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2014 Outlook: Minnesota Twins

Jan 22, 2014, 6:03 PM EDT

Photo by USA Today Photo by USA Today

2013 record: 66-96, 4th place in AL Central
Manager: Ron Gardenhire, 13th season
Estimated 2014 payroll: $83 million
Key additions: C Kurt Suzuki, SP Ricky Nolasco, SP Phil Hughes
Key losses: C/OF Ryan Doumit, SP Liam Hendricks

Projected lineup
CF Alex Presley
2B Brian Dozier
1B Joe Mauer
LF Josh Willingham
RF Oswaldo Arcia
3B Trevor Plouffe
DH Jason Kubel
C Kurt Suzuki
SS Pedro Florimon

Projected rotation
RHP Ricky Nolasco
RHP Kevin Correia
RHP Phil Hughes
RHP Mike Pelfrey
RHP Vance Worley

Top relievers
CL Glen Perkins
RHP Jared Burton
RHP Michael Tonkin

Biggest questions entering 2014
1. How will Mauer work out at first base? Former MVP Joe Mauer is switching positions this season, moving from catcher to first base in interest of his health and future. He’s been good the last two years – playing at least 113 games with an average of .319 or higher – but nowhere near the superstar he was five years ago. Will avoiding the grind of catching a whole season help his production at the plate? If so, the Twins will much more dangerous. Last year they ranked 25th in the majors in runs scored.

2. How good will Buxton and Sano be? It’s not often a team enters a season with two prospects as heralded as Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton on the horizon. MLB.com lists Buxton (OF) as the top prospect in the game and Sano (3B) as the third. Both are 20 and both should debut this season. Sano is further along having played at Double-A, but Buxton could be even better. By the end of the season, if all works as planned, the Twins could have two candidates for AL Rookie of the Year. We’ll find out a lot about the future of the Minnesota Twins when these guys hit the field.

3. Can Nolasco and Hughes fix their rotation? The Twins entered this offseason with an obvious need at starting pitching, as only the Astros allowed more runs in 2013. They were aggressive in signing Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes – two guys who have started for playoff teams – but will they be enough? They also have prospect (and former Nats draft pick) Alex Meyer coming along, he should compete for a roster spot in spring training. That’s three pitchers who should help improve their staff, we’ll see if it can pull them out of last place.

  1. Eugene in Oregon - Jan 22, 2014 at 8:00 PM

    Off topic, but did folks notice that the O’s have — again — found a problem with a player’s post-agreement, pre-signing physical? This time it’s Tyler Colvin. Maybe there’s really something wrong, but…

    • Faraz Shaikh - Jan 22, 2014 at 8:44 PM

      earlier Reds decided to not sign Grady Sizemore. Jocketty commented that they decided to go in a different direction. Orioles should have done the same thing with Balfour and Colvin. Why announce to the world that they are not 100% when all teams do physicals before signing free agents? See Napoli last off-season also as an example.

  2. Faraz Shaikh - Jan 22, 2014 at 9:43 PM

    Twins have a nice farm system. Would be nice to see Sano, Baxton, Meyer all up at the same time. They can finally stop signing those terrible pitchers to multi-year deals.

  3. natsjackinfl - Jan 23, 2014 at 5:37 AM

    With Eric O’Flaherty signing with the A’s and after hearing that the Nats had some interest, I’m beginning to think that Billy Beane and Mike Rizzo see themselves as having this combined 80 man roster to utilize to each others benefit.

    I mean with O’Flaherty getting a 2 year deal, the Nats can wait till July or so to determine he’s ready and then Rizzo and Beane can assess their needs and pull the trigger on another trade.

    Most of this is tongue in cheek but maybe not.

    • Joe Seamhead - Jan 23, 2014 at 7:55 AM

      Well put, Jack, but if I was outside this morning and put my tongue in my cheek I’m sure that it would freeze there.

    • Eugene in Oregon - Jan 23, 2014 at 10:29 AM

      Wasn’t it the Yankees and the old St. Louis Browns that did, indeed, operate like that? Although with the Browns being the lesser partner and not equals?

      • water47 - Jan 23, 2014 at 11:31 AM

        Interesting thought.

        Maybe if the Nats cannot find a space for TyMo then the make another deal with BB. TyMo for a health Eric O’Flaherty. Maybe some other pieces move around in that or a third team gets something…

        But Interesting

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
WASHINGTON 58 47 --
ATLANTA 58 49 1.0
MIAMI 53 54 6.0
NEW YORK 52 56 7.5
PHILADELPHIA 47 61 12.5
Through Wednesday's early games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
THU: Phillies at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
FRI: Phillies at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
SAT: Phillies at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
SUN: Phillies at Nats, 1:35 p.m.
MON: Orioles at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
TUE: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
WED: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
Full season schedule

Mark joins Rob Carlin and Joe Orsulak every Thursday at 4 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet for a half-hour show on the Nats, Orioles and rest of MLB. Re-airs Thursdays at 11:30 p.m., Saturdays at 9 a.m. and Sundays at 11:30 a.m.

ON THE RADIO

As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2014 schedule (subject to change)...

MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.

*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.

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