Monday, October 24, 2011

Can the Twins Contend Next Year?

Can the Twins contend, no matter what management does in the offseason? I think Twins management has answered that with a tentative yes. But part of what makes this offseason difficult is that the season raised more questions than it provided answers.

Nonetheless, there are a lot of things that management has no control over and would help make the Twins a contender. In fact, most of them will probably have to happen no matter what else is done:

The obvious one is that the Twins need to get and stay healthy. If Mauer, Morneau and Span can't start in over a quarter of the games, the Twins are going to have a hard time being in contention. You can add Alexi Casilla to that list as well. The Twins lack of infield depth makes Casilla a critical component. He not only needs to stay healthy, he needs to settle in as a consistent presence in both the infield and the lineup.

They also need Baker to give them 180 IP, minimum and Pavano to approach 200. Some of the other Twins starters need to step up their game. Liriano, Blackburn, Duensing and Slowey are all candidates if they are still on the roster. Although it sounds like they may non-tender Slowey and move Duensing to the bullpen.

They need Ben Revere to hit a little and they need Danny Valencia to hit a lot more. They also need Valencia to improve in the field. Unless they are thinking about moving Plouffe to third, they really don't have any alternatives to Valencia. Revere is set as one of the three outfielders. His defense will be fine, but he needs to hit enough for his speed to be an offensive threat.

They need Glen Perkins to repeat his performance. And they need one or more of those hard throwers they have added to the bullpen to discover how to find the plate consistently.

The Twins might not need every single one of those things to happen. But they will need most of them to be competitive, regardless of the moves management makes. Of course management has a long to-do list as well.

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