Aug 5, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Minnesota Twins catcherJoe Mauer
(7) singles against the Kansas City Royals during the first inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
Gone are the days when the Minnesota Twins dominated the American League Central and annually tortured the Detroit Tigers and their playoff fates (2006, 2009). Today’s Twins are rebuilding and are a far cry from the franchise that won six division titles in nine seasons.
Most prognosticators don’t expect Minnesota to challenge for a playoff spot in 2014, whether it is through a division title or wild-card berth, but will they be better than they were in 2013 and move in a positive direction? FanGraphs doesn’t think so. While they do think the Twins will improve by three games this season (66-96 last year), they predict they will fall to last place in the AL Central, behind the Chicago White Sox.
MCB: Even though the Twins are the only AL Central rival that joins the Tigers to train in Florida, because they are pretty far down in the state, Detroit doesn’t see them during the Grapefruit League. So how have the Twins been doing during Spring Training?
PP: The Twins have been doing about as expected. Records really shouldn’t be used for much during spring, but as I write this they are 7-9 in Grapefruit League play and that seems about right. It’s becoming evident that the Twins will really struggle scoring runs in 2014.
MCB: Who is standing out and/or surprising for Minnesota? Who is disappointing?
PP: The Twins currently have a battle for the fifth spot in the rotation. Samuel Deduno has looked very, very good this spring and I’d be surprised if he doesn’t get the job. On the other hand, Vance Worley, last year’s Opening Day starter, has looked very, very bad and at this pace I’m starting to doubt if we will ever see him in a Twins uniform again. (Editor’s note: Worley was waived by the Twins after Collin sat down for our interview)
MCB: Do you think there will be a surprise veteran cut before Opening Day? If so, who?
PP: This implies the Twins have veterans that shouldn’t be cut! Jason Bartlett is trying to make a comeback, but just got his first hit of spring so it won’t be surprising be he at least will not be on the MLB roster on Opening Day.
MCB: Is there a prospect that won’t be on the Opening Day roster, but will join the Twins at some point this season?
PP: If it wasn’t for that damned Tommy John surgery, this is where I’d glow about Miguel Sano. Trevor May who’s projected to be a major part of the rotation in the supposed coming success is in Triple-A and he should make some MLB appearances this year. Danny Santana, a shortstop, has impressed this spring and will also be at Triple-A Rochester. A dark horse candidate would be Kennys Vargas, who is now at Double-A. Vargas is basically a David Ortiz Jr. and he might be killing enough to become a viable DH option for the Twins.
MCB: Where do you see Minnesota finishing in the division this year. Will they be able to surprise and make some noise against the top dogs in the AL Central this year?
PP: Fourth. If the Twins find some offense, maybe they can surprise me, but the smart money would be put on a fourth place finish. I can’t logically deny the Tigers success, Cleveland should still be good and Kansas City eventually has to be good, right? I feel like I’ve been saying Kansas City will be the team to beat for a decade now. All-in-all, the Twins will hover around the .500 mark no matter what. If some offense happens, they’ll be a little bit above.