Organizational Rankings: Current Talent – Minnesota

The Twins are in a great position to compete for their division title, and thus the World Series, in 2010. Outside of their injured closer, they return all of the key members of last year’s AL Central-winning squad and also made some good pickups over the off-season. As a result, they have, mostly likely, the best team in the AL Central heading into the 2010 season.

Of course, for the Twins it all starts with their recently locked-up catcher, Joe Mauer — one of the best players in baseball. Mauer plays the most demanding defensive position, from which offensive value is the hardest to find; is projected to have a wOBA above .400; and is not yet 27. Along with Albert Pujols and Hanley Ramirez he is one of the game’s greatest talents.

The rest of their position players have enough talent to form a competent core around Mauer. Outside of their catcher, the infield was a wasteland after Justin Morneau went down with an injury in 2009. But the Twins made steps to address that major weakness in the 2010 off-season. They brought in Orlando Hudson and J.J. Hardy, which should result in fewer plate appearances from the likes of Nick Punto, Alexi Casilla, Matt Tolbert and Brian Buscher. Also, Morneau comes back from injury, looking to replicate his three-win season of 2007 and 2008.

The outfield will have its defensive liabilities and is, generally, not a strength of the team. But it has enough talent, especially in Denard Span, not to be a liability to the rest of the team.

The rotation — although it does not have a lights-out, number-one guy — is solid one to four and one of the better ones in baseball. Its top four members are united by their strike-throwing ability, as none projects by CHONE to throw more than 2.11 BB/9: Scott Baker is the ace of the staff, quietly posting a top-fifteen K/BB ratio over the past three years; Kevin Slowey, coming back from injury, could be Baker’s equal, if not better; Carl Pavano re-signed with the Twins after an encouraging 2009; and, finally, Nick Blackburn limits walks enough to make his poor strikeout and average walk rate work. After that the Twins will go with Francisco Liriano, who they are guardedly optimistic about after a solid performance in Winter Ball. If he recaptures any of his past glory this could be an amazing rotation top to bottom.

The loss of Joe Nathan for the season no doubt hurts, but the Twins have a number of good relievers to cover the loss. And picking up bullpen guys during the season is easier than getting starting pitchers or position players; if the Twins need to they can trade for a closer (although not one of Nathan’s level).

All in all the Twins have surrounded their superstar with enough talent to make themselves the team to beat in the AL Central.



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Dave Allen's other baseball work can be found at Baseball Analysts.


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Bill&TedsExcellentAdventure
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Bill&TedsExcellentAdventure
6 years 5 months ago

Nice thing about our outfield being the poorest part of our team is that is where our strength is in the Minor Leagues.

cpebbles
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cpebbles
6 years 5 months ago

Who is going to come along and write a lengthy defense of this ranking? It’s far more egregious than Seattle at #6.

snapper
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snapper
6 years 5 months ago

Really?

They won the division last year and 5 of the last 10 years. They have a long history of a very productive minor league system.

Add to that a brand new ballpark which should allow them to increase payroll to the $80-90M range and perhaps the best player in baseball locked up long-term, and I think the ranking is just about right.

Bill&TedsExcellentAdventure
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Bill&TedsExcellentAdventure
6 years 5 months ago

I will, The fact is that twins are easily the favorites for the current year to win the AL central. The division is much easier then in years past. The twins are going to add new revenue increasing the team towards the 100 million mark. Take a good young core, a good revenue stream with what appears to be an above average front office, and add in an above average minor league system you have a team that deserves to be #5.

cpebbles
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cpebbles
6 years 5 months ago

The Twins are the favorites in a bad division, projected just a little over .500 by all of the projection systems. Great as Mauer is, he could very well lose some of that power and go back to being a 6-win great player instead of 8-win. The minor league system has no impact talent ready, almost all of that increasing payroll room will be taken up just keeping the complementary pieces around, and the Nathan injury hurts the team the one year we can be sure the division won’t have an elite team.

Steve
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Steve
6 years 5 months ago

The Mariners are co-favorites in a mediocre division, projected just a little over .500 by all of the projection systems. Great as Gutierrez is, he could very well regress and go back to being a 3-win great player instead of 6-win. The minor league system has no impact talent ready, almost all of that increasing payroll room will be taken up just keeping the complementary pieces around, and the Bedard injury hurts the team the one year we can be sure the division won’t have an elite team.

cpebbles
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cpebbles
6 years 5 months ago

I certainly didn’t mean to defend the Mariners rating, just pointing out that this one is even worse.

Kirpuck34
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Kirpuck34
6 years 5 months ago

Twins still need to address the closer position…Add Heath Bell to this team and they are not only the division favorites but right there with the Yankees as AL favorites.

Patrick
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Patrick
6 years 5 months ago

You know, I’m a HUGE Twins fan, and I agree with cpebbles… I want to see the rest first, but I’m kind of floored they’re ranked this high.

AHEAD of PHILLY? Really?

I guess maybe, but the minors… I’ll wait until I see the rest of this. Woah.

MC
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MC
6 years 5 months ago

Just last year the Twins were rated as the best young talent team in baseball by Bill James. This accounts for what is their core today and the promise of a restocking of minor league system with some high upside talent in the deep minors and enough close enough to the bigs to fill out their already good core.

This Twins org will have an affordable productive rotation for the next 5 years or more and have shown they’ll be able to continue this for the foreseeable future. They’ll have affordable productive talent with some stars. They’ll have upper third resources and a management team that of late, has shown an ability to plug a hole due to those resources.

I’m a large homer but if you took the sink holes out the line-up they had last year (and they’ve done much of that) this could very well be a top 5 (with-upside) line-up with plus infield d, plus rotation with enough talent and resources to back that up for the foreseeable future.

Not to mention, they’re just sticking their toe in the water as it comes to advanced statistical analysis. So their late to that party but to me that suggests their’s upside there in the long-run as well.

I’m optimistic in the short and long term for this team to have a decade of baseball that will top the previous!

MetsKnicksRutgers
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MetsKnicksRutgers
6 years 5 months ago

I hate being that guy, but…

“So THEIR late to that party but to me that suggests THEIR’s upside there in the long-run as well.” emphasis mine

If you were doing this from a phone/apple gizmo then I apologize.

Bill&TedsExcellentAdventure
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Bill&TedsExcellentAdventure
6 years 5 months ago

Dude, was that correction really warranted? Really?

DavidB
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DavidB
6 years 5 months ago

You managed to use “their” for both “they’re” and “there” in a single sentence. It’s like a gracefully turned double play of bad grammar. Truly a thing of beauty.

MC
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MC
6 years 5 months ago

And if you’re in a project-able mindset: project a team that signed the top Dominican talent, European talent and went over slot for a top 10 talent last year.

The Twins are starting to behave much differently while not getting away from their roots.

Troy
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Troy
6 years 5 months ago

Alas, it seems like they needed Pohlad to die before they started doing this.

Similar to the Chicago Blackhawks, I suppose.

MC
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MC
6 years 5 months ago

You could point to that or the new ball park, or some mix. I’m going to stay positive and suggest it’s the park.

mahogma
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mahogma
6 years 5 months ago

Uh,not exactly. The Twins won 2 World Series with Carl as an owner. Carl was 23 years old the last time the ‘Hawks won the Stanley Cup. Mr Pohlad was thrifty,and never one to use his personal wealth to finance his team,but he provided tremendous value for money spent,and put a higher percentage of team profit back into the ball club than most other owners.

JD
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JD
6 years 5 months ago

I am so curious to see what Frankie Liriano will produce this season. Is the Winter-ball/Spring hype justified? He is an electifying pitcher.

Steven Ellingson
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Steven Ellingson
6 years 5 months ago

I know spring stats don’t mean much, but the combination of his ridiculous winter ball and spring have to mean something. 84 k, 12 bb, in 63.2 innings.

I’m done pretending I don’t buy in to the hype.

Patrick
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Patrick
6 years 5 months ago

Gosh MC, I sure hope you’re as right as you sound.

Luke in MN
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Luke in MN
6 years 5 months ago

My defense of this:
1. Project as division winners, with upside to be one of this year’s best teams.
2. Very good farm system
3. Very good young MLB core
4. Good revenues going forward
5. Stable, long-term-focused organization with strengths in scouting and development (and they even hired “a stats guy” this year!)

MJ in PDX
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MJ in PDX
6 years 5 months ago

Buscher is an Indian…just FYI…

Kampfer
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Kampfer
6 years 5 months ago

I like them but #5… it is mind-boggling.
AL West is getting too much attention under Cameron’s watch.

Joe
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Joe
6 years 5 months ago

If you don’t know what division the Twins play in, you probably shouldn’t comment on their ranking.

Steven Ellingson
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Steven Ellingson
6 years 5 months ago

I try really hard to give people the benefit of the doubt on message boards, because it’s easy for things to get misinterpreted here. But it’s tough with this one.

He either doesn’t know what division they play in, or doesn’t understand that consecutive statements generally have something to do with each other.

MC
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MC
6 years 5 months ago

Who should be positioned ahead of them?

MC
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MC
6 years 5 months ago

I’m a grammatical butcher. I didn’t need someone to point that out. I understand my strengths; grammar is not one of them.

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