Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Offseason Review: The Minnesota Twins

New Twin, the right handed Vance Worley, figures to
be a major contributor to the Twins rebuilding process
After years of sustained Rays-like success on a small to medium sized budget, the Twins collapsed inward on themselves like a dying star.  After dominating their division in 2010 and finishing six games ahead of the Chicago White Sox, the Twins fell to a 63-99 record in 2011.  The end result was a last place finish that was repeated in 2012.  Fortunately for Twins fans, the front office isn't known for patience in the face of mediocrity, and have shifted in to full gear this offseason.  The Twins can't realistically hope to compete in 2013, so while the moves they have made have pro-actively targeted their weakest points (namely pitching), they have largely flown under the radar.  When examining signings and acquisitions pulled off by Terry Ryan this offseason, it's easy to see that his eye was set on looking to the future, not clinging on to the past.

Two consecutive dismal seasons made it obvious that the Twins needed help.  The biggest drought of talent lied in the pitching department, which was met with two patchwork pieces in the arms of Kevin Correia (two years, $10MM) and Mike Pelfrey (one year, $4MM). Neither Correia or Big Pelf are aces who will drastically shift gears, but both pitchers can be looked at as restoration projects capable of performing above being lackluster, and both of them are capable of sticking around if and when the Twins find themselves back in the sphere of relevancy.  The most substantial ground gained in the pitching department was acquired via the trade of two Twins outfielders.  Denard Span was traded in late November to the Nationals for excellent young pitching prospect Alex Meyer, and Ben Revere was sent to Philadelphia in exchange for prospect Trevor May and right-hander Vance Worley, who's being heralded by many as the potential future ace of the Twins.

With the pitching much improved and the focus pragmatically set on future seasons, the Twins inarguably emerge as a winner in terms of offseason strategy.  While Minnesota will almost inevitably be looking up at the Tigers in 2013, they do benefit from what is considered by many as a pretty weak division.  It would be wise for teams like the Tigers to acknowledge their position at the top, and upstart seems like the Kansas City Royals to acknowledge there fragility when considering a farm system as formidable as Minnesota's.  The Twins are managing themselves out of the muck, and doing so with impressive efficiency.  It's hard to imagine them anywhere but in last place in their division in 2013, but I wouldn't expect their recent struggles to haunt them too far beyond that.

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