Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Examining the Twins Offseason Checklist

The big wigs in charge of the Twins organization will be gathering in Florida next week to go through the paces of the team's organizational meetings. From there, the men in charge of the franchise will try and make a plan to dig the Twins out of the hole they have been in for the last two seasons. Some of the items on the team's checklist have already been crossed off in the weeks following the end of the regular season. Now it's time for the Twins to continue making some of the changes that will be necessary for a turnaround in the Twin Cities.

Below you will find some of the items of the Twins Offseason Checklist. There are plenty of needs on a team that has been at the bottom of the American League for two consecutive seasons. Some of the items have already begun to get checked off so here are just a few of the things that will have to change for the team to get back to the top.
1. Take away the interim tag from Terry Ryan in his role as GM

Mark this one off the list because this item has already been taken care of in the days following the end of the regular season. Ryan's family is important to him and he needed the support of his wife and children to get the permanent role as the GM. When he came back to the position of GM during last offseason, it was hard to know what the interim tag meant for the future of the club. Would Ryan only be in the position for a year or two? Were they grooming someone else to take over a more permanent role as the GM? All of these questions seem to be put to rest with the recent developments from Target Field. Ryan was at the helm when the Twins made their turnaround in the early 2000's and it looks like the Pohlads and Dave St. Peter have faith in his ability to work his magic again.

2. Clean out some of the members of the coaching staff

The front office for the Twins took this to the extreme by cleaning house in the coaching department at the major league level. Manager Ron Gardenhire and Pitching Coach Rick Anderson were the lone survivors from this overhaul of the on-field instructors for the Twins. There is still work to be done with this task as all of the positions are still left unfilled at this time. Most coaching positions won't be addressed until after the playoffs have ended in baseball so the front office has time to interview all of the available candidates on their list.

In the past, the Twins had been very loyal to their coaching staff and Ron Gardenhire had nothing but praise for the men he worked with during his managerial career. It just seemed like time for some new voices to speak to the players and the odd men out were the members of the coaching staff for the Twins.

3. Revamp the starting rotation

It's no secret that the biggest weakness for the Twins over the past two seasons has been their starting rotation. In order for the team to find success in the near future, there is going to need to be some major changes for more than one spot in the starting staff. Going into the offseason, it looks like Scott Diamond is the only lock to make the rotation for next year. Players like Liam Hendriks and Sam Deduno will also have a good shot to make the club but they are hardly considered shoe-ins at this point.

Kyle Gibson has looked good in the Arizona Fall League but he won't be the savior to the starting staff since he will be entering his first full season following Tommy John surgery. It is pretty clear the team will have to look outside of the organization for pitching help. This could come in the form of free agents or trades but the winds of change are in the air and the rotation is full of holes to fill.

4. Formulate a plan for the middle infield

Brian Dozier was suppose to me the shortstop of the future but that plan didn't exactly play out in his favor during 2012. Now the Twins have to make a different plan for the men up the middle in the organization. Pedro Florimon has himself positioned to be the leading candidate for the shortstop position going into spring training but a lot can happen in the offseason. Last year the Twins brought in veteran infielder Jamey Carroll off of the free agent market and he is still under contract for next season.

It is possible for the team to try and find another free agent option to fill a hole but it seems more likely that the team will stick with the men currently on the roster. The free agent market isn't exactly stocked with middle infielders so it doesn't make sense to overspend for a mediocre player. A decision also needs to be made about Alexi Casilla and his future with the club. He is still arbitration eligible but his contract will continue to go up and there are other replacement level players with cheaper contracts waiting to take his spot.

5. Sort out the surplus of outfielders at the top of the organization

As fans saw during the past year, there were plenty of options for the Twins in their outfield positions. Denard Span, Josh Willingham, and Ben Revere saw the most time in the line-up for the club in 2012 but other players proved their worth over the course of the year. Darin Mastroanni was a positive pick-up for the club but it's hard to imagine him in a permanent starting role. When last season started, it sounded like Trevor Plouffe was going to get playing time at a corner outfield spot. He might have played his way into the starting third base job for 2013 but a few misplays on the offensive side of the ball could put him back in Gardy's doghouse. This might mean a shift back to the outfield.

There are also players poised to be knocking on the door to the big leagues. Aaron Hicks and Oswaldo Arcia are among the best prospects in the organization and they are set to make their debuts in 2013 after stellar season at the Double-A level. Anyone of these players could be on the trading block in the coming months but there needs to be some space cleared from the surplus of outfielders.

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