Joe Mauer (Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports)
After taking a trip around the American League this month, it is still something I need to get used to, we finish up by taking a look at the Minnesota Twins. Aside from the Chicago Cubs, the Twins are the closest comparison you can find to the Astros.
Prediction: 5th Place American League Central
Additions & Subtractions:
As should be the case with a young and up and coming team, there was not a lot of noise in this department for the Twins over the winter. The rotation needed a lot of help, and while they did spend money to improve it, I’m not sure how much of an effect it will have.
Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes are two pitchers on the younger sides of their careers, but both are past the stage of being considered prospects or pitchers on the rise. Pitching in Minnesota’s large ballpark will help, and while they could surprise some, neither qualify as top of the rotation options. But they are both better than Vance Worley who after starting last year on Opening Day was recently jettisoned to Pittsburgh.
After filing in both behind the plate and in the outfield last season, Ryan Doumit now calls Atlanta home. With Joe Mauer now calling first base his permanent home, new addition Kurt Suzuki will help fill that void along with prospect Josmil Pinto. Jason Kubel also returns to Minnesota and will see some at bats at DH.
There isn’t much to talk about here beyond Mauer. With the move to first base, the hope is that he will remain healthy and be the centerpiece of the lineup.
The starting pitching beyond Nolasco and Hughes is quite thin. There really is not much power in the lineup, and every lineup spot has question marks aside from Mauer.
Over the past two seasons Oswaldo Arcia has shown in flashes that he can be a legitimate middle of the order run producer for the Twins and also serve as right-handed protection for Mauer. Whether or not he takes the next steps in 2014 will determine how bad the season is for the Twins. Brian Dozier is another young player who has shown some potential and could help make the season a little more respectable.