Monday, February 20, 2012

Offseason Review: Minnesota Twins

After going first-to-worst in 2011, the Twins had few resources to rebuild or maintain their team in the offseason. Most of the issues responsible for their seemingly freakish collapse lie in the hands of injury. Disabled listees include, and aren't even close to limited to: Joe Mauer, Kevin Slowey, Joe Nathan, Delmon Young (twice), Denard Span (twice), Jason Kubel and the tragically concussed Justin Morneau. The Twins, being decisively out of contention by August, traded Delmon Young to Detroit for two prospects. The path was paved to a dismal 63-99 end of the season, second worse only to the utter shit show Houston Astros.

Hometown Hero: Joe Mauer
With the season over and the postseason set to begin, the Twins had some decisions to make. Michael Cuddyer, who had made an appearance as the Twins representative in the 2011 All Star Game, was courted by the Twins with a three year contract, but ended up signing with Colorado. Reflexively, efforts to resign Jason Kubel heated up, but were again shot down as he signed with the Diamondbacks. Persistent and eager to maintain a comparable outfielder, the Twins made the move to sign Josh Willingham to a three-year $21MM dollar contract. After declining Joe Nathan's option, the Twins decided to re-sign Matt Capps and sign Joel Zumaya, two late inning pitchers who have the incentive of a make-or-break season ahead of them to pitch competently. Also new in a Twins uniform is slugging catcher Ryan Doumit, who's as decent a backup as you can get in the case that Joe Mauer gets all screwy again, what with the bilateral leg weakness and all.
Josh Willingham will fit in well with the Twins, who HATE high fives
So, is Minnesota going to be a legitimate contender this year? Unless the Tigers go through a Twins-like collapse, the answer is no. Cuddyer, Kubel and Young are three pretty big deductions from last year, and adding in Josh Willingham and Ryan Doumit isn't the panacea to ineptitude. The good though is that future contention isn't necessarily too far away. The Twins farm system isn't excellent, but it's decent (ranked 14th overall by ESPN's Keith Law), and part of a franchise that has been famous for a decade of mid-market magic. Having the second overall draft pick next year probably won't hurt things either.

The Twins are a kind of shitty team in a pretty shitty division, I'd bet the Twins go .500 and place second or third in 2012.

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