Michael Rand started RandBall with hopes that he could convince the world to love jumpsuits as much as he does. So far, he's only succeeded in using the word "redacted" a lot. He welcomes suggestions, news tips, links of pure genius, and pictures of pets in Halloween costumes here, though he already knows he will regret that last part.
Follow Randball on Twitter
The 13 position players? Well, as we've discussed at length, this is where the real problem begins. And now that the team has pretty much decided on the 13 it will keep, apathy is reaching record levels.
Granted, the battles for spots were not between Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. Any 13 they would have kept probably would have generated this very same post.
But a typical starting lineup of Brian Dozier, Joe Mauer, Jason Kubel, Josh Willingham, Oswaldo Arcia, Trevor Plouffe, Aaron Hicks, Kurt Suzuki and Pedro Florimon (or something like that), with Josmil Pinto, Chris Colabello, Jason Bartlett and Eduardo Escobar off the bench ... well, we really have no idea how that lineup is going to score runs. No clue. And neither, do we imagine. does Ron Gardenhire know what to do with them.
This is perhaps the most pessimism we have detected over a recent Twins team, which is hard to do when you lose 95 games three years in a row. At the very least, it's the most apathy.
There will still be nice crowds on warm summer nights. But there will be many long, gray days at Target Field as well.
This started as a weird little back-and-forth on Twitter between us and RandBallsStu. It ended as a full-blown parody. We stole a couple lines from Stu's tweets, but otherwise the inspiration is all ours (and the Twins). Here is Pavement's "Cut Your Hair" re-imagined as a song about the Twins' offense. This is from the CD "Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain," which is much better thought of as "Crooked Numbers, Crooked Numbers?" Also, the original song and video are at the top for inspiration. Here we go:
Darlin’ go ahead and cut your roster
Do you think it’s gonna make things change?
You’re just a team with the same lineup,
And that’s a pretty bad lineup.
Scoring is a puzzle, offense getting muzzled, batter missed a sign
Look on deck, pinch hit, it’s 3-1 in the sixth
The bullpen phone is found.
Baseball scene's crazy, guys sent down each and every day
I saw another one just the other day
A special new call-up
I remember scoring
I don't remember why
I don't remember where
But I don't care, I care, I really don't care
Did you see the second baseman’s hair?
High OBPs and some pop a must.
Runs mean a lot
When runs are bought
Or so, I’ve heard
Rob, run down to the office phone
Deal some pitching for some bats.
Correia, Correia, Correia, Correia, Correia, Correia!
Twins assistant GM Rob Antony has offered variations on this quote to multiple outlets, but here is the one he gave to MLB.com regarding roster battles at several positions: "Nobody's really stepped up to try to earn the spots, and that's a bad feeling when you're looking at giving spots away."
As we tweeted, this makes about as much sense as us being disappointed that our pug can't read our blog. Because there is a difference between genuine disappointment in underperforming and expecting a human (or dog) to do something that they simply are not equipped to do.
Antony has lamented that neither Aaron Hicks nor Alex Presley has grabbed hold of the center field job. Either conceivably could perform well this year. But neither has a track record suggesting they should be able to do that, and a few extra hits this spring shouldn't have convinced the Twins otherwise.
Jason Bartlett is a 34-year-old who hasn't played a regular-season game since May of 2012. Jason Kubel had a nice 2012, but he was awful in 2013. It would be great if he could return to peak form, but he'll be 32 soon and sometimes that just isn't in the cards.
As we've been saying all offseason, the Twins made reasonable upgrades to their starting rotation -- spending money that should translate into better performances. They did absolutely nothing -- short of adding light-hitting catcher Kurt Suzuki (OPS of .605 and .627 each of the last two seasons) -- to address their offense except hope and wish. Justin Morneau is gone. Ryan Doumit is gone. They weren't great, but they did have the second- and fifth-highest OPS among regulars, respectively, on a bad offensive team in 2013. The offense will need a breakout season from Oswaldo Arcia or a rebound season from Josh Willingham to avoid being historically bad in 2014.
To a certain extent, it's up to players to produce. It's also very much up to decision makers to put them in a position to succeed. If we're doling out blame for why it's not happening this spring, we're pretty sure we know where to start.
La Velle wrote today about the decisions the Twins have to make in the fewer-than-two-weeks before the season opener in Chicago (assuming the game isn't snow/rained out or even moved to Missouri like the Gophers' baseball series this weekend against host Northwestern was).
In our mind, the 25-man roster is pretty well set. We're pretty sure it is in the Twins' minds, too.
Here it goes:
Starting rotation (5): Ricky Nolasco, Phil Hughes, Mike Pelfrey, Kevin Correia, Sam Deduno.
Ideally, there would be a lefty in the mix here, but Deduno has had a very nice spring and his stuff is too good to waste in the bullpen or take a chance on losing since he's out of options. The other four spots are pretty well locked down, at least to start the season, assuming everyone stays healthy. Kyle Gibson starts the year in Class AAA. The Twins take the risk of losing Vance Worley, but at this point the loss would hardly be devastating (though remember: he was the OPENING DAY STARTER last year).
Bullpen (7): Glen Perkins, Jared Burton, Casey Fien, Caleb Thielbar, Brian Duensing, Anthony Swarzak, Scott Diamond.
This would make Ryan Pressly the odd man out, not really by fault of his own since he was adequate in 2013. It would be odd to have four left-handers, but the situation would likely be temporary -- stashing Diamond here and elevating him to the rotation if there is an injury or if another pitcher falters. You could also put Diamond in the rotation at the start of the year and put Deduno in the 'pen for more balance. Or the Twins could decide they have one too many lefties and try to deal one of them (Duensing or Diamond). For now, though, those are the 12 pitches we envision the Twins' taking north.
Starting lineup opening day (9): Aaron Hicks (CF), Brian Dozier (2B), Joe Mauer (1B), Josh Willingham (LF), Oswaldo Arcia (RF), Trevor Plouffe (3B), Jason Kubel (DH), Kurt Suzuki (C), Pedro Florimon (SS).
Bench (4): Alex Presley, Chris Colabello, Eduardo Escobar, Josmil Pinto
We'd be stunned if the opening day lineup was anything different than that. We would also note that the first six hitters were all here last year and played for a dismal offense. So there are a lot of hopes and dreams for scoring runs but not a lot of sure things. The bench is a little less settled, but here is our thought: Presley makes the team because he can run and because there has to be someone who can come in as a defensive replacement. Colabello gets another shot because of his hot spring and because he brings a power threat off the bench (and can play 1B or OF). Escobar gets the utility job. Sentiment is nice, but Jason Bartlett was 0-for-24 this spring going into Wednesday. Pinto showed enough promise at the plate last year to deserve at-bats. FanGraphs projected him in December to have the second-best WAR on the entire team, just behind Joe Mauer. If Bartlett shows any pulse at the plate in the next week, it would hardly surprise us to see him make the team over Escobar. The Twins are big on chemistry, for better or worse.
Bottom line: The pitching should be better than it was a year ago. The offense could be just as bad or worse as 2013, when the Twins scored a paltry 614 runs (the second-fewest in franchise history since MLB went to a 162-game schedule more than a half-century ago). With some surprises on offense, this team could win between 76 and 80 games. If the offense is as expected, our guess is more like 71 to 73 wins.
Your thoughts, please, in the comments.
Really, the sentiment extends to so many of Minnesota's teams. With apologies to the dominant Lynx and Gophers women's hockey team, along with the contending-in-most-years Gophers men's hockey team, there are six teams in the Twin Cities that draw the most water: the Vikings, Twins, Wild, Wolves, Gophers men's basketball and Gophers football.
We've already addressed Gophers men's basketball. Gophers football speaks for itself, with slightly above average finishes in the Big Ten serving as the apex of accomplishment in the last 40 years. The Twins had a run of six division titles in nine seasons from 2002-10, but their postseason failures diminished how history views that era. The Vikings under Dennis Green had a similar run of eight playoff appearances in 10 years, with the apex from 1998-2000, but since then it has been peaks and valleys. Wolves? Seven straight playoff one-and-dones, followed by the trip to the West finals a decade ago, and then silence since then. The Wild? The surprise run in 2003, a couple of nice regular seasons, and now perhaps the building of a contender but so far a team hanging on the playoff fringes.
This whole market is starving for a big-six team that doesn't live on the perpetual bubble. We can't hazard a guess right now as to which of them -- if any -- will be the one to step up and become a true consistent contender, but if and when it happens that team will own this state.
|Arts (1)||Books (1)|
|Movies (3)||Music (6)|
|Hobbies (1)||Fishing (1)|
|Society (2)||Crime (1)|
|Sports (523)||Baseball (1)|
|Professional baseball (753)||Basketball (8)|
|College basketball (6)||Football (1)|
|College football (118)||Professional football (538)|
|Technology (1)||Food and drink (14)|
|Politics (1)||Transportation (1)|
|Employment (1)||Career development (1)|
|Cooking (2)||Pets (1)|
|Vikings (1046)||Men (3)|
|Games (1)||Gambling (1)|
|Commercial (1)||Animals (3)|
|Dogs (3)||Gripes (1)|
|Newspapers (1)||Beer (6)|
|Minnesota wine retailers (1)||Wine retail + marketing (1)|
|Bad driving (1)||Commuting (1)|
|Family activities (1)||Style (2)|
|Pregnancy (1)||Car buying (1)|
|Retirement (1)||Shopping (1)|
|Chickens (2)||Fruit and berries (1)|
|Weather (1)||Internet (2)|
|Twitter (2)||Video games (2)|
|Web pick (1)||YouTube (1)|
|Birds in the backyard (1)||Business trends (2)|
|Loopholes (1)||Problems on the job (1)|
|The rich get richer (1)||Airlines (1)|
|Midwest getaways (1)||Road trips (1)|
|Skiing (1)||Travel deals (1)|
|Wisconsin (3)||Gopher road games (1)|
|TCF Bank Stadium (1)||NCAA: football (121)|
|Basketball on TV (2)||Gophers coaches (1)|
|Frozen Four (11)||North Dakota (1)|
|College hockey (20)||Fantasy football (12)|
|Golf (84)||Minnesota state tournaments (20)|
|Preps (8)||Soccer (90)|
|WNBA (16)||Wild news (8)|
|Wolves news (362)||NFC (2)|
|Super Bowl (1)||Vikings coaches (1)|
|Behind the scenes (3)||Celebrities (1)|
|Dance (1)||Local TV and radio (2)|
|Ex-players (1)||Injury report (2)|
|Baseball wisdom (1)||Target Field (251)|
|Twins fans (768)||Twins game coverage (17)|
|Twins management (3)||Twins offense (1)|
|Twins pitching (3)||NBA playoffs (1)|
|Wolves draft news (1)||Wolves guards (1)|
|Wolves players (9)||Values and morals (2)|
|Miscreants (1)||Wild coaching (43)|
|Wild game coverage (3)||Wild off-season news (1)|
|Wild player moves (3)||Wild pregame skate (1)|
|Wild trade news (1)||Movies (1)|
|Ortonville (2)||Brad Childress (1)|
|Stillwater (1)||Television (2)|
|NHL news (93)||Outdoors Women (1)|
|Olympics (2)||Olympic hockey (1)|
|Glen Perkins (1)||Health + Beauty (1)|
|Beer (2)||Wine (1)|
|Public safety (1)||Gophers (200)|