Twins Building A Contender For 2012

The Minnesota Twins have continued their busy off-season by signing three more players according to MLB Trade Rumors. Included in the three today were ex-Tigers pitcher Casey Fein, along with other minor leaguers Jason Bulger and Aaron Bates. Look out Tigers fans! The 2012 version of the Minnesota Twins is looking to mean business. Add these three players to the recently signed Jason Marquis, and the Twins could be making their way back to the top of the Central before we know it.

If you detected the sarcasm in the above paragraph, good for you. If not, let me just say, I think it is officially time for us as Tigers fans to start making fun of the rival Twins and not be worried about it biting us in the butt. The only thing the Twinkies are building a contender for is their AAA affiliate the Rochester Red Wings. It appears that they should be loaded for the 2012 seasons and could dominate the International League this summer. Along with the three gentleman above, the Twins have signed at least 14 other minor league free agents to contracts.

Talk about throwing a pile of crap against the wall and hoping some of it sticks!

The reality of it is, that pile of excrement is more likely to slide than stick.

The Twins have long been the beast of the A.L. Central until 2011, when they found themselves in the cellar in the division, and darn near in all of baseball. A lot of that could be explained off to injury, but not all of it. Minnesota was decimated by their attraction to the D.L in 2011, especially to their key players Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau. But they also had injuries with guys like Denard Span, Delmon Young, and Jason Kubel. Joe Nathan was ineffective coming off of Tommy John surgery and they had a pretty terrible Francisco Liriano toeing the slab as well. In fact, the only guys that seemed to make it to the every day lineup were Michael Cuddyer and Danny Valencia.

Their pitching and their lack of stuff finally caught up with them. You don’t like strikeouts? Watch the Twins. Full of a staff of guys that can’t break glass with their fastball, and can barely break wind as well, the Twins pitching staff was very much of the foul smelling variety. The only guy to make over 30 starts for them last season was Carl Pavano. Pavano is quite possibly the most pedestrian “ace” of a pitching staff in baseball. He finished with an ERA of 4.30 and K rate of 4.1/9. Yeah, I had to check if that was real too. With Nick Blackburn, Scott Baker (their best pitcher), Brian Duensing and Francisco Liriano as part of the rotation, I don’t think the Twins are scaring their Central Division foes.

But if you think their starting rotation has questions, just look at the bullpen. Lefty Glen Perkins had a strong 2011 for the Twins, and looks like he might have to be their closer in 2012. Besides him, the Twins could have about 4 of those minor league free agents filling out their pen in 2012. Jason Bulger could potentially step in and be their set-up man right away. Man, that makes me LOL as the kids say these days.

It’s not like the Twins made moves that have much potential to make them better. The free agents they have signed are going to be hard-pressed to replace the production of the guys that left in Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel. Josh Willingham and Ryan Doumit are stepping into their places, and hopefully for Minnesota fans, they can help the Twins maintain their 2011 mark of 63 wins. SS looks like it will be manned by Jamey Carroll, after their Japanese import from last season Nishioka fell flat on his face.

Am I the only one that doesn’t find these moves intimidating at all?

Of course not, I am just probably the only guy right now wanting to be a jerk and say the Twins stink. It looks like to me, the Twins are clearly going to be terrible again in 2012, and if the Twins’ fans should want to watch a contender, they are going to have to travel to Rochester.

The only thing that is going to salvage a season for the Twins is if their star players can play a full slate of games in 2012. But what is the likelihood of that considering they haven’t done so in a couple of years? And even if they do, that pitching is still likely to get beat up, especially the bullpen.

It’s time that Tigers fans don’t miss this opportunity. The Twins have been kicking us around for years, and now it is our turn to return the favor.

Good luck Minnesota. With the looks of it, you are going to need it.


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Tags: Casey Fein Detroit Tigers Jason Bulger Jason Marquis Josh Willingham Minnesota Twins Wilkin Ramirez

  • garretkc

    From my perspective, the Twins are in a really interesting position right now. Their lineup is littered with high-risk players.

    Denard Span dealt with post-concussion issues for most of his 2011 campaign and wound up playing just 70 games. He has an off-season to recover but could easily still have problems come Spring Training.

    Other than a broken hand that kept him out for a month and a half in 2009, Jamey Carroll has been injury-free for his career, but how much can you really count on a guy who will be 38 in Spring Training to stay healthy all year playing shortstop? Carlos Guillen burned out long before age 38.

    Joe Mauer played only 82 games last year so the concern with him is obvious. He’s playing the most stressful position on the field and his back and leg issues are severe. The Fox Sports website lists six separate injuries for him in a five month span.

    Mauer’s new back-up behind the plate, Ryan Doumit, only played 77 games last year due mostly to a trip to the 60-day DL after an ankle sprain.

    Then, of course, there’s Justin Morneau, who has played 150 games in the last two years due to various injuries. Most recently, concussion symptoms and wrist issues have kept him out.

    Between Span, Mauer, Doumit, and Morneau (all critical to the success of Minnesota’s offense), only 298 games were played in 2011. That’s out of a possible 648, meaning in total they played about 46% of the time. Those four plus Carroll will all be mainstays in the front six of the Twins’ lineup when healthy, along with Josh Willingham.

    If a couple of his aforementioned teammates guys go down, Willingham will be relied on heavily to contribute. He’s been very reliable to this point in his career, but he’ll be 33 in February and will have to try to keep his power numbers up in Target Field, a pitcher’s park.

    In the bottom third of the order, Danny Valencia and Alexi Casilla are young and decent at the plate, but they’re not going to carry the team. Ben Revere will bring speed and probably complement Span at lead-off by hitting in the ninth spot, but he’ll have to avoid a sophomore slump and his main contributions will come in the outfield.

    If their lineup stays intact, it could be a good one, but there are way too many question marks to fathom them contending.

  • ChrisHannum

    If the Twins get what they got from Mauer, Morneau and Liriano in 2011 then they really will stink. In my mind the question has always been ‘do they have enough else to win the division if those three all play well?”.

    • ChrisHannum

      Sad that I can’t simply edit my post – but the gap in WAR for the big 3 between 2010 and 2011 is about 14. That would suggest that IF they had all played well, the 2011 Twins would only have won around 77 games due to their other major problems.

  • paulpleiss

    Ouch! I feel like my dreams for 2012 have just been beaten, abused and left for dead.

    If the M & M boys can stay healthy this year and Jamey Carroll continues to be a +OBP guy, the Twins will be alright. They might not be the favorite to take the Central in 2012, but that hasn’t stopped them before, and there are plenty of holes in the Tigers team as well.

    In baseball, “there’s always next year” and for now, the Twins have just as many wins as the Tigers in 2012.


    • MCBjohnverburg

      @paulpleiss Just firing the first smack talking post of the New Year in the Twins direction. Haha.

  • nosraep

    Can’t believe a local write up would take up a whole column and b-rate another cities team. Times are tough in the Motor City..Sour grapes is my take. Hope the teams play well and Twins return to previous forms. Win Twins!

    • MCBjohnverburg

      @nosraep You can’t believe a division rival’s blog would poke a little fun at the Twins while they are down? Relax. I have a lot of respect for the Twins. I’ve watched them pummel the Tigers for years. It’s all in good fun. Have the Twins not piled up on the minor league free agents this season?

      Times must be sensitive in Minnesota.