La Velle E. Neal III: Loss of dead weight means the Twins will win 90-plus games

La Velle E. Neal III, Star Tribune on

Published in Baseball

FORT MYERS, Fla. – One equipment truck has departed for the Twin Cities. Another is being loaded as the Twins prepare to break camp and head for a regular season that will be better than the clunker of 2022.

How do I know? Well, I know a lot of things. And, after watching the Twins in exhibition games and examining how the roster was constructed, I know that the 2023 Twins will finish 91-71.

Laying out the reasons for such improvement usually requires listing a team's strengths. Evaluating this year's Twins begins with who is not here.

Chris Archer is a free agent. Dylan Bundy recently signed a minor league free-agent deal with the Cubs. Joe Smith is a free agent. Jharel Cotton is in Japan. Jhon Romero last week signed a minor league deal with Cleveland. Tyler Duffey, on a minor league deal with the Cubs, might make their club.

Gary Sanchez and Miguel Sano might play in other countries this year.

That means more than 30% of the Opening Day roster from last year is not in the majors — and five are not even playing.


The rotation will be better just because Bundy and Archer, who combined to make 30 starts of less than five innings last season, are gone. The nights in which Twins manager Rocco Baldelli asks the bullpen to cover 13 or more outs should be greatly reduced because they traded for a quality starter in Pablo Lopez and will have either a healthy Kenta Maeda or, if he falters, the promising Bailey Ober in the No. 5 spot.

Baldelli should lean more on his rotation this season — thank heavens — and Sonny Gray pretty much demanded it on Sunday when he said, "I don't think we're interested in going four innings and being happy."

Archer's ears shouldn't just be burning; they should be incinerated.

There are no reclamation projects in the rotation this year, and it should be one of the better ones in baseball.


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