MLB trade deadline:

Questions the Minnesota Twins Need Answered After the MLB All-Star Break

For a Team Fading Out of Contention, We'll Learn a Lot About the Future of the Twins in the Second Half

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | The 2013 season is beginning to look a lot like the past two for the Minnesota Twins. After playing admirable baseball for most of the first half of the season, the team has fallen apart over the past three weeks and limped into the All-Star break by losing 12 of its last 15 games.

With a record of 39-53 sinking the team further toward the bottom of the American League Central division, there doesn't seem much to pique the interest of the casual Twins fan in the second half.

However, several familiar faces could be on the move soon after the All-Star break. It's been a season where this was expected to happen at some point, and in the second half it will bring some new questions as the team heads to 2014.

Who Will Be Traded at the July 31 Deadline?

With a season of transition about to reach its climax, there had to be changes somewhere on the roster. As we get closer to the trade deadline, it's time to speculate who could be on the way out.

There are a couple speculative names such as All-Star closer Glen Perkins and inconsistent third baseman Trevor Plouffe, but the most likely to be headed out the door is former franchise cornerstone Justin Morneau.

It would be nice to see a player who has given so much to the franchise finish his career in Minnesota. However, in a story in the St. Paul Pioneer Press on July 14, Morneau admitted that his days were probably numbered in a Twins uniform after they declined to talk with his representatives about an extension.

Perhaps there will be others that will be moved, but the one that will tug at the heartstrings the most would be one that sends Morneau packing.

Will the Twins' Young Players Start Stepping Up?

Part of the Twins' roster shakeup began July 14 when the Twins decided to option Oswaldo Arcia, Eduardo Escobar and Chris Parmelee to Triple-A Rochester.

There can be speculation that the Twins were looking to save some arbitration time with the players, but the spin has been that they were trying to find at-bats that were not coming at the major league level.

It makes sense when you consider that a couple trades involving Morneau and Ryan Doumit could open two spots in the lineup, forcing the young players into action as everyday players. If they get into a rhythm with the Red Wings, that could translate in the second half when they're called back up.

The scenario also plays out for fellow newcomers Aaron Hicks and Kyle Gibson, who are starting to find out what Major League Baseball is like with slow starts in the first half. A strong second half could lead to confidence over the offseason and carry over into 2014.

Will Ron Gardenhire Save His Job?

The way the Twins have been playing over the past couple weeks make it seem like a third consecutive 90-loss season is a real possibility.

While the Twins have played decent baseball over the first half, a second-half nosedive could result in one of the most successful managers in franchise history being handed a pink slip.

The Twins could decide to send Gardenhire packing, but I don't see it happening even if the Twins went on the most disastrous of stretches. That's because the last time the coaching staff got shaken up, there were a bunch of assignments and guys promoted from inside the organization.

Maybe the "Twins Way" is starting to impede the growth of the franchise. If general manager Terry Ryan feels that way, the Twins could have their first managerial change since 2002 which could open the door for Paul Molitor or even former villain Ozzie Guillen to take his place.

Chris Schad is a lifelong Twins follower that has spent a majority of his life cheering the Twins on through the dark '90s and success of five American League Central championships in the 2000s. His work has also been published on Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @crishad.

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