Thursday, February 7, 2013

2013 Preview: Minnesota Twins

Minnesota Twins

(2012: 66-96, last place AL Central)
(FC Prediction: Last place AL Central)

Looking through the Twins website, there isn't much to get excited about.  In the off-season, the Twins traded outfielders Ben Revere and Denard Span, and while they get good packages in return for both (RHP's Alex Meyer, Trevor May, and Vance Worley), Worley will be the only one who should contribute in 2013.  

The duo of Mauer and Morneau return for the Twins, but with them, the problem is always staying healthy.  Along with Josh Willingham, the heart of the order isn't bad for the Twins, but the rest of the lineup leave a lot to be desired.

So let's dig a little deeper into the Twins roster:

PITCHING:
The ace of the Twins staff is Kevin Correia.  Yes, you hear me right, Kevin Correia.  While he is a decent back end starter, Correia has no business being a team's ace.  Vance Worley should be good for the Twins, but the rest of the rotation is a big question mark.  Scott Diamond, Liam Hendricks, and Mike Pelfrey project to round out the starting 5, and that is not exactly a good thing.

The bullpen is a bit better.  While the Twins lost Matt Capps, Glen Perkins was very good in the closer role last year.  Right-hander Jared Burton and left-hander Brian Duensing return again for the Twins and should help to solidify the back end.  

The Twins have a stockpile of pitching prospects in their system, including the recently acquired Alex Meyer and Trevor May.  Meyer and May might be better off getting another year of seasoning in the minors, but both could surprisingly contribute in 2013 with a strong start to the season.  The most intriguing pitching prospect is Kyle Gibson.  Gibson was on the fast track in 2012 before having early season Tommy John surgery.  If healthy this year, the 2009 first round pick should definitely contribute in 2013.

LINEUP:
Outside of the big 3 of Mauer, Morneau, and Willignham, the Twins have a lot of question marks in their lineup.  Third baseman Trevor Plouffe showed plus power in 2012, but his average was not up to par.  DH Ryan Doumit also provides some pop, and should be able to relieve Mauer behind the plate and Morneau at first when they need a rest.

The rest of the Twins roster doesn't provide much pop.  The lineup is rounded out by center field Darin Mastroianni, right fielder Chris Parmalee, shortstop Pedro Florimon, and second baseman Jamey Carroll.  If you just asked yourself, "Who is that???" then you would not be alone.  None of them provide any sort of power, and most of them would be better served as quality bench players.

The Twins also have some quality position player prospects.  Third baseman Miguel Sano should be ready for 2014, while outfielder Byron Buxton is still a couple years away.  Center fielder Aaron Hicks is definitely closer to the big leagues.  Having watched Mastroianni play, I'm not too confident in his play, and if Hicks starts out well, he should be able to grab the starting spot in center.


PROGNOSIS:
The fact of the matter is that the Twins just aren't very good.  They have some offensive pop with Mauer, Morneau, Willingham, and Plouffe, but it is nowhere near enough to compete in the AL Central, even if it is probably the worst division in baseball.  The pitching staff falls way short of any other in the division, and even in an absolute best case scenario, I can maybe see the Twins finishing 4th.  But who knows, Ron Gardenhire has proven me wrong before.  He may just make me eat my words here, but the chances aren't good.

NON-ROSTER INVITEE TO WATCH:
The three guys that have the best chance to stick have all been Twins in the past.  Samuel Deduno, Nick Blackburn, and PJ Walters all have had success in the past with Minnesota.  Given his success last year with the team, I expect Deduno not only to make the team, but I expect him to be in the rotation over someone like Pelfrey or Hendricks.  

TWITTER ACCOUNT OF THE DAY:
Follow new Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Vance Worley @VANIMAL_49 and not just because of his awesome handle.  He is also a very colorful guy and should provide some solid entertainment.