Last year, the Indians ans Twins engaged in an epic battle that I had dubbed the race for last place. It was awful, but that’s what happens when you either engage in a post All-Star game collapse of epic proportions or build a team that stands little to no chance of competing from day one. As if life wasn’t depressing enough living in Ohio or Minnesota.
That said, both teams are off to similar starts record-wise. The Twins currently find themselves in third place in the AL Central with a record of 12-12, a half game better than the Tribe. However, they haven’t taken the same paths to get there.
While any of us have grown frustrated with the ups and downs of the Indians offense, but at least we know they can explode at any given time. The Twins on the other hand are borderline anemic. Heading into play tonight, the Twins own the 24th ranked batting average, 29th ranked slugging percentage, 15th ranked on base percentage, and have scored the sixth fewest runs in baseball. You could partly blame the offensive output, or lack there of, on Target Field but that excuse only can only be used so much. It’s like the opposite of wine. It’s just gets worse with age.
As for the make-up of the 2013 Twins, the core of the lineup is still in tact. Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, and Josh Willingham are all viable threats. It’s the complimentary pieces that have been the problem. Trevor Plouffe is nowhere near replicating last year’s break out and Ryan Doumit hasn’t been able to get himself going. Speedsters Ben Revere and Denard Span were also swapped out and down graded in trades with Aaron Hicks and Chris Parmalee doing little to make Twins fans forget about them. The double play tandem of Pedro Florimon and Brian Dozier are middling at best.
Like I was saying, I don’t think blaming Target Field fully encompasses just what exactly is going on with the Twins offensively.
It’s blatantly apparent that the Twins are stuck in the middle. They haven’t bottomed out for a complete rebuild, but they don’t have enough to compliment their all-star parts to make them a contender. It sounds cliché, but the Minnesota Twins really are in no man’s land. What is the plan here? What are they trying to accomplish.
Perhaps most frustrating is that the Twins are beginning to build a very talented farm system. Power hitting third base prospect Miguel Sano projects to be an A+ power bat. He isn’t just hitting home runs in the minors. He is hitting bombs. The Twins also have Byron Buxton, the second overall player chosen in the 2012 draft. He might be even better than Sano as he possess everything you could possibly want in an outfielder, and more. They also have several other prospects who should make significant impacts at the big league level.
Unfortunately for Twins fans, the future is nowhere near ready for the show. They’re stuck watching the talents of Mauer, Morneau, and Willingham be wasted with a sub-par pitching and a supporting cast that could best be described as an amateur hour. Do they pursue trades for any of them? Better yet, what would the reaction be to a trade, particularly a trade involving Mauer, the home-grown product who signed a lucrative deal to remain a Twin. It’s a precarious situation to be in, one that may work to the detriment of the Twins moving forward.