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The Twins Stepped Up This Off-Season

The Moneyball era has been fairly kind to the Minnesota Twins: five division champions in the past eight seasons, including a trip to the ALCS in 2002. But overall, the Twins have merely been a nice story – a small-market club who plays the underdog role to perfection. Their playoff appearances have mostly been brief, bowing out in the first round in four of five trips, spending the rest of their October watching wealthy organizations battle for baseball supremacy.

Many fans have cited the Twins milquetoast approach to free agency as the reason for their postseason failures. Of course, free-spending clubs have proven that you can’t win a World Series in December. But the Twins have ignored affordable players who could contribute and attempted to salvage the careers of washed-up veterans. From Tony Batista to Ramon Ortiz, the front-office has attempted to plug holes and somehow managed to spring more leaks. So, with the Twins already possessing their most promising roster in a long while, many fans sat back and expected another boring off-season.

Instead, Bill Smith and company went to work. They traded for J.J. Hardy and handed out a reasonable contract to Orlando Hudson, immediately shoring up two of their biggest problem areas. They also added Jim Thome. Thome’s better days are clearly behind him, but he’s still an on-base machine and can torment right-handed pitchers. The Twins managed to get deeper and more versatile with one signing.

The Twins off-season lacked the panache that often creates waves during the winter months, but they quietly added valuable pieces to a strong nucleus. For the first time in years, Twins fans are convinced that the organization is committed to more than just being annually competitive. Perhaps, they have their eyes on an American League pennant.
- Rob Leath


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