5 Changes That Could Save the Minnesota Twins’ Season
5 Changes that Could Save the Minnesota Twins Season
After a promising start to the 2013 season for the Minnesota Twins, the wheels have started to fall off over the past few weeks. There are many things you can blame for this decline such as the overworking of the bullpen, the ineffectiveness of the starting rotation or the inability of the lineup to produce timely hits. Whatever you believe is the primary reason for the Twins’ struggles over the past week, the fact is that they are correctable and not a death sentence for the organization. Last season, the Twins were facing a talent deficiency which caused a lot of their problems on their roster and on the field. This season, there still is a talent deficiency in some areas; but for the most part, the team that the Twins have built is good enough to compete in a division that is as wide open as any in baseball today. The Twins still have the best catcher in baseball in Joe Mauer, a talented first basemen and corner outfielder in Justin Morneau and Josh Willingham respectively and also have one of the best bullpens in baseball. With that in mind, it shouldn’t have been a surprise that this Twins team could get off to a respectable start and keep themselves in contention for a decent portion of the season. However, all of the problems that have plagued the Twins this season have surfaced once again and could potentially push the team out of contention very soon if they are not addressed. Fortunately, I have come up with a list of five things that the Twins could do to save their season and keep them in contention as long as possible in 2013.
5. Replace Mike Pelfrey with Samuel Deduno in Rotation
Pelfrey is among the disappointing pitchers currently in the Twins’ rotation and is showing little signs of improvement as the season wears on. Pelfrey is currently 3-4 with a 6.57 ERA in 38.1 innings pitched, which is pitiful and hurting the Twins’ chances to win every time he takes the mound. If the Twins were to replace Pelfrey in the rotation, they would need to find a suitable replacement. Luckily for the team, Deduno is starting to return to health and could provide a nice spark to the rotation once he is fully healthy. The team could then send Pelfrey to the minors to see if he can turn it around. Deduno has the “swing-and-miss” type of stuff that the Twins’ rotation lacks and his strong performance at this year’s World Baseball Classic before he was injured proved he can pitch at the highest level effectively. If the Twins were to make this move in the rotation, the pitching staff would immediately be improved.
4. Start Jamey Carroll at Second Base
As I have stated in my previous article about Carroll’s playing time, Brian Dozier simply isn’t getting the job done at this point in the season and if the Twins want to remain in contention, they are going to have to sacrifice future development for current competency. It is obvious that when Carroll is in the lineup, he is a stabilizing force and can contribute when given the opportunity. On a team that is still, relatively, in the hunt for a playoff spot, there is no need to not play the best players available in order to give your team the best chance to win. At this point in time, Carroll gives the Twins the best chance to win in 2013. Until Dozier proves he can do the same, Carroll should start.
3. Bat Mauer Leadoff
The Twins simply haven’t had a lot of production with their leadoff hitters this season, so why not put Mauer, the team’s best hitter and person who gets on base most often, at the top of the order to set the table for run producers like Morneau, Willingham and Oswaldo Arcia? I have mentioned other reasons for moving Mauer in a previous article--which you can view by clicking here--but I think the time is now to revisit the idea. I believe that the lack of production from the leadoff spot is directly affecting the Twins ability to generate runs on a consistent basis. If Mauer slid into the leadoff spot, the team could then shift their lineup and put Carroll in the number two spot and have the middle of the order drive them in. While it may be a subtle move, I think having a solid leadoff hitter who can consistently get on base will significantly alter the production of the Twins’ lineup as a whole. As a result, I recommend batting Mauer leadoff.
2. Bat Arcia Cleanup
After moving Mauer to leadoff, I think the next move to make the lineup more productive would be to bat Arcia cleanup. Right now, Arcia feasts on fastballs and the rest of the league is catching on to it. With no protection behind Arcia in the order, teams can give Arcia a healthy diet of off-speed pitches that limit Arcia’s run producing value until he learns to hit the off-speed stuff. I have little doubt that Arcia will develop the ability to hit off-speed pitches as he matures as a hitter; but for now, the team must protect him in the order so he can see better pitches. With Willingham struggling, I would bat Morneau third, Arcia fourth and Willingham fifth. Willingham would give the perception of protection to Arcia and if Willingham can turn it around, he would allow Arcia to see even better pitches. While it still may be a longshot of an idea, I think it could be a valuable adjustment to the Twins’ success.
1. Promote Kyle Gibson
With the struggling of the Twins’ starting rotation, the pitching staff could use some improvement and all the Twins need to do to find a replacement is to look from within. There are plenty of candidates that Gibson could replace such as Vance Worley or Pedro Hernandez and he could instantly provide a boost for the rotation while also getting valuable experience for future seasons. Currently, Gibson is 2-5 with a 3.92 ERA in 43.2 innings, but he has certainly pitched better as of late. If the Twins show faith in Gibson and give him the promotion, the pitching staff would immediately be improved. If the Gibson experiment were to fail, the Twins won’t lose anything and can simply go back to Hernandez or Worley. To me, it is a gamble the Twins are going to have to take in order to remain competitive this season and put the best five starters in the rotation at all times.