Minnesota Twins Baseball Club: Mergers and Acquisitions (Team Preview)
I dare anyone to look at the Twins official depth chart right now and keep their gag reflex in check. Correia as the ace, Presely in CF, Plouffe trying to catch balls at 3B. Gruesome. The Twins are much like a geode: not much to look at from the outside, but if you hit it with a sledgehammer, you can find some beauty deep within. So let’s crack this rock and see what we can find.
Here are the major moves the Twins have pulled the trigger on so far during this offseason:
Arrivals: IF Jason Bartlett, (Free Agent MLC), P Sean Gilmartin (Trade for Doumit), SP Phil Hughes (Free Agent), OF Jason Kubel (Free Agent MLC), SP Ricky Nolasco (Free Agent), SP Mike Pelfrey (Re-Sign Free Agent), C Kurt Suzuki (Free Agent)
Spring Training Invitees and other Minor League Contracts: 2B James Beresford , RHP Deolis Guerra, LHP Matt Hoffman, CF Jermaine Mitchell, RHP Yohan Pino, LF Chris Rahl, RF Wilkin Ramirez, C Dan Rohlfing, 3B Deibinson Romero, LHP Aaron Thompson, RHP Jon Velasquez, 3B Brandon Waring, 1B C.J. Ziegler
Biggest “Move”: Joe Mauer to 1B
Moves to Watch: What happens with Miguel Angel Sano, Byron Buxton? To a lesser extent, it'll also be important to watch the development of Kyle Gibson, Alex Meyer, Vance Worley and the long-lost Aaron Hicks. It is in the minor leagues that the Twins organization will look to bring talent and attention.
As you may have noticed, the Twins have forked over an historical amount of dough to bolster their starting pitching for next season. None of the names are blockbusters for a big-market team, but for us grey ducks in Minnesota, they have some flair. We pine for the days of 2003 with homegrown Radke, Mays, and Milton, and for journeymen Reed and Rogers. Hughes, Nolasco, Correia, Pelfrey and suitor number five are a decent rotation until the promising minor league guns can develop. Let's look a bit closer at some of the new arrivals.
What to expect from the new guys:
Phil Hughes SP (2013: 145.2 IP, 4 - 14, 5.19 ERA, 121 K, 1.45 WHIP)
The Twins see more upside in Mr. Hughes than most sane people do. He is a former All Star who has shown glimmers of brilliance, but they were few and far between. He’s shown he can strike a few guys out, but he has trouble keeping them off the bases. He should improve on last season's 4-14 record, and he has to bring the ERA down, but the Twins won't be able to score the runs he will need to bring his win totals up. If he goes over 180 innings, he will still be an improvement for the organization at the major league level. I wouldn't expect much from him in 2014, and he definitely should be left on the waiver wire in most leagues.
Ricky Nolasco SP (2013: 199.1 IP, 13-11, 3.70 ERA, 165 K,1.20 WHIP)
Mr. Nolasco will be the only Twins SP you will want to take a flier on in most standard leagues. If he isn’t the Opening Day starter, I would be surprised. In the early season, that may hurt his win-loss record, but he has shown he can be a consistent starter for fantasy owners. My holdup on Nolasco is that he has been strictly an NL pitcher up until this point, and his ERA and WHIP are sure to see some inflation in 2014. He is the only Twins starter who should even be considered in your fantasy draft, but I don't expect him to put a ton of wins on the board. The strikeouts and a serviceable ERA are the main dish for Nolasco.
Kurt Suzuki C ( 2013: 25 R, 5 HR, 32 RBI, 2 SB, .232 BA, .290 OBP)
Mr. Suzuki is a veteran catcher who will be mainly used to ease Josmil Pinto into an everyday role. I could see him becoming an everyday player if there were some injuries, but he would still only have AL-Only value if that were to happen. He is one of the many Twins players that will not be selected on draft day.
As you can see, the Twins don’t have much to offer fantasy owners unless you play in a Dynasty or AL-Only format. Their pitching will be mostly provide fantasy spot starts for owners who are looking to stream in a lucky matchup or two. Mauer is the stud in the lineup, and his move to 1B only makes him even more valuable than ever as a C in fantasyland. Glen Perkins will continue to be a sleeper closer. If and when Miguel Sano comes up, he will be a fresh power UTIL or 3B if you are desperate for power from your infielders. Jason Barltett and Jason Kubel will certainly be minor league contracts to watch, but don’t expect them to make too much of a fantasy splash this season. Those guys are really just insurance for the iffy major league lineup, but they shouldn't be insurance for your iffy fantasy lineup!
TL:DR The Twins have added some arms to the their major league roster, but you would be better off keeping track of their minor-league talent.
Keep your eyes peeled here at RotoBaller for a complete team preview!
Trivia: Q: Of the five Twins pitchers to throw a no-hitter, who is the only one to do so on the road? A: Dean Chance. Aug 26th, 1967 against the Cleveland Indians. He got the no-hitter while allowing one run, the Twins won 2-1. Still more impressive than Liriano’s six-walk mess of a no-hitter!