Home Ballpark: Target Field
2014 Finish: 70 – 92 · 5th AL Central
Over/Under Wins in 2015: 68.5 · Under
What We Love:
- The (Very) Bright Future: Remember the days when the Twins were the dominant force in the AL Central? From 2000-10, the Twins captured the division six times. They were arguably, along with the A’s, one of the best teams to not make a World Series appearance during the 2000’s. Those days seem as distant as the days of Kirby Puckett manning CF at the old Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. In the past few seasons, the Twins franchise has been more synonymous with losing than it has been with winning, as it has had four straight seasons with 90 losses or more. This isn’t the first time that the Twins have suffered through four straight 90+ loss seasons, the last time it happened (1997-2000) was right before they went off on their decade run of success. And it looks like the Twins days of losing could be coming to an end sooner rather than later. The Twins have one of the deepest farm systems in MLB (ranked 2nd by ESPN’s Keith Law) and have two of the biggest prospects in the game in OF Byron Buxton and 3B/SS Miguel Sano. Buxton, who was drafted 2nd overall in 2012, is the epitome of a five tool player and has an absolute, limitless ceiling. One report said that, “his ceiling is Willie Mays, while his floor is Torii Hunter.” Not a bad scouting report at all. The Twins won’t rush Bux, but his toolbox might force their hands earlier than they would like. Sano, on the other hand, seems like he has been a top prospect since he signed as an International Free Agent back in 2009. Sano could have been poised to start the 2015 campaign in Minnesota if it wasn’t for missing the entire 2014 season following Tommy John surgery. At a listed 6’4, 260, Sano has some of the biggest power in the minors and 40 HR in the future wouldn’t be a stretch. Behind the duo of Bux and Sano, the Twins also have highly touted pitching prospects Alex Meyer, Jose Berrios and Kohl Stewart, as well as Dee Gordon’s little brother, Nick, who is a SS prospect.
- Brian Dozier’s combo of power and speed at 2B. Dozier has the skill set to become the best player to man the keystone position in the Twin Cities since the days of Chuck Knoblauch.
- Paul Molitor getting his first MLB manager position with his hometown Twins.
- Being the focal point for one of the (pound for pound) best baseball movie montages in cinema history: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZShTLOpQlTg
What We Hate:
- Overpaying For (Mediocre) Starting Pitching: In 2013, Mike Pelfrey signed a 1yr/$4mil deal with the Twins in the hopes of re-establishing his value following Tommy John surgery. Pelfrey would go on to have the worst season of his career; posting a 5-13 record with a 5.18 ERA in 25 starts. Astoundingly, the Twins not only resigned him, but they also gave him a raise and an additional year on his contract (2yrs/$11mil). Pelfrey rewarded the Twins with an 0-3 record and an ERA of 7.99 in 5 starts, before undergoing season ending surgery on his elbow, groin and shoulder. Aside from Pelfrey, the Twins are also committed to three more years of Ricky Nolasco at $12 million per year. Nolasco, was one of the free agent pitchers, Phil Hughes being the other, brought in during the 2013 offseason to help make the Twins more competitive. But while Hughes enjoyed success in his first year in Minnesota, Nolasco struggled to a 6-12 record with a 5.38 ERA in 27 starts. The Twins will need more out of Nolasco in 2015, not only so they can be somewhat competitive, but also to make him more attractive as a potential trade chip at the deadline. Although not nearly as mediocre as the likes of Pelfrey and Nolasco, the Twins did overpay for four years of Ervin Santana, as they inked the RHP to a 4yr/$55mil contract in the offseason. Not sure why the Twins would shell out money to bring in another mid rotation starter.
- The Twins taking the title of “Worst Offensive Team” from the Padres.
- The remaining 4yrs/$92 million dollars left on Joe Mauer’s contract.
- The fans who believe that the Twins would be better without Joe Mauer.
- Not seeing the familiar face of Ron Gardenhire in the Twins dugout. Gardenhire was the Twins manager from 2002 to 2014.
Player to Watch: SP Alex Meyer. It’s not every day that a 6’9 giant stumbles down from his beanstalk, picks up a baseball over a basketball, and learns how to throw it with control. But that is the case with Twins top pitching prospect, Alex Meyer. Meyer, who was acquired from the Nationals for Denard Span in the 2012 offseason, uses his immense frame and arsenal to generate high amounts of both strikeouts and groundballs. The hard throwing Meyer also marks a change in the Twins usual preference of soft tossing, finesse pitchers. The Twins are in dire need of an impact arm that can anchor their rotation. In Meyer, they may have found that.
Top Pitching Prospect: Jose Berrios · RHP · MLB ETA: 2015
Top Positional Prospect: Byron Buxton · OF · MLB ETA: 2016
Top 30 Prospects (MLB.com): http://m.mlb.com/prospects/2015?list=min
Final Prediction: 5th AL Central