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TwinsCentric: Accelerating the rebuild timeline

Posted by: Nick Nelson Updated: April 24, 2013 - 12:35 AM

When healthy, Joe Mauer is one of baseball’s elite players, and a fitting centerpiece for a championship-caliber team. The Twins are aware of this, which is why they locked him up with a $184 million contract back in 2010.

When they committed to paying the hometown star $23 million annually for eight years – up until he’s 35 – the Twins knew that the best value in the deal was likely to come on the front end. That’s just a natural facet of baseball and pro sports in general; players are at their best around their late 20s and tend to decline as they age into their 30s while athleticism, quickness and durability gradually erode. That’s especially true for a career catcher with a history of leg injuries.

None of that means Mauer is bound to turn into a pumpkin any time soon, but as you watch him right now – 30 years old, fully healthy for the first time in ages – you’re looking at one of the game’s premier players. We can’t take for granted that he will continue to play at this level forever, especially while remaining at catcher. His unparalleled approach at the plate means he’ll probably be a good hitter until the day he retires, but Mauer simply won’t be able to affect games in the same way if he’s a plodding designated hitter or first baseman. Like it or not, that’s in his future at some point down the line.

Despite their strong start to the season, the Twins would probably admit that they’re not currently within a window of contention. It’s in their best interest to enter one sooner rather than later, and while there are various reasons for that, Mauer has to rank near the top of the list. All the talk we heard during the offseason about how the organization should set its sights on competing in 2016 never made any sense; are the Twins just supposed to let three potentially great years from one of the best players in franchise history go to waste while waiting for prospects to (hopefully) grow into big-league contributors?

Fortunately, the rebuilding timeline doesn’t presently look as daunting as some feared. In part, that’s because a couple guys that the Twins expect to be part of their next contending core – Aaron Hicks and Oswaldo Arcia – are already getting their feet wet in the big leagues. Meanwhile, Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton are obliterating their current levels and could be on the move more quickly than anticipated.

Of course, pitching is the key piece in this equation, and in that department the Twins also seem headed rapidly in the right direction. Newly acquired starter Alex Meyer – who, let’s face it, might be the single most important prospect in the system with the way the organization has put all its eggs in the “potential ace” basket – is off to a torrid start in New Britain with a 1.69 ERA and plenty of strikeouts through three starts. His teammate and fellow fresh acquisition Trevor May has also flashed some dominance, though his typical command issues remain present. Kyle Gibson has been solid in Triple-A.

It seems likely that at least two, and maybe all three, of these young hurlers will get a chance to pitch in the majors at some point this year, positioning them to help fill out a rotation that already features one or two quality long-term pieces.

Put it all together, knock on some wood, and you’ve got an organization headed toward an ideal scenario: a group of capable young players with a bit of experience surrounding a still prime-aged superstar, with plenty of money available to fill in holes as needed.


Los Angeles 11 Top 6th Inning
Chicago Cubs 3
Boston - A. Webster 6:05 PM
Baltimore - K. Gausman
Milwaukee - Y. Gallardo 6:05 PM
Pittsburgh - J. Locke
Toronto - M. Buehrle 6:05 PM
NY Yankees - H. Kuroda
Washington - D. Fister 6:10 PM
Miami - T. Koehler
Chicago WSox - J. Quintana 6:10 PM
Tampa Bay - J. Hellickson
NY Mets - Z. Wheeler 6:35 PM
Atlanta - J. Teheran
Cleveland - T. Bauer 7:10 PM
Minnesota - P. Hughes
Detroit - J. Verlander 7:10 PM
Kansas City - J. Vargas
Seattle - T. Walker 7:10 PM
Houston - B. Peacock
Arizona - C. Anderson 7:10 PM
Colorado - J. Lyles
Cincinnati - D. Holmberg 7:15 PM
St. Louis - J. Lackey
Philadelphia - D. Buchanan 8:35 PM
Oakland - J. Lester
Texas - L. Bonilla 9:05 PM
LA Angels - H. Santiago
San Francisco - T. Hudson 9:10 PM
San Diego - O. Despaigne
San Diego 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Dallas 9/21/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Houston 9/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Green Bay 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Oakland 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New England
San Francisco 9/21/14 3:05 PM
Denver 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Kansas City 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh 9/21/14 7:30 PM
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
(5) Auburn 20 FINAL
(20) Kansas State 14
Connecticut 7:00 PM
So Florida
Old Dominion 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Troy 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Georgia Tech 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Virginia Tech
Eastern Mich 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Iowa 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Bowling Green 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Maryland 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Tulane 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Hawaii 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Marshall 9/20/14 1:00 PM
North Carolina 9/20/14 2:30 PM
East Carolina
Army 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Virginia 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(21) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Rutgers 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Central Mich 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Utah 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Florida 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(3) Alabama
Louisville 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Fla Atlantic 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Indiana 9/20/14 3:00 PM
(18) Missouri
San Jose St 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Texas State 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Massachusetts 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Penn State
Georgia State 9/20/14 5:00 PM
Appalachian St 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Miss State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
(8) LSU
Northern Ill 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Middle Tennessee 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Utah State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Miami-Ohio 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Idaho 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Ohio U
Ball State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
(14) So Carolina 9/20/14 6:30 PM
(4) Oklahoma 9/20/14 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Ga Southern 9/20/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
UNLV 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(22) Clemson 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State
Miami-Florida 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
New Mexico 9/20/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 9/20/14 9:00 PM
Louisiana 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Boise State
(2) Oregon 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
San Diego St 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(25) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(12) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:00 AM
NC State
Duke 9/27/14 2:00 AM
North Carolina 9/27/14 2:00 AM
(22) Clemson
Colorado 9:00 PM
Real Salt Lake
Toronto 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Edmonton 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Calgary 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Ottawa 9/21/14 3:00 PM
Montreal 9/26/14 6:00 PM
Saskatchewan 9/26/14 9:00 PM
Hamilton 9/27/14 5:30 PM
Brt Columbia 9/27/14 8:30 PM


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