullpen to free-agency, and unfortunately we still have Matt “I’m Going to Make You Sweat From Places You’ve Never Sweated Before!” Capps.

We acquired Hoey in the J.J. Hardy trade to Baltimore.

That says a lot. Anybody you get for J.J. Hardy, probably isn’t that good. Ex. Carlos Gomez.

Hoey has a lifetime ERA of 8.13. This isn’t good.

Subtractions: Orlando Hudson, Hardy, Matt Guerrier, Jesse Crain, Jon Rauch, Brian Fuentes

The biggest hit here will be our bullpen. Seriously, who thought getting rid of the whole bullpen was a good idea? Was it you Bert Blyleven? The positive is that Joe Nathan is back. He’ll move into the closer role, while Capps will be the set-up man. After that, it’s anyone’s guess.

Hudson and Hardy won’t hurt so much. Hardy was hurt most of the season, and we knew Hudson was a one-and-done player.

Side-note: Hudson is playing for his fourth team in four years. He’s in his early 30s. He’s married. I’m pretty sure he’s pulling a Don Draper right now.

Other thoughts:

We need to get rid of Jason Kubel or Michael Cuddyer. If one of those guys are hot come All-Star break, we might be able to land a solid pitcher.

This could be the season Francisco Liriano becomes an ace. And guess what? It’s the last year of his contract. Funny how things work. Let me know how New York is next year.

We need to keep Delmon Young. Sure, it’s like watching a Jennifer Anniston movie when he’s in left, but he got into his groove last year. Can’t argue with a 112 RBI season.

Am I the only one that thinks Morneau won’t fully recover? The guy just started to do baseball related drills after suffering a concussion in JULY!!! Like seven months ago July. Something’s not right here. Just watch.

Offseason grade: C

Did they do anything to improve? No, not really. They tried to replace players, and did a below-average job of it. Unless Casilla breaks out or Liriano wins 20 games, it looks like the Twins are going to be the same old squad.

Let’s win the division and then quit! Sounds great!

Kyle Ratke is a frequent contributor. You can follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

 

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