The trading deadline is on the horizon, the time to buy or sell is near. Rumors are emerging from the mystical land of unnamed sources, mostly revolving around Justin Morneau and the Toronto Blue Jays, and they will only grow louder as the days pass by. It’s rather clear that the Twins will be sellers come July 31st but instead of focusing on the soon to be AAA Twins, lets take a detour and talk about the unlikely possibility that the Twins turn around their 2012 season.
Sure the Twins currently sit at 26-39 and are the worst team in the American League. Yes they do have the worst ERA in the AL and their rotation is a never ending carousel of ineffectiveness. I understand that they have been on a 1-4 skid against two of the weaker NL teams. But why can’t they turn it around? It’ll take a small miracle but maybe all we need is a little optimism to push us in the right direction.
As of June 18th the Twins have 97 games remaining in their 2012 campaign. Of those 97 games, 54 of them will be played against AL Central opponents, allowing the Twins to make up ground rather quickly.
Working in their favor is the fact that no single team has run away with the division as of yet. 8.5 games is all that separates the division leader White Sox and the AL worst Twins which means that all it takes is a two week long hot streak and they are back in the thick of things.
The Twins have just recently proven that they have the capability to put together a solid stretch of games. Before their current 1-4 game skid they had won 10 of their previous 13 games including four out of six against division opponents (Indians and Royals). It’s that kind of stretch that the Twins will need to replicate in order to close the gap between themselves and the rest of the AL Central.
The good news is that the Central will likely be wide open throughout the entire season. The Tigers, who were crowned AL Central champs before a game was even played, have sputtered behind inconsistent pitching and a lack of depth in their lineup. The Indians lack the necessary pitching to break away from the rest of pack and their lineup has yet to mature into the force that they were projected to be. The White Sox have a stellar 1-2 punch with Jake Peavy and Chris Sale in their rotation but outside of Dunn, Konerko and Rios they lack any quality bats (Pierzynski and De Aza will come back down to earth at some point). The Royals, well, they’re the Royals.
With a division that is so wildly inconsistent it’s easy to see how the Twins, even with their abundance of flaws, have a fighting chance. The fight won’t come without its challenges though. They’ll be on the road for 51 of their 97 games and 28 of those 51 games will be against teams with records of over .500. In fact, 55 of their 97 remaining games will come against opponents with winning records.
Not only will they be facing successful teams, they’ll be facing teams that have given them fits in the past few years, specifically teams from the AL East. 17 games will come against the Orioles, Red Sox, Rays, Yankees and Blue Jays who the Twins have combined to win just 5 of 12 from so far this season.
Simply put, the Twins have a tough road ahead of them, but it’s not impossible by any means. Just look at the 2011 collapse of the Boston Red Sox and Atlanta Braves. No one would have predicted that to happen, especially not twice in one September. Sure it’s incredibly unlikely that the Twins come out as the 2012 AL Central champs, but crazier things have happened before.