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  • When Can the Twins Compete Again?

    The Twins season ended a week ago, and weíve all had a chance to look back at another 95+ loss season. Likely, youíve also already started thinking about what you would do to get the Twins back to being a perennial contender in the AL Central.

    The question I have for readers today is: If you were in charge, would you look toward winning in 2013, 2014 or something in the 3-5 year range? How you would go about building your blueprint is largely dependent upon your answer to that question.

    At Twins Daily, we are putting the final touches on the Offseason GM Handbook. Iím working on the final pieces of my blueprint, and that is the question that I am fighting the most. Obviously I want the Twins to contend in 2013! If Iíve learned anything from the past two years, itís that Iím stronger in my conviction that the 162 games of the regular season is much better to watch when the team is competitive! But I also fully believe that going heavily the free agent direction canít be successful long-term.

    If weíre all in agreement that the Twins 2013 payroll will likely be a little less than it was in 2012 (somewhere between $85-94 million), would your blueprint be one that looks to contending in 2013, 2014 or beyond?

    If your answer is to compete in 2013, the Twins should keep all of their veterans which means they will only have room to add a couple of mid-tier free agents. They could also trade prospects to bring in help for 2013.

    If your answer is to compete in 2014, then the Twins will need to determine which veterans to keep around and which to trade for some final pieces. You could probably bring in one quality free agent, but itís also going to require that you be patient with some young players, hoping that a couple of them take a big step forward and can be counted on in 2014. That includes the likes of Pedro Florimon, Liam Hendriks and Brian Dozier, but it also includes the likes of Trevor Plouffe who will get the year to find out if he can be the 3B of the future. It also means some July trades and second-half playing time for the likes of Kyle Gibson, Joe Benson, Oswaldo Arcia and Aaron Hicks.

    If youíre thinking that the team is more than two years from competing, the free agents that you bring in really need to be tradeable at the July deadline. Guys who are on one-year, make-good types of deals would be ideal. It should be all about youth and player development. That doesnít necessarily mean in the big leagues,

    Itís an interesting question because there is no right or wrong answer. The Twins do have a nice core of players, but they need a ton of pitching. Starting from scratch seems silly, in some ways.

    Consider the Oakland Aís. In recent years, they have traded away players and pitchers who were performing very well, yet they have been able to acquire some players, particularly pitchers, who are helping the Aís to their unlikely 2012 season. However, it was their first season in which they finished above .500 since 2006.

    The Kansas City Royals are perennially a team that has some of baseballís top prospects. They are always supposed to be the team on the rise when all those young players develop. Well, the Royals have had just one winning season in the last 20 years.

    The Orioles typically go in the opposite direction. In recent years, they have been active in free agency, often signing some veteran players to deals that are too high. The last time that the Orioles had a winning season was 1997.
    So, there is no answer that guarantees winning or losing. So, itís up to you, and Iíll ask again:

    If you were in charge, would you look toward winning in 2013, 2014 or something in the 3-5 year range?
    This article was originally published in blog: When Can the Twins Compete Again? started by Seth Stohs
    Comments 33 Comments
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      As is clear in my blueprint, they should roll out with significantly better pitching with two FA acquisitions, a deeper bench, and then see what happens. If it doesn't work out and the A+/AA/AAA players develop properly, then sell off at the deadline (Span and Morneau would headline that). The point is that the Twins should try to compete and win the division every year, but that also selling at the deadline does not mean giving up on the following season. There is no necessary either/or with regard to 2013 and 2014.
    1. beckmt's Avatar
      beckmt -
      Depends on the budget. I also believe they are going to need 2 - 3 pitchers, most of whom will be acquired by trade. FA market will probably be too high for more than one upper middle type FA (my choice is Marcum), they also need more bullpen help(hope you do not think Alex Burnett is the answer) and a middle infielder. To bridge the pitching gap they will need to trade an outfielder and possiblly Parmalee for some major league ready pitching. Twins will need to spend the money as after 2014 and the all star game, the bottom could drop out if they are not making progress. When you have 4 - 5 outfielders who may be here in the next 3 years, it is time to start making room.
    1. Paul Pleiss's Avatar
      Paul Pleiss -
      pseudo-White Sox scenario from last off-season, trade away some aging veterans, bring in some low-risk/high-reward guys off down seasons and let the young kids play. make a run at it. When the trade deadline rolls around you'll ether be in or be out, but either way you can make trades accordingly. I'd like to see them bring in 2 FA pitchers for the rotation or trade Span/Morneau for one of those and/or prospects, preferably Span as I think based on Morney's second half that good things will be happening for the big (well, not so big anymore) Canadian in 2013
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Why is the payroll dropping? If they cannot compete next year, they should deal willingham, span, morneau, Burton, maybe Perkins. The A's, unlike Ryan, are willing and able to deal good players.

      the only thing keeping them from competing is a willingness to spend on pitching next year.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      There is an outside chance to compete next season. It will require a whole lot of luck and a fair bit of smarts to happen.

      1. Sign Baker and get a healthy, productive season from him.
      2. Sign one of Jackson/Marcum/Sanchez/etc. and get a healthy, productive season from him.
      3. Gibson progresses and get a healthy, productive season from him.
      4. The offense stays mostly healthy with Morneau and Mauer coming back strong.
      5. Willingham doesn't regress too much.
      6. The middle infield is not embarrassing.
      7. Diamond doesn't regress too much.

      Quite a tall order.
    1. Brandon's Avatar
      Brandon -
      1. The Twins have a few tradeable assets this offseason without purging the team. We have an extra leadoff hitting OF. We even have several replacement candidates ready or almost ready with the type of hitter we need. Parmelee, Arcia, then Hicks. What the offense needs is one of those guys to step in and be a solid hitter.

      2. We also need for either Plouffe to be able to have a .750+ OPS next year with 25HRs or a solid hitting replacement waiting in the wings to take over. So who would be a solid hitting bench 3b that can play elsewhere too and not cost more than 2 million per? Signing a player like that would probably give us one of our deepest benches ever too as Mastrionni, OF Prospect(take your pick), Doumit...not bad.

      3. This one is a biggie. We need a SS. We get a solid hitting SS and the offense is practically set.

      4. On pitching we have a solid bullpen with several arms waiting in the minors for a chance. Maybe sign a bullpen arm or go dumpsterdiving again for relief depth.

      5. The rotation has developed several solid depth starters this year. 5th, 6th, and 7th starters And a solid #3. So at this point if we resign Baker and can get 2 solid starters with 1 being a #2 quality starter we should be able to compete next year.

      In Short 1 SS, 1 3b-IF bench bat, 3 SP, and relief depth....This seems extremely possible especially since the hard part SP can be GIbson, Baker, and Hendriks and there is a deep rotation. The hard part is going to be getting a capable SS in my opinion. If only the team would be willing to take a chance and go back to the 100 million 105 million payroll number.
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      The Twins, if they are smart, should be competitive next year in a weak central... not sure if they would win it, but a fringe contending team is a reasonable possibility if they make the right additions, but it they plan on going into 2013 with 4 of 5 starters being people already in this organization, they are in trouble. To answer the question in the article, I tend to say 2014 is the goal they should be shooting for. The offense looks to be there now (with some help needed in the middle and on the bench), but pitching is the question mark. They are going to need to add good starters whether they want to compete in 2013 or 2014, so TR would be wise to do some shrewd trading/FA pickups sooner than later. Since the pitching market is deep, getting at least one or two starters via FA and perhaps getting a 1 year prove it type gamble might be wise. What I'd do:Sign Stephen Drew and Kelly Johnson to 1 year prove it deals.Go hard after 2 second tier starters, might consider working something out with Baker as well. Trade Span for some AA or MLB ready pitching talent.Bring in an affordable bench bat
    1. SpiritofVodkaDave's Avatar
      SpiritofVodkaDave -
      Trade for Josh Johnson, sign Scott Baker, trade Span for Andrus. Sign some veteran pitching on a 1 year deal and you are looking at a 90 win team. Book it.
    1. Docsilly's Avatar
      Docsilly -
      Give Baker an incentive laden contract with a team option for 2014. Sign Pavano to a minor league deal or one year incentive deal. Go get at least one if not two FA pitcher(s) like Jackson/Marcum/etc. As far as I concerned, only two pitchers should be a lock. Diamond and Duduno with Duduno having a short leash. Trade Blackburn and Benson to teams that have similar issues to these players and see if a change of scenery will help both sides. There has to be a major league pitcher with the same contract numbers of Blackburn. There also has to be some good prospects from other teams that had a bad year like Benson; lets trade with them. I think our offense is adequate. I think Morneau will have a break out year. If he does, now we move Mauer to the 2 hole where he should be. The bad thing, is higher payroll teams also need pitching and will outbid the Twins on the players that have been mentioned in many of the recent blogs.
    1. jeffk's Avatar
      jeffk -
      I think they've worked themselves into a position where not competing next year isn't an option. As much as the baseball mega-nerds on TwinsDaily.com don't care about 80 wins and would happily trade off everything, accept another two seasons of awful play, and then try to turn it around with a 95-win World Series competitor, the consequences of fielding another 65-win team on the third year of a new stadium would be devestating. People would simply lose interest, profits would continue to fall, the payroll would continue to shrink, and the death spiral would be unavoidable. The Twins need to field a respectable team next year, even if it means only 80 wins, just so people find showing up at Target Field appealing.
    1. Winston Smith's Avatar
      Winston Smith -
      I don't understand why people keep bringing up Baker like he can be plugged into the rotation day 1. Gibson had his surgery last yr late summer. He is now building arm strength 14-15 months after his surgery and he is several years younger. Baker had his surgery in late March? so on the same time frame as Gibson he'd be starting to pitch around the end of spring training. It would likely be late May or June before he'd be ready to help a rotation. Now if everything went perfect you might get 15-20 starts out of him in the second 2/3 of the season.
      This rotation will need help when the season starts, in May or June they may already be out of it if the don't.
    1. Curt's Avatar
      Curt -
      The Twins have four deep holes to fill. Two starting pitchers (#1 and #2 type) as well as shortstop and second base. The situation is both tantalizingly close and impossibly far.

      Things seemed pretty dreary in 1990 too.
    1. Dave T's Avatar
      Dave T -
      I think the Twins should be aiming for 2014. As others have stated, both Baker and Gibson will be coming back from major surgery. They won't be full-time starters in 2013, and they probably won't be very good in 2013 either. Pavano is done. Diamond looked solid at the end of the regular season, but that's your only "can't miss" guy on the current roster. 2013 is shaping up to be a lot like 2012.
    1. greengoblinrulz's Avatar
      greengoblinrulz -
      Are we competing for .500 record/Division Title/World Series???
      Im all for goin the OAK/CHI route & deal off Span/Morneau among others.
      Id like to sign some veteran bench hitters like Eric Chavez & Cody Ross.
      Release Drew Butera to get that out of the fans thoughts & have Ryan Doumit play a straight up backup C to Mauer.
      Sign/trade for a minimum of one legit starting middle infielder.
      Re-sign Scot Baker & unless they implode in spring training....start the season with both Hendriks/Gibson in rotation
      Dont bring back Deduno or Walters...even to AAA deals
    1. DAM DC Twins Fans's Avatar
      DAM DC Twins Fans -
      I go with competing in 2014 and planning for that now. The Twins have basically two tradeable players--Span/Revere (trade one keep the other as lead off CF) and Parmalee. Morneau is going into walk year with a big contract and concussion history--he will bring little. I would trade Justin for best offer (young prospect) and Span/Revere for pitching and keep Parmalee. Dont waste $$ on free agents--its a weak class--the top guys like Greinke wont come here. Jackson/Marcum not a big improvement.

      Go with Florimon/dozier in the Middle INF. See what Plouffe gives us over a full season. Go with Gibson, Hendricks in the rotation and see if the are MLB pitchers. Second half of 2013--bring up Hicks, Arcia and Sano and see if they can be ready in 2014. If Gibson, Hendricks are non MLB ready--make trades at deadline and sign free agent pitchers next year.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      And the free agent pitchers will be better next off-season? Sign two legit starters, deal for a good MIF prospect, and try to win while Mauer and Morneau are healthy. You can only write off so many seasons. Otherwise, blow it all up and start over.
    1. Boys of Summer's Avatar
      Boys of Summer -
      Quote Originally Posted by SpiritofVodkaDave View Post
      Trade for Josh Johnson, sign Scott Baker, trade Span for Andrus. Sign some veteran pitching on a 1 year deal and you are looking at a 90 win team. Book it.
      No way do you get Elvis Andrus for Span. Texas believes and some "experts" agree that they will dangle Andrus for David Price. Obtaining Josh Johnson will require way more than anyone here would give---a Teixiera type package.
    1. PopRiveter's Avatar
      PopRiveter -
      With the way players' performance varies, it's foolhearty to build primarily with a view toward a future that might not arrive. You HAVE to try and compete EVERY year! To me, that means field the best team you possibly can build in 2013 without giving away much in the way of prospects. That ties your hands some. Too bad. It's not choosing 2013 or 2015, it's giving both proper weight in the decision, and next year always weighs more because it is much more of a known commodity.
    1. Top Gun's Avatar
      Top Gun -
      Pretty simple APRIL.
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Quote Originally Posted by Boys of Summer View Post
      No way do you get Elvis Andrus for Span. Texas believes and some "experts" agree that they will dangle Andrus for David Price. Obtaining Josh Johnson will require way more than anyone here would give---a Teixiera type package.
      Shhhh....you're trying to make Dave less obnoxious!
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