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  • What Happened to the Optimism?

    First things first... Happy 2014 Minnesota Twins Opening Day to the Twins Daily community!

    As the 2013 season came to yet-another frustrating end, many Twins fans found baseball difficult to watch. Many Septembers, prospects are called up and fans can catch a glimpse of the future. Last September, Twins fans got to see catcher Josmil Pinto make a strong first impression. However, other September call-ups were journeymen. I recall telling anyone who would listen that it was a tough to watch, but we knew there would be many more reasons to watch in 2014. Yet, as this season opens, there is a lot of negativity surrounding the Twins, even more than the last couple of seasons. So, what happened?

    Where did all this negativity come from?

    In my opinion, the day the attitude for the 2014 season changed is the day Miguel Sano fielded a slow roller and made an off-balance throw to first base. Since then, we found out he needed Tommy John surgery, had the surgery and will miss most of the season.

    After Sano hit 35 home runs between Ft. Myers and New Britain in 2014 and showed enough improvement defensively at third base that many, myself included, thought he would be up with the Twins no later than July. Who knows? With the Twins offense this spring, maybe it would have been as early as May! He was generally ranked among the Top 10 prospects in all baseball.

    The concern really started after playing just two games in the Dominican Winter League. He was shut down with a strained UCL. Many, myself included (and apparently Dr. James Andrews), chose to believe that because he was a position player the elbow could be rested, and he could come back and play at 100% in 2014. And then came that slow roller. And surgery. And the big cast over his arm.

    Photo by Nick Nelson (found on Twins Daily Facebook page)

    Sure, he'll pick up a bat in early August and could get a couple at-bats in GCL games before the end of the year, but he will (without something crazy happening) not make his big league debut until early in the 2015 season.

    I truly believe when fans found out that Miguel Sano would not be promoted this season, optimism for 2014 dropped.

    Of course, at the same time we heard about Miguel Sano being shut down in the Dominican, reports came out of Puerto Rico that Eddie Rosario would likely face a 50-game suspension.

    The second baseman had a very strong 2013 season. He began the year in Ft. Myers and he was promoted to New Britain the same day as Sano. Rosario more than held his own at AA. Before spring training began, news came out that he officially had been suspended, but not for a PED. Instead, he was suspended for a drug of abuse. This meant he had previously failed a drug test and got caught again. My personal thought was that his season would begin in late May, possibly with a handful of games in Ft. Myers. He would quickly move up to New Britain and could still be called up in August or September.

    However, when minor league spring training started in early March, we learned that Rosario had been given permission by the club to report late. Rumors were rampant as to what the drug of abuse was and where he was during this time. Well, as minor league spring training is now complete (and his suspension begins), he has still not reported. Of course, that doesnít necessarily mean anything, but the level of concern is certainly higher at this point. Again though, we most likely will not see him until 2015.

    Byron Buxton dominated as a 19 year old at Cedar Rapids and in Ft. Myers. In the offseason, he was the consensus #1 prospect in all baseball and was invited to big league camp. Although he didnít hit much in big league camp, there was no question about his talent and his future. Again, Jeremy Nygaard and I talked (on the Twins Hangouts podcast) about how we felt there was a chance Buxton could play in the Futures Game at Target Field and stick with the team.

    To be fair, that was probably a little over-aggressive. However, the thought was not completely out of the realm of possibility. Unfortunately, in mid-March, on a back field in minor league camp, he made a diving catch in a game and hurt his wrist. After further evaluation, it was decided he will start the season on the disabled list and likely miss at least two weeks at the start of the season. My assumption is he will get at least a handful of games with the Ft. Myers Miracle to start his season before moving up to New Britain (where he would otherwise have started his season).

    The delayed start (and hopefully it is only two to three weeks) changes my thinking. I thought he could make a July/August debut. Now, I think heíll spend the entire season at New Britain (again, after those initial games with the Miracle). That is not a bad thing at all, far from it. Itís just that instead of debuting as a 20 year old in 2014, he will likely debut in the middle of the 2015 season.

    As those three situations were happening with three of the Top Five Minnesota Twins prospects, top pitching prospect Alex Meyer is pitching after missing two months last season.

    Of course, it didnít help much that the Twins offense did pretty much nothing during spring training games. Over time, more and more concern about the Twins offense (or lack thereof) was voiced publicly.

    So again, I am of the opinion that optimism for 2014 was not about the major league team suddenly winning 80 games or competing for a division title. The cause of optimism was that some key building blocks for the future would get their first glimpse of big league ball and go through their rookie season ups and downs so that in 2015 they could improve even more and maybe the Twins would start competing.

    I donít think the upside and potential of the prospects is any less now than it was two months ago, but I do think the timeline has unfortunately been pushed back a year. In my opinion, these minor leaguer situations have affected the enthusiasm of the Minnesota Twins fans.

    The Twins went out and added a couple of pitchers in Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes. However, they did little to improve the offense. I believe a big reason for that is because of the belief that with Sano and Rosario (along with Aaron Hicks and Josmil Pinto, and eventually Danny Santana and Byron Buxton), the changing of the guard would be taking place.

    The lack of offense in spring training certainly didnít help the enthusiasm and hope of Twins fans. One canít help but wonder what ticket sales would look like this year if not for hosting the All-Star Game in July.
    Comments 85 Comments
    1. cmathewson's Avatar
      cmathewson -
      Quote Originally Posted by TheLeviathan View Post
      The difference is that for some critical thinking is only valid as a tool of optimism. The idea that a less than desirable forecast could be fair analysis is unallowed. I understand why - we all love our team and WANT them to be better, but wanting something to be true and finding ways to justify that is not fair analysis.

      Nick just got done with a blog entry a few days ago that was critical and sober in its assessments of the roster and the depth behind it. The response by those wanting to trounce out "negativity" (note that there are no blog entries or even threads dedicated to calling out the "Pollyanna" perspective) gave it no credence as a valid thought. For whatever reason, for many fans, a forecast that isn't desirable is functionally incapable of being honest or truthful.

      Sometimes "things might be worse" is the reality. Spring can lead to hope, but that doesn't make it valid analysis. Afterall, as a wise man once said, hope is the dream of the waking man.
      That was the thread I was warned about. I said it was not realistic to think that all these bad things could happen at once. Sure, they are all possible, some were even probable, but the combination is highly unlikely. In that sense, it is easier to over-emphasize the negative than to think critically about the positive. As Nick said in his response, you can't predict another Orioles rise. I disagree. It is harder, but it is not impossible. It requires predicting improvement, which few want to do.

      Put another way, few get called on projecting negative regression that turns out inaccurate in reality. But when you project positive regression (like I'm predicting with Hicks), you get labeled a Pollyanna.
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Quote Originally Posted by cmathewson View Post
      In that sense, it is easier to over-emphasize the negative than to think critically about the positive. As Nick said in his response, you can't predict another Orioles rise. I disagree. It is harder, but it is not impossible. It requires predicting improvement, which few want to do.
      Except you repeatedly, and still are, assuming all those things have to happen. This team is a collision with the CF wall away from a huge problem. That's one issue only that could seriously damage the team. Just one. If even a few of them happen throughout the season it could be hideous, that was Nick's point. And most teams have "a few" things happen to them injury-wise in the course of a season. That's reality, not uncritical pessimism.

      As for the pollyanna thing, your argument belies the problem you have. You look at this as an "all or nothing" type of thing. My outlook says the Twins might be even worse this year, but, for example, I'm still predicting a much better Hicks and Gibson. (Among others as well) It's not Pollyanna to say that.

      What borders on Pollyanna is the refusal to acknowledge injuries. Or projecting the entire rotation to be better than career norms. Or expecting all the good from last year to maintain but none of the bad or all the bad to reverse and none of the good to reverse. Or all of the similar arguments tossed around lately.
    1. Major Leauge Ready's Avatar
      Major Leauge Ready -
      Quote Originally Posted by spycake View Post
      Major League Ready,

      Why the focus on long-term deals? With prospects on the way, short-term would seem to be ideal for this club.

      And in your positional analysis, in addition to SS which you admit is weak, you also left out DH which was wide open (or, shifting Willingham to DH, an OF would be wide open). Cruz or Morales or Corey Hart would have been interesting guys for that spot. And I wouldn't rule out a short-term CF just because we want to try Hicks again and Buxton is on the way -- better to have a good CF playing a corner than lack for any CF. Chris Young or Grady Sizemore were possibilities there. And if you look short-term, since Sano was 90% likely to start at AAA anyway, you could get a 3B to push Plouffe too -- Mark Reynolds?

      Not inspiring names by any means, but I think what has disappointed me most is that the Twins basically did nothing. They had a bunch of mediocre performers last year, and have basically rolled the dice on the exact same group this year. The only new additions have been Suzuki (not a bad sign, but uninspiring as a primary starter) and Kubel and Bartlett (who, coincidentally, were two of the cheapest options available, and also the two former Twins). We're just handing jobs to Hicks, Plouffe, Arcia, and Florimon, without pushing any of them or getting any depth. Seriously, Mastro, Parm, Cola, and Escobar are all still first in line to take over again. It's actually a lot like the rotation entering 2013 -- carrying over a disappointing group, add a couple marginal guys, but still a poor forecast and little depth, with most of our hopes still a year or two or more away in the minors.
      I agree with you that there were some options. My point was that there were 29 other teams interested in those options. In some cases those options are much more attractive than the Twins (ie. AJ Pierzynski). My major objection is to the characterization that goes on here is the extremely simplistic viewpoint that we should get every player we want as if there are not 30 teams in MLB cometing for those players.

      I thought Sizemore would have been worth a chance but he did not look nearly as appealing prior to spring training. Obviously, MLB GMs felt he was a bit of a long shot given the terms of his deal. This is where being realistic comes into play. If your Sizemore taking a one year deal, the departure of Ellsbury makes Bostom look like a pretty good option. Plus, they have good bats around him making his job easier.

      I also thought Corey Hart was a good option and I was a big supporter of Morales until it became obvious we had other players that needed those ABs. (Willingham, Pinto, and perhaps Collabello) Add to this giving up a draft choice at he was no longer as appealing, especially for a short-term deal.
    1. Willihammer's Avatar
      Willihammer -
      What happened to the optimism? Before Saturday the Twins had lost 10 games in a row.

      10 game losing streaks will dry up optimism of any a fanbase, even if it is only spring training.
    1. Monkeypaws's Avatar
      Monkeypaws -
      I guess I'm lucky in that I just enjoy having a team in Minnesota. Winning championships was an unbelievable high, but the lows are just baseball to me. There is always a point of interest to me, even with a losing team.

      I save my pessimism and angst for real life problems. Maybe it's a product of age. I sure didn't used to take the losses so easily in my youth.
    1. twinssouth's Avatar
      twinssouth -
      Quote Originally Posted by cmathewson View Post
      That was the thread I was warned about. I said it was not realistic to think that all these bad things could happen at once. Sure, they are all possible, some were even probable, but the combination is highly unlikely. In that sense, it is easier to over-emphasize the negative than to think critically about the positive. As Nick said in his response, you can't predict another Orioles rise. I disagree. It is harder, but it is not impossible. It requires predicting improvement, which few want to do.

      Put another way, few get called on projecting negative regression that turns out inaccurate in reality. But when you project positive regression (like I'm predicting with Hicks), you get labeled a Pollyanna.
      Longtime diehard Twins fan here, have faithfully followed them since coming to Twin Cities, I think in 61. Born and raised Minnesota, been following them while living all over the country and now in Atlanta. I see where Halsey Hall is on now and then; I still remember like yesterday when Halsey's cigar almost burnt the broadcast booth down, Herb Carneal was having a heart attack trying to put the fire out. Absolutely hysterical listening to those two go at it.

      Thanks Twins Daily, Seth and all the rest for this awesome site and the great work you do.

      Seth's What happened to the optimism is so true. I made my annual trip to ST last week, watching the Twins and of course the Minor Leaguers (I love going over there and watching all that talent). The Twins really have an awesome complex, impeccable fields and work out facility, the Dormitory is really taking shape, B Buxton was working out on the agility hill. You mill around, watching 3 games at once, shooting the breeze with the players and coaches. I just don't know of another complex that has that exposure. We are really spoiled. I haven't heard if Jet Blue is set up the same for Minor Leaguers (anybody know?).

      Now to the Twins; Hammond Stadium improvements are terrific. The walk around is fantastic. Beer rails all over the outfield, great views, see the bullpen and guys working out. This is where it becomes the mixed bag;

      Defensively, we look good up the middle. Hicks is smooth out there and Dozier and Florimon can really slap the leather. They made some beautiful double plays. I can see why Gardy doesn't want to break them up. Then there's Plouffe, yikes; he had a simple grounder, spunned around to tag a runner, missed, threw to 1st and too late. He should have just thrown to 1st for the 3rd out. Instead, Pirates keep the rally going and win. Gardy stared him down pretty good.

      Pitching wise, we looked good. I sat behind Home and Nolasco was calm and cool, getting a lot of movement on his pitches. Batters couldn't square him up. Theilbar looked good, threw harder then I thought, with decent movement and Fien was terrific. The heater was leaving his hand great and diving in last minute. struck out the 1st two batters faced.

      Now the offense. Everybody looked blah except Arcia. He's worth the price of admission. I loved it. He take a big cut, miss, strut out the box with chest out, back in and repeat. Hit a high foul ball the catcher missed, stepped back in to the box, pounded his thigh couple of times, then clobbered a ball for homerun. Next time up, repeated the same, pounded his thigh, blasted a ball to dead center wall for out. His homer was the only run Twins scored. If the rest of these guys would show the same emotion as Arcia, then they might have something. It was the same when I saw them last summer playing the Rays in Tampa. No emotion, all seemed listless and beat, except for Arcia.

      From what I saw, there will be no margin for error with this team. They need to play tight defense, pitching will keep them in the game because I just can't see them scoring but a few runs a game. Hopefully I'm wrong (I'm worried about Willingham).

      My next post will be on the minors, now that was fun to watch. Thanks guys
    1. Oldgoat_MN's Avatar
      Oldgoat_MN -
      Quote Originally Posted by gil4 View Post
      ...
      Alex Presley didn't have a lot of value, but a 28 year old who can actually play CF and get on base a little has more value than a 34 year old "superutility" who missed all of last year and hasn't been good for several years.
      One of many valid points in this thread.

      I was shocked almost into optimism when TR actually signed free agents before March who other teams were interested in.
      Unfortunately I did not have the feeling that we were signing top of the rotation guys. Then we signed 3 pitchers. Hmmm.

      I realize 'you can never have too much pitching', but something is missing for me.

      Do we expect Gibson to do well? How about Deduno?
      And isn't Meyer in the wings?

      It started looking like TR kind of said to the Pohlads, "OK, you want me to sign some free agents? I'll sign some free agents".
      And nothing to address the offense.

      And as Willihammer so succinctly put it, losing 10 in a row takes a toll, even if they are Spring Training games.

      In spite of my frustration I have tickets to the home opener. I'm not much the type of fan who boos my team. I'll be cheering for these kids.

      Sure hope that gets easier in the next couple of years.
    1. ChiTownTwinsFan's Avatar
      ChiTownTwinsFan -
      Quote Originally Posted by Monkeypaws View Post
      I guess I'm lucky in that I just enjoy having a team in Minnesota. Winning championships was an unbelievable high, but the lows are just baseball to me. There is always a point of interest to me, even with a losing team.

      I save my pessimism and angst for real life problems. Maybe it's a product of age. I sure didn't used to take the losses so easily in my youth.
      This is exactly how I feel. I wrote out a huge long response and deleted it because it was just too long, but this was succinct. Thanks.
    1. twinsfan34's Avatar
      twinsfan34 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Major Leauge Ready View Post
      So what were the options?
      1B Ė Mauer
      2B Ė Set w/Dozier and Rosario soon.
      3B Ė No way anyone is brought in w/Sano so near.
      Catcher Ė Salty & AJ wanted to be elsewhere. Were we going to outbid the Yankees for McCann?
      CF Ė Not going to make a long-term commitment given we have the top prospect in all of baseball a year away.
      OF Ė You have to give Arcia a chance. Should we have taken a chance on Cruz on a one year deal and given up the draft pick? Should we have committed 4 years to Granderson?
      Choo or Ellsbury would have been absolute incompetence.
      SS Ė Obviously this one has been argued to death here. I can accept both sides of this argument. However, this team changes very little even with Drew. He would have been signed long ago if he were a difference maker. It would appear the talent evaluators around the league donít think he is worth a draft pick.

      Is it hard to fix a team through free agency if you are not the Yankees, Dodgers, etc? Is the management of the Astros and Cubs apathetic? Incompetent? Why havenít they turned those teams around? It is really easy to talk smack from the sidelines.
      My View of Reality/Optimism
      1. I agree with this - I think the moves they made were well with reason.
      2. The cuts for the Roster were the right moves - Hicks, Arcia, Gibson, and Pinto all made the roster. Those are top 100 propects from last year and Pinto (many of this year's top 100). All seemingly will end up being able to make contributions as starters. And likely could going into 2015, 2016, and beyond.
      3. Just how good will those 4 guys be? What if we got, even 2 WAR out of each of them? That's 8 Wins...how many wins did they replace (subtract that value)...then add the Twins pitchers (Nolasco, Hughes)...again, WAR added, WAR replaced.

      I haven't been to Ft. Myers...I don't know the attitude part.

      Tigers are getting old...some injuries, new contracts might affect Scherzer's attitude as they have money it seems for Cabrera, but not for him?

      Indians lost Ubaldo Jimenez...and everything went right for them last year to win 92 games.

      Royals are getting better...and honestly, I'm happy for them.

      White Sox...I don't know what to expect. They keep adding power bats. Twins K/9 numbers will go up...as long as we can keep the HR/9 down, we probably can win some games there.

      4. The minor leagues...how many 'new developments' or pleasant surprises did we have from our system last year? Well, how much better will those guys do? AND how about the class of 2013 and our guys that are 17, 18, 19 years old. If some of them start killing A/A+ and knocking on the all of AA ball. That's hope.

      I live in Texas...and even when I lived in MN...I was never a big attend the games in person guy. I attended 3-8 games a year on average. I watched parts of 100 games...and read every boxscore.

      I'll still follow the Twins. I make at least one if not both of the series they play down here in Texas for at least 2 of the 3 games each series.

      I don't see much of that changing for me.

      I admit, I'm more of a fair weather fan of the Vikings and the Timberwolves. As when they suck, I don't really watch them much. Timberwolves are especially tough to watch...I think Basketball quality in general is down, but that's another post.

      I think the Twins made good moves this year with what was in front of them. Looking forward to seeing the 4 young guys play.
    1. notoriousgod71's Avatar
      notoriousgod71 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Major Leauge Ready View Post
      You are badly twisting the context here. The fact that there is plenty of room to improve this line up is something that I would imagine 99.99% of fans would agree is very obvious. It is very easy to come back with a comment. It only furthers the assertion that your arguments are not fully formed. So, what specifically would you do differently. It is no simple and it is not easy.

      The point is that it is not simple. I seriously doubt apathy has anything to do with the problem. There are 29 other teams competing for these FAs. Many of them have a FAR larger budget. We also have young players (Hicks, Arcia, Pinto) that need to be given an opportunity. We have two positions set (1B/2B) and two positions are being held for a top 10 prospect. And, we have a middle of the line-up bat that is a question mark. Do you just cut him. All of these things don't leave alot of room for long-term deals.
      It depends. Am I allowed to spend someone else's money as I see fit or do I have to keep the payroll as it is? And this isn't just a 2014 issue. If the Twins had bothered to add any significant pieces last season our predicament wouldn't be as dire.
    1. BigTrane's Avatar
      BigTrane -
      Seems like the ventilation is taking effect... good! Deep breath, everyone!

      A week or two ago, where would you have put the Braves, Rangers, and A's?

      I thought so... and now?

      162 is a hell of a slog, and anything can- and does- happen. Even before you get out of the gates. What goes on in between- numbers be damned- is a crapshoot. Anybody want to project DL time for specific players?

      2012-2013 BoSox repeated Twins worst-to-first WS title. It can happen, it just did! Likely? Not so much, but still...

      To make the playoffs, things need to break right. Dodgers 42-9 run? Where's that, in the math, especially after their crap start? Random really means random, and that includes bizarre happenings. Think about streaks. They happen all the time, but explain them with math.

      On balance, Twins pitching looked very good in ST, while the hitting and running games (my pet peeve) sucked. I miss the Carew/Oliva mayhem-on-the-basepaths style of play... seems like Gardy is stuck in that era, but doesn't have the players to pull it off.

      My cause for optimism this season is Dozier, Hicks, Arcia, and Pinto. Anything else is gravy.
      For those down on Gardy, the reason for hope might be seeing Molly take the helm at the end of the season. Even odds. Baseball: the Great Leveler.
    1. BHtwins's Avatar
      BHtwins -
      I am more negative then previous years just because the things that drive me crazy about the management of my favorite team haven't changed one iota. Add on Sano's injury, Buxton's injury and the fact the Kubel and Bartlett are going to get significant amount of plate appearances. Its kind of depressing. and holy crap, I know Kurt Suzuki is going to get a bunch of at bats in the 2 slot???

      Also have you looked at the first 45 games of the schedule or so? Holy crap..

      Listen, I HOPE Kubel and Bartlett do great and I HOPE Suzuki gets on base a bunch and scores 100 runs but is there any reason to think that could happen?

      My optimistic predictions. Plouffe, Dozier Hicks and Arcia all perform above replacement level. Mauer does exactly what he does but for 30 more games. The starting staff goes from painful to just embarrassing and a bullpen that isn't beat death actually performs pretty damn well.
    1. cmathewson's Avatar
      cmathewson -
      Quote Originally Posted by TheLeviathan View Post
      As for the pollyanna thing, your argument belies the problem you have. You look at this as an "all or nothing" type of thing. My outlook says the Twins might be even worse this year, but, for example, I'm still predicting a much better Hicks and Gibson. (Among others as well) It's not Pollyanna to say that.
      Perhaps I did misinterpret the post. It read like a litany of stuff that could go wrong as though it was all expected to go wrong, which is what I objected to. Of course, some stuff is going to happen.

      I haven't said anything about what I expect. I'm particularly concerned about CF depth in that regard, as I've posted elsewhere. I'm concerned about Willingham's and Kubel's bats. I'm concerned that Plouffe might never become the guy we all hoped he would be when he had those two magical months in 2012. I think Florimon could regress, and not in a good way. Arcia seems a bit too prone to striking out for my taste. Suzuki is not much of a hitter. Even Mauer and Dozier seem vunerable to regression.

      On the plus side, it's hard for me to imagine Willingham and Kubel being as bad as they were last year. Hicks is also bound to be better. Arcia should benefit from a more consistent venue. Pinto should get more at bats as the year goes along. Mauer should hit better and certainly get more plate appearences than he ever has. Dozier seemed to turn a corner last year. And Florimon still has some offensive upside.

      The trick is balancing the negative against the positive and coming up with a reasonable projection. I'm not saying I have that figured out yet. But I think the offense will actually be a little better this year.
    1. troyhobbs's Avatar
      troyhobbs -
      Quote Originally Posted by Monkeypaws View Post
      I guess I'm lucky in that I just enjoy having a team in Minnesota. Winning championships was an unbelievable high, but the lows are just baseball to me. There is always a point of interest to me, even with a losing team.

      I save my pessimism and angst for real life problems. Maybe it's a product of age. I sure didn't used to take the losses so easily in my youth.
      While this sentiment makes a lot of sense as a fan it tends to remind me of my perception of many players on the Twins roster. Despite 3 horrible seasons we constantly hear about how bad players want to stay here. That's nice to hear as a Twins fan for the most part but where is the fire in the belly? It'd be nice to hear how bad these guys are thirsting for victory instead of how much they like playing for their buddies Gardy and Andy and how much of a class act Twins brass is. Hopefully these young guys have more competitive attitudes or we can find a manager that can bestow one to his team.
    1. LaBombo's Avatar
      LaBombo -
      It could be argued that almost every blog or post about what to expect from the 2014 Twins has been inherently optimistic by omission of any concern or debate about Mauer, other than how much more he contributes at the plate with the switch to first.

      In a vacuum, extra Mauer offense just from increased PA's alone does seem like almost a foregone conclusion. But he's coming off an injury so devastating that the organization felt compelled to lower him from the top to the bottom of the defensive spectrum. That's not only a serious blow to his value, it's also a reminder what a terrible toll concussions have taken on the careers of Koskie and Morneau.

      In a discussion about how many wins Nolasco and Hughes add to the rotation or what Hicks, Arcia, and Pinto contribute, or what the bleep Kubel and Bartlett are doing here again, or whether Josh Willingham is actually, really alive or not, it's tempting to see those as some of the larger factors that will determine how the next season or two unfold.

      But compared to the health and effectiveness of Mauer and the massive financial commitment he represents, each of those things is secondary to Mauer's ability to contribute at least as much offensively at first as he did at catcher, and for the next several years.

      Bearing that in mind, it could be argued that there is generally an inherent, unspoken optimism here at TD, however we may differ on what happens with the team and all its non-Mauer players. He'll probably be fine, but even speculation that he may not makes even the most dire of other scenarios regarding other players seem mildly pessimistic at worst.
    1. JB_Iowa's Avatar
      JB_Iowa -
      Quote Originally Posted by LaBombo View Post
      or whether Josh Willingham is actually, really alive or not
      Spewing all over my computer screen.
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Quote Originally Posted by cmathewson View Post
      The trick is balancing the negative against the positive and coming up with a reasonable projection. I'm not saying I have that figured out yet. But I think the offense will actually be a little better this year.
      One thing I'd caution as you balance that out: last year when there were injuries we called up Pinto, Arcia, and moved Doumit around. (Among some bad players too, no doubt) This year those players don't exist. When Willingham goes down we see Wilkin Ramirez or Hermann for 2-3 weeks or more.

      I've got Gibson and Hicks primed for huge improvements and I think Dozier stays steady. I think Arcia is going to have an adjustment period but by June he's going to be everything we hoped for. I even think that bullpen is largely going to be pretty darn good and have some trade value.

      The problem is injuries, Suzuki/Florimon/Plouffe/Bench/Kubel and how awful they might be, a lot of question marks in the starting staff, and little impact talent expected for at least most of the year.

      At the end of the day I don't let this drag me down, I still love the Twins - I'm just boarding up the windows for another rough one to ride out.
    1. gil4's Avatar
      gil4 -
      Quote Originally Posted by notoriousgod71 View Post
      It depends. Am I allowed to spend someone else's money as I see fit or do I have to keep the payroll as it is? And this isn't just a 2014 issue. If the Twins had bothered to add any significant pieces last season our predicament wouldn't be as dire.
      I'd say somewhere in between. There is a budget, and I'd guess it's about $100M, maybe a bit more if extra ticket sales from a pennant race dictate. (Maybe quite a bit more (new TV money), if attendence doesn't slip too far.) The Twins were over that figure by quite a bit in 2010 and the crashed and burned, and we are really just starting to get past the consequences of that spending. A lot of salary came off the books the past two off-seasons, and some of it has been spent, but I think TR still has a lot of payroll flexibility if the opportunity presents itself.

      What would you have done differently that was realistic?
    1. rickyriolo's Avatar
      rickyriolo -
      Twins still a good 2 years away from even being competitive. Buxton & Sano are the future. Mauer will still be there. Kubel & bartlet will not be on the team by the all star break. Another 90 loss season. Does any one think Gardy will be there in 2 years? i do not
    1. rickyriolo's Avatar
      rickyriolo -
      oh, and 1 last thing. San Diego Tribune picked the Twins as the worst team in the American League. they even projected that Houston Astros will have a better record than the Twinkies
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