If you take a quick glance at the Minnesota Twins 2009 campaign, you might deem it a success since they reached the postseason. But taking a closer look at the numbers and you’ll realize that the Twins were basically a carbon copy of their 2008 selves. The difference was essentially the outcome of the second, division-deciding, one-game playoff in as many years (I mean, their records were almost identical!).
Well, not everything was identical. Last year, I pointed out the dearth of power as the Twins hit the least home runs in the American League and this time around, they managed to increase that number by over 50 long balls. Problem is, along with those gains came some significant losses: Had a lower team batting average, stole less bases, allowed more runs and scored less than in 2008.
Even still, their offense was good enough to get them over the hump, posting the third best average in the majors and scoring the fifth most runs. Pitching, on the other hand, was mediocre: Fifth worse ERA and third worse batting average against.
With that said, there are two areas that the Twins need to focus on this offseason, adding a bat or two to the infield, and solidifying their rotation. By trading for J.J. Hardy, who’ll take over a departing Orlando Cabrera at short, while clearing a bit of the log-jam in the outfield in the process (they shipped the inconsistent Carlos Gomez), they’ve plugged a hole in the infield. Question is, will Hardy be a good replacement over Cabrera or even Brendan Harris, who posted better numbers in ’08?
The Twins also have a hole at third, as the Joe Crede experiment culminated in a third consecutive offseason back surgery.
Btw, this quote from Scott Boras regearding Crede is priceless:
“The great thing about Joe is you’re hiring on a one-year contract,” Boras said. “It’s not often you’re going to get that level of a player to sign for one year.”
Many names are currently being floated in the internetz as possibilities for the Twins to add to their infield, including Brandon Phillips, Felipe Lopez, and Adrian Beltre, so expect another trade or perhaps a run at a free agent like Orlando Hudson.
The Twins also need to improve their rotation as only three starters made more than 29 starts, so it’s no surprise that GM Bill Smith was openly discussing the possibility of bringing in a veteran arm or two.
As it’s always the case, the Twins will try to make all these moves within the scope of their frugality, and any move will have to be tied to a long-term plan, says Smith. Sure, their new stadium is ready go, but any increase in attendance revenue will only be available next offseason.