Monday, September 26, 2011

What Needs Fixing

Tonight, the Twins kick off their final series of the season, as the battle Kansas City at Target Field. And as the season comes to its end, we now get to look forward to the 2012 Twins, and how different that team should be looking. And here today, I am going to offer up my advice as to what positions of this team actually need to be fixed for the Twins to have success in 2012 (No, my answer will not be the whole team).

Starting Pitching
Quite frankly, this is what needs to have the top priority this offseason. Because in this league, you get places with good starting pitching. Lately, the Twins have had a good offense. One of the best in baseball. But, good offenses only get you so far. Really, since the departure of Johan Santana, the Twins have filled a rotation of 5 starters with pitchers who are no better than a second or third starter. And as good as that sounds, its not. The pitchers they have are contact pitchers, and only one has the capability to become staff ace (Baker). There is only one starter on the free agent market this offseason, that could be deemed an ace on most teams, CJ Wilson from Texas. But the likeliness of him leaving Texas is not good. So hopefully, look for the team to trade for some fresh starting pitching.

Relief Pitching
Going into 2011, we knew the bullpen was going to be bad. And it lived up to that statement. No one besides Glen Perkins was consistently good out of the bullpen this year. Matt Capps proved to be an awful disappointment and was eventually stripped of the closers role. Joe Nathan had early struggles, but did much better following a DL stint mid-season, but he saw limited time at the end of the year because the Twins simply did not have many save opportunities for him. This year the 6th and 7th inning roles were filled with players such as Alex Burnett, Jim Hoey, Dusty Hughes, Jose Mijares, and Lester Olliveros. And none of them can say they have ERAs under 4. In fact, Perkins and Phil Dumatrait were the only pitchers in the 'pen to have ERAs under 4. So look for the Twins to maybe hit the free agent market for a reliever or two to help bridge the gap to the ninth inning.

If the Twins hadn't traded a certain shortstop to Baltimore last offseason, we would be talking about this as the most solid position on the team. But, they did, and we were left with a bunch of players playing the 6 hole for the Twins in 2011. And no, this is by no means a shot at Tsuyoshi Nishioka. I beileve he will have a better year next second base! Hopefully the Twins can go out and acquire a solid SS to fill the spot. I thought Trevor Plouffe could of been that guy to fill the spot, but his vastly inconsistent play has left me frustrated more times than none. Its a tough position to fill, with few players who can actually play it well. So it will be interesting to see who is the Twins starting shortstop on opening day in 2012.

If the Twins can adequately fix these problems in 2012, and keep their players healthy, they should have a good bounceback year and be a force in the AL Central again.

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