Twins hopeful to get top talent to pair with prospects

Published 12:43 am Friday, August 2, 2013

Column: Notes from Nashville, by Andrew Dyrdal

The Minnesota Twins stood pat at this trade deadline, unable to find a suitor for Justin Morneau and unwilling to trade Stillwater-native and All-Star closer Glen Perkins.

Mired in consecutive 90-loss seasons, the team has spent the past couple years dealing electric fan favorites Denard Span and Ben Revere to accumulate young talent to go along with top prospects Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano. After acquiring 6-foot-9 inch starting pitcher Alex Meyer, the former Washington Nationals’ No. 1 prospect, in exchange for Span, the Twins entered the 2013 season with a top-10 organizational talent rating according to Baseball America.

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That rating has probably since climbed.

It’s popular belief that the Twins will be set to compete in the American League Central again in two to three years when their pool of potential stars reaches the majors. But if the team’s front office doesn’t alter its strategy for building its roster, Buxton and Sano may never win in a Twins uniform.

I became a huge Twins fan in the early 2000s and was treated to six Central Division titles in nine years.

The Twins raised banners that decade because of their strong pitching staff, solid defense and effective small ball approach on offense. The team was a band of misfits and underdogs, and aside from a collection of homegrown superstars such as Morneau, Joe Mauer, Johan Santana and Torii Hunter, the Twins never made big splashes in free agency or around the trade deadline.

Terry Ryan and the Twins rarely gambled and still don’t, often criticizing rival general managers who sign players to huge contracts that often don’t pan out.

Examples include the Angels’ Josh Hamilton who is owed $100 million, the Phillies’ Ryan Howard who’s owed $75 million, and, most notably, the Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez, who still has more than $110 million left on his contract and is facing a potential lifetime ban from Major League Baseball.

Ryan’s build-from-the-ground-up approach worked in the 2000s in a weak division with a talented offense, and he has seen enough now to make him wary of handing out contracts like Mauer’s eight-year, $184 million deal (although he is living up to it so far).

Let’s hope that when the team’s hyped minor leaguers don a Twins uniform, Terry will spend the cash necessary to surround them with established stars. Because the bottom line is — if he thinks he’ll have the cards to run the table in 2015-16 — he’ll need to place a few bets in order to win it all.

Andrew Dyrdal’s column appears in the Tribune each Thursday.