After a miserable last two years for the Minnesota Twins, the team and fans are looking for an improved team in 2013. The Twins made many improvements to the team in the off-season. They traded away Denard Span and Ben Revere to the Nationals and Phillies respectively.
In return the Twins got some much needed pitching. From the Nationals the Twins got Alex Meyer. Meyer is a hard throwing, tall, right-hander who lights up the radar gun and has a nasty slider. He is also working on a change-up which some scouts say has gotten much better. MLB.com has Meyer as the Twins number three prospect on their Twins Top 20 Prospects. Meyer could see time with the Twins in 2013 but it is likely we won’t see him until the 2014 season.
In the Ben Revere trade, Minnesota acquired pitchers Vance Worley and Trevor May. Worley will jump right into the Twins rotation while May will likely start the season at the Twins Double-A affiliate in New Britain. May is listed at number seven on the list of the Twins top 20 prospects.
The Twins certainly have revamped their dismal rotation that we saw last year. The Twins also signed former Pirates righties Kevin Correia and Mike Pelfrey. Both those guys are expected to jump into the rotation along with Worley.
So what will the other pieces of the rotation look like? Well, The rotation will be led by the only returning starter from last season, Scott Diamond. Diamond had somewhat of a breakout season in 2012 recording 12 wins for the Twins which led the team. The Twins will have plenty of competition for that fifth spot in the rotation. Those options include familiar names to Twins fans such as Brian Duensing, Liam Hendriks, Cole DeVries, Sam Deduno and Anthony Swarzak. There is also Kyle Gibson. Gibson is coming off Tommy John surgery last season but is healthy now and on the Twins 40-Man Roster.
The Twins also have non-roster invitee Rich Harden. Harden is also rehabbing from an injury and is at Twins camp hoping to get a shot to pitch at the Major League level once again.
There is no doubt the Twins can hit the ball. They have a good offensive team; with mainstays like Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau and Josh Willingham filling out the middle of the order, Minnesota has good offensive production surrounding them. Trevor Plouffe is looking to hit the ball well again this year after hitting 24 home runs last season.
So with all said, he are five things the Twins will have to do to be successful in 2013;
- GOOD PITCHING – First off they need good pitching to be successful. This is by far the most important of the five. After having an ERA (earned run average) of 4.77 as a team (third worst in major league baseball) the Twins will have to give up less runs. The guys in the rotation will have to go deep into the games and throw a lot of innings. Quality starts are important in baseball and you need to give that bullpen a rest once in a while.
- OFFENSIVE PRODUCTION – The Twins no doubt have a very good heart of their order. Mauer, Willingham and Morneau are going to hit the ball. The rest of the lineup has to follow suit. Trevor Plouffe hit 24 home runs last year, but only drove in 55 runs. That run production needs to increase which begins with getting on base.
- GETTING ON BASE – Minnesota finished the season with the second fewest strikeouts in Major League Baseball and the fifth best on base percentage in the American League. This needs to continue. Guys getting on base in front the middle of the Minnesota order are going to help the Twins. If they get on base Mauer, Morneau, Willingham, Ryan Doumit and Plouffe will drive them in.
- GOOD DEFENSE – Last year was a bad year defensively for the Twins. They finished year in the bottom ten among best team fielding percentages in baseball. Defense has been a hallmark of the Minnesota Twins recently. They need to clean things up defensively in order to have a shot. With players like Pedro Florimon and Jamey Carroll in the infield, the Twins need to be stronger defensively.
- LEADERSHIP – Minnesota needs someone to step up and be a leader. Being a leader is just as important at the professional level as it is at the college and high school levels. They need players like Mauer to be a leader and inspire the team to play with passion. Look at the 2012 Oakland A’s; that team played with a passion for the game and was excited to be there every night. You just don’t see that with the Twins. Too often they get deflated when they get down early in a game, but if they can keep their hopes high, they have a really good chance at winning.
This year may not be the Twins year, but Twins fans should be excited about the future. The Twins have done a great job of rebuilding this franchise from the ground up. The farm system is solid with players who have tremendous upsides. Twins fans have to be patient and hopeful for now. With players like Byron Buxton, Alex Meyer, Miguel Sano and many others, the Twins have a solid group of prospects mixed with a group of good veterans who can take this team back to postseason and beat those damn Yankees in the first round for once.