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TwinsCentric: Morales signing signals shift in team's mindset

Posted by: Nick Nelson Updated: June 10, 2014 - 2:21 PM

The last time I can remember the Twins making a "win now" move was prior to the 2011 season, when they re-signed Carl Pavano and Jim Thome in an effort to recapture the magic that led to 94 wins and a playoff berth in the first season at Target Field.

You can argue that these weren't especially wise moves, but they were clearly aimed at a goal of short-term winning. Pavano, 35, was signed for two years and cost the Twins a potential draft pick. Thome, 40, was signed for one year.

Things obviously fell apart during that season, and in the years since, while the Twins have made a lot of moves -- some of them very good moves -- I don't think any could be described as aggressive "win-now" maneuvers.

Not until now.

Over the weekend, the Twins announced that they have signed Kendrys Morales for the remainder of the 2014 campaign, at a hefty prorated $12 million salary. That's a significant spend for a player whose sole purpose is to make this team better right now.

What prompted this uncharacteristic shift in approach? In part, it might be frustration. The Twins have been waiting, and waiting, and waiting for their top prospects to progress through the minors and help propel the big-league club forward, only to be met with a seemingly endless string of setbacks.

Miguel Sano's elbow, Byron Buxton's wrist, Eddie Rosario's suspension… they have all pushed the arrivals of potential difference-makers backward, leaving the team in perpetual limbo.

And then there are the outside factors in play. You've got a manager and GM who are -- at least to some extent -- on the hot seat after three straight 90-loss seasons. You've got a ballpark with dwindling attendance numbers. And you've got a club with tons of extra money on hand after falling well short of its spending limit during the offseason.

On top of all that, the Twins are in last place but only five games out of first, and closer than that to wild-card position. So as Terry Ryan aptly put it when discussing the Morales signing, "Why not us?"

To be clear, Morales is not a slam-dunk signing nor a perfect fit. He hasn't played since September of 2013, and in the two seasons since his devastating leg injury with the Angels he has been a good but not spectacular hitter. He also has limited defensive versatility, so working him into the lineup around young guys who need to be playing, like Josmil Pinto and Oswaldo Arcia, will be a challenge.

But the bottom line is that Morales is a massive upgrade over the guy he's replacing on the roster (Jason Kubel), and he's a bat that you can immediately slot into the middle of the lineup. This isn't a move that suddenly turns the Twins into a World Series contender, but it does significantly boost their chances of hanging around .500 and remaining relevant late into the season.

Even more importantly, though, it indicates that the Twins are finally back in a mindset where they're focused on winning baseball games now, not next year or the year after. For fans who have endured some brutal results in recent years, that is a tremendously encouraging development.

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Minnesota «0110010115112
@Ballpark Replay
Preview | Matchup | Lineup | Log | Wrap | Box
W:J.Burton(3-5) L:K.Crockett(4-1)
HR: CLE- M.Brantley (20) MIN- O.Arcia (19), K.Vargas (9)

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Los Angeles - WP: C. Kershaw 14 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - LP: E. Jackson 5
Boston - WP: J. Tazawa 5 FINAL
Baltimore - LP: D. O`Day 3
Milwaukee - LP: J. Broxton 2 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: J. Holdzkom 4
Toronto - LP: M. Buehrle 3 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: H. Kuroda 5
Washington - WP: D. Fister 3 FINAL
Miami - LP: T. Koehler 2
Chicago WSox - WP: J. Quintana 4 FINAL
Tampa Bay - LP: J. Hellickson 3
NY Mets - WP: Z. Wheeler 5 FINAL
Atlanta - LP: J. Teheran 0
Cleveland - LP: K. Crockett 4 FINAL
Minnesota - WP: J. Burton 5
Detroit - WP: J. Verlander 10 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: J. Vargas 1
Seattle - WP: T. Walker 10 FINAL
Houston - LP: B. Peacock 5
Arizona - LP: C. Anderson 3 FINAL
Colorado - WP: J. Lyles 15
Cincinnati - LP: D. Holmberg 1 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: J. Lackey 2
Philadelphia - LP: D. Buchanan 1 FINAL
Oakland - WP: J. Lester 3
Texas - WP: L. Bonilla 12 FINAL
LA Angels - LP: H. Santiago 3
San Francisco - LP: T. Hudson 0 FINAL
San Diego - WP: O. Despaigne 5
San Diego 9/21/14 12:00 PM
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Dallas 9/21/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
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New England
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Miami
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Carolina
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
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Washington
(5) Auburn 20 FINAL
(20) Kansas State 14
Connecticut 14 FINAL
So Florida 17
Old Dominion 11:00 AM
Rice
Troy 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Georgia Tech 11:00 AM
Virginia Tech
Eastern Mich 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Iowa 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Maryland 11:30 AM
Syracuse
Tulane 11:30 AM
Duke
Hawaii 1:00 PM
Colorado
Marshall 1:00 PM
Akron
North Carolina 2:30 PM
East Carolina
Army 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Virginia 2:30 PM
(21) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 2:30 PM
SMU
Rutgers 2:30 PM
Navy
Central Mich 2:30 PM
Kansas
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Michigan
Florida 2:30 PM
(3) Alabama
Louisville 2:30 PM
FIU
Fla Atlantic 3:00 PM
Wyoming
Indiana 3:00 PM
(18) Missouri
San Jose St 3:00 PM
Minnesota
Texas State 3:00 PM
Illinois
Massachusetts 3:00 PM
Penn State
Georgia State 5:00 PM
Washington
Appalachian St 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Miss State 6:00 PM
(8) LSU
Northern Ill 6:00 PM
Arkansas
Middle Tennessee 6:00 PM
Memphis
Utah State 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Miami-Ohio 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Idaho 6:00 PM
Ohio U
Ball State 6:00 PM
Toledo
(14) So Carolina 6:30 PM
Vanderbilt
(4) Oklahoma 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Ga Southern 6:30 PM
South Alabama
UNLV 7:00 PM
Houston
(22) Clemson 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State
Miami-Florida 7:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
New Mexico 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 9:00 PM
Arizona
Louisiana 9:30 PM
Boise State
(2) Oregon 9:30 PM
Washington St
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Oregon State
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(25) Oklahoma State
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Ga Southern
(12) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
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(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:00 AM
NC State
Duke 9/27/14 2:00 AM
Miami-Florida
North Carolina 9/27/14 2:00 AM
(22) Clemson
Colorado 1 FINAL
Real Salt Lake 5
Toronto 40 FINAL
Brt Columbia 23
Edmonton 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Calgary 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Ottawa 9/21/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Montreal 9/26/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 9/26/14 9:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/27/14 5:30 PM
Winnipeg
Brt Columbia 9/27/14 8:30 PM
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