The Minnesota Twins lost their final six games of the 2013 season, capped off on Sunday afternoon by a 5-1 loss to the playoff bound Cleveland Indians. The Twins finished their third consecutive losing season with a record of 66-96 and made no progress towards being a better baseball team in 2014 or beyond.
The team leader in home runs for the 2013 season was second baseman Brian Dozier with 18. Catcher Joe Mauer led the Twins with a .324 batting average. Of the rest of the regular players on the roster third baseman Trevor Plouffe finished second on the team with an average of .254. At the plate the Twins hitters struck out a whopping 1,430 times including a team total of ten strikeouts or more in 62 games, shattering the old team record of 26.
The Twins had one consistent pitcher in 2013; closer Glen Perkins who finished the season with 36 saves, a 2-0 record, 77 strikeouts in 62 2/3 innings pitched, an ERA of 2.30. Perkins also made his first career appearance in the All-Star Game. The Twins pitching staff was led in wins by starter Kevin Correia who registered nine to go along with 13 losses. Correia also tied fellow starter Mike Pelfrey for the team lead in strikeouts with 101. The Twins pitching staff finished 2013 with a grotesque team ERA of 4.55 and opposing hitters hit for an average of .280 against Twins pitching.
If these statistics sound pathetic, they are. The Twins have firmly established themselves as a team that at the plate cannot get a timely hit to save their lives and never met a strikeout they didn’t like. On the mound the only pitcher they have who can get any opposing teams hitters out consistently is Perkins. The rest is an exercise in holding one’s breath and hoping for the best with the odds of winding up disappointed about even as the odds of something positive happening.
The sad news for Twins fans is there is apparently no help on the way. General Manager Terry Ryan has already declared that the Twins will not be very active in free agency during the off season. The minor leagues look as thin at pitcher as the big team does. As far as hitting is concerned, outfielder Aaron Hicks and minor leaguer Byron Buxton are about all Twins fans can look forward to in terms of fresh bodies who may be able to help in the next few seasons.
The Twins traded away two serviceable major league outfielders in the 2012-2013 off-season in Denard Span and Ben Revere. They traded long-time first basemen Justin Morneau away in August for light hitting outfielder Alex Presley and the number of ex-Twins who had terrific seasons is staggering; highlighted by Michael Cuddyer winning the National League batting title with the Colorado Rockies and pitcher Francisco Liriano leading the playoff-bound Pittsburgh Pirates with 16 wins.
The Twins made their first news of the postseason on Monday when it was announced that manager Ron Gardenhire will return for the 2014 season. Gardy has 997 career wins as a major league manager and likely sometime in April 2014 will reach 1,000 for his career. Unfortunately this achievement may wind up being the highlight of the entire 2014 season for Minnesota.
Retaining Gardenhire as manager is what it is. Gardy, when he has the players, has proven he can guide a team to division titles at the major league level. The truth of the situation is that no manager could guide this group of lousy major league ballplayers out of the hole the Twins find themselves in currently. It wouldn’t matter if the Twins successfully resurrected Connie Mack, Tommy Lasorda and Sparky Anderson to manage and coach the team. They can’t hit or pitch consistently, they don’t have any help on the way within the organization and they don’t appear ready to open the checkbook to acquire even mid-level major league talent. The Twins are a bad baseball team and organization without a coherent plan to improve. And fans of the team have every right to be unhappy about it.