For the Minnesota Twins, 2013 wasn't supposed to be a season of winning. It was supposed to be a season of building.
As August opens, it is difficult to see the progress, at least on the major league level.
The minors are a different story. A great deal of good news has emerged from the farm system — Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano, Eddie Rosario.
But little of that will show this year in Target Field, even in September. Calling up any of those three for a late-season look-see will cost the Twins a 40-man roster spot this winter, and that will only happen if they are certain to open 2014 with the player.
On the big club, legitimate growth is difficult to find.
The pitchers the Twins hoped to establish as rotation pieces — not as aces, mind you, but as the kind of pitchers playoff teams have as their third and fourth starters — regressed. Scott Diamond and Vance Worley are back in Triple A now. Rookie Kyle Gibson took longer to get to Minnesota than hoped, and he appears to be running out of gas.
The young outfielder the Twins had hoped would take the center field and leadoff jobs and run with them also played his way back to Triple A. Aaron Hicks had his moments, but on the whole was a poster boy for the Twins' conservative developmental philosophy,
They pushed Hicks aggressively this year. It didn't work.
But then, patience with Trevor Plouffe and Chris Parmelee hasn't netted productive regular players either. Parmelee — like Hicks, Diamond and Worley — is back in the minors. Plouffe is having an unimpressive season.
And the veterans who the Twins thought might be flippable at the trading deadline — from hitters Josh Willingham, Justin Morneau and Ryan Doumit to starters Kevin Corriea and Mike Pelfrey — drew little interest in the market.
And so the 2013 season has come to this with less than 60 games to go: On Saturday night, the starting lineup included three minor-league veterans who weren't on the 40-man roster in spring training, one of whom was so lightly regarded he wasn't even invited to major league camp.
That lineup included just two players (Joe Mauer and the up-and-down Oswaldo Arcia) who are good bets to be part of the next good Twins team. Everybody else is just filling a space until somebody better comes along.
This isn't progress. It's regression.
Edward Thoma (344-6377; firstname.lastname@example.org) maintains his Baseball Outsider blog at fpbaseballoutsider.blogspot.com. Follow him on Twitter @bboutsider.