The Minnesota Twins opened their beautiful new outdoor stadium Target Field three years ago this April, and the team has had one winning season since christening the ballpark in 2010. The hope that was being sold to fans was that once the Twins opened an outdoor stadium and started drawing record crowds (which they initially did, as everyone in Minnesota wanted to see their new toy), the front office would have money to play with. 2010 was the only season the Twins attempted to spend big boy money and have since fallen back into their usual ways of hoping the eight million outfielding prospects they have in their farm system can somehow carry the team.
Minnesota traded two starting outfielders in the offseason, acquired some pitching but still have a weak roster that legions of fans are hoping can lift their spirits. Ben Noble, from Puckett’s Pond, sat down with us to dish on where he hopes the Twins will be and where he has a feeling the club is going.
Best Case Scenario
Josh Willingham has another career year, Justin Morneau returns to near-MVP form, and Joe Mauer battles for another batting title. Aaron Hicks shows his all-around game and is in the discussion for ROY, and fellow rookie Chris Parmelee hits for power in right field. Trevor Plouffe goes yard 25 times at the hot corner, and the middle infielders hit well enough not to embarrass themselves. The revamped starting rotation performs well enough to allow the offense to carry the Twins to a record north of .500 and meaningful games in September. Most importantly, top prospects continue to thrive in the minors, some get a taste of MLB action in 2013, and a future contender begins to form.
Worst Case Scenario
Willingham regresses, Morneau struggles and Plouffe’s power surge of 2012 turns out to be a one-time anomaly. The rookies aren’t ready to produce at the MLB level, and other top prospects flail and fail in the minors. This season’s rotation is somehow worse than last year’s, and replacements from the minors don’t fare any better. The Twins go into 2014 coming off a losing record and not much hope moving forward.
Most Likely To Happen
Willingham regresses somewhat and Morneau is solid but unspectacular, but at least one of the two is traded at the deadline. Mauer is Mauer, Plouffe hits for power but not average, and the rookies are inconsistent at times while showing the tools and production to be solid major leaguers moving forward. A couple of the guys in the rotation fair well, a couple struggle, and the team brings up a rookie starter or two during the season. The trades and failures allow a number of top prospects to make their MLB debuts and, while the team improves on last year’s record, the real positive to take out of the 2013 season is that the nucleus for a young, legitimate, long-term contender is beginning to form on the field.
It’s clear that there are still plenty of questions about this Twins team, but there’s always something about this team that keeps fans sticking around. There a small ball club, and it looks like that’s the only way they’ll win because that’s the only way the front office is convinced baseball is played. But this team is still capable of at the very least giving the season a good run and growing into a team that could surprise a lot of people down the road.
For all your Minnesota Twins news, be sure to stay glued to Puckett’s Pond all season long.