This winter could stand to be one of the most important in Minnesota Twins history as they try to pick up the pieces from back-to-back disastrous seasons.
After almost assuring themselves of losing 90 games in both 2011 and 2012, the Twins and general manager Terry Ryan must look at the team's roster and decide how to add to the roster when free agency begins in November.
It may be tempting for the Twins to add another bat in the middle of their lineup that already includes on-base machine Joe Mauer and sluggers Justin Morneau, Trevor Plouffe and Josh Willingham.
However, the Twins have a major glaring weakness on the other side of the ball as the pitching staff has hit rock bottom since the franchise's downturn after being swept by the New York Yankees in the 2010 American League Divisional Series.
In 2012 alone, the Twins rank dead last in the American League in earned run average at 4.85. The woeful ERA for the Twins is almost a full run over the major league average at 4.02. If the Twins want to compete with the offensive juggernauts that are the Detroit Tigers and Chicago White Sox, this needs to be fixed.
The problem with this is that the Twins are not likely to spend money to solve their pitching problems, so they'll likely rely on shrewd moves and under the radar signings to help.
An option for the Twins could be to trade either Denard Span or Justin Morneau to acquire pitching prospects that could probably do better blindfolded than Nick Blackburn and his 7.39 ERA.
While moves like that could be unpopular with the quickly fleeting Twins fanbase, such bold moves could result in a resurgence similar to what the likely playoff-bound Oakland Athletics are experiencing.
The Twins could also opt to bring in a couple pitchers via free agency, but don't expect them to go after the top prize in the class, Zack Grienke.
Instead, the Twins will take a similar approach by signing somebody such as Carl Pavano or Scott Baker. Both Pavano and Baker are recovering after missing a majority of the 2012 season with major injuries, but the Twins could roll the dice and have them plug their holes.
Such moves would not be fan favorites, but could Baker and Pavano do worse than what the Twins are throwing out there now? It's highly unlikely.
The Twins saw most of their success in the 2000's come when they had a strong pitching staff which kept pressure off their sometimes meager offense. The Twins need to get back to basis and acquire some legitimate starting pitching or else they'll find themselves stuck at the bottom of the AL Central.
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