I have always said that the Minnesota Twins were theoretically one major expenditure away from the World Series. This offseason, the Twins have made three.
Just like Orlando Hudson (now officially in Twin-stripes for next year), I’m about to hop a plane for Twins Territory — where I think it’s safe to say the Twins front office is spending on new players and investing in its team in a way fans haven’t seen since the early ’90s. Twins beat writer La Velle E. Neal III says this is the best Twins team on paper in his 13 years of covering the team.The two principal lessons of last year seem to have rubbed off on Twins GM Bill Smith: (1) You can only experiment with a young starting rotation for so long and continue to expect results, and (2) when you spend money, your team does better — not just on paper, but in the clubhouse, where players feel as though the front office is invested in their cause.
I think its easy to call this team the force to be reckoned with in the AL Central this year — the additions of J.J. Hardy and Hudson as solid-hitting middle-infielders, and Jim Thome hitting off the bench to screw with an opposing manager’s or pitcher’s head (He said he wanted to go to a division where he “knows the relievers”). I don’t think we can stack them up man-for-man with the Yankees, but I think this Twins team is the best-positioned to run deep into the postseason than it has in decades.
For years, I’ve said the Twins need to return to their roots: When the Twins invested in this team in the late ’80s and early ’90s, obtaining the likes of Dan Gladden, Don Baylor, Jeff Reardon, Señor Smoke, Rick Aguilera, and others, the Twins won two world championships. I think the Twins front office realizes that this the prime time for their team to make their move.
As a nice offshoot, it also makes the signing of Joe Mauer a lot easier. The team seems to get the message sent by Justin Morneau at Mauer’s AL MVP news conference last year: You invest in the talent to win, and Mauer will be a Twin for life.
So now the Twins have me on the spot: I made my predictions, they made their buys… Now all that’s left to do is play. Make me right, Twins!