Twins Talk: Expect another last place finish in 2013

After a stunningly horrific 2011 in which injuries seemed to be the primary culprit in a 99-loss season, the Twins were hoping to return to respectability, at least, in 2012.

And a lot went right. Josh Willingham had a huge season. Ryan Doumit proved an excellent acquisition. Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau returned to health, Trevor Plouffe emerged as a power threat, Glen Perkins and Jared Burton were excellent out of the bullpen and Scott Diamond was a surprisingly strong addition to the starting rotation.

All of that led to three more wins. Yes, three.
The reason, of course, is that the Twins starting rotation was, outside of Diamond, dreadful.
I wouldn’t expect that to change this year, so another 90-loss season looks unavoidable. Yes, this is the time of year for hope, but if you’re a Twins fan, where would that come from?

Terry Ryan has done an outstanding job of restocking the minor leagues, as the Twins farm system, which was largely barren a few years ago, is now universally recognized as one of the top 3-5 in baseball. Many of those prospects are getting close to big-league ready, and one of them, Aaron Hicks, is set to open the season as the leadoff hitter and centerfielder. He’ll be fun to watch.
But in the short term, Ryan has done little to improve the product fans will see at Target Field. He acquired Vance Worley from the Phillies, and the Opening Day starter brings the Twins total of above-average major league starters to two — and Diamond opens the year on the DL. But Worley is no ace, and Ryan supplanted him with journeymen. Mike Pelfrey, a Tommy John recoveree, had a 4.74 ERA in his last full season — in the National League. And speaking of subpar National League starters, Ryan thought it a good idea to give Kevin Correia a two-year, $10 million contract after he went 60-65 with a 4.54 ERA in 290 games in the senior circuit. Undrafted former Gopher Cole De Vries, Triple-A All-Star Liam Hendriks and World Baseball Classic hero Sam Deduno make up the rest of Ron Gardenhire’s options to start games, at least while former No.1 pick Kyle Gibson is in the minors.

So this is what it comes down to. Assuming the lineup is as productive as it was last year, which probably can’t be assumed, do you think some combination of Diamond, Worley, Pelfrey, Correia, De Vries, Hendriks, Deduno, Gibson or anyone else, will form a winning starting rotation? Or that a bullpen that will rely on guys like Casey Fien, Ryan Pressly, Tyler Robertson and Josh Roenicke will be able to consistently get key outs when those starters do get the job done?

I don’t.