With the news of Manager Ron Gardenhire's new two-year deal, one thing is certain: We don't really have to talk about Twins baseball 2013 anymore.
And another by-product: Let's go ahead and not wait 'til next year, but talk about next year now.
At BringMeTheNews, we've decided to give you a look at what our sports staff has to say now that the endless season has finally wrapped - but we're already looking ahead to 2014 to see if the upcoming year has anything to promise.
So, in the first part of our Twins wrap-up, we noodled over one question: What the heck do the Twins do next year? Aside from Gardy coming back, who knows. But we took a stab.
Look for two more installments of our Twins coverage this week. And now, we'll bring you the sports:
JOE NELSON, BMTN SPORTS PRODUCER: Probably suffer. This team might be farther from success now than they were at the start of the season. What’s the starting staff going to look like next year? I’d be shocked if they spent big money on Matt Garza or Tim Lincecum, so that means we’re probably looking at some more No. 4 and No. 5-type starters in free agency, and MAYBE the promotion of prospects Alex Meyer and Trevor May.
Mauer needs to play first base. Josmil Pinto has earned the right to start behind the plate. Brian Dozier offers some promise at second base. They’re probably stuck with Pedro Florimon and his strikeout prone bat at shortstop. Third base better belong to Sano or I’m buying a White Sox jersey.
The outfield is a disaster. Can we re-sign Michael Cuddyer, Torii Hunter and bring Byron Buxton up from Class A? Seriously… Buxton is the real deal -- just let him learn on the fly and provide our suffering fans with some optimism.
MIKE GALLAGHER, BMTN SPORTS YES-MAN: There is more losing coming Minnesota’s way, and changing managers wouldn’t have helped a thing. Ron Gardenhire is simply a victim of circumstance for a team that has shown an utter inability to improve three years in a row.
Most problems have to do with the pitching staff, it is atrocious on every level aside from Glen Perkins. The free-agent list isn’t exactly a beacon of light, but bringing in a Matt Garza, AJ Burnett, or even a Ricky Nolasco along with a low end veteran guy would be a start.
Moving Joe Mauer to first base needs to happen to ensure the longevity of his career, Miguel Sano has to be your starting third baseman, and figuring out if Aaron Hicks is a MLB center fielder is a must, and if he isn’t, who will be for this team.
The Twins will win right around 75 games next year, but 2015 is the big year. Improve next season and show some progress, because there was none this year.
We’re not asking for the world, just get momentum towards 2015, and anticipate the good times coming back around when Buxton, Sano, Meyer, Worley, May, Gibson, and hopefully Hicks are the cornerstones of this franchise.
AARON ZIEMER, BMTN WEEKEND SPORTS PRODUCER:
I think it's time the Twins move Mauer to first base. Josmil Pinto looks like he’s a big-league catcher. Pinto needs to sharpen his defense a little, but offensively you have to love what he provided in September, and I think moving Mauer needs to be job one.
I’d like the Twins to deal Willingham and see if they can find a starting pitcher in the offseason.
If they deal Willingham, the outfield would consist of Alex Presley and Oswaldo Arcia, and it would open a spot back up for either Aaron Hicks or a free agent to be signed. Byron Buxton’s arrival isn’t far off. Where does Hicks fit long-term? Not only did he struggle in the majors but he hit just .222 at Triple A in August and didn’t even earn a September call up. Now may be the time to deal him.
In the infield, Brian Dozier is now entrenched at second base, Pedro Florimon is a good defensive shortstop, so I think that makes Eddie Rosario expendable, and he and Hicks could make a nice little package for a pitching prospect or two.
The big question is the pitching staff. Samuel Deduno is a question mark at this point for opening day with a shoulder injury, and Kyle Gibson should be up with the club all year. I am not sold on Andrew Albers at this point, despite him being named the Twins Minor League Pitcher of the Year, so I think they will go back to Mike Pelfrey and Kevin Correia, both of whom I am fine with, along with the addition of Johan Santana.
G.R. ANDERSON JR., BMTN SPORTS AND BROADCAST TYRANT:
Am I the only one who thinks Mauer would be a great third baseman? Yes, I am, but that doesn't mean I'm wrong.
In fact, the Twins are stronger up the middle than you would think - I don't think their outfield is a disaster; I think they have all kinds of guys who could make up a decent outfield, and I'm not entirely uncomfortable with Clete Thomas out there.
At any rate, Dozier is the Twins man at second for the next 10 years, as far as I'm concerned, and I think Florimon could be a one-time all-star. Someday. And, really, any of the catchers I'm fine with, as long as they don't go retrieving Drew or Sal Butera any time soon.
So, what's the problem? Well, I'm not even going to consider starting pitching - if they ain't gonna fire Gardy or Rick Anderson, then they can start by wiping the entire staff clean, because I don't think any of the guys they had this year are big-league starters. That's the only place a change is going to come from.