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by Matt Sisk

Impatient: Influx in Infancy

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With a fresh coat of snow on the ground, my mind is further chilled by the cold (and dead) state of the Minnesota Twins pitching rotation. How did we get so bad, so fast? The answer to that question will not solve the problem that lies ahead. The real question is “What is the solution to this pitching predicament?” In one word: Time.

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The Twins have never been known to spend lots of dollars on baseball players, or starting pitchers, for that matter. When their Uber-Ace, John Santana, was due for a big payday, they traded him one season before his contract was up.

By trading the superstar pitcher, the Twins forfeited top draft picks in compensation if he were to leave in free agency. Plus, the Twins never, ever, expressed an interest in resigning the two-time Cy Young Award winner following his 5-year run of dominance in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. All the trade pieces the Twins received for Santana are gone except for Deolis Guerra, and his minor-league production is not very good.

So, how will this coming off-season proceed? Will the Twins find the pitching that has given them success in the past? Unfortunately, that answer is simply “no.” Not for 2014, at least. Eventually, this team will see an influx of young pitching talent. But it will not appear for a few years, and come from within the organization, not through free agency.

The good news here is that the Twins low-level minor league teams are full of teenage pitching prospects with high upside. But it will take a long, long time for the platinum armed kids to make their way to Minnesota. Alex Meyer is a solid prospect with recent success, and he should arrive in 2014. But when will the rotation be good again? And who will possess the arms that make it so? Let me share my hopeful prediction for our future as Twins fans…

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(he needs help)

It is Spring Training in the year 2016. The Timberwolves, led by a selfless Ricky Rubio, are the best team in the NBA. The Vikings drafted Johnny Manziel in the 1st round of the 2014 draft, and have since won back-to-back Super Bowls. The Twins are still lousy, but it’s an exciting lousy. Miguel Sano has won the 2014 AL ROY Award, and Byron Buxton took home the same trophy in 2015. Ron Gardenhire’s contract expired, and the front office turns to Paul Molitor as the new manager of the big club.

Twins fans, although intrigued by Buxton and Sano, are still in long-suffering mode. The front office failed to improve the pitching rotation in 2014 and 2015. They were still relying on free agent signings less than or equal to Sidney Ponson, Terry Mulholland, or Jason Marquis. Plus, Alex Meyer and Trevor May are both shelved due to Tommy John surgery. But with a new manager comes a new philosophy.

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(Timeless Terry)

Experts are urinating in their pants with excitement about the young and talented core of pitchers the Twins have in spring camp this year. Manager Paul Molitor is quoted as saying that, “…the 2016 starting rotation will be comprised of five rookies. It’s a young man’s game, and I choose not to fight that fact. We are gonna try something new.” When asked which rookies are his favorites to break camp and head north Molitor said, “Your guess is as good as mine. Mostly, I am going to spend some time on Twinsdaily.com, and rely on certain fans’ opinions.”

Since Molitor will be frequenting this site in 2016, let me suggest a new starting five for the St. Paul native to “pencil in,” along with each player’s respective age at the time of Spring Training 2016.

1. Kohl Stewart (21)
2. Jose Berrios (21)
3. Stephen Gonsalves (21)
4. Felix Jorge (22)
5. Lewis Thorpe (20)

With the manager committed to “trying something new,” the local fan base will erupt with support. While the front office isn’t exactly thrilled about Molitor’s ideas for the starting rotation, they have to respect the locally grown, Hall-of-Famer’s decisions moving forward.

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(Lefty Thorpe)

If we look closely at how each of these present-day teenagers fared in 2013, we can see why 2016 might be the year this influx of pitching talent finally breaks through and impacts Major League Baseball. If a person (me) were to combine all that these five pitchers did in 2013 (at the Rookie level and low-A for Berrios), they would see a crazy line of numbers that I will display here:

256.2 224 107 82 10 78 291

That is a combined ERA of 2.88 and a combined WHIP of 1.17! I understand that these statistics are inflated since none of these players pitched in a league higher than low-A during the 2013 season. But if any one of these guys ends up posting similar numbers in a full season with the Minnesota Twins, it would be tough for that individual to fail to win around 20 games and the Cy Young Award.

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(former unprotected rule-5 guy displaying change-up grip)

Will 2016 bring us a new manager and a shiny new pitching rotation? That’s not probable. But it sure would be fun to have five highly touted prospects in their early 20’s attempting to make major league waves with Saint Paul Molitor as dugout boss. Who knows? It might lead jaded fans to another string of division titles and a World Series ring ceremony in the years following 2016.

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Updated 11-06-2013 at 03:23 PM by mnfanforlife



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