Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Grades Are In

Joe Mauer
The Minnesota Twins (65-86) came into the 2013 season with some relatively high hopes. They lost 96 and 99 games in the previous two seasons and were determined not to repeat that pattern. Some off-season moves were made and aspirations were higher than they have been the past two years. Here's a list of some of the things the Twins were looking forward to and how they fared.
  1. To say the least, they were hoping for, perhaps, a .500 season. 
  2. They were hoping Mauer and Morneau would be back to old MVP-like form. 
  3. They were hoping that Aaron Hicks would be the next star center fielder to take over for Denard Span. 
  4. They were hoping that the three free agent pitchers they picked up in the off-season (Worley, Pelfrey and Correia) would make them a competitive team and solidify a respectable starting rotation. 
  5. They were hoping that Perkins would continue to dominate as a closer. 
  6. With new hitting coach and Twins alumni Tom Brunansky, they were hoping to elevate the team batting average. 
  7. Most of all, they were hoping to contend so that they could continue to put butts in the seats at prestigious Target Field.
Based on those hopes, lets see how they fared. I went ahead and assigned letter grades to each hope.
  1. At 65-86 with only 11 games left in the season, getting to .500 can't happen. At least they can't get to 100 loses. D
  2. Mauer is hitting very well at .324/.404/.476 but his power numbers of 11 HR and 47 RBI in 445 AB definitely isn't elite status. He has also missed the last two weeks due to a concussion and will probably be out for most of the remainder of the year. Morneau has been traded to the Pirates. His power numbers were respectable with the Twins at 17/74 but was having trouble keeping his batting average above .250 and, lets face it, he has never looked the same since his concussion issues three years ago. C+
  3. Aaron Hicks was given the starting center field position on opening day but after 81 games, the rookie couldn't ever get his average above the Mendoza line. He is a decent fielding CF but struggled horrendously at the plate and wasn't much of a threat on the bases once he did get on. D-
  4. Vance Worley, Kevin Corriea and Mike Pelfrey were sent to the Minnesota Twins to hopefully give them some stability in the starting rotation. Rounded out with Scott Diamond (was injured at the beginning of the season) and either Samuel Deduno (was injured at the beginning of the season), P.J. Walters or Cole DeVries the starters actually seemed legit on paper. Because of Diamond's injury, Vance "Vanimal" Worley took the hill on opening day. The Minnesota fans and media were eating up all the potential that the Vanimal had to offer. His line wasn't terrible. He went 6 innings and gave up 3 runs - a "quality start". However, the Twins lost that game 4-2 to the Tigers and Vanimal's starts got worse and worse. He managed to go 6 innings or more only twice since and by the end of May he was posting a 1-5 record with a 7.21 ERA and was sent down to AAA. Corriea (9-12, 4.31) has been the best of the three at a mediocre level. And Pelfrey (5-13, 5.34) had been just short of horrid. F
  5. Glen Perkins has done well getting 35 saves thus far in 39 attempts. His ERA of 2.45 is a little high for a closer and could use some improvement. But overall, considering the team he is on, he has done well. B+
  6. Twins fans were happy to see Joe Vavre be replaced by favorite Tom Brunansky, however, the team .241 BA is the lowest it's been since 1981 when they hit .240 and went 41-68 in a strike shortened season. Although the Twins have already hit 144 homers, which is the most since 2009 (172), their runs per game has dropped significantly since last year from 4.33 to 3.85. Walks are down and strikeouts are up and even though I personally like Bruno as the hitting coach, he's still has a lot to prove. D
  7. Contend they really haven't, and Target Field is starting to lose its luster. Attendance per game has dropped every year since the stadium was built (from 39,798 in 2010 to 30,953 in 2013). However, even though they aren't selling out every game anymore, the per game average is still higher than in 1992, the year after a World Series victory. Coincidentally, team payroll has also dropped considerably from $112.7 million in 2011 to $79 million today. But since fans still get excited to watch the Twins outdoors in their nice, new stadium, despite the team's lack of success, I'll give them a B.
At the beginning of the season, the Twins looked decent on paper and I really thought they would be able to compete and finish middle of the pack in the Central Division. The fact that they have a lot of talent in the minors is comforting but, unless they make some bold off-season moves to legitimately bolster the pitching staff and add some above .275/25/100 hitters, next year will likely play out just like the last three. It's too bad that the bar keeps getting lower for those relatively high hopes that don't translate into more wins. I think some more housecleaning needs to be done but that's a topic for another blog post.

Overall grade for Twins 2013 - D