Just about a year ago, I extolled the joys of Target Field and pointed out that the Minnesota Twins finish to 2010 was better than expected. 2011 was going to be a different year. When I said different, I didn’t mean a 63-99 season. Last year was bad, just all around bad. It started out bad in spring training when Joe Mauer didn’t catch a game until mid-March, and then went downhill from there. The new 2B/SS Tsuyoshi Nishioka broke his leg a week into the season, and was an atrocious fielder and hitter when he came back. Sadly, the rest of the infield suffered from the same fielding problems all year. Delmon Young reverted to Delmon Young. The pitching staff, who lack a big power ace, tried to pitch to contact. That only works when the team can actually field the ball
To solve the problem, the Twins replaced general manager Bill Smith with former general manager Terry Ryan. This is a good thing, since Bill Smith never showed he could competently be a GM (so bad, but not Kenny Williams bad). Terry Ryan rebuilt the team . . . by cutting payroll. Some high priced talent (Michael Cuddyer, Jason Kubel) was allowed to walk and were replaced with comparable (Josh Willingham) talent at a lower price. The infield is upgraded some, with Jamie Carroll taking Nishioka’s place at 2b/SS and Ryan Domut as backup catcher and 1B. But, for the most part, this is a very similar Twins team to 2011.
And that is the important thing to remember with the 2012 version of the Minnesota Twins, there have been no major changes from 2011 to 2012, just like there were no major changes from 2010 to 2011. What does that mean, exactly? Well, it means that I have no Earthly idea on how the Minnesota Twins are going to do this season. I really can’t fathom them displaying the same level of ineptness as last year, nor do I see them runnin away with the AL Central a la 2010. With the power of the Detroit Tigers, and the improvement of the Cleveland Indians, the odds of the Twins making the post season is thin. I expect a .500 record to be the best they can do this year. More realistically, I’m guessing 70-75 wins this year and a solid third place finish.