Below youíll find some of the TV shows and how they got me thinking about the Minnesota Twins.
It seems everyone has caught on to the Breaking Bad phenomenon. I was late to the game. About two months ago, I was able to pick up Seasons One through Five, and I started watching. Iím now several episodes into Season 4, and trying my best not to read on Twitter whatís going on this season with Walt and Jesse and the gang.
For the Twins, things have been Breaking Bad! While the Twins fought to stay afloat until recently, things have not been good since they lost the third game of a series in Houston. They have won just twice in their last 11 games. More recently, they have lost five of their last six, and by a combined score of 52-12. They have been brutal at Target Field and are in serious need of some Home Improvement! The silver lining is that, if the season were to end today, the Twins would pick fifth in the 2014 MLB Draft.
It is definitely a Grimm situation for the hometown nine. Reading the comments on sites like Twins Daily, and maybe more importantly, seeing the declining attendance numbers at Target Field tells me that there are a bunch of Mad Men in Twins' fandom these days. Itís certainly A Different World from what we experienced through most of the last decade.
Gardy, and the Twins announcers, often speak about sending out The A-Team to face teams in playoff contention, but it is hard to find an A-Team right now, especially with Joe Mauer out of the lineup.
Of course, after three straight horrific seasons by the Twins, some fans are looking for a Revolution. Thatís not exactly how the Twins tend to work. They are an organization that strongly believes in building from within, both on the field and in the front office. All in the Family, one might say. There will be change. However, most likely, there will be little change in the front office.
Then, youíve got people like me who are Raising Hope by touting the strong Twins' farm system. However, caution must always follow optimism, especially when it comes to minor league prospects. As good and as much hype as prospects get, there is always a chance they donít become what you think they can become. They donít always continue to develop as you think they will.
One perfect example of this Arrested Development is last nightís starter, Liam Hendriks. Last night, the Australian right-hander was unable to get out of the first inning against the White Sox. Hendriks was a guy who flew through that Twins farm system. I ranked him as high as #3 in my Twins prospect rankings. Why? He was tremendous in the minor leagues. He pitched well in Beloit and Ft. Myers in 2010. He pitched very well in New Britain and Rochester in 2011. In fact, he got a September call up that season out of necessity.
But it was more than that. Reports on Hendriks were that he had a fastball that hit 92 mph with movement. That he had a very good changeup and a good curveball. At times in his 30 starts with the Twins, he has shown all of those things. Letís not forget the game he lost 1-0 to Felix Hernandez and the Mariners. The talent is there. The pitches are there. For some reason, it just has not come together.
I guess you could say that Rick Anderson is the X-Factor when it comes to Twins pitchers. He often gets blamed when pitchers donít become what we think that they should become. He gets roasted when a young pitcher struggles with the Twins and then succeeds when he goes elsewhere, even though that could just as easily be a byproduct of more experience, maturity and other variables. But how much did Anderson have to work with in 2013? He certainly did help Sam Deduno and over his years he has as many, if not more, successes than failures.
Hendriks is one of several players on the Twins roster they will need to determine if they will Love It or List It? It will be another interesting offseason for the Twins, and there are some 40 man roster decisions that will not be easy. Who will come off of the 40 man roster? Hendriks joins a list of possibilities that includes (but not limited to) Andrew Albers, Cole De Vries, BJ Hermsen, Shairon Martis, Eric Fryer, Doug Bernier, Chris Colabello, Wilkin Ramirez and Clete Thomas. They will also have to determine if they will offer arbitration to the likes of Brian Duensing, Josh Roenicke, Anthony Swarzak and Trevor Plouffe.
Some of that will be determined by their thoughts on the most interesting Person of Interest in the organization, Miguel Sano. Will the Twins brass be willing to let him be the Opening Day third baseman in 2014? Should they? But he is certainly not the only person whose development will factor into 2014 planning.
Many may want an Extreme Makeover, but consider how many high-level prospects the team needs to open spaces for in 2014.
Consider the following:
- Aaron Hicks Ė He was given the right to compete for the Opening Day centerfield job in 2013, and he won that spring training contest in the most recent example of why spring training numbers mean nothing. He struggled in his time with the Twins and was allowed to struggle beyond anything Iíve seen before. When he was finally sent down to Rochester, he lost time due to three separate injuries. He did not receive a September call up and says he will not play winter ball in Puerto Rico. What is his status going into 2014? One thing for certain is that Twins fans should not give up on him. Though Byron Buxton is near, Hicks can still be a long-term fixture in the Twins outfield.
- Trevor Plouffe Ė He has really struggled at third base at times, and his offense has been quite inconsistent. Miguel Sano is very close, and reports indicate that his defense is better than Plouffeís at the hot corner already. What do they do with Plouffe? Can he become a Super Utility player who plays all over?
- Eddie Rosario Ė Like Sano, Rosario has been a fast mover in the Twins system. He started in Ft. Myers and then hit well in New Britain. He wonít be ready for Opening Day, but do not be surprised if he is with the Twins by mid-season. Will it be at second base, or has Brian Dozier cemented himself there? Rosario certainly could be an outfielder as well.
- Alex Meyer Ė This might be the biggest piece to the puzzle. He missed nearly three months of the 2013 season with a shoulder injury. When he returned, he was throwing 100 mph with a nasty curveball. He is the Ace that the Twins and their fans have been looking for, if he continues to develop and improve. He too could be up by June.
- Trevor May Ė 2014 will be his final option season. After a solid, but unspectacular second season in AA, May needs to show something in 2014 if he wants to remain a starter, otherwise, heíll go to the bullpen, where he can still be a valuable pitcher.
- Josmil Pinto Ė Can Pinto be an everyday catcher? Can he hit, and can he field/throw enough for the team to feel comfortable moving Joe Mauer to another position at least half the time. He certainly has made a strong first impression with his September performance. Chris Herrmann has shown his value is his versatility, with his ability to play the corner outfield spots well and be solid behind the plate.
- Michael Tonkin Ė He was tremendous in the minor leagues until he got his first promotion to the Twins. Since that time, he has really struggled. He may be gassed, but heíll have to show something to put himself into position to be on the Twins opening day roster next season. No question, however, he will be up with the team at some point in 2014.
- Byron Buxton Ė He is the best prospect in baseball, and he can do it all. He should start the 2014 season in New Britain, and as Iíve been saying since I saw him in Cedar Rapids in April, he could be with the Twins by July (yes, of 2014). He is that good. He will come to big league spring training, not necessarily to win a starting job, but he can make an strong impression. It wonít be long.
Imagine a Twins outfield in September that includes Aaron Hicks, Byron Buxton and Eddie Rosario. That group could cover the vast, Green Acres of Target Fieldís outfield. Oswaldo Arcia can spell them and be the primary DH. Miguel Sano at third base with Joe Mauer getting a lot of time at first base. Trevor Plouffe can spell Mauer at 1B when he catches. Josmil Pinto can be behind the plate half the time as well. Brian Dozier has certainly bought himself some time at second base with a strong glove and enough bat to be excited about. Pedro Florimonís glove is so good that his bat could be better hidden if the rest of the lineup hits. Alex Meyer and Trevor May should be in the rotation by that time, and who knows who else will step up and contribute.
This September has been and likely will continue to be tough to watch over the final 13 games. If you follow me on Twitter, you noticed that I spent a lot of time watching Cheaper by the Dozen 2 during the Twins game. Iím not proud of that, though it is an excellent movie!! Cheers to those of you who made it through the entire game (something you may not be proud of?)!
At this point in the 2014 season, in the final month, it should be a very interesting time to be watching the Twins of the future play. At that point, we could live in our own Fantasy Island and dream of Happy Days. Good Times!