In 2013, the Minnesota Twins rotation was essentially in shambles from the get-go. Liam Hendriks started the team's fourth game of the season. Pedro Hernandez started the sixth.
Those two combined with Andrew Albers, P.J. Walters and Cole DeVries to make a total of 40 starts for the Twins last year. Now, they're all out of the organization, buried in Triple-A for other clubs (or in Korea) and unlikely to spend much if any time in the majors.
Meanwhile, the Twins
The fact that the Twins sit at 6-6 after two weeks could be viewed as a surprise in and of itself, given their low expectations and some of the rough patches we've already seen.
Of course, anything can happen over the course of 12 games, and that applies to individual players as well as the team as a whole. Still, the first half of April has been marked by some surprising developments -- from my perspective, at least.
Jason Kubel's Defense
In 2013, the Oakland Athletics averaged 9.7 runs per game in their seven tilts against the Twins, and 4.5 runs per game against all other opponents.
Oakland's reign of terror against the team that ruined its happy ending in Moneyball continued this week, as the A's thoroughly dismantled Minnesota in a rather sparsely attended home-opening sweep.
After investing $84 million into the rotation during the offseason, the Twins have received painfully
It happened again on Tuesday. A local mainstream writer put out a column that was, to some extent, critical of Joe Mauer, and the reactions from fans were highly visceral on both sides.
The piece in question came from Patrick Reusse, suggesting that the impetus is on Mauer (who still hasn't driven in a run this year) to step up and carry the team back to respectability.
Some saw it as a reinforcement of the reservations they have long held about
* The Twins' offense has been a very pleasant surprise in the first week of the season.
Though it hasn't always been pretty, and sloppy play from opposing defenses in Chicago and Cleveland were undeniable contributors, the Twins have scored 38 runs through their first six games.
The biggest story in the lineup is Chris Colabello. He has already piled up 11 RBI in five starts after hitting .349 in spring play. This guy is just sitting dead red.
We know about the negative trends: three straight years of losing, a spring marked by consistently low offensive output, and several veterans whose numbers have been on the decline.
Those trends are no fun to think about, especially here in a young season that remains full of possibilities despite some discouraging early signs. Today, let's focus on some positive trends that emerged last year and will hopefully serve as precursors of things to come.
For three straight years, the refrain for hopeful Twins fans has been the same: Keep waiting, help is on the way.
That can be difficult to accept, especially when few signs of progress are evident on the field. The Twins lost 99 games in 2011, and they've lost 96 in each season since. It wouldn't be too surprising if they lost 90-plus again this year.
So why watch? Fortunately, you don't have to look far to find reasons.
Letting The Kids Play
Somewhere on the horizon, an end is in sight; a merciful conclusion to this horrendous chapter for the Minnesota Twins that has been characterized by losses piling up while mind-boggling injuries have plagued every level of the organization and interest has steadily declined in a team that should be enjoying its renaissance with a beautiful new outdoor ballpark.
The Twins keep pointing to a day where their heralded prospects will arrive to usher in a renewed
With Vance Worley outrighted and Kyle Gibson seemingly in line to claim the fifth spot in the rotation, the Minnesota Twins' roster is beginning to come into focus.
Based on recent developments, rumblings around camp and general deduction, here's a final stab at projecting the 25 men that will head north in a week when the Twins head to Chicago to open their 2014 season.
As always, names in red are the players who should be considered locks (barring injury) while the names
Another day, another (meaningless) spring loss. After falling to Masahiro Tanaka and the Yankees 5-4 on Saturday, the Twins are now 0-5 since I arrived in Ft. Myers on Monday, but fortunately the games don't start counting for another week.
Dig into the bullet points below for notes on the Asian import, Kevin Correia's second-to-last spring start, an emerging option for the second spot in the lineup, and more.
* The stadium and press box were both packed on Saturday afternoon
First, the most important news: Twins GM Terry Ryan was in the building today, the first time he's been present at Hammond all spring after being diagnosed with cancer in the offseason. Ryan was in good spirits during a 15-minute session with reporters, stating that he's "feeling pretty damn good right now."
Ryan, who is only in town for a day and a half, said that he's been going to radiation five days a week, and that he will continue to do so for the next five weeks. For at least
"You want to work on your weaknesses, but you can't forget to work on your strengths."
Wise words from Trevor Plouffe, and ones that can be forgotten amidst all the spring talk of ironing out wrinkles and fixing flaws.
Plouffe knows the weaknesses that he needs to work on, but he's not forgetting about the strengths that have made him the Twins' principal third baseman for two years running. And the greatest of those strengths is… well, strength.
The Twins made the short trip up to Port Charlotte Thursday night to take on the Rays. Scott Diamond, making his case for the fifth spot in the rotation, faced the same team that effectively knocked Vance Worley out of the running two nights earlier.
The Twins fell 5-4, their third loss in three tries since I arrived in Florida on Monday. There were a few interesting tidbits to be gleaned from the contest so let's dive in.
* Diamond looked
The vibe down here in Ft. Myers is that the pitching will definitely improve this year. Although Vance Worley's ugly outing on Tuesday may still be fresh in your mind, various coaches and media types have commented on how sharp guys like Phil Hughes, Mike Pelfrey and Ricky Nolasco have looked. Kyle Gibson and Samuel Deduno have both been cruising.
There's less confidence that this club is going to score enough runs.
Last year, the Twins tallied 614 runs to rank 13th in