Minnesota Twins 2012 Preview

Projected Record: 72-90

Player 2012 Player 2012
C Joe Mauer 4.5 SP1 Carl Pavano 2.5
1B Justin Morneau 3.4 SP2 Scott Baker 3
2B Alexi Casilla 1.4 SP3 Francisco Liriano 1.7
SS Jamey Carroll 1.9 SP4 Jason Marquis 0.9
3B Danny Valencia 1.4 SP5 Nick Blackburn 0.7
LF Ben Revere 1.8 CP Matt Capps 0.6
CF Denard Span 3.3 RP Glen Perkins 1
RF Josh Willingham 2.7 RP Lester Oliveros 0.2
DH Ryan Doumit 2 RP Alex Burnett 0
Bench Trevor Plouffe 0.5 RP Anthony Swarzak 0.6
Bench Tsuyoshi Nishioka 0 RP Brian Duensing 0.5
Bench Drew Butera -0.4 RP Scott Diamond 0
Bench Luke Hughes 0.2
Bench Chris Parmelee 1
23.7 11.7

The Twins suffered through injuries to Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau last year on their way to the clubs’ worst record since 1999. Things aren’t looking too much better in 2012 for the Twins, as even with good performances from Mauer and Morneau, which isn’t a sure thing, they don’t really have enough other talent to compete. They don’t have a lot of prospects that are close to major league ready either, so it could be a couple more down years in Minnesota after being competitive nearly every year for the last decade.

A healthy Joe Mauer will be the biggest factor in the Twins improving on their 2011 performance. His variety of injuries/ailments last season contributed to him putting in by far the worst season of his career. He’s apparently healthy now, so his hitting is likely to come back strong, but it’s hard to say how many games he’ll end up playing this year, especially at catcher. Morneau’s outlook is a lot less certain, as he’s still suffering effects from his concussion back in June 2010. It sounds like he’s at least starting to come around, but I don’t think anywhere near a full season of play from Morneau can be counted on. Alexi Casilla, Jamey Carroll and Danny Valencia will start at 2nd, SS, and third respectively, although none of the three has a ton of upside. Casilla and Caroll figure to combine for about 2 homers this year, and both are no better than average defensively. Valencia was pretty good in 2010, and has a bit of pop, but really declined last year.

Ben Revere, Denard Span, and offseason signing Josh Willingham will play the outfield, and there are some questions there as well. Revere is very good defensively, but has yet to show that he can hit major league pitching. Span missed most of the last half of 2011 with concussion symptoms, and while he’s said to now be healthy, you can never tell when symptoms will pop up again. Even when healthy over the last two seasons though, Span hasn’t been able to repeat his numbers from 08-09 when he was worth a combined 7.3 fWAR. Willingham managed to hit 29 HR in 2011, even while playing half of his games in Oakland, but his walk rate and K rate both took a step in the wrong direction as well. If he can get his walk rate back up to almost 15%, which it was in 2010, he can be a valuable player, even though his defense is below average. Ryan Doumit will likely get the majority of PAs at DH, or at least share them with Mauer, where he could be above average if not being counted on for his defense. The bench will consist of Trevor Plouffe, Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Drew Butera and Luke Hughes. If Plouffe can improve his play he could get a lot of play in the middle infield. Chris Parmelee, who hit well in a late season callup, could also replace Morneau at first if he’s not healthy.

The Twins rotation isn’t anything to write home about either, being lead by Carl Pavano and Scott Baker. Pavano has been a solid innings eater the last two years, but isn’t really good for much more, while Baker has increased his K rate while keeping his BB rate low to become a very underrated starter. Francisco Liriano will be in the rotation as well, but he lost his command last year leading to a very poor performance a year after being a 6 WAR pitcher. Jason Marquis and Nick Blackburn close out the rotation, and I think 1 WAR is about the highest you can expect out of either. The bullpen is shallow as well, with Matt Capps as the closer, and being worse than replacement level last year. Glen Perkins was great last year, but it’s hard to say if he can repeat those numbers in his second season as a reliever. Lester Oliveros, Alex Burnett, Anthony Swarzak, Brian Duensing, and Scott Diamond should be in the bullpen as well, although Swarzak, Duensing, and Diamond could compete for a spot in the rotation as well. None of them project to be all that great.

The Twins outlook is bleak for 2012, and probably a couple years after that. They lost a few guys who played key parts in their last couple playoff seasons, and they don’t really have viable replacements for most of them. I think if the team is in last place by midseason, Willingham and Pavano could be traded in an attempt to get some prospects out of them.

Offseason Acquisitions: Josh Willingham, Jamey Carroll, Ryan Doumit, Jason Marquis

Offseason Losses: Michael Cuddyer, Jason Kubel, Matt Tolbert, Joe Nathan, Kevin Slowey, Jose Mijares

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