2012 MLB Team Preview: Minnesota Twins 2012 MLB Team Preview: Minnesota Twins 2012 MLB Team Preview: Minnesota Twins
 

2012 MLB Team Preview: Minnesota Twins

Minnesota Twins logo.

The Minnesota Twins plunged to the bottom of the AL Central in 2011 finishing with a 63-99 record, which was the second worst in baseball.

In 2010, the Twins won 94 games and captured their second-straight American League Central title, which is why last season’s fall, came unexpectedly.

It just seemed like everything in Minnesota went wrong at the right times last season, as hampering injuries were ramped.

So, now the 2012 million-dollar question is whether the Twins can get back to being a contender in the AL Central again.

Let’s check it out…

THE POSITIVES:

The Twins seemed to have hit rock bottom, and as the saying goes the only place to go is up, as I don’t see the Twins losing 99 games again in 2012. This team won six divisional title in the past ten years, and all under skipper Ron Gardenhire. And if anyone knows what worked, or what is not working it should be Gardenhire but it seems like the Twins were ok with chalking things up to injuries last season.

Justin Morneau is an all-around great baseball player and with him playing any team would improve. The 2006 MVP and four-time All-Star can rake, as over his career he averages 29 homers and 113 RBIs a season, which includes the last two seasons where he spent more time on the DL than at the plate. Morneau has suffered his three concussions, but the big blow happened in 2010 and he missed half the season. Morneau admittedly is still suffering from symptoms but as of now have been better but the 2010 blow came back to haunt him last season, as he was on the DL for over 90 games. Morneau could be used as a permanent DH, as his bat is one of the best in the Majors and the Twins need all the help they can get. I have a feeling that Morneau will still see time at first-base, which I think is reckless because the odds of him winding up back on the DL become that much higher. I like Morneau and he is a superstar when healthy, as he blows Mauer out of the water. Still, the Canadian-born Morneau was a hockey fanatic growing up so he probably took hits on the ice well before his baseball playing days, which might be why he can’t shake the the symptoms.

THE NEGATIVES: 

Joe Mauer is now the biggest bust in baseball. Mauer has always gotten too much unwarranted praise, when in reality he had one MVP-caliber season in 2009; and he took home the top honor but there were other players more deserving. Mauer’s high batting average masks his the other flaws at the plate and now it has been well documented that Mauer’s power spike in 2009 was a total fluke. The Twins paid him to be a star every season but the front office did base his contract off one good season, and they just spoke to soon. Minnesota fans are constantly defending this guy who is hog-tying almost a quarter of the team’s $100 million payroll. His injury history is long and deep as he has suffered from bilateral leg weakness, a heel bruise, a minor kidney obstruction, right shoulder tendonitis, left knee surgery, stress reaction in left fibula and overall body soreness. Plain and simple Joe Mauer isn’t what the Twins thought he was, and at just 28-years old he has plenty of time to change that but I do not think he will be able too.

The loss of Michael Cuddyer, Jason Kubel and Joe Nathan to other teams in the off-season mean there are big holes to fill all over the place.

Over all players cannot stay healthy as 16 different players were placed on the DL in 2011. It is always presumed that defeat is a mental condition, not a physical one, but this does not apply for the Twins. Whatever they are putting in the water at Target Field needs to change or else the team will stay make 2011 a new trend.

When Carl Pavano, who has pitched pretty well and stayed totally healthy since his stint with Yankees, is the ace of your team’s pitching staff you should be very afraid. Pavano is a backend starter at best but until Francisco Liriano cannot figures out how to throw in the strike zone this will cost the Twins games.

PLAYER(s)/GAME-CHANGERS TO WATCH:

1) Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau missed a combined 173 games last season and the Twins need them both, especially Morneau to stay healthy in 2012. The likelihood of Minnesota’s M&M boys spending time on the DL in 2012 is high and these two both have a lot to prove considering they are both in their primes at 28 and 30-years old respectively. Morneau is a way better hitter than Mauer, and if his concussed head stays sharp he can hit 20+ homers and 100 RBIs, which would be huge for the Twins but he has to be closely monitored.

2012 PREDICTION:

The 2012 Twins will not lose 99 games this season but they are not good enough to contend in the AL Central. And not just because of the Tigers, the Royals and Indians are better, younger, healthier, and have a lot more depth than Minnesota.

The improbability is that the Twins will have every single thing go their way in 2012, but even if they do get lucky don’t expect more than a .500 record.

My predication is that the Minnesota Twins will finish in last place in 2012, as like the Braves nothing was done to improve or shake things up. Odds on the M&M boys to stay healthy are about as likely as me winning the lottery.

My advice is for Minnesota fans to get ready for another rough ride.

 

 

 

 




2 Comments

  1. James says:

    Joe Mauer is now the biggest bust in baseball?!?!? Some stats for you:

    From 2004-2011 the Average Catcher had the following stats:
    BA OBP SLG OPS
    0.2570.3210.4020.723
    Joe's Stats
    0.3230.4030.4710.874 – Joe's Avg
    0.3650.4440.5871.031 – Joe's High
    0.2870.3600.3680.728 – Joes Low
    Even in his worst year(one plagued by injury) he was right at average if not above it in these hitting categories.

    Also in any year that he has played more than 100 Games he has been the top catcher in baseball.
    Baseballbyposition.com
    YearRankingGames
    20041232
    20051116
    20061120
    2007391
    20081139
    20091109
    20101112
    20111452

    His fielding is good as well
    AVG Catcher 04-11
    ErrorsFPCT
    6.7 0.992
    Joe's AVG
    3.1 0.995

    Has he had some injury issues yes he has, but despite those he has consistently been a top catcher. If I remember correctly I think the #2 pick right behind Joe was one Mark Prior…..hmmmm how'd that turn out for the cubs? Is he gonna be a power hitter? Not in the Twins/Gardenhire system, they don't hit for power. Get a man on move him up, move him across, and he fits that system perfectly.

    • LLP says:

      James….I appreciate your opinion and I am well aware of Mauer's stats. Mauer is a great defensive catcher, when he is not on the DL as his 6'5 frame is not built for behind the plate. I think his catching has digressed too, as he is only 28 years old.

      The one fact you don't state is that Mauer doesn't produce runs, and you have to factor in that he is always injured. A player can have a high average and slugging percentage but you win with runs, and Mauer broke 90 RBIs once, in 2009. He hit 28 homers in 2009….when you add up his homers from 2007+2008+2010+2011 = 28.

      The Twins are paying 1/4 of their payroll to Mauer to be a star producer on the field, not off of it. And he just hasn't lived up to expectations at all.

      Justin Morneau is a much better player and when healthy blows Mauer out of the water.