FanPost

It's Not a Prediction If it's Going to Happen

For those who are too afraid to watch the Twins this year, now you don't have to. Last year's Minnesota Twins team played its worst baseball in over a decade to the dismay of everyone who a piece of their heart attached to this organization. Some compared it to the wretched teams the Twins put on the field in the late '90s.

During the 1990's, the Twins came out of the gate roaring with 95 wins and a WS championship in '91 and probably an even better team in '92 that fell just short of the A's. Then '93 happened... but a bit of resurgence returned in 1994 before the league went on strike. When baseball returned in 1995 the fans of Minnesota did not, the payroll was slashed and the "Dark Ages" of this franchise was in full swing. In 2000 Bud Selig said "NO MAS!" and decided it was in the best interest of baseball if we just didn't have a team at all.

To compare what happened starting in 1995 and what is happening now is a bit premature. Last year was painful. I can understand the fear of putting yourself back out there and being positive about the 2012 season.

For those that just can't do it, have no fear; the future has already been written and I will share it with you. For those that don't want me to spoil your summer either look away now or pretend that I am just making this stuff up. The 2012 Minnesota Twins story is ahead after the jump.

Spring Training

There are few better feelings I get than seeing that first glimpse of spring training. The Twins, for the first time in a long time, have nothing but healthy bodies at camp on P&C reporting day. It's February 18th and Gardy is talking about his pitching staff.

"Well, Andy and I have some evaluation to do. We have some decisions to make." (typical boring take - it will be heard on sound bites over and over... )

One of these decisions will take place in the bullpen with a few of guys out of options; Anthony Swarzak, Jeff Manship & Matt Maloney. Swarzak seems to have an edge on a spot in the bullpen as one of the long relievers due to his contributions last year but Maloney was a highly rated Reds prospect the last few years that the Twins got off waivers during the off-season. Manship has been up and down the last 3 years with the Twins and will have to fight hard to go north with the team.

Some kids in camp looking for a bullpen spot include Kyle Waldrop, Deolis Guerra, Esmerling Vasquez, Carlos Gutierrez, Manship, Tyler Robertson and Lester Oliveros.

As we move forward to February 23rd all of the players are on time. Justin Morneau is taking ground balls at first base and all looks good at this point. Mauer is catching a bullpen session from Scott Baker. New Twin Ryan Doumit is shagging fly balls in the outfield. Earlier in the day he caught a bullpen session from new Twin Jeff Gray who is looking for a spot in the bullpen as well.

The only position player not healthy enough to participate is Luke Hughes who earlier in February injured his shoulder playing in Australia.

As Spring Training rolls along players get there shot in the line-up, in the field, and on the mound. On the bright side Tsuyoshi Nishioka is having a nice spring. He has shot to the top of the depth chart at 2B again and Gardy has been batting him 2nd and 8th. He will end up hitting .345 in the spring and people will again wonder if maybe he has talent after all.

On the down side of things Francisco Liriano has been shut down for a few weeks with shoulder tendonitis, Ryan Doumit sprained his ankle and will be out for a couple of weeks but the worst news is on Justin Morneau: He has not played in a game yet this spring, will start the season on the DL and will take extended Spring Training for an undetermined amount of time.

Cut Day

The Twins are preparing for their first regular season game in Baltimore & the cuts are difficult. With Luke Hughes, Liriano and Morneau on the DL to start the year it opens up a few spots for some guys that weren't necessarily on the predicted 25-man roster.

Chris Parmelee is your opening day starter at 1B. He had a great spring leading the team with 5 HR's and playing surprisingly solid defense. He has slowly become one Gardy's guys, even gaining the nickname "Parmsy" from the ever-creative Manager.

Sean Burroughs is your final infielder. A nice story coming into Spring Training, Sean made the most of what may be his final opportunity to make a big league squad by hitting 2 mammoth HR's in his first spring game. They would be his only of the Grapefruit League season but it was enough to make an impression. He ended up hitting .310 with a team leading 25 RBIs.

Jared Burton makes the team out of spring training in Liriano's place and Anthony Swarzak is your 5th starter... at least for the time being.

Pitchers Jason Bulger, Matt Maloney, Jeff Manship and OF Wilkin Ramirez all clear waivers and accept a minor league assignment.

Here is your 2012 Opening Day Roster:

C: Joe Mauer, Drew Butera, Ryan Doumit

1B: Justin Morneau (DL), Chris Parmelee

2B: Luke Hughes (DL), Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Alexi Casilla

3B: Danny Valencia, Sean Burroughs

SS: Jamey Carroll

OF: Ben Revere, Denard Span, Josh Willingham, Joe Benson

SP: Scott Baker, Carl Pavano, Francisco Liriano (DL), Nick Blackburn, Jason Marquis, Anthony Swarzak

RP: Jared Burton, Jeff Gray, Glen Perkins, Joel Zumaya, Matt Capps, Alex Burnett, Brian Duensing

April/ May

As predicted by many, the Twins get off to a slow start. Mauer is playing about every other day to start the season as he is battling a plethora of ailments again. The most severe is lower back issue. He is playing through it and they expect it to heal on its own.

The rotation has pitched pretty well. Liriano has come off the DL to pitch great; Swarzak moved back the bullpen and the Twins sent Burton through Waivers where he was picked up by the Colorado Rockies.

Joe Benson was put on the DL with a minor injury and Rene Tosoni took his place. Benson was playing well as the 4th OF, getting late inning duties for Willingham and playing RF against tough lefties and when Willingham DH'd.

The best news heading into the end of May is that Morneau is playing pretty much every day and almost looking like the Morneau of old. The Twins sent Parmelee down despite leading us in HR's over the first 6 weeks with 7. Doumit and Morneau are playing the bulk of 1B but we have seen another Mauer sighting there again this year.

The worst news was Sean Burroughs tore his Achilles only 3 weeks into the season. There was an interesting dynamic starting between and Valencia and Burroughs. Burroughs really pushed Valencia and resulted in Danny actually becoming a little more patient at the plate. Now that 3B is entirely his again it seems like Valencia has reverted to a more undisciplined approach again.

Nick Blackburn went to the DL with shoulder stiffness. It would later be determined that he would need season ending shoulder surgery after making 12 ineffective starts.

June/ July

As the temperature started heating up so have the Twins. They are only 2 back of the 1st place Indians and a solid 6 games ahead of the disappointing Tigers. The Twins are 29-25 entering June and after a solid month in June they head into the All-Star break playing their best ball of the season. People begin to wonder... at 48-40 at the break will the Twins make a move?

They do. The Twins struggle out of the break, drop to below .500 for the first time since May 15th and their thought moving ahead is to trade their most valuable commodity. At 10-5 and working on a personal 5 game winning streak Francisco Liriano is the hottest trade bait out there. With many offers in hand Terry Ryan trades him to the Milwaukee Brewers for 4 prospects including Ps Jed Bradley and Jimmy Nelson. Liriano would later sign a 5 year/ $89M deal with the Brewers during the 2012 off-season.

Jamey Carroll has been about as dependable as the Twins Front Office hoped he would be. Steady at SS, not showing great range but has been very steady and has solidified that position for now biding some time until Levi Michael is ready to take the reins from him.

Justin Morneau has begun to hit HR's again and is now up to 14 on the year. He has hit a team high 9 in July alone.

Mauer is having a very solid, if not a "Mauer-Like" year and is a candidate for "Comeback Player of the Year". He has started hitting an occasional HR and his average has been hovering around the .300 mark with his OBP back over .400.

The outfield has been the Twins real shining spot this year. Ben Revere has played pretty much every day this year and is 5th in the AL in steals with 29. Denard Span has shown no ill effects from his concussion and leads the team in runs with 65. Josh Willingham has been a rock this year. His power numbers are tremendous and despite a slow start and some rumblings that he does not like hitting in Target Field he leads the team in HR's and RBIs.

Matt Maloney was called up after the Twins traded Liriano to take his spot in the rotation. About a week before they traded Liriano, Jason Marquis blew out his elbow and will have Tommy John surgery. Liam Hendriks would eventually take that spot after Swarzak had back to back ineffective starts. Anthony has been much more effective in a relief role this season but he would contribute 16 starts.

Despite it being predicted as one of the worst bullpens in baseball this Twins version has been rather steady all year. Gardy started out with Matt Capps as the closer but by mid July that duty has gone exclusively to Glen Perkins who has been absolutely lights out this year.

The 8th inning becomes a mix of Alex Burnett, Matt Capps and Jeff Zumaya. Zumaya has been battling wildness all year but he has stayed relatively healthy.

August/ September

The home stretch is here and the Twins are making one last charge up the standings. With the Indians and Tigers tied on August 20th they are 8 games ahead of the Twins. A strong push at the end of August would put the Twins 5 games over .500 heading into September and just 4 games back of the Indians.

Ryan Doumit finally succumbs to the inevitable extended DL trip with another ankle injury, shoulder issues and a tough season at the plate. The Twins shut him down for the remainder of the season. The team however is playing in a pennant race, they alternate Willingham and Morneau at DH with Chris Parmelee and Joe Benson getting time at 1B and RF respectively.

Unfortunately, a disappointing home stand from 9/7-9/16 didn't get the Twins any closer and now the season has really come down to a pair of 3-game series' at the 1st place Indians and 2nd place Tigers. Scott Baker has won his last 6 decisions and is putting together the best season of his career. He faces Ubaldo Jimenez in a critical game; Baker throws well but not well enough as the Tribe takes game one.

The Twins would go on to lose 2 of 3 in both of these series and are now 8 games back. The Yankees take 2 of 3 at Target Field to officially knock the Twins out of the Central race. The only consolation at this point is the chance to beat the Tigers who are in town and desperately need to sweep the Twins to keep pace with Cleveland who is red-hot right now.

Carl Pavano takes the hill in Game 1 and delivers a critical blow to the Tigers Central Division Championship hopes and knocks them out of any Wild Card talks as well. Two days later the Twins complete the sweep and the final knock-out blow to the Tigers.

As disappointing as the season was for the Twins it was a huge upgrade over 2011. In addition to the Twins actually being close to being in a pennant race again and winning 84 games, we also got our first glimpse of our future with Aaron Hicks. With his solid AAA season and a nice MLB debut for him in 2012, the writing is on the wall in CF. Denard Span looks like he will be traded during the 2012 off-season.

Post Season

The Indians would go on to lose to the Rays in the ALDS; The Rays lose to the Angels in the ALCS and the Angels lose to Michael Cuddyer and the Colorado Rockies in the World Series.

Final MLB Standings

American League W-L

West

LA Angels 94-68

Texas 86-76

Oakland 72-90

Seattle 66-96

Central

Cleveland 90-72

Detroit 86-76

Minnesota 84-78

Kansas City 78-84

Chicago WS 69-93

East

Tampa 94-68

NY Yankees 89-73

Boston 88-74

Baltimore 72-90

Toronto 70-92

National League W-L

West

Colorado 91-71

San Francisco 90-72

Arizona 75-87

LA Dodgers 72-90

San Diego 70-92

Central

Milwaukee 91-71

Cincinnati 90-72

Pittsburgh 82-80

St. Louis 78-84

Chicago Cubs 72-90

Houston 67-95

East

Washington 88-74

Miami 86-76

Atlanta 83-79

Philadelphia 82-80

New York Mets 75-87

AL Awards

MVP:

Albert Pujols, LAA

Cy Young:

Jered Weaver, LAA

Rookie of the Year:

Matt Moore, Tampa

Comeback Player of the Year:

Grady Sizemore, Cleveland

NL Awards

MVP:

Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado

Cy Young:

Matt Cain, San Francisco

Rookie of the Year:

Arodys Vizcaino, Atlanta

Comeback Player of the Year:

Buster Posey, San Francisco

G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS IBB
Joe Mauer 136 577 491 72 150 28 1 13 72 2 1 53 63 0.305 0.402 0.446 0.848 24
Justin Morneau 115 486 438 39 121 22 0 19 48 0 0 32 85 0.276 0.333 0.456 0.789 4
Tsuyoshi Nishioka 113 399 367 49 108 13 5 0 29 13 5 25 55 0.294 0.339 0.357 0.696 1
Jamey Carroll 153 546 475 64 129 15 9 0 29 9 2 57 54 0.272 0.346 0.341 0.687 1
Danny Valencia 151 627 564 68 148 31 2 18 81 3 2 52 98 0.262 0.325 0.420 0.746 4
Ben Revere 140 591 540 77 147 11 6 0 36 41 11 44 49 0.272 0.329 0.314 0.644 1
Denard Span 147 659 596 91 172 23 11 5 51 21 4 57 76 0.288 0.347 0.387 0.734 0
Josh Willingham 150 629 537 72 138 29 1 27 108 2 2 61 162 0.257 0.348 0.466 0.814 6
Ryan Doumitt 109 344 307 27 79 17 1 13 49 0 1 23 67 0.257 0.308 0.448 0.756 3
G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS IBB
Chris Parmelee 74 311 266 19 67 12 0 11 38 0 2 39 66 0.252 0.350 0.421 0.772 1
Joe Benson 84 301 284 29 82 17 4 4 27 16 4 17 84 0.289 0.329 0.419 0.748 0
Alexi Casilla 69 266 229 35 59 12 5 1 15 11 3 24 32 0.257 0.321 0.372 0.692 0
Drew Butera 85 231 213 12 48 6 2 2 18 0 0 10 38 0.225 0.259 0.298 0.557 0
Trevor Plouffe 67 150 133 14 34 9 0 7 21 7 2 12 44 0.256 0.320 0.481 0.801 0
Rene Tosoni 42 138 121 17 35 7 2 6 16 0 1 15 30 0.288 0.376 0.527 0.904 0
Aaron Hicks 23 88 76 14 23 8 3 0 14 4 0 11 13 0.303 0.386 0.487 0.873 0
Oswaldo Arcia 20 83 71 11 18 7 1 2 19 0 0 9 28 0.254 0.350 0.465 0.815 0
Sean Burroughs 15 45 41 6 11 4 0 1 11 0 0 3 16 0.268 0.333 0.439 0.772 0
Darin Mastroianni 5 35 32 5 9 2 2 0 3 4 0 4 4 0.281 0.371 0.469 0.840 0
JR Towles 18 26 31 2 8 1 0 0 4 0 0 2 11 0.258 0.385 0.290 0.675 0
Wilkin Ramirez 5 16 15 1 2 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 6 0.133 0.188 0.133 0.321 0
Totals 162 6549 5828 724 1588 274 55 129 688 132 41 550 1081 0.272 0.340 0.405 0.745 45
W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB IBB WHIP
Carl Pavano 15 9 0.583 4.65 33 33 4 4 1 0 236 266 132 122 28 47 0 1.33
Scott Baker 16 7 0.696 3.76 33 33 4 4 1 0 232 228 104 97 27 60 3 1.24
Francisco Liriano* 10 5 0.688 3.85 21 21 2 2 1 0 138 109 60 59 18 61 1 1.23
Jason Marquis 5 8 0.429 5.58 19 19 0 0 0 0 121 138 78 75 16 48 2 1.54
Matt Maloney 6 5 0.667 4.04 19 18 1 1 0 0 107 108 50 48 11 32 2 1.31
Nick Blackburn 3 7 0.250 5.52 12 12 0 0 0 0 62 86 40 38 10 14 0 1.61
Liam Hendriks 4 1 0.800 4.28 10 10 0 0 0 0 61 72 31 29 7 12 1 1.38
W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB IBB WHIP
Anthony Swarzak 5 7 0.364 4.39 27 16 4 0 0 0 119 132 62 58 12 29 3 1.35
Brian Duensing* 5 3 0.625 3.07 54 0 3 0 0 1 88 76 31 30 8 41 0 1.33
Matt Capps 2 5 0.286 4.04 72 0 38 0 0 22 69 72 32 31 9 17 1 1.29
Glen Perkins* 5 1 0.833 1.67 66 0 34 0 0 16 54 44 11 10 2 18 1 1.15
Joel Zumaya 2 5 0.286 3.81 41 0 19 0 0 2 52 44 22 22 3 27 0 1.37
Alex Burnett 1 4 0.200 4.31 54 0 18 0 0 2 48 52 24 23 3 13 1 1.35
Jeff Gray 1 4 0.200 5.06 38 0 15 0 0 2 32 41 18 18 5 11 0 1.63
W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB IBB WHIP
Tyler Robertson 1 2 0.333 4.74 22 0 4 0 0 0 19 24 10 10 2 13 0 1.95
Jeff Manship 0 1 0.000 5.79 11 0 2 0 0 0 14 16 9 9 1 9 0 1.79
Kyle Waldrop 0 0 0.000 4.09 8 0 1 0 0 0 11 11 5 5 2 5 0 1.45
Terry Doyle 2 2 0.500 5.40 7 0 4 0 0 0 10 13 6 6 1 2 0 1.50
Delois Guerra 0 1 0.000 2.00 7 0 1 0 0 0 9 7 2 2 0 4 0 1.22
Lester Oliveros 1 0 1.000 1.50 8 0 2 0 0 0 6 5 1 1 0 3 0 1.33
Jared Burton 0 1 0.000 5.40 3 0 0 0 0 0 5 7 3 3 1 2 0 1.80
Totals 84 78 0.519 4.20 559 162 156 11 3 45 1493 1551 731 696 166 468 15 1.35

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