Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Twins still have things to be thankful for

It's the day before Thanksgiving and the beginning of next baseball season still seems far away. The offseason hasn't really gotten off to a thrilling start for the Twins. This means that fans will continue to wait for the club to make some kind of move to improve this team.

When families gather around their table tomorrow, some will spend time discussing the things they are thankful for in the past year. This could include being thankful for good health, a new baby, or a marriage in the past year. You get the idea.

If the Twins were gathering around a table at Target Field, here are some of the things they might say they are thankful for.
1. Target Field: It's one of the finest facilities in baseball to watch a game. Also, the overall experience of going to a game at Target Field is amazing. There are so many different food choices, there are beautiful views of downtown Minneapolis, and there is so much to do besides watching a game. It truly is one of the best sporting experiences for Minnesota fans.

The product on the field hasn't been the greatest the last two seasons but there were still other reasons to head to Target Field. Anyone that has taken the opportunity to go on a tour of Target Field knows what a first class facility the Twins have. After years of watching baseball under the Teflon roof of the Metrodome, it was nice to back to where baseball should be played under the bright blue sky.

2. Joe Mauer: He got some criticism when he missed a big chunk of the 2011 season with multiple injuries. This didn't stop Mauer from having a bounce-back year in 2012. His batting average was back over .300 and he led the American League in on-base percentage. He was forced to spend less time behind the plate but this could be better for the longevity of his career.

Mauer has proven that he is one of the best hitters of this generation and he is in the discussion for best hitting catcher of all-time. He has three batting titles to his name, an MVP award, and he still hasn't turned 30-years old. Twins fans have been lucky to have some great players in the past but they are lucky enough to watch something special every night with Mauer on the field.

3. Rising prospects: While the current roster of Twins has fallen on hard times, there is plenty to be thankful for in the minor league system. The top prospects are all coming off of very good seasons and a couple look ready to break into the major leagues in the near future. This influx of young talent could help to put the franchise back on the winning path.

Aaron Hicks and Oswaldo Arcia put together very strong seasons at the Double-A level and this should have them ready to emerge for Rochester. The lower levels of the system are also rich with talent like Miguel Sano, Eddie Rosario, and Byron Buxton. Obviously, not all of these prospects might succeed but there is a strong chance for a few of these players to be making an impact on the Twins in the next couple of years.

4. Terry Ryan: His approach to rebuilding a team helped to get the Twins to the top of the ladder in the AL Central for most of the 2000's. He might not want to spend a ton of money on the open market but this isn't always a bad thing. Bad, long-term contracts can haunt a team just as much as not signing players.

Free agents Josh Willingham, Ryan Doumit, and Jamey Carroll all played significant roles on the 2012 version of the Twins. Willingham had a career year at the plate and Doumit turned his one-year deal into a multi-year contract with the club. There are going to be some hiccups like Joel Zumaya and Jason Marquis but it's important to take some chances. Restoring this team to it's former glory is his job and most fans are comfortable with him at the helm.

5. Hope for the future: After watching team's like the Baltimore Orioles and Oakland Athletics shock the baseball world, it's hard not to think that the Twins can do the same. They aren't that far removed from being at the top of the division and it seems like there are only a couple of pieces missing. All of these pieces are in the starting rotation but those are still holes that can be filled in one offseason.

With the rising prospects talked about above and some of the current roster pieces, it can be hard not to have hope for the team to turn it around. There are new voices in the clubhouse and this might be the perfect time to make some noise again in the AL Central.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving everybody! Travel Safe!

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