MLB Minnesota Twins

5 Off-season Mistakes That Will Cost the Minnesota Twins in 2013

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5 Off-season Mistakes That Will Cost the Minnesota Twins in 2013

5 Off-season Mistakes
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They say that hindsight is 20/20 and that looking back, there are always things that you may regret doing or wish you would have done. The past is a prominent factor in the success of individuals and organizations, both in sports and in life. The Minnesota Twins’ past is one filled with its fair share of ups and downs and highs and lows. There were two World Series championships in 1987 and 1991 and long stretches of inadequacy such as from 1994-2000 and 2011 to the present.

When looking back on these time periods, the question that fans and analysts may ask themselves is why. Why were the Twins able to win two championships in a span of five years? Why did the Twins fall off the map for seven seasons? Why were some players drafted? Why were some players signed? Why were some players let go? The list can go on and on, but the question of why is always prevalent when looking back at the past.

he off-season of 2012-2013 produced additional “why” moments in Twins’ territory and have put into question the chances of success for the Twins in 2013. It may be too early to judge the success of the off-season when the regular season hasn’t even started yet, but a few glaring problems are beginning to emerge for the 2013 Twins.

The main issue with the Twins heading into the regular season stems from their inability to stay healthy which correlates with their paper thin depth and lack of talent in their pitching staff. There is no arguing that the Twins have addressed their future by acquiring talented young players this off-season, but they have done little to improve the present. I do not have a problem with this methodology and actually will go on record as supporting this philosophy. However, there were still moves available this off-season that the Twins failed to take advantage of and it will cost them in 2013.

These off-season acquisitions would have fit the philosophy the Twins are employing which is signing low-risk, high-reward, short-term free agents as stop gaps until the next wave of talent is ready. Some of these moves could even turn into long-term solutions if they pan out, but the risk involved in each of the players would be minimal.

I will now examine five off-season mistakes that were made—or problems that were not addressed—this past off-season that will hurt the Twins in 2013.

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5. Not Signing Jair Jurrjens

5. Not Signing Jair Jurrjens
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With the signing of Jurrjens by the Baltimore Orioles this off-season for one year and $1.5 million, the Twins missed out on a player that could help them this year and beyond. He is exactly the type of pitcher the Twins should be building a rotation around: promising, low-risk, high-reward, inexpensive, short-term contract pitchers. This spring, Jurrjens has pitched in 13.2 innings and has accumulated a 4.61 ERA. The numbers aren’t great, but for 1.5 million dollars it is a bargain. The Twins signed other pitchers for more money who are performing worse than Jurrjens. The Twins missed out on a possible rotation stalwart by choosing not to give Jurrjens a contract.

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4. Not Improving the Bullpen

4. Not Improving the Bullpen
Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Last year’s bullpen was not too bad for the Twins, but this year’s version is clouded with uncertainty. Pitchers like Alex Burnett and Tyler Robertson, who were both being looked at as large bullpen contributors in 2013, have struggled mightily this spring and may not make the team out of spring training. Couple those performances with an injury to the long relief pitcher Anthony Swarzak and the Twins have a lot of uncertainty in a bullpen that will need to have a big year because of the problems with the starting staff. Typically you have to overpay to get good relievers in your bullpen and the Twins have made decent gambles with Rafael Perez and Rich Harden as possible bullpen options. The team could also look to use one of the starters who don’t make the rotation as a reliever, but that option has yet to play itself out. All in all, the bullpen looks in shambles at the moment and the team will need to lean on it heavily with such a poor rotation.

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3. Failing to Sign Shaun Marcum

3. Failing to sign Shaun Marcum
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In failing to sign Marcum, who signed with the New York Mets for one year and $4 million, the Twins lost a chance to sign another established pitcher who could help the team out this season. The team instead chose to sign Kevin Correia for two years and $10 million and could of instead spent five million on signing both Marcum and Jurrjens and it would only have been over one season. Under those circumstances, if injury problems plague both pitchers—as both pitchers have an injury history and concerns—the team isn’t in a bad position because they have only cost themselves five million dollars and it only lasted one season. However, the upside for these players is much higher and could reap great benefits for the team’s success or ability to trade either player at the deadline for future pieces. Yet again, another swing and miss for the Twins’ off-season.

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2. Signing Kevin Correia

2. Signing Kevin Correia
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

As I have argued before, someone please explain to me how an organization will give a pitcher with a career 60-65 record and a 4.54 ERA—albeit all in the National League—a two-year $10 million contract, but cannot endorse or attempt to sign a pitcher like Jurrjens with a career 53-37 record and a 3.62 ERA in the same league? Correia has struggled this spring with the Twins by posting a 6.30 ERA in 20 innings. The future doesn’t look good for Correia and it appears as if the Twins are going to regret this signing and may have to eat some of the money they wasted on Correia. It was a boneheaded move then and it still is a boneheaded move now.

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1. Not Signing Talented Players to Fill Bench Roles

1. Not signing talented players to fill bench roles
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Twins are not exactly trotting out all-stars at every position in 2013, so it is conceivable that there may be some turnover for the roster at some point this season. By not protecting themselves with solid bats and position players off the bench, the Twins have put themselves in a situation that is dependent on the players who are starting to perform at a high level all year.

They also have set themselves up for problems during late game situations when the team needs a pinch hitter to come off the bench and get a big hit for them in a big situation. The lack of a threat off the bench will cost the team numerous chances at victories this season and with the pitching staff in shambles, it will be important to steal as many close game victories as they can. Players like Jim Thome, Scott Rolen or Freddy Sanchez are still looking for work and could be had at a cheap price, but the Twins failing to bring them in for spring training puts those options in doubt.

I am not sure what the 2013 season will hold for the Twins, but there are certainly more question marks than answers at this point of the season. The team will have to rely on the players they have to produce if they are to compete for a winning record this season.