2014 MLB Preview: Minnesota Twins
66-96 (2013, 4th in AL Central)
Offense- Runs(25th) Batting Average (25th) On-Base%(20th) Slugging%(23rd)
Pitching- ERA(29th) Quality Starts(30th) WHIP(28th) Batting Average Against(30th)
Notable Additions: Ricky Nolasco, Phil Hughes, Kurt Suzuki, Matt Guerrier, Jason Kubel, Jason Bartlett
They will win if: Willingham and Kubel can provide lineup protection for Mauer; someone produces in the leadoff spot; the starting pitching holds the entire season; Glen Perkins and Casey Fien can hold leads; Byron Buxton and Alex Meyer both make the team and contribute THIS YEAR; Target Field regains its home-field advantage; Pedro Florimon starts to hit; Josmil Pinto takes the reins at catcher without stumbling.
More Likely Result: The Twins just don’t have enough offense to complement the improvements made to their starting rotation. News last week that Miguel Sano will undergo Tommy John surgery and miss the entire season has already taken wind out of the sails. The Twins will also have to play one of the toughest early season schedules in all of baseball; so if they aren’t up to the task it will be another long summer.
Projected Opening Day Lineup:
Alex Presley, CF
Brian Dozier, 2B
Joe Mauer, 1B
Josh Willingham, LF
Jason Kubel, DH
Oswaldo Arcia, RF
Trevor Plouffe, 3B
Kurt Suzuki, C
Pedro Florimon, SS
Manager: Ron Gardenhire (13th season)
Player to Watch:
With the news that Miguel Sano will miss the entire season due to Tommy John surgery, Oswaldo Arcia becomes the player to watch this year. Arcia put up some promising numbers in his rookie season, and should build on that being with the team for a full year. Arcia has tremendous power and will be the most exciting player on this years team until Buxton and Sano arrive.
Jason Kubel was signed to help protect Joe Mauer in the lineup. Kubel is coming off a down year for Arizona and Cleveland. A return to the Twins will show that Kubel has plenty of productive years left. Expect Kubel to have a monster season and give the Twins a good middle of the order with Mauer, Willingham, Kubel and Arcia.
Cy Young Candidate:
Phil Hughes comes to the Twins looking for redemption. He certainly has the stuff to succeed he just needs a fresh start. If he can pitch well at Target Field and well against the division; he could have an impressive year for the Twins.
Bold Prediction: Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes will each make at least 30 starts, win at least 10 games and throw over 200 innings. This is assuming they stay healthy, pitch well and thrive at Target Field, which they will.
Playoff Odds: Barring pigs flying and the stars aligning, the Twins will very likely end up with another subpar season. And while the short term prognosis is grim, prospects are waiting in the wings to bring this team back to prominence.
Manager Status: After 3 straight seasons of 90 losses, Gardenhire’s tenure with the team going forward is definitely up in the air. If the Twins lose more than 90 games again they could decide to bring in a new manager to work with all of the prospects expected to be called up in the next year. If they have a successful year, Gardenhire could stick around.
Expected Finish: 4th Place