The Minnesota ball club revamps its lineup once again
Sports | Neil Vance for The Clarion
Previously a pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies, Vance Worley should provide stability for the Twins' starting rotation. | Photo for The Clarion courtesy of MCT
The idea that hope springs eternal is true in a variety of settings, but perhaps none more regularly than during Major League Baseball’s spring training.
Not only is baseball back, a sign to many that is spring here – or just around the corner for those of us in still-frigid Minnesota – but players are reporting in the best shape of their lives, and every team is undefeated with high hopes for the upcoming season.
While that's certainly the case for Twins fans as well, two straight years of last-place finishes and flirtations with 100-loss seasons have undoubtedly put a bit of a damper on spring training. Throw in the loss of fan favorites Denard Span and Ben Revere in a pair of trades, and there aren’t many Twins fans with high expectations for the coming season.
However, there are glimmers of hope. The Twins were well-represented in the prospect rankings, and many experts have tagged the Twins’ farm system as the second-best in baseball. In fact, six of those minor leaguers have been named among the top 100 prospects in the game.
General manager Terry Ryan addressed the biggest offseason concern; the starting rotation. Beyond the trades that netted proven starter Vance Worley and prospects Alex Meyer and Trevor May, Ryan also brought in a pair of veteran arms with Mike Pelfrey and Kevin Correia, who should eat some innings and bridge the gap until those younger pitchers are ready to contribute long-term.
Last year’s struggles proved that the importance of acquiring quality pitching cannot be overemphasized.
“Pitching is a huge part of determining a team’s success,” said junior Twins fan Chelsey Falzone. “It’s no secret we needed pitching, and that’s what Ryan shopped for, so he did his job.”
Although Meyer, May and top pitching prospect Kyle Gibson seem a year away from being locked into the rotation, they and Worley – as well as last year’s ace Scott Diamond – provide at least some depth.
With offensive stars Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau and Josh Willingham healthy, scoring runs shouldn’t be the biggest problem. If the team swings well and pitches materialize, it’s possible that the Twins could reclaim their dominant position in the American League Central Division. Still, many fans have accepted that one more rebuilding year may be in the Twins’ future.
“I expect the Twins to finish last in the division again this season,” senior Erik Beck admitted. “It’s possible that they could compete for the playoffs if they get solid play, both in the field and at the plate from their middle infield and whoever fills in for Revere and Span in the outfield, but it is probably unlikely.”
Falzone agreed. “Playoffs?” she said. “Ask me in a couple years.”
While the rebuilding process is never fun for anyone involved, the possibility of reloading the team with talent and experience to regain the success it has had in the ALCD for much of the past decade makes it well worth it.