Rotation woes, injuries plague Twins in '13
Minnesota suffers though 96-loss campaign, as starters struggle
MINNEAPOLIS -- It was another ugly season for the Twins in 2013.
They avoided the cellar in the American League Central for the first time since 2010 but finished with more than 90 losses for a third straight year. The rotation was again the major culprit, as Minnesota starters combined to finish with the worst ERA in the Majors.
The Twins tried to revamp their rotation before the season, acquiring Vance Worley in a trade with the Phillies that sent Ben Revere to Philadelphia, and signing veterans Mike Pelfrey and Kevin Correia.
But Worley, who served as the club's Opening Day starter, posted a 7.21 ERA in 10 starts before being optioned to Triple-A Rochester in late May and never returning to the Twins. Pelfrey was also inconsistent, as he struggled to find his command in his first season back from Tommy John surgery.
Correia proved to be the club's most dependable starter, as Scott Diamond took a step back from his impressive '12 campaign and highly touted right-hander Kyle Gibson was hit hard in his first taste of the Majors.
It was bad enough that it left Twins manager Ron Gardenhire wondering how the club can improve the rotation moving forward without outside help.
"I don't think we have enough ready arms to step into this rotation," Gardenhire said. "We have lots of candidates. But are these guys ready to turn you around? I don't think so. They can fill some spots. But everyone is looking for pitching and we're no different than any other organization."
Twins general manager Terry Ryan has maintained he's accountable for the club's recent struggles, as he's the one who creates the roster for Gardenhire. And he proved that on the first day of the offseason, as the Twins agreed to sign Gardenhire to a two-year deal through the 2015 season.
"He's a very good manager," Ryan said. "We've had a lot of success in this organization. We've fallen on some hard times, there's no doubt about that. Nobody's pretending that everything has gone well the last three years, frankly. We need to clean it up, and we think we have the right man in-house to do that, and I'm very happy he's decided to come back."
Record: 66-96, fourth in AL Central
Defining moment: The Twins traded one of the best and most popular players in franchise history when they dealt first baseman Justin Morneau to the Pirates for outfielder Alex Presley and a player to be named later on Aug. 31. The Twins tried to find a taker for Morneau before the July 31 non-waiver deadline but didn't ultimately deal him until the day before he had to be traded to be eligible for the postseason. The Twins were long out of contention by then, but it was a clear signal that no one on their roster outside of Joe Mauer, who has a full no-trade clause, is untouchable.
What went right: The bullpen was a strong suit for the Twins, as they finished with the most innings in the Majors but also posted a respectable ERA that finished in the top half of the American League. ... Glen Perkins developed into one of the better closers in the Majors, and was rewarded with a trip to the All-Star Game along with fellow Minnesota native Joe Mauer. ... Second baseman Brian Dozier bounced back from a rough rookie season to be one of the club's best players. He combined strong defense at second base with power at the plate, as he rebounded from a rough start to the season. ... Rookie outfielder Oswaldo Arcia showed off his power in his first taste of the Majors and is expected to develop into a solid power-hitting corner outfielder. Fellow rookie Josmil Pinto also had a huge September, and figures to be in the club's catching plans moving forward.
What went wrong: The rotation was a mess, as the Twins used 11 different starters and only Correia made more than 30 starts. Correia was also the only starter to strike out more than 100 batters. ... The Twins finished with one of the worst batting averages as a team with runners in scoring position, as they continually left runners on base. Veterans such as Josh Willingham and Ryan Doumit couldn't replicate their success from 2012, as they both had down years. ... Rookie outfielder Aaron Hicks skipped Triple-A to be the club's Opening Day center fielder but struggled before being optioned on Aug. 1 and not returning as a September callup. ... The Twins set a club record for most times striking out, and set the team record before they even got to September.
Hitter of the Year: Mauer was the club's best hitter yet again, as he was named an All-Star for the sixth time, but missed significant time after suffering a concussion on a foul tip while catching on Aug. 19. It was a bad break for the Twins, who also saw players such as Trevor Plouffe, Wilkin Ramirez and Doumit miss time due to concussions. But Mauer's concussion loomed the largest, as it's put his future behind the plate in question.
Pitcher of the Year: In his first full season as closer, Perkins was outstanding, as he was an All-Star for the first time and set a career high in strikeouts per nine innings. Perkins was just about automatic in the ninth inning, as he blew just four saves all year.
Rookie of the Year: Arcia showed plenty of power in his first season in the big leagues, as the 22-year-old combined for more than 30 extra-base hits while playing in just over 100 games. But he still has plenty to refine, as he's still striking out too much and needs to improve his outfield defense.