Startribune.com digital sports editor Howard Sinker used to cover the Twins and now shares season tickets with friends in Section 219 of Target Field. He blogs about baseball from the perspective of a long-time fan who loves the game, doesn’t always believe the hype and likes hearing what others think. Howard sometimes talks about sports with Cathy Wurzer on MPR's Morning Edition.
All reports are that the Twins received a can't-miss prospect for Denard Span, the very good leadoff hitter and pretty good center fielder who has been moved to a team that has enough of everything to be a legitimate World Series threat.
Where does this leave the Twins?
Too soon to tell. How we're feeling about the Twins in 2013, which is a rightful concern in addition to looking down the road, depends on what Terry Ryan does in the coming weeks.
The challenge is to get beyond the idea that the Twins have to lose 95 games in 2013 to be in position to win 95 or more in the years ahead when the organization's talented youngsters will be ready to join whatever solid core of veterans exists at the time.
Trading Span and losing Scott Baker has pretty much shrunken the Twins veteran core to seven players -- Mauer, Morneau, Willingham, Doumit, Carroll, Perkins and Burton. Jared Burton is the only one without a contract for next season, but you can figure on those seven taking up about $56 million of the team's payroll.
Payroll history: Carl Pavano's $9 million, Baker's $6.5 million, Francisco Liriano's $5 million, Matt Capps' $4.5 million, Tsuyoshi Nishioka's $3 million, Denard's $3 million and Alexi Casilla's $1.4 million.
If you assume that Justin Morneau's $14 million and Jamey Carroll's $3.75 million will come off the books next year -- and the Twins opt to spend extra knowing they won't be paying them starting in 2014 -- Ryan has an ample checkbook to work with when the winter meetings start next week in Nashville.
You can go all over the web to find people who will name who the Twins should pursue, and I'm not going there right now.
One reason: The list of available talent will change substantially late tonight, which is the deadline for teams to offer contracts to arbitration-eligible players for 2013. There will be players who for one reason or another or another are no longer fits for their current teams and could well help the Twins in the short term.
I will give Twins management enough credit to know that it can't put a stripped-down product on the field in 2013 while waiting for its youngsters to be ready. In the expanded-playoff world, the Twins need to put together a roster that can at least be among the teams looking to be in the chase if things break right.
I'll also repeat what I've said before, that it's sad things have plummeted to where they are.
But now it's time to look ahead. I'm expecting Ryan to be one of the busiest men in baseball over the next month or so, and to create a roster that will excite us for 2013.
That'll make me a happier camper than I've been when thinking about the Twins lately.
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