Hey all, I finished my Minnesota Twins Christmas wish list. Just in time too, it's Christmas Eve! If you're out at the malls today and can find some time to pick up a few items for these Twins players, it would be much appreciated. Each of these players will hope to cash in on these "gifts" during the 2014 season. They do so much for us, it's really the least we can do.
Phil Hughes - Some Luck
Newly signed Phil Hughes has had a relatively rough career. He was a super-prospect once upon a time and made his MLB debut at 21. He never got his career going as a starter, but had an extremely impressive and important season in 2009 as a reliever. After that season, the Yankees moved Hughes back into the rotation. From that point on, every pitch Hughes threw was hit out of that tiny new Yankee Stadium. While Hughes has brought some of his struggles on himself, it would be nice if his fortunes reversed a bit and he had a really lucky and excellent season in his first with the Twins.
I haven't seen these three lumped into a category yet, but I see each of these guys in the exact same light going into 2014. Each is talented and each does not have a clear job for next season. Gibson is part of a suddenly crowded rotation. Hicks plays a position that the Twins used a Justin Morneau trade to address at the end of 2013 and they have a super-prospect on the cusp of his MLB debut. The Twins just signed a player to potentially cover Pinto's spot on the team.
All that said, I hope that each of the three original players finds a full-time job before the 2014 season ends. Alex Presley, Kurt Suzuki and any number of number six starters shouldn't stand in the way of these three talented players. The 2014 Twins are a .500 team if everything goes perfectly. The 2015 Twins could be a playoff team if things go well. The 2015 Twins will be better if they know whether or not Hicks, Gibson and Pinto will be regular contributors or not.
Eduardo Escobar - Some opportunity
Speaking of jobs, I am hopeful that Escobar gets some regular playing time. Escobar is two years younger than Pedro Florimon and equally talented. I like Florimon, but I'd like to see more of Escobar too. The Twins don't platoon and they don't have a real platoon-mate for Trevor Plouffe. However, I'd use Escobar in a platoon with Plouffe. Plouffe can't hit right-handed pitching. Escobar might be able to. If nothing else, Escobar will be a solid defender at third. I think the 2014 Twins should do everything they can do get Escobar 400 or so at bats. If nothing else, he's a good clubhouse guy, so that's nice. I want to see more Escobar.
Dozier and Arcia were the two biggest offensive surprises in 2013. Dozier went from a failed, over-hyped shortstop to a powerful, steady second baseman. Arcia made his MLB debut ahead of schedule and while his season was up and down, he did finish with a 102 OPS+ at the tender age of 22. If these two continue to develop, the Twins could have two above-average offensive players and Dozier would provide additional value as a very solid second baseman too. There's a decent chance that these two could fill two spots in the Twins' lineup for the next five or six seasons.
Joe Mauer - No concussions
This is an easy one. No one deserves to deal with concussions and headaches and brain injury. Mauer will deal with them for the rest of his life, but hopefully he won't have any added issues going forward. Moving Mauer to first base will hurt his overall value, but it was the right move for Mauer as a human being. Mauer is still a great player and will be a great player at first base. While I would have loved to continue to watch a Hall of Fame catcher, I'm willing to settle for a great first baseman. Joe Mauer is my favorite player, and his position doesn't really matter to me. He's a person first and he needs his brain for the rest of his life.
Man oh man. These three are the future of the Minnesota Twins. If they all reach their ceilings, the Twins will have a Mike Trout, a Miguel Cabrera and a Stephen Strasburg on their roster, all at once. Those ceilings aren't fair at all (and the comps aren't great either), but ceilings are meant to be fun, not fair. Each of these players could debut in 2014 and getting their careers started would be great for the future of the franchise. Almost every player struggles in the early stages of their careers. If these three can get the struggles out of the way in 2014, the 2015 season could be even better than some are anticipating.
In a lot of ways, their gift is a gift to the fans as well. If these three super studs are on the Twins roster in 2014, the fans are going to get quite a treat. Buxton is going to be a treat to watch. He can hit, he can field, he can run and he can throw. Sano is a powerful man who might set the record for the longest home run in Target Field history within his first few games. Meyer is a giant human with hard stuff. He's unlike anyone Twins fans have watched before. These three players are insanely talented and their debuts will be appointment viewing. What if all three debuted on the same day? Oh man. SUPER DEBUT! Let's make it happen. Someone start a petition or a kickstarter or something.
Mike Pelfrey - All the best
I was indifferent when the Twins signed Pelfrey in 2012 and angry when they signed him a couple weeks ago. I've cooled off significantly since then and I actually think that Pelfrey will be a nice fit with the Twins in 2014 and 2015. I still loathe to watch him pitch, due to his procrastination when it comes to delivering the ball. That said, if he pitches well, he'll win me over. I loathed Kevin Correia at this time last year and now I am truly excited that he is on my favorite team. Good performance is quite the elixir.
If these players get their gifts, the 2014 Twins will be something to see. Selfishly, I hope that each gets what I want for them. These players hold the key to a successful 2014 season. In this season of giving, maybe the fans will get the best gift of all. Happy Holidays, everyone!