Originally posted on The Outside Corner  |  Last updated 9/16/12

In our Hope for the Hopeless series, we take a look at all of the teams in the league that finished under .500, and examine what their fans can be optimistic about after a disappointing 2012 season.

The Twins are having a pretty bad 2012 season. But there are some things to positively look at if you're a Minnesota fan. Joe Mauer is still making a ton of money, but he's rebounded from an injury-riddled 2011 season to play like the Mauer of old...you know, .300 average, more walks than strikeouts, a doubles machine. Furthermore, Ryan Doumit, who has essentially been a caddy for Mauer and Justin Morneau this year, was re-signed to an affordable two year extension at midseason. Josh Willingham is also signed for the next two years at an affordable rate, and can either be a solid contributor for Minnesota or a very attractive trade piece.

Young outfielders Denard Span and Ben Revere don't hit for much power at all, but both are exceptional defenders in center and right respectively. The only other "young" position player that the Twins have is third baseman Trevor Plouffe, a 26-year old with exceptional power and a lead glove that should probably be DHing.

Minnesota's two best prospects are Miguel Sano and Aaron Hicks, though Hicks is the only one that could help out relatively soon. He had an .844 OPS in AA this year, and showed an impressive blend of defense, plate discipline, power, and speed. Hell, if the Twins think Hicks is ready to start in 2013, they could deal Willingham or Span to make room for him and bring back some prospects. As for Sano, the 19-year old is still a ways away from the majors, but he possesses some of the best power anywhere in the minor leagues.

On the mound, the Twins don't have a high ceiling. Their most talented pitcher is Liam Hendriks, who has had issues with the gopher ball this season. Their most successful starter has been Scott Diamond, who has the unfortunate brand of "can't miss bats". Closer Glen Perkins is locked up long-term, and is absolutely filthy. Aside from those three....god, there's nothing there. Carl Pavano and Jason Marquis were busts this year, and Pavano will likely be following Marquis out of town this offseason.

On the farm, there doesn't seem to be a lot of help. Pretty much every capable starter in AAA got a turn in the majors this year, as the Twins had no less than 12 pitchers start games this year. The best potential savior for Minnesota's pitching staff is Kyle Gibson, who had Tommy John surgery last September and only threw 28 1/3 innings this year in his recovery, but struck out 33 and walked six in those appearances. The 22nd overall pick in the 2009 draft could be a huge boost for their rotation. 

Next year, it'll likely be another difficult year for the Twins. Their last team to finish above .500 (2010) was essentially an amped up version of this season's team: a mediocre rotation lacking an ace, a really good bullpen, and an offense where nearly every starter was average or better. Unfortunately, the Twins had too many absolute drains on their team with the way they were set up this season, and if they want to contend in the future, they're going to need to plug the holes with players who are more than just AAA roster filler.

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