Minnesota Twins News & Rumors Forum
  • The Bright Side

    A thick coat of snow fell upon Target Field over the weekend, transforming the structure into a lifeless, cold and white blob. On Tuesday, temperatures in the Twin Cities rose toward 30 and the clouds dissipated.

    Bathed in sun, with green plastic seat-backs peeking through the melting snow, the ballpark started to look like… well, a ballpark. This coming weekend, temperatures in Minnesota will near the 40s while pitchers and catchers unpack their bags in Fort Myers. Spring is coming.

    Normally, this is a time of year marked by unbridled optimism from fans. It's a fresh season with a new assortment of players and an infinite range of possible outcomes. Yet, right now the mood in Twins Territory is distinctly vanilla.

    In his latest blog post on StarTribune.com, Howard Sinker broke down (and by that I mean dismantled) the 2013 Twins, spinning a grim yet realistic picture of what folks can expect in the short term from this rebuilding club.

    Sinker laid out the question marks attached to the Twins across the board. His points are all valid. There's too much reliance on untested youth, too many positions that are complete unknowns, too many lotto tickets in the rotation.

    It's a fair critique that, at least to some extent, conveys the feelings of the fan base at large. Most people can see the long-term benefit to the Twins' offseason moves and are excited for what's to come when the loaded farm system (ranked this week by ESPN's Keith Law as the second-best in baseball) begins placing graduates. But the lip-service paid to the 2013 roster – even with flexibility to make legitimate additions – after two straight 95-loss seasons has been disheartening.

    There's a tendency to translate that disappointment into pessimism, but even without major external reinforcements, the Twins are in a position where they could easily surprise.

    When you think of perennial cellar-dwellers (a designation that the Twins would certainly earn with a third straight finish at the bottom), you don't usually picture a team whose lineup is built around two former MVPs, both under the age of 32. Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau are by all accounts as healthy as they've been in years, and that's a big deal.

    The Twins are taking gambles at a number of positions, but most carry significant upside. Trevor Plouffe, Chris Parmelee, Aaron Hicks, Brian Dozier, Liam Hendriks, Kyle Gibson, Mike Pelfrey, Vance Worely and others might not all play up to their potentials, but if a handful of them do it's enough to move the needle.

    The pitching staff is bound to improve, and the offense can be above-average. The division, outside of Detroit, isn't overly intimidating. Last year, two American League teams improved their records by 20-plus games from the previous season despite playing in divisions with multiple powerhouses. The Twins have a clearer path to relevancy than did the Orioles or Athletics.

    Realistically, I'm not looking for that same type of storybook season here. But with more good breaks than bad, the Twins can be a .500 team or better. If it's hard to remember what "more good breaks than bad" feels like after the last two years, check the previous ten for a reminder.

    Also keep in mind that one auxiliary benefit of the organization's frugal approach this offseason will be tons of flexibility to make additions in-season, meaning that if the Twins are anywhere near contention midway through the summer, high-priced starters being shopped in salary dumps could be in play.

    Do I think a solid lineup along with an – at-best – average pitching staff should be viewed as favorites to knock off the Tigers and take the division? Absolutely not. But I'd be satisfied if the Twins hung around .500 for most of the campaign, playing meaningful games into the final months and providing promising future signs in a bridge year.

    There's nothing unrealistic about that scenario, in my mind. But maybe it's just the sunshine talking.
    This article was originally published in blog: The Bright Side started by Nick Nelson
    Comments 61 Comments
    1. Nick Nelson's Avatar
      Nick Nelson -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
      Amidst all the pessimism over how badly the free agent market has been handled this offseason, it's easy to forget that with several lucky breaks, this team could easily finish over .500.

      Yes, it's a longshot. Yes, it's unlikely to happen without divine intervention.
      I'm not sure it's even that unlikely. Based on their talent, I've got the Twins pegged right now as a mid-to-high 70-win team. Picking up an extra handful of victories to move above .500 wouldn't require a miracle necessarily, just better luck than the past two years.
    1. Blackjack's Avatar
      Blackjack -
      Thanks for the positive article!!! Its a 'ray of sunshine' after all the negativity lately!!

      Realistically, I'm not looking for that same type of storybook season here. But with more good breaks than bad, the Twins can be a .500 team or better. If it's hard to remember what "more good breaks than bad" feels like after the last two years, check the previous ten for a reminder.]
      I've always said that the Twins are usually built every year where everything has to work out just right, even when they win, they're never overpowering, they don't have excess players (or money) to use to fill in when injuries or poor performance happens.
    1. jmlease1's Avatar
      jmlease1 -
      One of the advantages to the twins roster going into this season is they have a number of young players that I'm excited to watch and see if they're going to be capable of being building blocks for the future. Seeing what happens with guys like Parmelee, Gibson, Plouffe, Hicks, etc should be fun for serious Twins fans.

      Last season's roster had a whole lot of ifs attached to it as well. I thought then that if a number of things broke right, the team would surprise a lot of people, but that there were so many question marks it was incredibly hard to predict how they'd actually do. Too many things that needed to go well didn't and the team stunk.

      My lesson learned? Counting on a lot of things to break well for you is a recipe for failure in that season. Either the Twins haven't learned that lesson, or they've decided that they're better off rolling the dice on a lot of things to find out what they can count on for 2014 and beyond.
    1. tmerrickkeller's Avatar
      tmerrickkeller -
      And between Average and Good is Reasonably Good. We could be reasonably good.
    1. LoganJones's Avatar
      LoganJones -
      The part of the equation that fans are consistently overlooking is the quality of the team's opponents really hasn't changed much. If anything it stands to go down. The Tigers had a guy win a triple crown and still had the same basic offensive performance as the Twins (who lest we forget had 90 games with 5 or more runs allowed) who were nearly always behind in early innings. I know the Tigers have a much better pitching staff, but their O won't be much better, probably could be scheduled for worse, since a guy is likely to regress from a tripe crown season. Also, the Tigers lost basically 7 games to injury in their front line starters. Expect that number to go up. And if it's Verlander? sub .500 is very likely.

      Does anyone really expect the White Sox to be that good again? The Royals added 1 pretty good starter, but didn't adress their offense. Cleveland? They've added a bunch of people, but they surrendered even more runs than the Twins.

      It's very likely the Tigers will have a better season overall, since the division is in pretty bad shape, but there's hope. If the Twins can avoid a 6-16 april and a 9-19 August, things could get interesting. Get in, get lucky and it's 1987 all over again.
    1. ashburyjohn's Avatar
      ashburyjohn -
      You left out:

      Unreasonably good
      Unreasonably bad
      Unreasonably reasonable
      Reasonably unreasonable
      Unseasonably chilly
    1. 70charger's Avatar
      70charger -
      Is this going to become a thing?
    1. James's Avatar
      James -
      Quote Originally Posted by 70charger View Post
      Is this going to become a thing?
      That's a reasonably good assumption.
    1. Willihammer's Avatar
      Willihammer -
      Quote Originally Posted by ashburyjohn View Post
      Unseasonably chilly
      Or, as applied to baseball season, the Twins could range anywhere from

      Unseasonably bad
      Reasonably unwatchable
      Don't buy
      Risky
      Unseasonably watchable
      Watchable
      Unsellably lullabiable
    1. twinsnorth49's Avatar
      twinsnorth49 -
      Quote Originally Posted by 70charger View Post
      Is this going to become a thing?
      You started it
    1. twinsnorth49's Avatar
      twinsnorth49 -
      Or in games with Kevin Correia starting,

      Unreasonably unwatchable



      OK OK....sorry......
    1. FrodaddyG's Avatar
      FrodaddyG -
      The tough part for me to grasp is where the real improvements come in the lineup and on defense.
      The lineup last year was about half acceptable to good production, and half meh.

      The better half has had Span and Revere removed from it, and they'll be handing off to question marks. Parmelee SHOULD (I hope) turn a corner at the big league level, but if his three true outcomes skew excessively towards Ks and he doesn't click, it could be rough. Hicks/Benson/Mussolini in CF, who can rightly guess, but you can probably assume at least a slight declione from Span's numbers.

      Willingham was a cornerstone guy in 2012, and had a career year. Can he repeat it at 34? I'd expect a slight taper off, but not a complete cliff. Doumit's 2012 was a career year, in large part due to actually staying healthy. I think he can maintain, but it will largely hinge on health, and it will take some good fortune to get 130+ games two years in a row out of a guy who has traditionally been injury prone in the past. Defensively, Hicks/Benson should fill in nicely for Span if one of them gets the gig out of ST, but Revere to Parmelee is a significant defensive downgrade no matter how you slice it.

      On the infield, Mauer should be Mauer. .320, 25 2B, 10 HR, OPS Mid 800s. Morneau could make a jump back to MVP form, but I'd say something more akin to the second half of last year is a more realistic expectation. 800 OPS, 20ish HR, 90 RBI. Solid.

      Outside of those two, the rest of those ABs (about 2000 over the course of the season) will be going to a whole lot of sub-700 OPS hitters. Plouffe may bounce back and lock down the hot corner, or perhaps he just had a ridiculous 40 game stretch last year, and the .230 hitter we've seen is just what he's destined to be. Up the middle, Dozier is the one hope of a productive hitter, but I also wouldn't put it past Gardy and Co to have a short leash with him if he struggles, and not hesitate to turn the starter's role over to one of the "slick fielders" or Old Man Carroll. (And that could happen in spring training and I wouldn't be shocked.)

      I'm not going to delve into the pitching, because we've been over all this before, and I really don't feel like making myself nauseous by looking at the 2012 pitching stats. The pitching should be somewhat better, if only because my mind rejects the idea of a staff worse than last year's being possible on this plane of existence. So, anyway, back to the offense.

      The lineup, with all it's question marks, will need solid to amazing/career years (with both top notch production and being able to stay on the field) from Mauer, Morneau, Willingham, and Doumit to even stay where it was last year, given the many gaps that likely will exist surrounding them in the lineup. When 3 of the 4 have had significant injury troubles in the past, the fact that losing any one of them for any significant period of time could cripple the lineup keeps my optimism tucked away behind my realist nature. But, weirder things have happened. (I'm just not sure there's enough bottles and lightning for both the lineup and the pitching staff to click enough to be competitive late into the year.)
    1. 70charger's Avatar
      70charger -
      Quote Originally Posted by twinsnorth49 View Post
      You started it
      Attachment 3210
    1. Physics Guy's Avatar
      Physics Guy -
      Quote Originally Posted by Nick Nelson View Post
      I'm not sure it's even that unlikely. Based on their talent, I've got the Twins pegged right now as a mid-to-high 70-win team. Picking up an extra handful of victories to move above .500 wouldn't require a miracle necessarily, just better luck than the past two years.
      I agree completely. My guess is 77 wins (+/- 5).
    1. Kwak's Avatar
      Kwak -
      The sun is shining, the weather warming, with Spring and Baseball to soon follow. There is reason to be "on the bright side." We certainly can anticipate that things will improve--and with the favorite baseball team. There will be new players showcased, they might be future stars--maybe even this season! The worst that can happen is more of the same--but there will be a silver lining even if we get a dark cloud for the 2013 season. The Twins would select early (again) in the subsequent Amateur Draft and quite likely it will produce more of the promising players like those who have been mentioned in other threads of TD. Eventually there will be enough of them to build a consistent winner. Who knows another season (or two) of 90+ loss seasons might cause a change in philosophy that disdains the mediocre--"innings eater" or "plays-the-game-right" guys and prefers those who are hailed as "all-stars" or "Oh boy are we lucky to get him!" player-types.
      Let's all look forward to Spring, Baseball, better things--"The Bright Side".
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      Quote Originally Posted by snepp View Post
      By "reasonably" do you mean they weren't actually that good, but it sounds better that way?
      10th out of 14 AL teams in scoring...
    1. IdahoPilgrim's Avatar
      IdahoPilgrim -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
      Amidst all the pessimism over how badly the free agent market has been handled this offseason, it's easy to forget that with several lucky breaks, this team could easily finish over .500.

      Yes, it's a longshot. Yes, it's unlikely to happen without divine intervention. But with Mauer and Morneau on the roster (along with Willingham and Doumit), this team will be able to smack the ball around quite a bit of those guys stay healthy (far from a given) and Parmelee and/or Plouffe turn into consistent offensive threats.

      As for the pitching staff... well, yeah. That's going to require actual divine intervention to succeed.
      For what it's worth, I've already started working on that. Can't make any promises, though...
    1. GCTF's Avatar
      GCTF -
      Quote Originally Posted by twinsnorth49 View Post
      I think this is how it goes, I think we were reasonably not bad last year and not bad this year.

      Great
      Good
      Average
      Reasonably average
      Not Bad
      Reasonably not bad
      Reasonably not good
      Not good
      Bad
      Butera
      One more addition
    1. twinsnorth49's Avatar
      twinsnorth49 -
      Quote Originally Posted by GCTF View Post
      One more addition

      Sorry...my bad.
    1. Riverbrian's Avatar
      Riverbrian -
      Quote Originally Posted by sbknudson View Post
      For what it's worth, I've already started working on that. Can't make any promises, though...
      In that specific area... I need to ask you a couple of questions.

      Is it possible that Twins Fans can out pray the Indians, Royals, Tigers and White Sox Fans? Would that be good for some W's?

      Also, is it possible that Nishioka did something real bad, evil, horrible and the Twins team and Twins Fans have been effected by that possible Heavenly Karma?

      I chose Nishioka for the example because he's the only player I can think of that was on the Roster for both of the bad years of 2011 and 2012 but not on the roster for the playoff year of 2010.

      If you think about it... This could all be Nishioka's fault karma wise. He wasn't rostered when we were good.

      The bad times came with him. Maybe the bad times followed him out the door. Something to think about!!!
©2014 TwinsCentric, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Interested in advertising with Twins Daily? Click here.