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Twins have taken early jump at 2015 season

The Minnesota Twins have put their playoff hopes away for the fourth season in a row. Now they can play a spoiler role and get a jump on preparing for the 2015 season.

Ron Gardenhire's team is not terrible but it has been inconsistent. Their longest winning streak of the 2014 season has been four games. To their credit, they have not gone into any huge tailspins. This is the mark of a team that is neither playoff caliber nor one that belongs the cellar.

The Twins were six games under .500 at the All-Star break. With Joe Mauer nursing a painful oblique injury, they stumbled out of the gate to start the second half. It made the decision to trade guys like Kendrys Morales, Josh Willingham, Sam Fuld and Kevin Correia fairly easy as the trading deadline approached.

Gardy's pitchers have not struck terror into the hearts of the opposition but the Twins have been a team that can score runs. They are 12th in the majors with seven weeks of the regular season remaining. That makes them one of the more productive offensive teams — especially since they have not relied on the long ball. The Twins are still trying to reach the century mark in home runs. On the other hand, they were fourth in the majors in doubles when the week began.Trevor Plouffe and Eduardo Escobar both have over 30 two-baggers which ranks them in the Top 10. The Twins also started the week ranked 10th in the majors in on base percentage.

This was never going to be Minnesota's season to return to the American League playoffs. The Twins are trying to put together the pieces but it is a jigsaw puzzle along with 31 other big league teams. Many of those clubs have far more of the pieces to the puzzle than the Twins.

The Twins have already called up some of the minor leaguers they will be counting on in the years ahead. Trevor May has joined the team as right-handed starting pitcher but look for Alex Meyer, a 6-9 strikeout pitcher, to join him. The Twins also have two good right-handers in Kohl Stewart and J.O. Berrios.

Danny Santana has been making his mark as a centerfielder even though he may eventually play short or second. The Twins have also been taking a look at big Kennys Vargas. Both Santana and Vargas are hitting above .300.

When the season started the Twins were looking at the possibility of bringing Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano up this season but both players have had their troubles. Buxton, who is rated by most as the top minor league prospect in baseball, recently suffered a concussion by colliding with a New Britain teammate in the outfield. Sano, a power-hitting third baseman, underwent surgery before the season began.

The Twins are on track to win more games than they did last year and they can move up in the standings if they refuse to put their season on the shelf along with their playoff hopes.