Rand: Twins roster upheaval is simply reality

  • Article by: MICHAEL RAND , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 2, 2013 - 11:53 PM

The M&M Boys have been broken up, with Justin Morneau's trade to Pittsburgh on Saturday.

Photo: Elizabeth Flores, Star Tribune

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The MLB standings offer a daily reminder that this is not 2010. OK, a simple calendar and Miley Cyrus can also do the same thing, but bear with us.

The Twins’ perch atop the AL Central is long gone, even if it was just three years ago that they won 94 games and looked to have one of their deepest postseason rosters of the Ron Gardenhire era.

Evidence of a full-scale rebuild is simple enough to see in the new standings, as the Twins try to fend off the White Sox in an attempt to stay out of the cellar. But in the wake of the Justin Morneau trade, a roster comparison between this year and the Twins’ last good season provides an even more stark reminder.

Joe Mauer is the only regular position player from 2010 who remains with the team, and there is no guarantee he will play again this season. The Opening Day lineup that year featured Denard Span, Orlando Hudson, Mauer, Morneau, Michael Cuddyer, Jason Kubel, Delmon Young, J.J. Hardy and Nick Punto, with Jim Thome coming off the bench to pinch hit.

Five pitchers made at least 25 starts: Carl Pavano, Scott Baker, Francisco Liriano, Nick Blackburn and Kevin Slowey. Blackburn is still cashing checks from the Twins this season, though he has not appeared in a major league game. The rest are gone.

Even the bullpen has experienced massive turnover. Brian Duensing was a key pitcher in 2010 and remains so now. Glen Perkins? He was an afterthought on the 2010 Twins, appearing in only 13 games as he worked his way out of purgatory. And that’s it. No other pitcher from that team is still on the Twins.

The roster turnover was still stark before the Morneau trade, but Saturday’s news felt like a final blow. Mauer isn’t going anywhere with a $23 million per year contract through 2018 and a no-trade clause.

Maybe Morneau will return in free agency after a monthlong rental in Pittsburgh. If not, though, one of the last remaining links to better days is gone. Upheaval is a fact of life in sports these days, and new young players could soon make the Twins relevant.

The Twins can hope they usher in a new era. What we know for certain, though, is that the old good-times era is over.

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