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J-Dog Dungan

Season wrap-up

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It has been a while since I have written a blog on this site, as I have been almost obsessively following the exploits of the Minnesota Vikings over on the Daily Norseman (and if you are a Vikings fan, head over there. The DN writing staff rivals the one here on Twins Daily). I have been popping in here from time to time, but I have found that following a team that has been losing as much as the Twins is hard on my spirit, so I have for the most part stayed away. Now that the season is over, I thought I would return to write down a few of my thoughts regarding this season.

1. 3rd 90+ loss season in a row- Yes, the Twins have once again lost over 90 games, after showing the possibility of maybe winning 70 even at the beginning of September. Of course, such a possibility was lessened after Mauer got taken out with a concussion and Morneau was traded to the Pirates (GO PIRATES-WS 2013!) Still, the Twins pitching completely fell off the cliff, and couldn't even muster up enough push to get Gardy his 1000th win. There was also a bit of a mess in regard to who was even healthy enough to play the outfield during a portion of the season. All in all, there was some potential for a little improvement, and it didn't happen, which should be considered a very disturbing thing.

2. Pitching, Pitching, Pitching- The Twins ended the season dead last in starting pitching ERA this season (5.26). They also finished dead last in K's as a starting staff, behind the next to last team, the Rockies, by over 110 K's (they had 477 K's). For a team that is even hoping to compete within the next two years, this needs to be rectified ASAP. The Twins were lucky enough to finish with the 14th best ERA in the Majors at 3.50; these relievers also somehow managed to strike out 508 batters. So while there were a few holes in the relief corps this season, they certainly did enough to keep the Twins in plenty of games.

3. Oh the strikeout-humanity!-The Twins also ended up with one of the least productive offenses this franchise has ever seen; only the Houston Astros, the new eternally rebuilding franchise in the MLB, struck out more times than the Minnesota Twins. They are also near the bottom in most other major categories, like stolen bases, batting average, OPS, runs, hits, and several other categories.

4. Developmental issues-The Twins, like most teams, had to turn to their farm system throughout the year to help supplement the production they were missing as key position players went down to injuries. It didn't always go very well. Some of the better replacements were Josmil Pinto, who came up to replace Joe Mauer after he went down with his concussion, and, well, I can't think think of anyone else who played all that well. There were also several players that were expected to step up and replace key players. Aaron Hicks won the CF job out of Spring Training, and really did terribly at the plate (though he managed to save a little value by playing a fair CF). Chris Parmelee and Chris Colabello were expected to be solid role-players, and instead turned in very disappointing seasons. Trever Plouffe was given a full season to take hold of the 3rd base position, and instead took a step back both defensively and offensively. Darin Mastroianni got injured very early in the season, and came back close to the end of the season and never really got going. Pedro Florimon, while not hitting for much average, did show a little pop and gave the Twins an above-average defender at shortstop.

5. Bright Spots?-While the Twins had a third consecutive 90+ loss season, there were three big bright spots for the Twins season this year (there may have been others, but I am choosing to focus on these three). 5a. Brian Dozier-As it has been widely publicized, Brian Dozier brought his career back to relevancy with an extremely solid last 5 months of the season. After searching out Tom Brunansky about a hitch in his swing, Dozier turned into a legit Top-5 2nd baseman, both offensively and defensively. He led the team in home runs, triples, at bats, and games played, and was second in stolen bases, doubles, hits, RBI, and strikeouts. His 2013 campaign was so impressive to the Twins brass that they are even considering pushing Eddie Rosario, a converted outfielder turned second basemen, back into an outfielder to allow Dozier to stay at 2nd base. 5b. Andrew Albers-Everyone has heard his story of how he managed to convince the Twins to sign him by driving across a good portion of the continental US just to try out. Well, he finally managed to claw his way up the ladder into the Twins starting rotation this year. While his 2-5, 4.05 ERA isn't great, he started his major league career by nearly throwing two complete game shutouts. As teams began to get a bit more info on him, he became somewhat less effective, but he was able to pitch well enough that he should be given at least some consideration in being a part of next year's rotation. 5c. Caleb Thielbar- Thielbar was signed by the Twins off the St. Paul Saints roster in 2011. After the 2012 season, the Twins added Thielbar to their 40-man roster, and was promoted to the Majors in late May. In his first 17 Major League appearances, Thielbar didn't give up a single run. He finished the season with a 1.76 ERA over 46 IP, allowing only 9 hits, and 6 runs (only 1 earned!) He walked three batters and struck out ten, and opposing hitters hit only .205 off of him. These three players were bright spots to Twins fans, and everyone was cheering these players on.

6. What's next?- Well, next the Twins need to clear out their 40-man roster of players they aren't interested in keeping on their roster to make room for prospects who need to be added to keep them from being snagged in the Rule V draft. They have already started this process, outrighting Cole de Vries, Shairon Martis, Josh Roenicke, and Clete Thomas to AAA Rochester. Several players that are likely to be added to the 40-man roster include: Logan Darnell, A.J. Achter, Max Kepler, Jorge Polanco, Kennys Vargas, and possibly Pat Dean. There should also be several spots left open for any free agents added (which will hopefully include several free agent pitchers.)

7. Free Agency-Lastly, the Twins should have nearly 40 million available to spend on free agents this offseason. While there aren't any big-name pitchers on the market this season, there are several pitchers like Matt Garza, Josh Johnson, Phil Hughes, Tim Lincecum, Scott Kazmir, and Jason Vargas. I would hope that the Twins would find the money to sign at least one of these pitchers, as well as one or two others on a slightly lower tier.

All in all, this has been another disappointing season for the Twins. They are currently in a waiting period waiting for their multiple top prospects to reach the majors, and haven't done much recently to make the lives of their fans better. They need to take a good look at several of the teams in the postseason this season and take a look at how they have built their team around a lower payroll than many of the big-market teams that are currently sitting at home on their couches watching these lower-market teams play for a ring. I hope that the Twins are willing to crack the piggybank and improve their roster. If they aren't, 2014 will be another long year for us Twins fans.
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