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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.