The 2012 Minnesota Twins: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
As Minnesota Twins fans watch their division rival Detroit Tigers play in the World Series, many will reflect on the season and wonder where things went wrong. The most glaring need is starting pitching, and there are other areas in need of improvement as well. Yet at the same time there are a lot of areas that went better than expected last season. So instead of focusing solely on the negative, I’m going to use the good, the bad and the ugly to describe the 2012 season for the Minnesota Twins.
Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau: The 2012 season saw both Mauer and Morneau both staying healthy for the entire season. Mauer nearly captured another batting title and was a fixture in the lineup, posting his usual high average and on base percentage combo. Morneau had a nice bounce back season after having lost most of the last 2 seasons due to reoccurring concussion issues. Morneau should be poised to have an even better season next year after finally having been able to see live pitching over the course of an entire season. For the Twins to be relevant next season, these two superstars will need to bring production similar to this year, if not a little better. And if they both stay healthy that should be no problem.
The Lineup: Not just Mauer and Morneau enjoyed better seasons; most of the entire lineup was solid this past season. Free agent acquisitions Ryan Doumit and Josh Willingham provided stellar protection in the middle of the order for the M and M boys. Doumit brought position flexibility and had a career year offensively. Willingham became the pull hitter the Twins had been craving for years, and for only $7 per season. Trevor Plouffe came out of nowhere to hit 23 homeruns. Denard Span and Ben Revere anchored the top of the Twins lineup and scored early and often. This should be a good lineup again next season as most of the regulars will be back, and there should be upgrades made at the spots that struggled.
Back end of the Bullpen: Terry Ryan deserves a huge amount of credit for the signing of reliever Jared Burton this past offseason. Burton teamed up with Glen Perkins to give the Twins the most dominant set up and closer combo they have had in the last few years. Perkins figures to close for the foreseeable future as he is able to generate the strikeouts that a closer needs to finish games. Burton proved to be a dominant set up man for the entire season. Burton had several stretches throughout the year where he went seeks without allowing an earned run and for a team with as many pitching problems as the Twins had, you can’t put a price on solid relief late in games.
Middle Infield: The middle infield for the Minnesota Twins was marred with inconsistency. Players such as Jamey Carroll, Alexi Casilla, Tsyuoshi Nishioka, Pedro Florimon, Alex Escobar, Brian Dozier and Trevor Plouffe saw time at either or both middle infield spots and the Twins found themselves near the bottom of all of Major League baseball in both offensive and defensive categories. The Twins need someone who can consistently play both positions and help out particularly on defense. If the Twins are able to even fill those spots for an entire season it will go a long way to helping them be competitive again next year.
Starting Rotation: No doubt the most glaring need the Twins have going into the offseason is starting pitching. To say the Twins had bad starting pitching this past season wouldn’t do it justice. The starting staff was among the worst in baseball in every statistical category. The only starter that figures to be with the team next year is Scott Diamond, who was the only starter to finish the year with the team. In what has become a revolving door for the Twins in the last few years, the Twins absolutely must improve the rotation if they hope to compete next year.