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Should we be optimistic or pessimistic about the Twins in 2024?

I'm trying to bring the good energy into 2024, but reality is a constant counter-weight. That's not a negative sentiment, but rather a commentary on both the power and the limits of positive thinking.

Whether you made a concrete New Year's resolution or just contemplated how things could be better in 2024, it helps to leave space for contingency. To manifest we must remain focused and confident but also nimble. Best-case scenario planning is nice for a daydream, but it's not often how life works.

And it's certainly not how championship teams are built. (Just ask the Vikings, whose plan at quarterback this season was built heavily on the predicted durability of Kirk Cousins).

Alas, we can only obsess about the Vikings' quarterback situation so much (though it was a major part of Wednesday's Daily Delivery podcast).

So instead, let's think about the good and the bad as it relates to the Twins at the outset of 2024.

I admit to perhaps coming into this with too much negative energy. When a team has had success, I tend to try to find its flaws. When a team is down, I do the opposite and search for positives. (Note: You can find the most evidence of this in almost anything I wrote about the Timberwolves between 2006 and 2022, wondering if they had "turned a corner.")

The 2023 Twins were a disappointment before the All-Star break before catching fire and taking fans on a legitimately fun ride (and snapping the longest playing losing streak in North American history in the process).

They were carried all year by dynamic starting pitching, and the offense behind a finally healthy Royce Lewis caught up at the right time.

The American League Central looks exceedingly weak again, leaving the Twins as the natural choice to repeat as division champs. From there, who knows?

For now, though, their offseason transaction ledger is extremely one-sided. A lot of pitchers — including Sonny Gray and Kenta Maeda — are gone, and nobody yet has taken their place.

They don't start playing real games for a few months, and the Twins under Derek Falvey often have made more of the simmering stove (January, February, March) than the Hot Stove of the immediate offseason.

One or two shrewd trades involving Max Kepler and/or Jorge Polanco would make me feel better. Until then, we need to be realistic about the Twins' 2024 outlook.

Here are four more things to know today:

*As noted, Andrew Krammer and I took a long look at the film of Sunday's loss to the Packers on Wednesday's podcast. The big questions: What went wrong for rookie QB Jaren Hall, and how do we explain the defense's recent lapses?

*Here's a good explanation of why the game-winning three-pointer by Iowa's Caitlin Clark didn't look like it should have counted (but really did).

*The Wild have lost three in a row and just put Kirill Kaprizov on injured reserve. On the bright side? They have one of the easiest remaining schedules in the NHL.

*I'm planning to have Star Tribune Gophers men's basketball beat writer Marcus Fuller on Thursday's show ahead of a big game against Michigan.