Minnesota Twins: 5 Needs the Twins Must Address This Offseason
With a month left in the 2012 season, the Minnesota Twins must start addressing positional shortcomings if they want to reach .500 in 2013.
From 2002 to 2010, the Twins won six American League Central Division Championships through league leading defenses, strong pitching, and clutch hitting. Since 2011, the Twins have steered clear of this formula and have gone 115-175 (.396).
What needs must the Twins address in the offseason to right the ship? Read on to find out.
An Ace Starting Pitcher
Much of Minnesota's dismay this season has been created by unreliable starting pitching. Despite a solid turnaround, the Twins still have the one of the worst rotations in the MLB.
One thing Minnesota's rotation needs is a true No. 1 starter—ever since losing Johan Santana in 2007, the Twins have been without a dominating ace.
If they want to make a serious improvement in 2013, they need to start looking at guys like Zack Grienke or James Shields, who will become premier free agents in the offseason.
A Strong No. 2 Starting Pitcher
Since the end of the Santana era, the Twins have been without an ace, but they have had their share of capable pitchers. Unfortunately, with the derailing of Nick Blackburn and Carl Pavano, the Twins are in desperate need of a No. 2 starter.
The Twins should should look for a pitcher who can win around 15 games and maintain a decent ERA—someone who can definitely hold their own on the mound. See Shaun Marcum or bring back Kyle Lohse.
A 3rd Baseman
Trevor Plouffe has done a decent job at third base this season. However, Plouffe's games-per-error ratio of one error every six games is the second worst among AL third basemen who have played 65 games or more this season. Furthermore, Plouffe's 19 home runs are great, but his 41 RBI and 46 runs are the lowest among all AL batters with 18 to 20 home runs.
The Twins really need a third baseman who can total 20 home runs, 75 RBI and 70 runs—someone like Gary Gaetti. If Plouffe isn't the guy, deal for Mike Moustakas or splurge on David Wright.
The Twins have had different starting middle infielders every since the Guzman-Rivas era of 2001 to 2004. Ever since then, the Twins have taken countless gambles on these two positions. Now in 2012, the trio of Dozier-Carroll-Casilla has taken the shared responsibility of covering Minnesota's middle infield.
While Jamey Carroll's games-to-error ratio, one error every six games, ranks third among AL second basemen who have played at least 50 games, Alexi Casilla is ranked ninth (out of 14) with one error every 11 games.
On the shortstop side of things, Carroll fares much better. At shortstop, Carroll is ranked the third best amongst players who have fielded the position at least a third of the season, committing an error once every 18 games.
Dozier is ranked the worst shortstop among AL players who have played the position 80 games, committing one error every 5.5 games.
Offensively the three have combined for .231/.289/.301 slash line, 107 runs and 30 stolen bases.
Modest offense and subpar fielding abilities indicate that the Twins need to reconsider their middle infield—especially Dozier and Casilla, who combined for a lousy .221/.260./.310 slash line.
Keep Carroll as the utility guy. Replace Casilla and Dozier.
A Vocal Leader
Yes. The Twins generally are seen as the good guys of baseball. They could never do wrong unto their fellow baseball players. The "Minnesota nice" attitude has turned into submissiveness that players bring on and off the field.
Aside from Scott Diamond's recent stand against the Rangers, the Twins are mostly made up of peace-loving, reserved guys. A 6'0", 190-pound guy purposely plunks the 6'5", 233-pound Joe Mauer to get him out of the game. Mauer casually trots to first as if nothing happened. The Twins ended up losing the game.
Rewind five years. When Minnesota had Torii Hunter, Twins fans knew that the center fielder would fire the team up or even call a teammate out for not giving 110 percent.
Whether it was one of the rare, yet intimidating, staredowns of the pitcher or electrifying words of praise, the man knew how to excite and protect his teammates.
The Twins are missing that key part to their roster.