La Velle E. Neal III has covered baseball for the Star Tribune since 1998 (the post-Knoblauch era). Born and raised in Chicago, he grew up following the White Sox and hating the Cubs. He attended both the University of Illinois and Illinois-Chicago and began his baseball writing career at the Kansas City Star. He can be heard occasionally on KFAN radio, lending his great baseball mind to Paul Allen and other hosts. Mark Rosen borrows him occasionally for WCCO-TV.

Twins postgame thought from LEN3: Now what?

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: October 3, 2012 - 10:18 PM

Just one thought tonight.

How can they turn this thing around and go from worst to first?

Twins GM Terry Ryan is going to meet with members of the coaching staff starting tomorrow morning, and a couple of them might be told that they are being replaced. After two last-place finishes, the club might feel compelled to shake up the staff.

But bad management and coaching doesn't lead to 96-loss seasons. When you're that crummy, it's the talent.

We have harped on starting pitching, and it's crucial that they strengthen the rotation with two guys who can give them at least 180 innings, preferably 200, to go with Scott Diamond. That doesn't count Kyle Gibson or Scott Baker (if he's brought back as a reduced salary) because their innings will be restricted in their first full seasons back from Tommy John surgery. And the Twins can't be sure if Baker is going to be ready by Opening Day, given his track record.

The recovery doesn't begin until there's better starting pitching.

Now, tell me who will start at second, third and short? Trevor Plouffe, after one great run of power hitting this summer, has put doubt back in the minds of some folks. His homer rate slowed down considerably in the second half and people are not happy with his defense.

Pedro Florimon and Eduardo Escobar are good defensive players, but will they hit? There's room on the club for one all-glove player, not two. It will be interesting next season to see where the Twins play Brian Dozier. I was thinking second base but now I'm wondering about third base,

You think of the Twins' free agent moves last offseason, and two didn't work out. Joel Zumaya re-injured himself and Jason Marquis needed to go back to the National League. Josh Willingham was a steal. Ryan Doumit was the perfect signing for what the Twins need in backup catcher-utility masher. Jamey Carroll brings a lot of professionalism to the club. Jared Burton was a great find.

All these moves helped - AND THEY STILL LOST 96 GAMES!!!!

The Twins need another offseason in which they nail four free agent signings - preferably pitching - in addition to a key trade. That's the only way they will stop being the caboose of the A.L. Central train.

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