Minnesota Twins News & Rumors Forum
  • How Good Are the Twins?

    The circumstances and details have differed, but so far the course of this Twins season has very closely mirrored the last one. In both instances, the club looked strong coming out of spring training before being derailed by injuries and poor performance over the first two months, digging a deep early hole.

    When June came around last year, the Twins suddenly turned things around, taking advantage of weaker competition and rattling off victories (17 out of 19 at one point) to make a run at the .500 mark, which seemed like an unthinkable feat when they finished May at 19 games under. They kept playing well into July, creating some ambiguity as to their status as buyers or sellers at the trade deadline, but then the wheels came off completely in August and September.

    Staying consistent with last year's storyline, the 2012 Twins have turned things around here as weather has heated up and the schedule has softened. They've won four straight series and six of their last eight; prior to this stretch they had won only two of their last 24 series dating back to last year.

    It's been a stark turnaround, much like the one we saw around this time last summer when the Twins posted a .654 June winning percentage compared to .338 over the rest of the campaign. That sudden spell of success created a lot of hope, which came crashing down in a nightmarish final third of the season.

    In light of these parallels, fans are now wondering whether the team's current improvement is legitimate or another painful mirage. Fortunately, there are plenty of indications that a similarly dramatic drop-off is not on the horizon.

    It starts at the core. Whereas last year Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau were never quite right, both are healthy and playing at an extremely high level right now. Since May 16th (when Morneau returned from the disabled list) Mauer is hitting .356 with six doubles and two of his three home runs; Morneau has 11 extra-base hits including six homers and is averaging an RBI per game.

    The rest of the lineup has contributed around those two. Josh Willingham has of course been fantastic. Denard Span and Ben Revere have formed a dynamic and effective table-setting force at the top of the lineup. Trevor Plouffe has eight homers in his last 18 games and is starting to look like an actual major-league third baseman.

    There are tons of positives on offense, and as long as most people stay healthy that unit should remain in good shape. Pitching is another story. There have certainly been some positives there as well, but even those carry major caveats. (When will the bad Frankie return? When will Scott Diamond's bubble burst?)

    Absolutely we should expect better from the rotation over the rest of the campaign a 6-plus ERA was probably never sustainable but it seems highly unlikely that this flawed group of starters can do enough to turn this three-week run of success into a three-month run, which is what the Twins would need to crawl back into contention after an abysmal start. The offense is good, but not good enough to overcome a below-average pitching staff and win at a .600-plus clip the rest of the way? Hard to see.

    Of course, most realists aren't expecting that. Most are just hoping for solid, watchable baseball as opposed to the ugly mess that we were exposed to in April and the first half of May.

    And if the Twins really do want to surpass expectations and make a statement, there's no time like the present. Their next six games are at home, their next 12 are against the National League (which they have historically dominated) and they'll follow that up with 11 straight against teams ahead of them in the AL Central.
    This article was originally published in blog: How Good Are the Twins? started by Nick Nelson
    Comments 45 Comments
    1. glunn's Avatar
      glunn -
      The Twins have been fairly lucky this year in terms of avoiding injuries (other than the total loss of Scott Baker). And there is not a lot of bench depth. I will be happy with some solid, watchable baseball.
    1. TwinsGuy55422's Avatar
      TwinsGuy55422 -
      I am realistic enough to know that the starting pitching isn't good enough for the Twins to truly contend. However, as mentioned previously, I would definitely take some overall competitive baseball while seeing some progess from guys who will be part of the future of Twins baseball. I think will have a summer of interesting baseball ahead of us.
    1. travistwinstalk's Avatar
      travistwinstalk -
      Why do you have to throw water on good baseball. who knows if this can continue but can't we just enjoy the good baseball instead of saying they can't do this or do that. Just bothers me that instead of enjoying good baseball we feel the need to be skeptical if it continues just doesn't make sense to me.
    1. stringer bell's Avatar
      stringer bell -
      Short term and long term, the Twins need to rebuild their rotation. It looks like they may have found one starter this year (Diamond), but there are vacancies for several more. The schedule favors the Twins for the remainder of the month. If they can get close to .500 and no one runs away, I suppose they have to hang on to their productive players. If they stay 6+ back and stay well below .500, they have pieces to sell.
    1. twinswon1991's Avatar
      twinswon1991 -
      This is still a 90+ loss team just like they have been the last 2 years.
    1. mhanson93's Avatar
      mhanson93 -
      Quote Originally Posted by twinswon1991 View Post
      This is still a 90+ loss team just like they have been the last 2 years.
      Agreed, the biggest reason for the "turnaround" is the fact that they are playing other teams that are just as bad as they are. Once they start playing more contenders, reality will return..
    1. jlovren's Avatar
      jlovren -
      If the pitching goes from a 6 plus ERA to a 4 plus ERA than we could be contending for the AL Central title. That's a huge if, though. This kind of reminds me of 2000. Terrible team, but you see some signs of life from a few young guys and terrible pitching. Let's hope that 2013 reminds us of 2001. I really don't think we are as far away as most people on the site say we are (based on gut feeling)
    1. JB_Iowa's Avatar
      JB_Iowa -
      Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.

      I'm content to watch. If by some chance they can win at that .600 clip, it will make for a more enjoyable summer of watching baseball.

      BUT -- and this is a huge BUT for me -- I do not want them to be caught up in that "neverland" that THEY thought they were in last summer at the trade deadline.

      Fortunately there is a lot of time before decisions have to be made. Let's revisit this discussion in another month.
    1. Steve Penz's Avatar
      Steve Penz -
      I agree that we should enjoy the good baseball and we have to stay humble per travistwinstalk. Last week Gleeman said our runs/game had gone up by 2 during this successful stretch. Likely that will take a hit when we go back to playing better squads. And, the trade deadline is approaching and moves need to be made. Can anybody say who our pitching staff will be in one year? Please don’t say Gibson like that is a lock. He has been throwing from the mound for one week; there are no guarantees. Even with him, there are still many holes. I think we are still preparing for 2014 and beyond. Randy Bush joined the radio broadcast yesterday for an inning. Talking about his Cubs he said they need to look at every short-term option and looking trading them for long-term options and so they will entertain all discussions on that topic. I hope our team is thinking the same way.

      One extra comment- Joe Benson’s performance and injury makes me sad. I would very much like to see him get a handle on things, get healthy and turn it around.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Still a 90 loss team, agreed. They should 100% still be sellers. Howard has a nice blog post this am about this very topic.
    1. chuchadoro's Avatar
      chuchadoro -
      Quote Originally Posted by travistwinstalk View Post
      Why do you have to throw water on good baseball. who knows if this can continue but can't we just enjoy the good baseball instead of saying they can't do this or do that. Just bothers me that instead of enjoying good baseball we feel the need to be skeptical if it continues just doesn't make sense to me.
      Go read a Sid column if you're looking for fellatious drivel.
    1. TJW's Avatar
      TJW -
      I haven't run the stats from strength of schedule, but my memory is that the pre-June schedule was not as tough as this year's. They had games against the diamond backs and mariners that were replaced with some tougher teams, like the rangers. In essence, this year's team has done about the same as last year's against a little tougher schedule. While there will be a drop-off, especially after they sell off whatever assets they can around the trade deadline, I think this year's team is a little better than last year's. Morneau and Mauer seem to be healthier, and that takes pressure off of others. If Diamond can mature and stay reasonably solid and they get another pitcher out of Hendricks, Gibson or Waters - then they have two pitchers they can build around.
    1. birdwatcher's Avatar
      birdwatcher -
      My wish list:
      1. The team is NEVER a buyer, and ALWAYS a seller.
      2. Selling is for prospects ONLY.
      3. Sales happen ONLY when a team will overpay.
      4. Every player is ALWAYS on the trading block.
    1. DAM DC Twins Fans's Avatar
      DAM DC Twins Fans -
      The Phillies may be a better test of this team--but yes, we always do well during the June interleague schedule (this is last year for that with 2 15 team leagues starting 2013). The lineup shows potential--the pitching staff not much. We need to sell off pieces (my choice Span or Revere and Morneau) and pick up A level pitching prospects to go with Hendrix, Diamond and maybe Gibson in 2014.
    1. Paul's Avatar
      Paul -
      "Go read a Sid column if you're looking for fellatious drivel."

      Not sure if this is a typo or not. But it sure paints an interesting picture. And gave me a nice chuckle that I appreciate.
    1. Loosey's Avatar
      Loosey -
      My problem with selling is that often the Twins just sell to sell. Use the Denard Span trade talk for example, why trade a very good leadoff hitter and Center Fielder who is under contract for two more seasons and is still young and very much a part of this team's future for some mid-tier prospects they are likely to get in return. The only way the Twins should trade a guy like Span is if his replacement is ready to at the Major League level, and at this point that guy is not ready.
    1. savvyspy's Avatar
      savvyspy -
      Quote Originally Posted by Loosey View Post
      My problem with selling is that often the Twins just sell to sell. Use the Denard Span trade talk for example, why trade a very good leadoff hitter and Center Fielder who is under contract for two more seasons and is still young and very much a part of this team's future for some mid-tier prospects they are likely to get in return. The only way the Twins should trade a guy like Span is if his replacement is ready to at the Major League level, and at this point that guy is not ready.
      It seems like General Managing 101. Only sell guys who are free agents at the end of the year (Capps) or guys who have value but not close to their salary (Morneau, Mauer) and keep productive guys under team control for reasonable money (Span, Willingham). Unfortunately I never have thought the Twins front office knows anything about what it takes to manage a roster properly. I'm not confident this trade deadline will be much different than the past few. They probably sit on their hands to avoid getting fleeced.
    1. TwinVike61's Avatar
      TwinVike61 -
      Quote Originally Posted by savvyspy View Post
      I'm not confident this trade deadline will be much different than the past few. They probably sit on their hands to avoid getting fleeced.
      I guess I'd rather have them sit on their hands...with the exception of our Capital C Closer for any potential pitching prospect.
    1. Nick Nelson's Avatar
      Nick Nelson -
      I don't consider anyone to be off limits, per se, but I am admittedly a little nervous about the front office's ability to bring back sufficient talent in a trade. Dealing away a one-year guy like Capps or Doumit carries little downside, but when you're talking about getting rid of a quality player under contract for multiple years at a reasonable price, the pressure to bring back useful pieces increases dramatically. Considering their talent evaluation in recent years, can we trust the Twins to make a Span trade worthwhile?
    1. nicksaviking's Avatar
      nicksaviking -
      Quote Originally Posted by savvyspy View Post
      It seems like General Managing 101. Only sell guys who are free agents at the end of the year (Capps) or guys who have value but not close to their salary (Morneau, Mauer) and keep productive guys under team control for reasonable money (Span, Willingham). Unfortunately I never have thought the Twins front office knows anything about what it takes to manage a roster properly. I'm not confident this trade deadline will be much different than the past few. They probably sit on their hands to avoid getting fleeced.
      Unfortunately you don't get much value back that way. Other clubs wont be giving up any promising youngsters for a rental player, particularly a bullpen rental. They also wont give up much for guys who are under-performing and carry a large contract. If you want to score quality prospects you do have to trade the productive players under team control.
©2014 TwinsCentric, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Interested in advertising with Twins Daily? Click here.