Less Than We Deserve: The 2012 Minnesota Twins

Your 2012 Minnesota Twins

from Volume 2, Issue 1 of Ramblin’ On

If only Gardy was as good as he is cool. Get fired up Surly Santa.

I’m really glad I didn’t do a “MLB 2012 season predictions” article like I did with the NFL last year. While such speculation is fun even professionals mostly look stupid for most of the predictions they make.

Going into the season I was cautiously optimistic about the Twins. This may be revisionist history, but thanks to the help of the exper-…above ave-…decent Twins beat reporters I was able to ascertain basically how the Twins season shook out before it happened. Our lineup, being one of the best in our division, would not be too much of an issue. The bullpen had potential to perform well if each member lived up to their strengths. Finally, our entire season would ride on how well our starting pitching would perform.

All of these have basically come true. While their overall batting numbers seem abysmal at first sight – 22nd out of 30 in all of baseball and 12th out of 14 in the American League – most days the lineup gives the team a chance to win. It could be argued that failed experiments and general underachievers Clete Thomas, Erik Komatsu, Danny Valencia, Luke Hughes, Sean Burroughs, and others have lowered those numbers.

Off-season acquisition Josh Willingham has added some necessary depth to the Twins lineup.

Our top 7 hitters – Span, Revere, Mauer, Willingham, Morneau, Plouffe, and Doumit – could be the strongest top to bottom 1-7 in the AL Central (though none of them are Fielder, Cabrera, Konerko, or Dunn). Throw in the sporadic success of Dozier and Carroll and I don’t think there’s any question that the Twins lineup is among the deepest in baseball top to bottom. Its main problems are lack of a consistent, raw power hitter and poor performance in clutch situations.

Our bullpen is overworked and, considering that, relatively underpaid (but don’t be afraid). Matt Capps is better than he was last year which is nice but certainly isn’t saying much. I’m interested in seeing how many more times Ron Gardenhire will send him out during tie games considering that he’s single-handedly lost the game 4 out of 5 times he’s been put in that situation (something he’d never do with that horse guy…uh, Joe Nathan). Glen Perkins, Brian Duensing, Jared Burton, and Alex Burnett have all been solid, especially considering how overworked they are. Swarzak is an admirable workhorse and the two mediocre Jeffs – my boy (who da) Manship and Gray – are serviceable for the back-end of the bullpen.

Former Twin R.A. Dickey is 11-1 with a 2.00 E.R.A. and has more strikeouts than all the Twins starting pitchers combined for the New York Mets.

This leaves the biggest weakness of the team – starting pitching. In my article about the Twins offseason transactions I failed to mention that, while overall they did a pretty good job, they failed to address this, their number one issue. They picked up bust Jason Marquis but didn’t make any move for a really solid arm. What we were left with, then, was old and now injured Carl Pavano, injured and ill-treated Scott Baker, sporadically successful not-so-sinker baller Nick Blackburn, and a myriad of minor league starting talent including P.J. Walters, Scott Diamond, Anthony Swarzak, Cole De Vries, and I’m sure eventually Jeff Manship. Pitchers are expensive and the Twins can’t really afford them if they want to actually keep their payroll low enough to continue being a profitable organization. This sad fact is what will most likely keep the Twins out of serious contention unless they’re able to cultivate some arms in their farm system (or they just get lucky).

All in all I’d like to think that most people didn’t think the Twins would be doing too much better than they are. I had hopes that they’d be a little better but knew that the possibility laid solely on the success of starting pitching. I’m excited at the prospect of the Twins doing some trading around the time of the deadline to get some prospects for the future.

Erik Ritland is a writer and musician from St. Paul, Minnesota. His blog and podcast Rambling On features commentary on music, sports, culture, and more. He is also a contributor for Minnesota culture blog Curious North. Support Erik’s music via his Patreon account, reach him via email, or find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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  1. […] Sports Less than we deserve: the 2012 Minnesota Twins […]

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