Monday, August 20, 2012

Mounting losses mean improving draft stock

It has been rough for the Twins over the course of the last 10 games with the team managing one victory during that stretch. The lone victory since August 8th came in a fairly one-sided win versus the Tigers last Monday. It has been painful to watch the games and see the offense failing to score runs in important situations. Even this weekend, it was a struggling against Seattle, a last place team from another division. There are many fingers that can be pointed when a team is playing this bad and sometimes it is hard to find a silver lining in all of the negativity. So let's clear away some of those cobwebs and look towards next June and the 2013 amateur draft.

The Twins are currently in last place in the American League, a position familiar from 2011, by 3.5 games. Cleveland and Kansas City are the next two closest teams in the AL and they are in front by 3.5 and 4 games in the division and in the race for the worst record in the AL. At this point last season, there were three teams behind the Twins in the race for the worst record in the league. The team was 54-70 on August 19 so the club that went on to lose 99 games had four more victories and the same amount of loses as the 2012 version of the Twins. This puts in perspective just how bad the Twins were at the end of last year. From August 19th to the end of the season, the team only won nine games.  

When taking a glance at the standings in the National League, it is clear to see that there are some pretty bad clubs pushing each other for last place. The Astros are awful for the second year in a row and they are the clear front runners for the worst record in the league with a commanding 8.5 game lead. The Rockies and the Cubs are in a close battle for the second worst record as they are only separated by .5 a game. All three of these clubs have a winning percentage under .400 and that means they are ahead of the Twins in the losing department. 

While it might feel good that the Twins aren't the worst team in all of baseball, it does put them in a worst position for deciding what pick the club will have in next June's amateur draft. If the season ended today, the Twins would have earned the fourth pick based on their win-loss record. The draft order would currently look like this:

1. Houston Astros: W-L 39-83 (Games Back: 0)
2. Colorado Rockies: W-L 46-73 (GB: 8.5)
3. Chicago Cubs: W-L 47-73 (GB: 9.0)
4. Minnesota Twins: W-L 50-73 (GB: 12.0)
5. San Diego Padres: W-L 53-70 (GB: 13.5)
6. Cleveland Indians: W-L 54-67 (GB: 15.5)
7. Kansas City Royals: W-L 54-66 (GB: 16)

The recent stretch of poor play by the Twins has helped them to move past the Padres into fourth place in the standings. Over the last ten games, the Padres have been an under .500 club with a 4-6 record but the Twins have been even worse. Out of the the clubs ahead of the Twins in the race for the first pick, the Rockies have been playing better as of late with a 6-4 record in their last ten contests. The Cubs and Astros have posted identical 3-7 records over the last week and a half. This could put the Twins in position to jump a couple more spots before the season ends and they could find themselves all the way up with the second pick in the draft for the second year in a row.

All of Twins Territory got frustrated at the end of 2011 as the loses continued to mount up and the team almost became unbearable to watch. There were injuries to the pitching staff and other positional players that kept some of the best talent off the field. The front office also wanted to get a look at young players like Chris Parmelee, Joe Benson, and Ben Revere. This meant that there would be some bumps and bruises along the way but the team was able to avoid losing 100 games. If the Twins want to follow a similar path in 2012, it seems that there will be ample opportunities for young players to be fit into the line-up and for a variety of starting pitchers to get a shot in the rotation. At this point in August of last year, there were four teams with worse records than Minnesota but this year there are only three so it could be easier for the Twins to move up. 

As a fan of the club, I want the Twins to win but the losses don't hurt as much when I know that it is leading to a better draft pick. The club was really bad last season but the team was able to turn that bad season into arguably the best player available in the draft. Bryon Buxton may never make it to the big leagues but the Twins got high picks in every round of the draft and all of those high picks should help the minor leagues if the club did their scouting right and got the appropriate players. Hope for the 2012 season might be lost for the Twins but each loss brings the team closer to building up hope in the minor leagues. The losses might stink now but the future could be bright for Minnesota. 

No comments: