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When Can the Twins Compete Again?

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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?
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