Bear with me, this is a bit long…..

Given that 10 runs equals a win, and given actual results last year, here is how I think the Twins can get close to the playoffs in 2014.

- Last year, Diamond and Hendriks made a combined 32 starts. In those, they had 9 quality starts, and gave up a combined 127 runs. In those 32 starts, the Twins won 11 games. Nolasco had 18 quality starts, and gave up 90 runs. By runs allowed, you are looking at 3-4 wins, by assuming they win half the QS difference, that is 4-5 wins, by looking at the fact the Twins only won 11 of the games, if you assume they are .500 in his starts, they win 5 more games. Nolasco replacing those two gives them 3-5 more wins.
- Last year, Mauer played a lot less games than he will this coming year. The projections on Fangraphs are very conservative, IMO. But, going by those, there are 1-2 more wins from his offense. Assuming Pinto is about equal to the 1B they sent out last year, that is only 1-2 more wins. I think that is VERY conservative, but whatever.
- Willingham’s numbers last year were really quite bad. Fangraphs projects him at 2 wins better than last year. I’d put him at DH, and put a good OFer out there for defense and actually, Pressley would be no worse than the DH’s last year (unreal). 2 more wins from Willingham.

From just those three, you are looking at 7 wins being conservative, imo. On the positive side, you are looking at 11 more wins. I’ll split the delta and go 9 more wins. They now have only 87 losses.

Phil Hughes…..pretty much gave up the same number of runs as Mike Plefrey last year. I’m going to call that a draw, in a conservative move.

Oswaldo Arcia….wow, Fangraphs is high on him. They are projecting him to be 2-4 more wins than he was last year. Let’s go with 2.

They now have 85 losses.

3B….Plouffe is projected by Fangraphs to be 1-1.5 wins better. Assuming Sano comes up half way through the year, 3B should be 2 wins better than last year.

They now have 83 losses.

CF….wow, Hicks was bad last year. Offense AND defense was bad. Fangraphs had him negative for defense. Baseball prospectus did not, but I don’t have all their stats. If Presley starts there, and is as “good” as last year (his worst in the majors), he is worth 1-2 more wins than Hicks was last year. If Hicks starts, and is just the 27^{th}worst CF, instead of the 38^{th}worst, he is worth 2 more wins. Let’s go 2 wins here.

They now are a .500 team. I don’t think any of that is unrealistic. Some of it is quite conservative.

We have not even discussed replacing the 32 starts made by Hernandez, Worley, and Albers (8 quality starts, 120 runs given up between them). If those are replaced by a guy(s) equivalent to Plefrey, that is 2-3 wins more right there. The Twins LFers had a net negative .7 WAR last year. If Mastrioni or Presley are worth zero, that is worth 1 win. Seems realistic, and is conservative by Fangraphs estimates.

So, 3-4 more wins right there. That puts the Twins at 83-85 wins, w/o any real additions from what they have already done (this is why I wanted Ellsbury, put him in CF, and you are looking at around 7 more wins than the negative wins they got last year, but that is not happening now).

So, how do you add more wins at this point?

Catcher, LF, CF, SP…….

KC….let’s assume he’s the same pitcher. So, we’ve accounted for KC’s starts, Hughes (replacing Pelfrey), Nolasco (replacing Diamond/Hendriks), Deduno (replacing Hernandez, Worley, Albers), that leaves one starter to cover what Gibson/Deduno/Walters, et. al. produced.

Let’s make a big trade…..for either Hamels or Lee. Let’s trade Gibson and Berrios and a random 10-20 prospect. Hamels or Lee have accumulated between 3.5 and 7 wins a year for the last few years. Fangraphs projects them for around 4 WAR next year. The guys they are replacing produced negative WAR last year. Let’s count this as 4 wins.

Twins now have 87-89 wins, and I’d say that is conservative.

Why not do this? Why not try to win while Mauer is good? Oh, and when Buxton comes up in 2015, and Sano is here for a full year, and Rosario is your starting LF? Those three are worth more than any of the options listed for 2014, even as rookies.

When you point out that teams can’t go from 96 losses to being good, ask yourself what happened in 91, or last year with the Red Sox…….