Sunday, March 25, 2012

30 Teams in 30 Days: Minnesota Twins

2011 Record: 63-99

Key Additions: Ryan Doumit (C), Josh Willingham (OF), Jason Marquis (P), Jamey Carroll (2B), Jason Bulger (P)

Subtractions: Joe Nathan (P), Michael Cuddyer (OF), Jason Kubel (OF) Jose Mijares (P), Kevin Slowey (P)

Offseason Roundup

The Twins let Nathan, Cuddyer, and Kubel walk, leaving some large holes to be filled. New addition Josh Willingham should be able to help fill the void in the outfield. At seven million per season, he was cheaper than both Cuddyer and Kubel, so the Twins probably made a good call there. However, they did nothing to replace Nathan, so there is no reason to assume that this year’s pen improves upon its MLB worst 4.51 ERA it put up last year. Doumit provides insurance at first and catcher if Justin Morneau or Joe Mauer are bit by the injury bug again. At 37, Jamey Carroll doesn’t have much upside, but he provides depth up the middle. Marquis has the potential to be an above average fourth starter.

The Good

The Twins have two former MVP winners in Morneau and Joe Mauer. Third baseman Danny Valencia and Willingham are both above average hitters. All of the Twins top three starters could hit free agency in 2013, so they should be motivated. Carl Pavano has pitched over 220 innings for the past two seasons. Francisco Liriano had a stellar 2010, and is leading the AL in strikeouts this spring, so perhaps his elbow troubles are behind him. Scott Baker is the third starter eligible to test the market next year, but the team holds a 2013 option for him. Last year he had a sub three ERA until elbow problems knocked him out for August and September. Reliever Glen Perkins was dominant last year, posting a 9.5K/9.

The Bad

This team is essentially the same one that finished with only 63 wins last year. Mauer and Morneau have been unable to stay healthy for the past few years. Denard Span (OF) is coming off a year that saw him play on 70 games due to a concussion. Alexi Casilla (2B) and Ben Revere (OF) are well below average hitters.

The Ugly

Tsuyoshi Nishioka (2B/SS) was terrible when he played last year, and was unable to live up to expectations after winning the 2010 MVP in Japan. Then he broke his leg. Twins starters have a tough time staying healthy, and even when they are, they have been pretty bad as of late. Help is not on the way, as top pitching prospect Kyle Gibson needed Tommy John surgery, so he will be on the shelf till 2013. Matt Capps is slated to close, despite blowing six saves and posting an ugly 4.25 ERA last year. Morneau was bad even when he was healthy last year, hitting .227 in 288 plate appearances.

The Really Ugly

The bullpen.

The Final Count: 83-79, 2nd AL Central

Shame on you, Bluejaysplus staff! The Twins aren’t good enough to win 75 games, let alone 83.

I predict 70. A healthy Mauer and Morneau could see this team win as many as 80 games. Max. And that’s if they play at an MVP level. Minnesota has bad pitching, and a mediocre offence. They did nothing this offseason that would make them significantly better than the team that won 63 games last year. 83 wins? Ha!

Note: There was an error when calculating how many wins the staff thought the Twins, Royals, White Sox, and Indians would have. Turns out, the entire AL Central's wins total except for the Tigers was messed up. Full corrections will be posted on March 31st in our full MLB Standings preview.

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