The matrix below shows the current standings, what those standings project for wins in 162 games and what the twins pace must be to match that win total. I do not think Chicago is a 90 win team and I believe 85 wins will win the division. The Twins will have to play .636 ball to get there though. Here's to hopin'.
Twins pace to match
In addition to turning around drafting philosophy (which they've already started this year, at last!), all the Twins really need to do to a dramatic extent right now is just improve the starting pitching. It drives me crazy to think how much better they'd be standing-wise right now if they had a good or great pitching staff. And as far as trading this summer, I absolutely do not want to see Willingham, Morneau, Doumit, or Span traded. Liriano is our best piece.
I also think that with the increased production from the players they brought in this offseason that the Twins will be unlikely to trade guys like Doumit and Willingham. I say this because I agree with another writer on this site who said something to the effect of Doumit, Plouffe and Willingham aren't as psyched out about the spacious Target Field like Kubel, Cuddyer, and Young, because they haven't known anything else, and are continuing to destroy the ball in this park.
Therefore, it is likely that the Twins will try and trade Liriano, as he seems like the one piece, if he stays consistent, the Twins will even want to trade. Span has a very team-friendly contract for the next several years, Gardy appears to really like the production of Willingham and Doumit as well as the veteran leadership of Jamey Carroll in the infield, and Valencia has done nothing this year to prove that he will be worth anything in a trade.
Therefore, this appears to leave the tradeable assets for the Twins coming out of the bullpen or starting rotation. If the Twins wanted to give guys like Guerra and Slama a chance, they could trade Capps and another guy like Swarzak or Manship to make room for guys like Guerra and Slama. The Twins also, if Pavano can somehow get himself healthy and prove that he can still pitch in time, and Liriano stays consistent, they could also find themselves traded before the deadline, not that I know who the Twins would replace Liriano in the rotation with.
I have to agree with what you said in your 3rd to last paragraph, where the Twins bats won't always be able to overcome their lack of solid pitching. However, the improvement (emergence, even) of players like Plouffe and Revere into their element are starting to make me hopeful for next year if the Twins can make some good moves over the offseason. This would include adding a solid FA pitcher to complement Diamond and Hendriks, if his success in AAA translates to the Majors. They should also resign Doumit to a multi-year deal because he has provided needed flexibility for the field and gives Gardy another catcher as well as an outfielder and pinch-hitter. If they can get something good for Span, then they should, but ONLY if Valencia figures things out in AAA or they find another solid 3B guy, perhaps in the Span deal. If they do, the Twins would have a good (or at least solid) 3B and they could give Plouffe a solid, and hopefully permanent starting position out in RF and shift Revere over to CF, where he truly belongs.
With the bullpen depth that the Twins have recently come into, if they could find a good deal for one of them, then they should. Capps should be easy to deal if he keeps pitching well. However, they should hang onto Burton, Perkins, and Burnett, because they can be the anchors for out bullpen for years to come.
I have been pondering this Mauer mystery myself. Mauer's production has been dropping steadily each year it seems. I will admit, I do boo Mauer from time to time. I just can't stomach the idea of a $23 million dollar singles hitter who plays a supposed power position at either catcher or first base.
I don't think anyone can deny the small sample size fact. It's hard to say that we really got to see what Burroughs had left in the tank. I get that he didn't impress anyone offensively during the regular season. The thing with Luke Hughes is we knew what we had in him since he was here his whole career, and we had exposure to him. Burroughs was out of baseball for a while, and we didn't have anyone else internally to legitimately press Valencia playing time at third. An extra week and a half of him actually getting to play more often wouldn't have been the end of the world for a team that only won 6 games the first month of the season. As has been pointed out, it's a decision that we didn't need to make right away had the Twins just place Morneau on the DL.
Having Mauer on the field everyday has been great. Even when he is not performing at an MVP level, he is still much better than most. I look for him to get it going even more as the season progresses.
Great Twins Video
It is somewhat hard for me to recollect Liriano's performance at the end of the 2005 season and for the most part the 2006 season in which he was Koufaxian in his performance at times. Since 2008 in his return from Tommy John surgery he has struck me as being mentally weak to the utmost degree. Except for 2010 he has ultimately sucked. My hope was he would have a good start to the season this year and we would trade him for something of better than little value. That optimism was fool hardy and bit me in the ass. Maybe he can be good in the bullpen, but I hold out no hope for him. Great arm, great stuff, mentally weak and a lost cause.
I tend to prefer reading the work of bloggers over that of professional sports writers because, like you said, they write from the perspective of a fan. As a result, their words ring more true than those that are regurgitating what they've been fed. I can relate to the bloggers; the pros are usually just part of the opaque curtain the team draws around itself. I used to think Phil was the best of both worlds, as a former blogger on the big stage, but now I think he's an arrogant ass. Forget it, who needs him?
His radio station comes in soaked in static anyway.
Awesome. Well said.
I would be amazed with the .280 avg, if he does that and is able to hit 15 HRs, that would be very good. I would not be surprised if Hughes doesn't make a decent run at 3rd base this year.
When he does throw strikes, he gets shelled. Therefore, he's pitching scared and nibbling. This is a major problem, and one that I don't see going away this season. I hope I'm wrong, but predict that Marquis will be out of the starting 5 by the end of May.
I like the things Valencia has said this spring. That hitting line would be nice. That's a big jump from last year, but it seems to be about middling between 2010 and 2011.
In a more perfect world, Valencia semi-platoons with Burroughs.
.270/.325/.425, 10 HR, 50 RBI first basemen are a dime a dozen! That's a position that needs some pop - I'd say 40/60 he doesn't complete the season. So now we start the AAA parade, and again look at <80 games in the W column.
We now have 20-30 max homers coming from our 1B and Catcher. That leaves, . . . well, we might get - Um, . . . Ahhhh,
I am trying to do a bit of math, looking at Mauer's slash line, career tendencies and 2011 line:
Career average isoD (OBP-BA) is .080, 2011 isoD was .073
Career average isoP (SLG-BA) is .148, 2011 isoP was .081
with a .310 BA, using career averages OBP would be .390 and SLG .458; and 2011 (worse case) numbers OBP would be .383 and SLG .391
so that .310/.370./.460 assumes a career isoP and a well below career isoD, which may result if he becomes more of a free swinger, but I highly doubt that. I really think that .310/.385/.450 might probably be more realistic; however, I really think that that .310 will be closer to .325 this season
You're not taking the rest of the league into account. The Tigers have 2 of the best hitters in baseball in their line-up to go with a very above average starting rotation and some decent other pieces. They are probably a 90 win team. The 2008 Twins were an 88 win team. If '08 is the best we have to hope for, I don't think the Twins are making the playoffs.
Pavano was a great pickup and re-signing him looks pretty smart right now. This was the best move GM Bill Smith made in his four years as GM. He needs to stay healthy in 2012 for the rotation to have at shot being successful. Any chance they re-sign him if he has another good season??
I think Chris Herrmann has a real chance at becoming a very solid Major Leaguer. As you mentioned, his plate discipline is fantastic and his receiving abilities are highly touted by many pitchers in the organization. I remember a while back that Alex Margulies, the Ft. Myers Miracle announcer, said when Herrmann was patrolling the outfield in 2010, he was one of the best defensive outfielders in the Florida State League, making a slew of extraordinary plays with his glove.
Whether or not Chris Herrmann can be an everyday player is a question that many people have asked. But from everything I've heard and read, I don't think there's any question that he'd be a very solid Major League backstop. In 2011, Major League catchers hit (on average) .244/.312/.388, and I have little doubt that he can post an OPS higher than .700 while playing (at a minimum) average defense.
Another thing that is nice to mention is that he's proving to be very durable. He played in a (career high) 121 games in '11 (most of which were at catcher), and then played in 15 additional games shortly after the season finished. He's said several times that he wants to be out there everyday, regardless of where he plays.
The only obstacle in Herrmann's way is Joe Mauer, of course. But if/when the Twins decide to move him, Herrmann would be a fine option behind the plate.