It's been a season full of malady and sorrow for the Minnesota Twins, and last night's Triple-A lineup might have exemplified this more than ever. Plenty of time has been spent -- and will be spent -- going over all the things that went wrong and all the things that must be done to get this franchise back on track.
Today, I thought I'd take a break from the doom-and-gloom, and grasp for some positives within this pitiful season. Believe it or not, there are a few (and I do mean few) things we can look at for encouragement. They're listed below, as I see them. Feel free to add your own.
1. High draft pick in 2012.
This stands out as perhaps the most significant bonus to come out of the Twins' lousy performance this season. At present, only two teams in baseball have a worse record, which puts Minnesota in line for the third overall pick in next year's draft. If they continue to tank here in the final month, which seems likely based on where things are headed, that slot could continue to improve.
Between Miguel Sano, Aaron Hicks, Oswaldo Sosa, Eddie Rosario and Adrian Salcedo, the organization's most intriguing minor-league talent rests in the lower levels. Next June the Twins will have the opportunity to add one of the top amateur players in the nation to that mix, so in three or four years we could be looking a truly exciting wave of youth at Target Field.
2. Experience for the kids.
Trevor Plouffe and Ben Revere have accrued more at-bats than expected this year, and while both have experienced their share of growing pains, that's not necessarily such a bad thing.
The Twins will be in a financial crunch next season, so the ability to use players who are making the league minimum in starting roles would be hugely beneficial. It's not clear that either Plouffe or Revere are ready to be assets as starters yet, but they both will enter the offseason with a good idea of where they need to improve in order to get there.
3. Sense of urgency for the front office.
Since 2002, the Twins' three most successful seasons -- in terms of wins -- have been 2004, 2006 and 2010. Not coincidentally, the offseasons that followed have been the front office's three least active during that span. If there's one thing the Twins have shown over the years, it's that success makes them complacent.
As bad as things have gotten, Bill Smith and Co. won't have that luxury this winter. Fans will be hungry for a shake-up, and over the years the team has generally been willing to provide just that in the wake of a disappointing campaign.
After the the Twins missed the playoffs in 2005, Terry Ryan traded prospects for Luis Castillo, shoring up a longstanding hole at second base. After the club finished below .500 in 2007, Smith took over and made several big moves, including the Delmon Young and Johan Santana trades.
What will the front office have in store for us this winter? You can bet some significant moves will be coming. Let's just hope they do more good than the rest of Smith's tinkering over the past 12 months.