A Closer Look at the 2015 Twins
The article here on Twins Daily generated nearly 200 comments. The re-post on the Star Tribune added another 70. Multiple people nominated me on Twitter for KFAN's Preposterous Statement Tournament, and on Friday the proprietor of that tournament ridiculed the column on his show.
If you want to listen to that bit, you can click here and zoom ahead to the 37-minute mark or so. It's good stuff. Common suggested that I must either be working for the team or that I may actually be a Pohlad. He called the sentiment "insane" and roused the crowd to show agreement with applause. It was awesome.
Common's tirade was flush with hyperbole -- a staple in his always-entertaining shtick -- but as the crowd's cheering can attest, his general reaction was not out of the ordinary. Many people are flat-out repulsed at the notion that this roster needs anything less than major work.
I wanted to examine that mind set a little more closely, because it's interesting. I'm sure a lot of it is borne from frustration with a winning drought that has now stretched to four years.
But how can you look at this lineup and not credit the organization for what they've brought together? The Twins have scored the fifth-most runs in baseball, and the offense has been clicking most in recent weeks with a lineup consisting almost entirely of players who are 28 or younger (Joe Mauer and Kurt Suzuki being the lone exceptions).
Is statistic regression likely in some cases? Sure -- that's the nature of baseball. But it will be offset to some degree by young players getting better, and eventually by the arrivals of Miguel Sano, Byron Buxton and others. If you're not feeling confident in the offensive outlook right now, you're just not paying attention.
The pitching staff seems to be the main sticking point for a lot of people, and I can relate with that. Ricky Nolasco was crushed again on Sunday and is having an incredibly bad year, the worst of his career, but he'll be back in 2015 and he'll be better. At least we've got to hope so, because he isn't going anywhere right now.
Nolasco, along with Phil Hughes and Kyle Gibson, will have spots cemented. Trevor May has nothing left to prove in Triple-A and as much as he's struggled in the majors, he's learning right now. The Twins need to just give him a full year and see what he can do. It's worked out OK for Gibson, who was coming off a miserable late-season MLB debut.
So what it comes down to is that fifth rotation spot. The existing group of contenders includes Alex Meyer, Tommy Milone and Mike Pelfrey. If you're not enthralled by that trio (especially with Meyer ending his season on a note of health uncertainty), I can't blame you, but I still think it's a stretch to expect the club to go add another starter who would be guaranteed a spot.
I just don't see much room for addition, and I think that if anyone takes an honest look at the situation they'd have to reach the same conclusion. Maybe the Twins will get creative and trade a few back-end arms to make room for a more reliable, high-quality starter who could slot as a No. 1 or No. 2, but I doubt it.
The accusations that I'm acting as a shill for the organization with this line of thinking are more bemusing than offensive, but I am a little surprised. I never said they'll have a surefire playoff team in 2015. I never said I'm happy with how long it's taken them to get to this point.
But while going through this demoralizing stretch of losing baseball, the Twins have assembled premium minor-league talent and put together one of the best farm systems in baseball. That pipeline is already beginning to feed the big-league club -- with some undeniably strong results -- and the best is still on the verge of arriving.
The other common disagreement I saw was that switches need to be made on the coaching staff or in the front office, rather than on the roster. That's a fair stance to hold, and probably one worth exploring in a little more depth here in the final weeks.
But from a roster standpoint, I think the 2015 Twins are already mostly lined up. And it doesn't look that bad to me.
- hybridbear likes this