With the World Baseball Classic getting underway, the Minnesota Twins will be shipping out players to their respective countries in bunches while paving the way for other players to get a chance to showcase their skills. The Twins are entering a very peculiar season in 2013 as the team tries to rebound from back-to-back seasons with almost 100 losses. The direction of the organization is clearer with the trades made this off-season by Twins’ General Manager Terry Ryan and once again, the future looks bright in Twins’ Territory; yet, there still seems to be a cloud of unknown hovering over the organization for the 2013 season.
The uncertainty seems to lie in relation to expectations that are going to be set for this season. Is it realistic to expect a playoff birth or is contending for a large portion of the season a more achievable goal? Is this season a “rebuilding season” where progress should be judged based on individual growth instead of wins and losses or is it a “transition year” where fans must put up with below average baseball until the next wave of talented players are ready to contribute at the big league level? Those questions—among others—headline the spring training that the Twins are undertaking in 2013.
In my opinion, 2013 is indeed a year of transition that must be judged based on individual growth of players instead of wins and losses. Before I continue on, I must preface my analysis by saying that it pains me to give up on a season before it even starts because baseball is such a strange game that on any given year, any team could be successful. It is for that reason that I still hold out a glimmer of hope that the Twins could be competitive this season, but a lot must go right in order for that to happen.
The reason that this season should be judged based on individual growth is because this team’s best players are just starting to make their way to the big league level. Granted you have players like Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau and Josh Willingham at the majors that can be considered some of the most talented players in the organization, but two out of those three I have listed are likely going to be gone by the end of this season barring a change of heart by the organization. Simply put, the team must continue to trade away their expensive, veteran assets like Morenau and Willingham for younger, cheaper players with more potential because those players will hopefully be able to help them more when the rest of their prospects finally are big league ready. Until those players are ready, the team is going to operate in neutral by employing low-risk, high-reward type of players who can help them in the short-term and then be dealt for additional help in the long-term. This may not be the best way to run an organization, but this strategy is being employed more out of necessity than desire.
Since the Twins’ talent lies mainly in the minor leagues, the team must look for growth on the individual level to determine their success. Watching players like Mauer, Aaron Hicks, Trevor Plouffe, Chris Parmelee and the compilation of young pitchers develop and improve their skills may be less entertaining, but it is the going to be one of the only ways to evaluate the success of this team for the next couple of years.
If you merely focus on the wins and losses of the Twins during the next few years, you are not going to get the complete picture of what this organization is trying to achieve which is to build through the draft and compete with this next wave of young talent. That next wave of young talent is almost here and when it arrives, it will take a year or two of adjusting before we can expect success from them as well. Progress takes time and winning takes patience and Twins’ fans and executives must emphasize both if they are going to turn this team around. With that being said, if each of the Twins’ core players—young and old—are better ballplayers this season after game 162 then they are before game one, then this season can be considered a success.