2012 Minnesota Twins Season Preview
What can be said about a 99-lose season? Not much in fact. Last year was so embarrassing that long time Twins radio announcer John Gordon retired. We also lost Michael Cuddyer, Jason Kubel, and Joe Nathan who all three bolted for a fresh start in Denver, Arizona and Texas respectively. It was not all that bad this off season, the Twins did sign Ryan Doumit, Jamey Carroll, and Josh Willingham, and replaced Bill Smith with Terry Ryan as General Manager.
Willingham is a very good pick up, because he practically replaces Cuddyer for a lot less money, and had better numbers then Cuddyer last year. Carrol is a typical Terry Ryan move, hes cheap, and plays above-average infield. Doumit is going to be a great DH, and back up catcher for this team.
There has been one thing that has bothered me this off season, and that is how negative fans have been towards this organization lately. I know 99-lose season is horrible, but should I remind you that the Twins have been in this spot before? Lets flash back to 1990 the Twins finished dead last in the American League, and turned it around and went worst-to-first in 1991. I am not predicting that the Twins will do that, and face the Houston Astros who also finished last in the National League last year, and face off in the World Series like the Atlanta Braves did with the Twins in 1991, but this years Twins team is poised to turn it around.
There are a lot of similarities between 1991 Twins and 2012 Twins. They both had or could have one of the best rotation in the game(1991 Jack Morris and Scott Erickson), and this year Francisco Liriano and Scott Baker have the talent to become Cy Young caliber pitchers, but so far injuries and mental toughness have kept them both from reaching their potential. Kent Hrbek was a brick wall at first base in 1991, and so is Justin Morneau (if healthy). Center field has never been trouble for the Twins with the late great Kirby Puckett roaming that space in 1991, and this year either Denard Span or Ben Revere could easily man that spot.
I just wished the fans would take into account that last year was a fluke. Since Ron Gardenhire has taken over as manager in 2002, the Twins have never had back-to-back losing years with Gardy. 2005 the Twins finished 3rd place in the Central and finished four games over .500, and they bounced back in 2006 by winning the division. 2007 the Twins had their first "losing" year with Gardy with a record of 79-83, yet in 2008 the Twins finished with a record of 88-75, but did lose in game 163 against the Chicago White Sox. So fans please quit being pessimistic, its like your treating the Twins like we all treat the Vikings. Last time I checked the Twins have won two more championships then the Vikings.
Another thing that has made a lot of fans upset is Joe Mauer. My grandma a long time Twins fan says she does not want to go to opening day, because of what Jim Souhan said about Joe Mauer (here is the story). What Mauer needs to do is go back to his roots. First get healthy, secondly start hitting over .300, thirdly produce when called upon, and fourthly stop doing Head and Shoulder commercials, because it makes you and your team look like fools. If Mauer, and Morneau can round back into MVP-caliber form like they were just a mere few years ago, then this team could once again contend in the Central. Another person to watch is Liriano, he is coming into a contract year, and has the talent to become the next Johan Santana, but does he have the mentality to do that is the real question. Watch to see what Danny Valencia, and Trevor Plouffe do, because they both have beefed up this winter, and could be inclined to produce BIG numbers this summer.
As for the whole picture, this team has the talent, and management to contend, but the true question is
will they be healthy? We all know what happens when your players start getting hurt, and also when players stop trying(Delmon Young). If, and I mean if healthy I see another division crown in the picture, but if not healthy, and the younger guys under preform, then it spells the end of the line for Gardy as manager, and Mauer will be tar and feathered on the Target Field plaza, and Morneau will be forced to retire, because of concussion symptoms. But hey it is spring training. This is the time to be happy because as we speak now all 30 teams think they will win it all, so lets quit being pessimistic Twins fans, and just enjoy this team. If the wheels on the bus fall off in mid-summer then you can start the fire Gardy chants, and ask Mauer to give back most of his contract, but for now just relax, and remind yourself it is only the beginning of March, and from now to October, a lot can change.