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  • Nick Nelson

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    by 07-08-2014, 11:56 PM
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    Things are pretty bleak for Twins fans these days. The club is caught amidst yet another mid-summer free-fall, the coaches and medical staff are once again coming under fire for their handling of injuries, and we're left to ponder who can be called up from Triple-A to plug yet another rotation hole while the offense scuffles.

    The negative storylines are too easy to grasp onto at this point, so in an effort to change the tone a bit, I thought I'd focus on a few positive developments that are currently taking place within the organization.

    Times are tough, but there are some very good and very meaningful things happening outside of the general misery that has characterized Twins Baseball lately.

    Let's dig into a few:

    1)
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    by 07-06-2014, 11:55 PM
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    Beyond this season, the Minnesota Twins still owe Ricky Nolasco a total of $37 million over three years. That's something that needs to be kept in mind as we ponder what the best course of action is for the struggling starter.

    Ron Gardenhire sounded like he was just about ready to be done with Nolasco during a cranky post-game interview on Sunday, and it's hard to blame him.

    "It starts with him," Gardenhire said. "He's got to do a better job. Bottom line is he's got to figure out something because today wasn't any good at all. He didn’t do anything. He didn't locate anything. They were all over every pitch."
    Not exactly what you like to
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    by 07-02-2014, 12:30 AM
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    When Chris Colabello's season got off to an insanely hot start, I remember multiple people commenting to me excitedly about how he was on pace for something like 200 RBI.

    Some folks just love to extrapolate those grandiose "on pace" figures when a guy has a great first couple weeks. It's fun early season fodder, but of course, it's all utterly meaningless.

    Projecting hypothetical full-season totals at the halfway point is a bit more sensible, because at this point we've got 50 percent of a season as our sample. That's not enough to preclude fluky performances, but 81 games is 81 games.

    I thought I'd examine some of the crazier first-half stats on the Twins, in the context of what the numbers will look like at year's end if the player replicates
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    by 06-30-2014, 10:57 AM
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    On Monday night at Target Field, the Twins will play their 81st game, officially marking the halfway point of this 2014 season.

    As we reach this key milestone, the state of the club can best be summed up by a lineup decision that took place in game No. 80. In the final leg of a six-game road trip, with the Twins trying to snap a five-game losing streak, Ron Gardenhire inserted Chris Parmelee as his center fielder and No. 3 hitter.

    Now, I don't want to contribute to what could probably be described as a generally overblown reaction to this move. From my view, it was a defensible experiment by Gardenhire to try and coax some offense out
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    by 06-26-2014, 01:37 PM
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    When we ranked infielder Jorge Polanco as the eighth-best prospect in the Minnesota Twins organization this spring, we noted that a strong first-half performance in High-A could put him on the fast track to the majors.

    Of course, we never would have suspected it would be this fast.

    On Thursday, the Twins announced that they have promoted Polanco directly from Single-A to the majors. At age 20, he becomes the youngest player to don a Minnesota uniform since Joe Mauer back in 2004.

    Now, before you get too worked up, it bears noting that this move is most likely born
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    by 06-24-2014, 11:24 PM
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    The rosters for the MLB Futures Game were announced on Tuesday. Representing the Twins organization will be Single-A pitcher Jose Berrios and Double-A slugger Kennys Vargas.

    None of Minnesota's "Big Three" will be participating. Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano obviously have been injured, and Alex Meyer -- the team's top pitching prospect and its greatest hope for a top-of-the-rotation starter -- simply isn't having a very good season.

    That's fairly worrisome, especially when you look at his recent performance.

    Back in late April, it appeared that Meyer had turned a corner after reportedly learning
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    by 06-23-2014, 12:10 AM
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    After finishing 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in Sunday's sweep-clinching win over the White Sox, Oswaldo Arcia ran his hitless streak up to 31 consecutive at-bats. As Phil Miller noted in his post-game wrap-up, that's eight short of the franchise record.

    For all his talent and explosiveness, Arcia has proven to be a slump-prone hitter, with a tendency to look totally lost during extended stretches at the plate.

    Right now, he's mired in what I have to imagine is one of the worst funks of his life. It's not just the lack of hits -- it's the intensely bad at-bats. Seemingly every other plate appearance involves three or four pitches, a few non-competitive swings, and a strikeout or a pop fly.

    Arcia is a good hitter. He conquered the minor leagues with remarkable ease and has certainly demonstrated the characteristics of a quality MLB slugger. Why isn't that showing
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    by 06-19-2014, 10:33 PM
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    * The Twins came into this season with a lot of intrigue surrounding the rotation. Between the newly signed free agents and the rising prospects with a chance to debut, there were going to be plenty of storylines to follow here in 2014.

    The most important, though, was always going to be Kyle Gibson.

    Coming off a rocky MLB debut last year, and entering his first season with no restrictions after Tommy John surgery, Gibson won a spot on the staff in camp, making this his big opportunity to establish himself as a bona fide big-leaguer and a long-term fixture in the rotation.

    The 26-year-old right-hander was off-and-on over his
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    by 06-17-2014, 11:03 PM
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    Despite being perpetually trapped in the shadows of Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano within the Twins' system, Eddie Rosario had firmly established himself as a true upper-tier prospect by the end of the 2013 season.

    At the age of 21, he had cruised through Single-A and Double-A, batting .302/.350/.460 between the two levels all while working on the defensive transition from outfield to infield. His bat was so good, and his athleticism so outstanding, that it appeared he may have a chance to make an early impact for the Twins here in 2014.

    My, how things change.

    As we all know, Rosario was tagged
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    by 06-10-2014, 09:49 PM
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    Coming into spring training, I don't think that Ron Gardenhire and the Twins were planning on bringing Josmil Pinto north with the big-league club. The young backstop had been awfully impressive with the bat during a September audition in 2013, sure, but Twins officials commented repeatedly throughout the offseason that he was still somewhat raw and his defensive game needed work.

    That was a fair position to hold. Pinto was a bit of a slow developer in the minors, and had played only 19 games in Triple-A. As Chris Parmelee had demonstrated two years earlier, you can only put so much
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    by 06-09-2014, 10:00 AM
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    The last time I can remember the Twins making a "win now" move was prior to the 2011 season, when they re-signed Carl Pavano and Jim Thome in an effort to recapture the magic that led to 94 wins and a playoff berth in the first season at Target Field.

    You can argue that these weren't especially wise moves, but they were clearly aimed at a goal of short-term winning. Pavano, 35, was signed for two years and cost the Twins a potential draft pick. Thome, 40, was signed for one year.

    Things obviously fell apart during that season, and in the years since, while the Twins have made a lot of moves -- some
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    by 06-03-2014, 10:35 PM
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    Sponsored by Ticket King

    After splitting a brief two-game set at Miller Park, the Twins now return to Target Field for the second half of a home-and-home series this week against the Brewers. The interstate rivalry annually produces a great deal of interest, with numerous Milwaukeeans trekking into town, so the ballpark figures to be a bustling place.

    The weather forecast is looking beautiful (75 and sunny) for both Wednesday and Thursday, and Ticket King has some great seats available for both games, but if you have to pick one, which is the best option?

    We'll dig into the specific match-ups shortly. But first, let's size up the opponent.

    Strong Brew

    Last year, the
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    by 06-02-2014, 11:31 AM
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    So, as you might have heard, Twins pitching prospect Trevor May has been on a heck of a run in Triple-A. The 25-year-old right-hander was named International League Pitcher of the Week on Monday and hasn't allowed an earned run in his last four starts.

    Overall, May is sitting with a 2.62 ERA and 1.11 WHIP in 10 starts this year, while averaging about a strikeout per inning and holding opponents to a .196 batting average.

    That sounds like a guy who should be up on the big-league staff. The only problem -- and this ain't exactly a bad problem -- is that right now there's no obvious spot for May to fill.

    That's a bit of an odd conundrum
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    by 05-30-2014, 12:32 AM
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    In each of the past two seasons, Twins pitchers have ranked dead last in the majors in strikeouts. They're on track to do so again this year.

    It's no coincidence that they've been extremely bad at preventing runs during that time. In today's MLB environment, where strikeouts are rapidly climbing league-wide, a "pitch-to-contact" staff profile doesn't fly.

    To their credit, the Twins seem to recognize this, and have recently made concerted efforts to add more power arms to the organization. In next Thursday's draft, they might have a chance to bring in the best high school power arm... ever?

    Who is this guy?

    Earlier this month, Baseball America's John Manuel put Tyler
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    by 05-28-2014, 12:23 AM
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    On Tuesday night, the Twins stole another one away.

    You'd have a hard time arguing they outplayed the Rangers, who outhit them 9-6 and had a one-run lead entering the ninth before Joakim Soria uncharacteristically blew a save (his first of the year, in fact) and took the loss when he misplayed a nubber back to the mound with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth.

    Hey, a win's a win.

    That's been a good mantra for the Twins, who find themselves within a game of .500 as the end of May approaches, despite the fact that they haven't really played all that well.

    Offensively, they rank ninth out of 15 American Leagues teams in runs per game, and 11th in OPS. Their team ERA is the worst in baseball.

    Despite all that, this team is keeping it interesting.
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    by 05-26-2014, 10:40 PM
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    The first two years of Aaron Hicks' major-league career have been humbling to say the least. He's gone from first-round prep superstar and top prospect to apparent bust; from appointed center fielder and leadoff man to "unprepared" problem child.

    The skills that have carried Hicks to this point aren't keeping him afloat. But to his credit, the 24-year-old has proven willing to look inward, and is now implementing a drastic change.

    Hicks announced on Monday that he is giving up switch-hitting, and will bat exclusively from the right side going forward.

    Whether going by the eye test or the numbers,
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