Wednesday, October 7, 2015

For Twins, Future May Mirror Cubs

The Twins Way, it's a moniker that has been thrown around Twins Territory for years. Often synonymous with feelings of angst, disgust, or displeasure, the Twins Way is more mocked than it is celebrated. Whether it exists or not, the Twins Way may be more in line with the current trajectory of another franchise than it is given credit for. That other franchise won 97 games in 2015, and plays in the National League Wild Card game this season.

That other franchise, the Chicago Cubs.

Back in the playoffs for the first time since 2008, the Chicago Cubs ended a seven year drought with their impressive 2015. The last time Chicago had a winning season, their record was 83-78. A lot has changed within the organization since then. Theo Epstein, one of the greatest minds in the sport, is in the front office, and Joe Maddon is now leading from the dugout. Looking drastically different as well, is the personnel on the field.

Having strung together losing seasons, the Cubs have constructed one of the best farm systems in all of baseball. Players like Jorge Soler, Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber, and Addison Russell have graduated from it. They're at the big league level now pacing a very talented team. Also, additions of players like Jon Lester have helped to bolster a rotation that touts a deserving Cy Young candidate in Jake Arrieta.

A far cry from the losing seasons of recent memory, Epstein has put together a top tier club through trades, drafts, and signings. In doing so, he's traveled through a rebuild process that now have the Cubs in position to compete for years to come. That journey begins with the NL Wild Card.

For the Twins, the blueprint is laid, and many of the boxes have already been checked off. Strong drafts, healthy farm system, key international signings, they've all been accomplished. What the Twins have yet to do is make those key trades. While dealing like crazy shouldn't be in the cards, getting the one or two pieces to put them over the top could be the next step.

Minnesota is in a very strong position heading into 2016. The AL Central has turned over, with the Royals, Twins, and Indians being the cream of the crop. Paul Molitor has proven to be a great hire, and his club is blossoming in the best way possible. With a few more big name prospects expected to contribute at a high level as soon as 2016, the Wild Card should be within reach.

Should Terry Ryan be in a position to go get a frontline starter, or upgrade a position of need like catcher, the Twins could be picking up some of the final pieces to the puzzle. Well on their way to following in the footsteps of what has been one of the coolest stories in the National League this season, the Twins can continue to follow the Cubs.

The similarities and parallels between the trajectory and action of the two clubs is somewhat astonishing. From the organizations themselves all the way down to their top prospects in Bryant and Buxton, it's hard to be disappointed with the potential route for the Twins.

Right now, the Twins are enjoying an early offseason after finishing 83-79. Tonight as they tune into the one game playoff in Pittsburgh though, they could be watching themselves a year from now.

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