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September Tanking and the Twins

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The calendar turned to September over a week ago and some changes can followa failing team in the final month of the year. Younger players continue to getmore playing time over veterans like Ryan Doumit and Josh Willingham. It is thetime of year for the Twins to see what the future can hold and changes likethis can bring up some other questions.

During the last two seasons, the Twins have been able to see the value ofhaving a high draft pick. Byron Buxton and Kohl Stewart were added to the foldover the last two years to help bolster a minor league system that isconsidered one of the best in baseball. The higher a team can draft, the moremoney the club can spend, and the better prospects a club will likely receive.

This can lead to some questions of tanking in the final month of the year. Over at ESPN's SweetSpot Blog, the idea oftanking was discussed since there is a cluster of team's battling to be inthe top 10 draft picks for 2014. For example, the Mets are trotting out a finalmonth rotation that includes Daisuke Matsuzaka and Aaron Harang. These aren'tyour father's "Amazing Mets."

Minnesota hasn't signed a bunch of aging veterans in the last couple weeksto fill into their rotation but some might argue that was the team's overallstrategy during last offseason. Kevin Correia and Mike Pelfrey have pitched themost innings on Minnesota's staff and each man has an ERA north of 4.00. Onecould have expected this time of production from these two men and it doesn'thelp that other members of the rotation have failed to live up to expectations.

At the end of 2012, the Twins finished with 96 losses but it wasn't becauseof terrible play in September. The club went 13-15 during the final month andtheir .464 winning percentage was their second highest for any month. June wasthe only month the club finished over .500 with a 14-13 record. Minnesotaentered the month in the fourth draft position and that's where they would finish.

The month of September in 2011 was a little bit different story. Minnesotastarted the month in fourth place in the AL Central and they were in line toget the fourth pick in the 2012 draft. An awful final month saw the team go6-20 to post a .231 winning percentage. It was their worst record for any monthand the team would end up improving their draft position from fourth to second.

As the final month of the 2013 season is underway, the Twins were inthe sixth position for next year's draft. There were only four games separatingthem from the Angels, the team that started the month positioned to get the13th draft pick. Entering play on Wednesday, Minnesota had accumulated a 4-4record for the month and they are now tied with Milwaukee for the fifth pick.

There are plenty of benefits to having a top 10 pick in the draft.Obviously, a team gets more money to spend in their draft pool for next June.Also, a team with a top 10 pick has a protected first round pick. This meansthe front office can approach top tier free agents without fear of losing theclub's top draft pick. Some teams have run into this issue with the recentswitch in the collective bargaining agreement and it doesn't seem fair forclub's trying to rebuild.

The Twins haven't been known to spend a ton on the free agent market so thiswrinkle in the free agent system might not be a huge issue. Willingham has beenthe club's biggest free agent acquisition in recent years and he wasn't in thetop tier. Other names like Doumit, Pelfrey, and Correia haven't been huge namesbut they have found their way in Minnesota.

There are going to be plenty of openings in the starting rotation forMinnesota and it might be nice for the team to have the opportunity to go aftera top free agent. This would likely only happen if the team's first round pickwere protected. It has never been Terry Ryan's strategy to spend big money onpitchers but the club might have to change this trend to be productive next year.

September can be a time to try out plenty of pieces for the future.Minnesota will continue to audition some of their younger players in order tosee what they have lined up for next year. The losses might continue to pile upbut the team isn't exactly in tank mode.

At least not yet...


  1. h2oface's Avatar
    ..... and then there was the tanking after the clinch in 2010............ which is really when the culture of losing started.
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