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If 2013 isn't realistic, Twins' focus turns to 2014

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In an interview with reporters on Monday night at the Winter Meetings, Twins General Manager Terry Ryan wanted to make sure to tame expectations. When asked if the Twins will be competitive in 2013, he said, "We will try to have that happen... We have to be realistic on all fronts." This most likely means that the Twins won't be handing out buckets of cash to front-line starting pitching but that could be expected from the start of the offseason. There could be some other deeper meanings that are going to transpire in the rest of this offseason or before the end of the year.

If the Twins aren't planning on being competitive in 2013, what else should the club accomplish before the start of next season?
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Is it time to dump Justin Morneau and/or Josh Willingham? From the sounds of reports, neither one of these men will be changing jerseys before the start of the year. Morneau will be entering the last year of his contract and he is due a $14 million. Willingham only joined the club last season but his value might be the highest it can be after a career year in 2012. If the Twins were able to trade both of these players for talent that would be ready in the next couple of seasons, it could be a step in the right direction. Morneau's money will also be off the books for 2014 so this could help if the Twins need to add some depth at other positions.

Will the outfield of the future be able to breakout by 2014? Oswaldo Arcia and Aaron Hicks each had fantastic seasons in 2012 but this came at the Double-A level. Both players will likely start at Triple-A in 2013, which could mean their debuts at some point next season. An outfield with Arcia, Hicks and Ben Revere seems like it could be in place for multiple seasons if all of these players can stay healthy and productive. The jump from Double-A all the way to the big leagues can come with some bumps and bruises so the Twins might have to continue to be patient with their rising prospects.

Could the rotation be stronger by the start of next season? Entering next season, the Twins have plenty of question marks in the rotation. By the start of next season, some of those question marks might be dissolved. Kyle Gibson will most certainly be on an innings limit in 2013 after coming back from Tommy John surgery and he might not even start the year in the rotation. In 2014, he should be able to pitch a full season and he should be in the starting rotation from the start of the year. Newly acquired Alex Meyer will most likely start next year in Double-A, which could mean he debuts with the Twins by the end of 2013. If Gibson and Meyer can put together positive seasons, these two pitchers along with Scott Diamond could make up three-fifths of the rotation in 2014.

The hope of 2014 might mean that a lot of things have to go right in 2013. The Twins need Arcia and Hicks to continue to progress and the health of the three pitchers mentioned above needs to be good. When relying on younger players, there can be a learning curve and that might be why the Twins would want to trade other player this offseason. By giving some of these younger players time to iron out the kinks, the team could be better set up for success in the future.

Most fans know the Twins aren't going to be on pace to win 100 games next year. It would be nice to see the Twins be competitive in what has been a very winnable division during the last few seasons. The time doesn't feel right for the Twins to charge back in the Central so it might be more important to focus on the future and make moves that will help the Twins to succeed in the long run.

Comments

  1. Jim H's Avatar
    My guess is that the Twins have somewhere around $25 mill. to spent on pitching for 2013, whether it comes from free agent spending or in a trade. They may be willing to spend say another $20 million in 2014 if that is what it takes in multi year contracts to get what they want. Spending that kind of money might get a staff that will be as good as 2010 or it could closer resemble what happened in 2012. The problem is, most of the guys signed are going to have a question or 3 surrounding them in terms of health, consistency, or just plain talent.

    So yes, I agree that Ryan plans/hopes to have a competitive team in 2013. He understands that a lot of things have to go right for that to happen. Which it can if you want to use Oakland and Baltimore as examples from 2012. An extra problem here is that even if the starters he assembles, perform to near a best case scenario, other things will have to go well to be competitve. Good health by the vets, and some growth and consistency by the young guys will have to happen.

    So, I don't see the Twins dumping Willingham or Morneau this off season. There is no replacements ready, really for either one, and going to the free agent market to replace them will likely offset what you get in return for them. The Twins could conceivably trade someone else, but there would have to be a very high return, which seems a bit unlikely at this time.

    I think that 2013 is sort of a pivotable year for the Twins. Whether they contend or not in 2013, they will want to see growth by their key prospects. Pitching, throughout the system, needs to be healthy so that the Twins can actually evaluate what they have and what they need. They really need the current core of everyday players to be healthy. Then you can make decisions about whether to trade or keep them.

    2013 would seem to be the key to whether the last 2 years were just down years or the beginning of a long rebuilding process.
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