The Minnesota Twins were a model small market franchise for much of the 2000’s. Between 2002 and 2010, manager Ron Gardenhire led the Twins to six postseason appearances. However, the past two seasons the Twins have fallen on hard times. They have endured consecutive 90 loss, last place finishes. Gardenhire’s contract was not extended in the offseason, he enters 2013 in the final year of his deal.
The good news for Twins fans is that GM Terry Ryan is up to his old tricks. From 1995 through 2007, Ryan built the Twins through a sound farm system and shrewd trades. After a four year absence he returned to his GM post after the 2011. This offseason he traded for young pitching, signed middle of the pack rotation help while waiting for highly regarded prospects to mature.
To acquire the major league ready Vance Worley and minor league prospect Trevor May from the Phillies, Ryan parted with middling outfielder Ben Revere. Worley had an excellent 2011, going 11-3 with a 3.01 ERA. He struggled a bit in 2012 falling to 6-9 with a 4.20 ERA. The 25 year old is due less than $500,000 in 2013 and is under team control through 2017. He projects as a middle of the rotation starter,but may be the Twins opening day starter.
May projects as a middle to back end starter. At Double A Reading he went 10-13 with a 4.87 ERA.
To help the rotation Ryan signed a pair of National League veterans Kevin Correia and Mike Pelfrey. Correia made 54 starts for the Pirates the past two seasons with a 24-22 record and a 4.48 ERA. He was signed to a two year $10 million contract.
Pelfrey is a former top prospect who could never put it together for the New York Mets. His best season was in 2010 when he went 15-9. Pelfrey was signed to a one year $4 million contract.
Important setup man Jared Burton signed a two year $5.45 million deal this offseason. He had a 2.18 ERA/0.92 WHIP in 62 IP in 2012.
Brian Duensing appeared in 55 games for the Twins in 2012, pitching to a 5.12 ERA with a 4-12 record in 109.0 innings. He signed a one year $1.3 million one year deal avoiding arbitration.
In November Ryan traded for the Washington Nationals top pitching prospect Alex Meyer in return for outfielder Denard Span. Meyer, a 23 year old 6’9” flamethrower,is Baseball America’s #59 prospect entering 2013. He regularly hits the high 90’s with his fastball and went 10-6 with a 2.86 ERA in 2012 at the A and AA level and could be lighting up the radar gun at Target Field by 2014.
Another top pitching prospect Kyle Gibson started the Arizona Fall League All-Star game in November, but is coming off Tommy John surgery. Gibson could be in the Twins 2013 rotation but he threw less than 30 innings in 2012, and his innings will need to be watched.
Aaron Hicks has been in the Twins organization since 2008 and will be given the opportunity to win the center field spot vacated by Span. He hit 13 home runs, stole 32 bases and posted a .844 OPS at Double A New Britain in 2012.
Oswaldo Arcia drove in close to 100 runs between the A and AA levels. His healthy .557 slugging percentage at Double AA New Britain suggest he may be ready to contribute in the outfield in 2013.
The Twins best hope is to execute a long term plan and develop their young players. They do not have the lineup to realistically compete and the rotation has more fourth starters than Minnesota has lakes. But if Myer and Gibson can become frontline starters and top prospects Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton develop as planned, Ryan may have the Twins back in the hunt in the near future.