After what seems like an eternity, it’s finally opening day across Major League Baseball! My favorite team, the Minnesota Twins, is coming off of three consecutive ninety loss seasons (which is really really bad). Unfortunately, with the roster they’ve assembled, I’d be shocked if it doesn’t reach a fourth consecutive year. With that said, I’m still excited to watch the games on the visiting team feed through mlb.tv (listening to Twins announcer Burt Blyleven is excruciating…. for specific reasons, see here or here) because baseball is awesome.
2014 Twins Preview
Last year, the Twins had the worst starting pitching in all of baseball. It was so bad that the starting pitchers gave up almost a half run more than the second to worst team. It was so bad that opposing teams hit over .300 versus the Twins starters. To put this into perspective, there were only 19 players who hit .305 or above on the season and this was what the entire league AVERAGED versus the Twins. To combat this problem, the Twins signed Ricky Nolasco, Phil Hughes and brought back Mike Pelfrey. As individual moves, all but the Pelfrey signing made sense. The fact of the matter is that Pelfrey was really bad last year, he doesn’t strike anyone out, and it’s like getting a tooth pulled watching his pace on the mound. Anyway, Mike Pelfrey aside, the pitching moves are not nearly enough to make the Twins relevant. Grade – C-
As if the pitching wasn’t enough to make a Twins fan cringe, the hitting was just as bad. The Twins were 25th out of 30 in team batting average and runs scored and did virtually nothing to improve it. The big addition was bringing in Jason Kubel who was released by Arizona last year and finished last year with a .216 batting average and 5 home runs. The other “addition” was bringing back Jason Bartlett to be a utility player. This move makes even less sense since he hasn’t played since 2012, and he seemed totally washed up then (for a local MN view of Barlett making the roster and how dumb the move is, click here.) Lastly, they added Kurt Suzuki to be their everyday catcher. Suzuki isn’t good. He’s not going to somehow turn good. How does this make the Twins any better? Why bother? Grade – F
I’ll talk about a handful of players and offer a few thoughts…
1. Starting with the incomparable Joe Mauer – This year Mauer moves to 1b to avoid concussions that have plagued him in the past. Mauer remains one of the best hitters in the league. His value is slightly diminished because he’s no longer playing a premium position, but you can still expect his career averages, which put him soundly on pace for the Hall of Fame and one of the greatest Twins ever.
2. Josh Willingham – The best hope is that he gets off to a hot start and the Twins can trade him. The worst-case is that he was what he was last year and is old and slow and washed up. My prediction is that he’ll hit around 15 hr’s, play horrible defense and the Twins will have to give him away at the trade deadline for a very low-level prospect.
3. Brian Dozier – One of only a handful of players who could have a role once the Twins are done rebuilding. The hope is that he continues where he left off in the second half of last year and becomes a solid every day 2b.
4. Oswaldo Arcia – Like Dozier, if things work out for Arcia, he could be with the Twins a long time. He’s arguably their best power hitter and is only 22 years old. The hope is that he continues to develop and the Twins play him everyday.
5. Josmil Pinto – See Arcia above and replace age 22 to age 24 for Pinto.
6. Glen Perkins – From Minnesota and played at the University of Minnesota. An all-around good guy and an absolute stud on the field. If Perkins continues from the last few years, he’ll assert himself as one of the best closers in all of baseball and one of the few bright spots on this roster.
Anyway, you can see the outlook doesn’t look good aside from a small handful of players. Las Vegas predicts the Twins will win 70.5 games. I think it’ll be even less. Hopefully the few young prospects will develop, and next year, my preview will be a lot more optimistic.
The last couple of years, a group of friends and I have been predicting the over/unders for the American League. My buddy Tom and I have a lunch bet on who gets more correct. I’ve included the great Gleeman and the Geek on the list since they are the impetus behind this.
If you have any thoughts on the 2014 season, or want to get in on the over/under….. drop a note below or shoot me an email.