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  • Five Other Twins Stories To Watch

    Letís be clear: ultimately, itís about the wins. I get into at least a half dozen debates per month where I feel the need to remind people that all this fun baseball stuff we analyze Ė coaching tactics, offseason pickups, roster changes, revenue tendencies, trades, minor league development Ė are not goals in and of themselves. They are the means to an end. And that end is wins.

    That said, even if the Twins somehow win the AL Central, 2012 will answer several questions that will seriously impact the rest of the decade for Twins fans. Besides the wins, letís take a look at five other developments worth paying attention to if youíre a Twins fan.

    Can Sunk Money Stay Healthy?
    Between Joe Mauer ($138M), Justin Morneau ($14M), Denard Span($11.25M) and Nick Blackburn($5.5M), the Twins will end 2012 with $168.75 million dollars of future money ties to four guys that have had trouble staying healthy. If they can stay healthy and productive, then the team is likely competitive. But if not, the Twins may well want to consider creative ways of getting those salaries off the books, including trades that involve eating some salary or early retirement packages.

    Can Minor League Talent Fill Some Gaps?
    Much of this question will play out on a much smaller (and rundown) ballpark that is 315 miles southeast. In Beloit, Wisconsin, the Twins lower-A affiliate, the Beloit Snappers, may be fielding the Twins infield of the future, featuring consensus Twins number one prospect and third baseman Miguel Sano, top draft pick and shortstop Levi Michael and top prospect (and possible second baseman?) Eddie Rosario. The Twins should anticipate a lot of turnover over the next few years and will be looking for breakthrough years from those guys or players even closer to the majors, like outfielders Joe Benson and Ben Revere or first baseman Chris Parmelee.

    Every name above either is perceived to have a limited ceiling or is still pretty far from contributing to the majors. A big step forward by several of them completely changes the perceived future of this team. But if you look again, all of those names have something else in common tooÖ.

    Where Will The Pitchers Come From?
    In the same way that the Twins lost most of their outfield (Delmon Young, Jason Kubel, Michael Cuddyer) this last year, theyíll likely lose most of their starting rotation before 2013ís Opening Day. Carl Pavano, Francisco Liriano and Jason Marquis are all free agents. Scott Baker has a $9.5M option which will be prohibitive if he canít stay healthy. Only Nick Blackburn is a sure thing to return. Ooh, goody.

    Unfortunately, the Twins top prospects in the minors arenít pitchers. Liam Hendricks was called up last year and might be able to fill a middle-of-the-rotation role. Itís possible Kyle Gibson could recover sufficiently from Tommy John surgery to contribute as a major league starter next year. And then you get to guys whose futures are more borderline. Thereís a reason the Twins were so aggressive in adding waiver pickups who were pitchers this offseason, and it will be interesting to see if theyíre active at the trade deadline in picking up some young arms. Or there is another mid-summer event they might leverageÖ.

    Can the Twins Take Advantage of a Historical Draft?
    There ainít a lot of bright spots to a 99-loss year, but the second overall draft pick is one of them. Thatís also the advantage of losing several high-performing free agents like Cuddyer and Kubel Ė the team gets extra draft picks back as compensation. Between that top pick and the quantity of top-75 picks the Twins have (and the new capped compensation they will pay these youngsters) the Twins have never had a draft loaded with this much opportunity, and likely wonít again for decades. It is the perfect chance for the organization to gas up a car that feels like it is running on fumes.

    Can Twins Revenues Continue Rising?
    Speaking of running out of gas, thatís exactly what it felt like to the scalpers last year. The lull and disinterest that set in caused the front office to put spending back into a lower gear. A less dismal season might reaffirm fans faith in the team and reaffirm ownershipís faith in its fans. A renewed financial strength will help this team plug holes over the next couple of seasons, perhaps offsetting the other transitions that seem likely to take place.
    This article was originally published in blog: Five Other Twins Stories To Watch started by John Bonnes
    Comments 20 Comments
    1. jlovren's Avatar
      jlovren -
      Those are interesting storylines to watch. I think after round 5 of the draft the 2nd position is out the window. The Twins need to choose wisely with the top 5 and think what will get them closer to a world series faster than taking fliers on "toolsy" prospects.
    1. Fanatic Jack's Avatar
      Fanatic Jack -
      John,

      The answer to each question is NO, NO, NO, NO, NO!!
    1. Highabove's Avatar
      Highabove -
      Last year, the Twins sold more tickets then twenty six other Teams. Forbes Magazine will show that it was a record year for Twins revenue. If the Twins have lost faith in their fans after last year their crazy.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Quote Originally Posted by Highabove View Post
      Last year, the Twins sold more tickets then twenty six other Teams. Forbes Magazine will show that it was a record year for Twins revenue. If the Twins have lost faith in their fans after last year their crazy.
      2011 was a record year for Twins revenue... 2011 was a record payroll for the Twins as well. Most likely, the Twins revenues will drop significantly in 2012... their payroll drops too.
    1. peterb18's Avatar
      peterb18 -
      Where did this crazy idea of the Front Office losing faith in the fans come from? It makes no sense. This is a one way street--ownership is responsible for putting a quality, or respectable team on the field. This is an ownership problem period! They could have signed quality free agents until the Sano group of players are ready!!
    1. Jim Crikket's Avatar
      Jim Crikket -
      1 - Yes those "sunk costs" CAN stay healthy... doesn't mean they all will. I do think it's reasonable to assume they won't ALL be unhealthy like they were last year.

      2 - The existing minor league talent can fill some gaps, but probably not the bigger gaps. That said, every team needs solid role players and there's no reason some of these guys couldn't do that for close to MLB minimum pay.

      3 - If the Twins are going to upgrade their rotation in the next year or two, they'll need to do so via free agency. It would be very un-Twinslike for them to do that, but they'll have the money to do so if they want to. This is the area I have the most concern about, since I just don't expect Terry Ryan to be willing to do what needs to be done.

      4 - If the Twins don't use at least two of their premium picks, including their first, on a college pitcher that can be expected to zip up to the Bigs within 2 years, I'll consider the draft a wasted opportunity.

      5 - It's unlikely ticket revenues will continue rising, but there are other revenue sources that have the potential to rise eventually. Of course, revenues tend to go up and down in tandem with on-field success. Kind of a chicken/egg thing. Wins means continued high attendance, concessions, merchandise sales and better broadcast rights contracts.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      I think that the "where the pitchers will come from" will have to wait until next offseason to be answered. That's a 2013 question, not a 2012
    1. mnfireman's Avatar
      mnfireman -
      #3 will be answered next offseason. #4 will take at least 2 or 3 years to tell for sure. #5 depends on the quality of the product and, too a slightly lesser extent, the economy. #1 & #2, while unpredictable at this point will, I think, take care of themselves. Maybe 1 of the 4 will miss significant time this year and I feel the team is more prepared to deal with it if it should happen.
    1. Doug's Avatar
      Doug -
      So far the guys are looking good this spring but it's a long season so only time will tell. I feel the talent in the minor leagues is the strongest it's been for quite some time and will pan out rather well. My one big concern is pitching. They've struggled for some time now and I personally would like to see a big arm come in and take the reigns.
    1. mrkwx's Avatar
      mrkwx -
      Quote Originally Posted by Fanatic Jack View Post
      John,

      The answer to each question is NO, NO, NO, NO, NO!!
      Q: Where will the pitchers come from?

      A: NO
    1. Fanatic Jack's Avatar
      Fanatic Jack -
      Mrkwx,

      I meant they have no pitchers in Rochester to help if the rotation and bullpen struggle. I think there is a better chance of the world coming to an end than that not happening.
    1. Doug Y's Avatar
      Doug Y -
      If you look at this list of world series starting pitchers, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of...rting_pitchers, virtually every team had an Ace that got them there. The Twins do not have an Ace and most likely can't go far in the playoffs without one.

      They have to find a #1 pitcher in the draft soon or go get one in free agency or trades. This is the one instance in which you have to give up a lot, either money or prospects, to get a true #1 pitcher.

      You just can't win in the MLB playoffs with a bunch of #3-5 talent level starters. Until they get an Ace it will be first round losses or no playoffs at all.
    1. mysonlikes7's Avatar
      mysonlikes7 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Doug Y View Post
      If you look at this list of world series starting pitchers, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of...rting_pitchers, virtually every team had an Ace that got them there. The Twins do not have an Ace and most likely can't go far in the playoffs without one.

      They have to find a #1 pitcher in the draft soon or go get one in free agency or trades. This is the one instance in which you have to give up a lot, either money or prospects, to get a true #1 pitcher.

      You just can't win in the MLB playoffs with a bunch of #3-5 talent level starters. Until they get an Ace it will be first round losses or no playoffs at all.
      Precisely. Look at the 1-3 starters for teams that will likely be in the playoffs and then look at who the Twins throw out there. The only shot the Twins have at winning a playoff game, which won't be a concern for at least 3 years, is the third one, which is too late.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      Do some of you also consistently pick against your favorite team in the NCAA tourney in the first round just to be nay-sayers? Good lord.
    1. cr9617's Avatar
      cr9617 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Doug View Post
      So far the guys are looking good this spring but it's a long season so only time will tell. I feel the talent in the minor leagues is the strongest it's been for quite some time and will pan out rather well. My one big concern is pitching. They've struggled for some time now and I personally would like to see a big arm come in and take the reigns.
      Are you on the Twins payroll??
    1. Jim Crikket's Avatar
      Jim Crikket -
      Quote Originally Posted by cr9617 View Post
      Are you on the Twins payroll??
      Are you capable of an original thought or opinion?

      No?

      Then that explains why you have nothing more to offer to the discussion than to parrot the same old BS "are you on the Twins payroll?" cliche others trot out any time someone dares to make a comment that isn't critical of the Twins.

      Seriously... it's fine to have doubts and it's fair to debate the pros and cons of decisions made, but obviously some folks are incapable of anything even close to objectivity.

      I feel for those who find no enjoyment in their lives unless they're ripping someone else.
    1. cr9617's Avatar
      cr9617 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jim Crikket View Post
      Are you capable of an original thought or opinion?

      No?

      Then that explains why you have nothing more to offer to the discussion than to parrot the same old BS "are you on the Twins payroll?" cliche others trot out any time someone dares to make a comment that isn't critical of the Twins.

      Seriously... it's fine to have doubts and it's fair to debate the pros and cons of decisions made, but obviously some folks are incapable of anything even close to objectivity.

      I feel for those who find no enjoyment in their lives unless they're ripping someone else.
      Oh relax...
    1. lee_the_twins_fan's Avatar
      lee_the_twins_fan -
      The answer to Question 3 will not be answered after the season; it should be answered during the season.

      I expect the Twins to sign probably two of their current starters who will be free agents to extensions. Trades are unlikely; everyone wants too much for the best pitchers. And the Twins did not go out and get a top-of-the line free agent starter this winter, and likely won't next winter.

      The minors and current non-roster players could fill at least two of the spots for next year; I'm thinking Hendrix and Doyle.

      The Twins typically develop ace pitchers and closers; they don't take someone else's, unless a Santana can be had and developed. I would look at Liriano and Baker being signed to two- or three-year contracts during the year. Otherwise, the Twins will continue to develop the horses they have in the pens.
    1. Conner's Avatar
      Conner -
      Why wouldn't the Twins go after Roy Oswalt
    1. Twins Fan From Afar's Avatar
      Twins Fan From Afar -
      The draft is going to be huge for the Twins. For me, as a fan of this team looking ahead past this uncertain season, this is really the #1 story line.
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