Minnesota's Winter Of Discontent
Image courtesy of Rick Osentoski, USA TodayThe Twins have been edged for the likes of Ohtani, Darvish and Cole by the very teams they're trying to join in the game's top tier. While the front office has openly tried to run with the big boys in pursuit of high-impact additions, they've repeatedly come up short.
They talk like a team that's ready to take the next step, at a moment of prime opportunity, but the Twins' actions haven't been compatible.
At his introductory press conference upon being hired as Chief Baseball Officer for the Twins, Derek Falvey spoke on multiple occasions of his intent to build a "long-term, sustainable, championship-caliber team."
Those first two descriptors appear to be ruling the team's strategy. It's been an unusual offseason to say the least, but the patience Falvey and his GM Thad Levine have shown borders on reckless.
They've addressed the bullpen nicely, yet with a clear focus on maintaining flexibility. They added Michael Pineda on a savvy, but presently unfulfilling, two-year deal. They evidently were not willing to pony up the prospects for Cole, or the years for Darvish.
Minnesota should theoretically be a playoff-minded team coming off an 85-win season. But if you want a seat at the table, you've gotta be ready to ante up. To this point, Falvey and Levine have been awfully protective of their chips.
Many opportunities and avenues remain, but with spring camp officially underway, the Twins have a piecemeal rotation, set to open the season without its lone proven horse.
Planning is made difficult by the enigmatic outlook for this unit. Once this season is over, it may well be obvious that Jose Berrios, Ervin Santana, Trevor May, Adalberto Mejia and Kyle Gibson all deserve to be 2019 rotation members (the team will have optional control over all five). Then you've got Pineda, plus the litany of prospects and minor-leaguers who appear to be a year or less away.
While the front office leadership has changed, the franchise's guiding mantra has not. The model here is build from within, supplement from without. And, don't shoot the messenger here, but – the Twins might be placing a rather myopic focus on the former.
Such a view wouldn't necessarily preclude them from adding a starter on a multi-year deal, but I sense it'll only happen if an obvious bargain falls in their laps (a la Reed and Pineda). Otherwise, a one-year commitment looks likely.
In this category, an option known to be coveted by the Twins came off the board on Thursday. Jaime Garcia signed for $8 million with the Blue Jays, who will hold a team option for 2019. That contract is right up Minnesota's alley: good value, flexible, and a clear rotation immediate upgrade (at least over what's slotted for the back end). But once again they were beat out by a potential wild-card rival. Or else Garcia ultimately came up short of their discriminating taste. Either way, another day passes with no move to aide the rotation.
For fans, it's largely been a winter of disappointment and letdowns. I hold out hope that a pleasant surprise lies in store, but if they end up with someone like Chris Tillman as the lone infusion for this needy starting pitching corps, my developing faith in this leadership will be shaken.
Now is not the time to fall back into that comfortable, overly conservative mindset.
- adjacent, h2oface, tarheeltwinsfan and 4 others like this