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2013 Twins and AL Central Preview

2012 was another year of disappointment for the Twins, as they finished in 5th place in the AL Central for the second consecutive season. So where will they finish this season?

Here are the moves they made during the off season, and there were quite a few. First off, the Twins traded CF Denard Span for pitching prospect Alex Meyer.  A lot of folks knew the Twins were shopping  Span well before the off season even started. At one point the Twins had offered him to the Nationals for Drew Storen, Roger Bernadina, and Stephen Lombardozzi.  It’s probably a good thing the Twins decided to wait.  Storen has since battled an elbow injury, Bernadina is more of a platoon OF, and Lombardozzi is more of a utility player.  What the Twins could have in Alex Meyer is a potential # 2 starter by the time 2014 rolls around.  Twins haven’t had a guy with Meyer’s ceiling in quite some time. Their last big time pitching prospect that played for the Twins was Matt Garza, who ended up with the Rays after being traded for OF Delmon Young.

Twins didn’t stop there though, about a week or two later they traded OF Ben Revere to the Phillies for Vance Worley and Trevor May. I was surprised by this move but then realized not many people a 5th place roster are untouchable.  Revere had a very nice season for the Twins, but the Twins Front Office knew he didn’t have anymore upside and they finally sold high on a player for the first time in years.  What you’re getting in Worley is a guy who steps into your 2013 rotation and is a #3/4 starter, and Trevor May can bring the heat. Most think May is a SP but most think he ends up in the bullpen by 2014.  Aaron Hicks should be the next guy to take over CF (prospect).

The most puzzling move of the off-season (always one of these) was signing Kevin Correia to a 2yr/10m contract.  A guy who has a low strikeout total and is moving to the AL is a recipe for disaster (see Jason Marquis who was cut by Twins last June).  I thought Twins should have taken a shot at a Shaun Marcum who is not only better than Correia, but would have only got a 1 year deal and you could always move him at the deadline for a prospect.

The other moves were low risk medium reward. Mike Pelfrey stands out, he’s a bulldog on the mound but since he is coming off Tommy John Surgery, there is always a big risk.  Twins are hoping he can eat innings this season and be a #3/4 starter. Twins also signed Rich Harden and Rafael Perez, both with Spring Training invites so it will be interesting to see who makes the rotation.  Last but not least, Kyle Gibson likely enters the Twins rotation. He is a top 5 Twins prospect and will likely throw between 120-130 innings (Coming off Tommy John Surgery).

You have 4 guys who are pretty much going to be locked into the rotation coming Opening Day: Scott Diamond, Vance Worley, Kyle Gibson, Kevin Correia so the 5th spot is up for grabs in Mike Pelfrey, Liam Hendriks, Cole De Vries, Sam Deduno.  My money is on Pelfrey, but i’m not exactly sure what happens to Hendriks if he doesn’t make the rotation. He didn’t exactly do much when he got an opportunity in 2012.

Twins will have a CF battle in prospect in Aaron Hicks and Darin Mastroianni.  This shouldn’t be a hard job for Hicks to win, but the real decision for the Twins is should he just straight to the big leagues and skip AAA? Twins don’t historically do that, so my money is on Mastroianni patrolling CF come Opening Day with Hicks getting AB’s in Rochester for about 2 or 3 months. Come July, you’ll definitely see Hicks starting in CF.

Twins likely Opening Day Lineup:

CF- Mastroianni, 2b- Carroll/Dozierl C- Mauer LF- Willingham 1b- Morneau DH- Doumit 3b- Plouffe RF- Parmelee SS- Florimon/Dozier

The bullpen should remain decent. I liked what Burton and Perkins brought last season. If healthy, that’s a top 10 duo of 8/9 guys.  Duensing moving back into the bullpen will help also.

If you look around the AL Central it’s going to get that much tougher for the Twins. Torii Hunter replaces Delmon Young for the Tigers. Victor Martinez returns and the Tigers rotation remains intact. The main question for Detroit is going to be their bullpen. They likely will start the year with Prospect Rondon as their new Closer.

Indians had no problem spending money this off season. Signing Michael Bourn to 4yr/48m, Nick Swisher 4yr/56m, Brett Myers 1yr/7m and trading for high upside pitcher Trevor Bauer, and relievers Matt Albers and Bryan Shaw. Indians could be the dark horse that competes with Detroit all the way to September to determine who wins the AL Central. Big question for Cleveland remains in their rotation though, they will need Ubaldo Jiminez to bounce back big time, and need Trevor Bauer to immediately make an impact.

Royals made the biggest trade of the off season by sending top prospect Wil Myers, Jake Odorizzi, and two others for P James Shields and Wade Davis.  I hate this deal for the Royals since it took them so long to finally bring a top notch group of young talent through the minors and nearly all close to MLB ready, only to trade some of it for a 31 year old in James Shields. Shields is good yes, but he only has 2 years left on his current contract, and typically struggles on the road. Also, has has logged a lot of innings over that time, and when does he start to decline? Wade Davis is an decent pitcher, but has struggled as a Starter. Does fill a hole in the Royals rotation if they decide to start him.  I still think Royals rotation is iffy. Ervin Santana and Jeremy Guthrie were gambles. We’ll see if it pays off. Ultimately if the Royals can make the playoffs, many Royals fans will declare the trade a win, but this really helps the Rays stabilize their franchise for the next 6 years or so, since they add a talent like Myers, have Longoria locked up and still have a big supply of pitching. Royals will be better, but will it be enough for one of those two Wildcards? I don’t think so.

Whitesox didn’t do a whole lot this off season, and they lost quite a few pieces in C Pierzynski, 3b Youkilis and SP/R Brett Myers.

This off season was all about building for the future for the Twins. They know it’s highly unlikely they compete in 2013 so they are trying to set themselves up for 2014/2015 where they likely spend more (not hard to do since 2013 payroll is around 80m) and bring up some more talented players such as Miguel Sano, Alex Meyer, Oswaldo Arcia, and more in 2014/2015.

My prediction for the Twins? I’m going to say 68-94.  Improve by 2 games. Twins won’t say it publicly, but they are basically punting on this season. They haven’t spent a whole lot of money and are trying to gain as many young prospects as possible for the future. Still, it will be interesting to see what happens with guys such as Willingham or Morneau during the season and at the trade deadline, and it will be interesting to see some new faces in Vance Worley, Kyle Gibson, and Aaron Hicks.  Even though the Twins will likely struggle in 2013, the future doesn’t look so bad.

My prediction for each league? Baring no major injures before Opening Day:

Toronto, Detroit, LAAngels win their divisions, with NYYankees, and Oakland as the two wildcards.

Washington, Cincinnati, LADodgers win their divisions, with Atlanta and St. Louis as the two wildcards.

I will continue to post throughout spring training and the MLB season. Feel free to comment/reply on the bottom of the page and let me know what topics you want me to talk about.

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