The end of 2012 is quickly approaching; as such, we have compiled a list of the top 12 Minnesota sports stories -- positive or negative -- from the year. We'll be counting them down every weekday from now until Jan. 1, when the top story will run. Here is No. 4:
The Twins' second consecutive 90-loss season. Despite contributions from Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau as well as a smashing debut from new outfielder Josh Willingham, the Twins could not avoid finishing with the worst record in the American League for the second consecutive season -- establishing that 2011 was more likely the beginning of a trend than a mirage.
Pitching woes dominated the Target Field chatter. Twins starting pitchers posted 62 "quality starts" in 2012. No other team in the AL had fewer than 69. Their starters also threw a league-low 880 innings. Clearly something needed to change.
The Twins entered the offseason on a mission to upgrade their pitching, both for the present and for the future. We won't know how successful they have been for months (or in some cases years), but they have certainly been active. By trading outfielders Denard Span and Ben Revere, they received promising young starters for the future as well as a 2013 answer in Vance Worley. In free agency, they have brought in Kevin Correia and Mike Pelfrey while also taking a flier on Rich Harden on a minor league deal.
At the very least, they are giving Ron Gardenhire more options as he heads into the final year of his contract with a retooled field staff. It sets up a very interesting 2013 season -- one that could signal the start of a rebound for the Twins as we know them or trigger even more changes.