The Twins have been the worst team in the American League two years in a row, so we know there's much to do this off-season. There will be a lot written about it, here and elsewhere, but for now let's keep it short. Here's this winter's Hot Stove, in 300 words:
1. The Twins need starting pitching badly. The way to get pitching is to draft it and develop it, but as far as 2013 goes, that strategy's out. So instead, Minnesota will use free agency and trades to try to acquire some starting pitching. They won't aim towards the high-end pitchers available in free agency, so they'll aim for the middle of the pack - somewhere around the Joe Axis of Saunders and Blanton.
2. Also they'll re-sign Scott Baker for cheap, just because.
3. The Twins will be mentioned in 75% of the trade rumors this off-season. Every other team will want Josh Willingham in the trade instead of Denard Span or Justin Morneau. Feel free to practice getting mad about this now.
4. The left three-quarters of the infield will continue to be a problem. Jamey Carroll will play one of the three spots on a regular basis, but the other two will continue to be contentious. The team will announce they have confidence in Trevor Plouffe at third base, but will quietly make plans to have Brian Dozier ready to step in if Plouffe fails. In the grand tradition of Luis Rivas, the team will declare themselves happy with Pedro Florimon in the middle infield, even though he hits like he's only recently been taught to hold a bat.
5. Everyone will be mad about this but, since there are no good free-agent middle infielders available and since the pitching is such a disaster, it'll be somewhat off the radar.
6. The team will offer Drew Butera arbitration. They won't know why, they just will. They'll do the same for Brian Duensing, because he is left-handed, and Jared Burton, because he is awesome. They'll non-tender Alexi Casilla, which is for the best.
7. The team will enter spring training with major question marks.
There we are - that's the off-season in 300 words right there. We'll expound on this in-depth all off-season, but this is the baseline. Happy Hot Stove!