Since the Twins seem bound and determined to stick to their $100-million payroll marker (otherwise known as "Bill Smith's Doom" or "thanks, Hennepin County! SUCKERS! HAHAHAHA"), it looks like the prospects for success in 2012 are rather bleak. Perhaps it's time for those of us who won't have anything better to do this summer (like catching up on our reading, volunteering to help the poor, or making sculptures out of baby snot) to consider ways the team could still win despite being somewhat hitting/pitching/fielding-challenged.
1: Cheating. Baseball's unwritten rules make serious distinctions between Good cheating and Bad cheating. Good cheating can get you a fine or a brushback pitch, but is generally winked at by peers and teammates. Bad cheating gets universal condemnation and could endanger a career.
Examples of Good cheating include (but are not limited to) stealing signs, scuffing balls, fooling umpires, getting favorable calls because you're a Yankee, sleeping with women you're not married to, and using steroids. Bad cheating is pretty much limited to sleeping with men and getting CAUGHT using steroids.
The Twins might be well advised to cheat in each and every way imaginable. I do not advocate anything that threatens a career, but I wouldn't complain if Trevor Plouffe and Luke Hughes showed up to spring training looking like Jesse Ventura. The feather boa is, of course, their business. And I still think Mauer's fiancee is a beard.
2: Divine Intervention. Several years ago, the Colorado Rockies made it publicly known that they like having players who share a particular religious faith (have fun, Kevin Slowey.) While I assume this was popular with a segment of the local fanbase, it has not, of yet, resulted in a World Series trophy. But that doesn't mean that the Twins, in their hour of need, can't do something along the same lines.
The suggestion here is that the team try to incorporate as many religions as possible, thereby increasing their chances for winning the support of several different Supreme Beings. I haven't seen any players sacrifice a bucket of chicken wings to JoBu lately; it may be worth a try. "Voodoo night" should make for rather more interesting collectables than the standard bobblehead doll (imagine Alex Rodriguez figures complete with pins you can stick in the butt.)
Snake charmers in the concourse would definitely get my attention, and sacred prostitutes might be acceptable outside of the Family Seating area. (There are already some approximations of this this near the Washington Avenue entrance to the stadium, but as these lack official team religious sanction we don't know if the deities in question approve.) Probably, for fans, the best spiritual approach for next season is a Buddhist repudiation of the wants and cares of this world, but I don't think that would help the team, much. Most of the players already tried that in 2011.
3: Magic/Luck/OCD. With former Head Warlock Cuddyer relocated elsewhere (have fun, Michael), the opening is there for all manner of totemic magic meant to bring favor from the elusive, definitely nondenominational Baseball Gods. Most players have their individual superstitions and obsessive behaviors.
You've all heard the stories; pitchers want the team to wear a certain jersey on days they start, nobody in the dugout sits next to a guy nursing a no-hitter, you don't scuff the foul line walking off the field, etc., etc., ad infinitum. This is probably inevitable given that they spend most of their time trying to perfect repetitive muscle motions and still fail on the majority of occasions. (Players from other teams fail slightly less often, but the overall trend remains.)
What the Twins need, perhaps, are Mandated Superstitions. Get everyone on the same page, or unwashed Vancouver Canucks jerseys, as the case may be. Whatever does the trick. Bring in Tom Kelly to bench anyone, no matter how important, who fails to follow the current Twins Way (which will inevitably change many times during the season.) Tying shoelaces in a particular order, saying "white rabbits" on the first waking moment of every calendar month, insert your favorite "Monk" moment here.
My favorite was hearing former "catcher" Matt LeCroy tell a TV reporter that he and Mike Redmond swam the Mississippi to the ballpark after every home victory. The reporter finally realized he was being had, but it took a while. Why not DO THIS? Fans would, no doubt, enjoy riding the light rail from HHH to Target Field with a bunch of shivering athletes in swimwear. Get creative, Gardy. Now's your time to shine.
4: Hope/Insanity. Count on every Twins player staying healthy and several having the best seasons of their careers, culminating in an exciting three-game playoff defeat. It's worked before!