Can Twins Rebound From Disappointing Season and Compete in 2023?
Any Twins fan will tell you that the way last season ended will stay with them for quite a while. Everything had been looking so good. Minnesota was the pre-season favorite for the AL Central and was still up by one game over the Guardians at the beginning of August. But then it all went downhill fast.
There were a few seemingly positive trades but the Twins went on to post the worst record in the division from August 1 and ended up finishing third –14 games behind Cleveland — with a 78-84 losing record and no playoff action for the second year in a row.
Whether you know how to bet on baseball or not, that kind of collapse might not instill much confidence for the upcoming season. But a lot has gone on away from the diamond in the offseason. After the failure of last year, Twins fans can be forgiven for feeling cautious. But the Twins do look as though they are in good shape for the new campaign. Could this be the year the team goes all the way?
There will be plenty of fans that will be shaking their head at such a proclamation. But the change to the roster and the feeling at the club really does suggest that the mistakes of last year have been learned.
New season, new faces
Rocco Baldelli has told Twins fans to expect faster baseball with more action. But they would probably counter that they don’t really care what the team plays like – as long as it wins. The moves in the offseason look like they could make that a reality. Carlos Correa was aggressively pursued and even when it looked like he was San Francisco-bound, then New York, before finally signing on the dotted line for six years in Minnesota.
Acquiring Christian Vazquez definitely upgrades the team at catcher, and infielder Joey Gallo will also improve the Twins. The other notable move was swapping Luis Arreaz for the much in-demand Pablo Lopez. These are the kinds of trades that Minnesota really needed to make this offseason to make the team better – but also to convince the fans that they weren’t just at the beginning of a slump.
The Twins are in a good position in that the Central is probably the weakest division in the American League. That’s not to say that there are not some demanding games ahead, but they will not be in the same class as having to better the Yankees, Blue Jays and Rays, or Astros, Mariners and Angels.
The pitching staff should be good this year. Pablo Lopez has been named the Opening Day starter. Sonny Ryan and Joe Ryan can both make the Twins a real threat from the mound, while the big hitters will be in effect as well. The outfield is the possible question mark and it could be crucial how the season begins for Minnesota.
That’s why the schedule in April could put a dampener on all the excitement felt at Target Field right now. There are some winnable games but the Twins will also face the Yankees and the Astros, as well as the White Sox and Red Sox. A losing record at the end of April obviously doesn’t predict how the entire year will go, but it could make a few people nervous after the way everything panned out last time.
April and May were very good last year for the Twins and it was only later in the season that everything went south. Not having that to fall back on is something that will be in the minds of the players that went through it all in 2022.
When it comes down to it, it does feel as though the AL Central title is the least that should be expected from the Minnesota Twins this year. The ball club has definitely noticed that something needed to be done and acted. It will be up to the players to come through now – and make sure they keep putting it in until the regular season ends and they can concentrate on playoff baseball.