Monday, November 2, 2015

Twins Can Pull Plenty From World Series

The day after the World Series comes to a close may be one of the saddest in baseball. With the realization that the offseason has officially commenced, it's time to buckle in for the winter. For the Twins, 2016 represents that start of what should be a renewed run of playoff contention. To accomplish that, modeling after both World Series teams seems to be a good starting place.

In taking a top down view at both the New York Mets and Kansas City Royals, both teams have relatively apparent strengths. For the Mets, it was no doubt a pitching staff of fireballers that could all be regarded as true aces. From Harvey to Syndergaard, and those in between, the Mets don't miss a beat. The reigning NL Rookie of the Year isn't their number one, and Zack Wheeler didn't factor in at all during 2015. It's safe to say the Mets are plenty strong in the pitching department.

Then you have the Royals, and their foundation built on creating havoc and sustaining leads. A lineup full of guys that simply put the ball in play, backed by a bullpen that doesn't surrender runs. While Ned Yost isn't always the cleanest in his execution, it's the combination of putting pressure on the opposition while breathing easy with a lead that makes his club dangerous.

For Minnesota, Paul Molitor and Terry Ryan have yet to accomplish either of those teams qualities thus far. There's no doubt the Twins lineup has been given a boost with the emergence of young stars, but the fact remains that there are some significant holes. On the mound, both starting pitching and relief work pales in comparison to the World Series finalists.

A rotation composes more a good-not-great types, the Twins don't project to be like the Mets on the bump any time soon. Owning one of the worst bullpens in baseball this past season, Minnesota knew a lead was never safe. Despite a strong first half from closer Glen Perkins, there were apparent deficiencies from the get go. For the Twins to turn the corner, taking bits and pieces from the two November squads would be a good start.

Looking at what the Twins should have in the rotation to start 2016, not much will change. Jose Berrios or Trevor May could be added into the grouping, but at least from the start, a true ace doesn't appear to be on the horizon. While every team would love to have a go-to number one, Minnesota has to look no further than the Royals to see that isn't necessary. Getting quality outings on a nightly basis to keep you in games is much more sustainable. Fixing the bullpen makes that strategy much more workable.

In trying to copy the offensive production of both squads, ironing out a more complete lineup has to be a goal. Working around the inclusion of players that can't advance the order, Paul Molitor would have plenty more tools to work with. The Royals created runs on the basepaths, and by protecting the zone. The Mets took the approach of the longball, and working counts. While no doubt Kansas City's plan of attack is more sustainable, both approaches (with complete lineups), should produce positive results.

At this point, the Twins can effectively rule out being either the Royals or the Mets. What they can do however, is focus on what they do and don't want to emulate. Building a stronger bullpen, while filling out a complete lineup is a good start. Having a more advanced defense than New York, it's not out of line to suggest the Twins can put together something plenty special on their own.

Only two teams advance to the series that matters most each year, but in watching it unfold, the Twins can make the necessary tweaks to draw much more even.