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Twins Nearing Some Key Crossroads

Posted by Ted Schwerzler , 08 October 2018 · 1,952 views

minnesota twins byron buxton miguel sano alan busenitz tyler duffey
With the Minnesota Twins missing the Postseason in 2018, the 78 win campaign simply wasn't good enough. Although Paul Molitor isn't the sole owner of fault, he deservedly took the fall after being spared a season ago. Recently I took a look at a few players that began to develop in big ways for the organization. On the flip side of that, there's some players that are watching time run out.

As was the case going into 2018, the Minnesota Twins should be expected to challenge the Cleveland Indians in the AL Central. With talented youth, and money to spend, there's opportunity to shake up the division at the top. If that's going to happen however, the players mentioned below need to become more known commodities as opposed to wild cards.

Miguel Sano

There's arguably no player wasting talent more right now than Minnesota's third basemen. Regardless of weight and conditioning issues, it's always appeared to be a work ethic situation for the Dominican Native. A healthy Sano could probably hit 30 homers in a full year without much effort. In his present state, that also likely comes with a record setting strikeout total and a hollow defensive effort.

For Sano to return as the All Star caliber player he was in 2017, Minnesota needs more. This offseason Miguel has to live and breathe his craft. Being involved with a sexual assault case, and more recently, an accident involving a police officer, the organization needs a character reset as well. At 25 years old, Sano isn't a kid anymore, and his actions have consequences. Sano becomes a free agent in 2022 and is arbitration eligible in 2019. You can bet he's already bleeding money, but the career arc needs a turnaround, and fast.

Byron Buxton

Unlike Sano, Buxton has never had a questionable work ethic. As a tireless competitor, and someone with a never ending drive, it's availability that has held Byron back. Over the offseason, and in the year ahead, Minnesota needs their centerfielder to stay healthy and get reps. Having endured what amounts to as a lost year, the Georgia native did little for his development in the past 12 months. That will need to change in 2019.

There's no denying Buxton will always be a significant asset in the field. If he can stay healthy through his exploits in center, it will come down to consistency at the plate. He's shown plenty of ability to hit during his rise in professional baseball, and there's too much talent to write that aspect off. That said, Byron is soon to be 25 and the clock is ticking there as well. Minnesota isn't in a spot to give up on either player, but as the current foundation of a promoted prospect group, they must come through.

The Bullpen

Naming a single player leaves too many variables out in this equation. It seems Minnesota has real assets in Trevor Hildenberger, Taylor Rogers, and Trevor May. Behind them though, no one has stepped forward and that's a problem. Alan Busenitz, John Curtiss, Tyler Duffey, and a handful of others have gotten their shot but failed to capitalize. With numbers that look promising on the farm, major league success has yet to follow any of those arms.

You can probably expect Thad Levine to target at least a couple impact arms in relief this winter. Losing Ryan Pressly, though I agree with the premise of the trade, will need to be addressed. Although there's plenty of options internally, very few of them are looking like anything of consequence. At this point, the group mentioned above is rounding out some of their last opportunities before roster trimming begins.

Without going into every area or instance that could be improved upon, the above trio of suspects is simply more vital than the rest. Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton have always had the ability to be franchise altering players, and their realization of potential is integral to sustained success in the near-term. Given the Twins draft strategy in the late years of the Terry Ryan regime, generating something of substance from the glut of middling relievers is a must at this point. Once that group is passed by, there's little to feel good about in terms of a return.

Over the winter, Derek Falvey and Thad Levine will embark upon one of the most critical offseasons in recent memory. No matter what they do however, the emergence, development, and turnaround of the names above represents the largest piece to the puzzle.

For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz

  • sloopjont likes this

Though character and attitude are not any issue, Mr. Kepler falls into the same category.
    • DocBauer likes this

Though character and attitude are not any issue, Mr. Kepler falls into the same category.

Agreed. Absolutely. Except, Kepler, like Buxton, has been fast paced. We've seen the talent and potential. He just needs to figure out his weird splits from years 1-2 and last year. He does that...and if I were a betting man I would bet he explodes in 2019...he is the least of my worries.

Can the Twins survive a bust by both Sano and Buxton? It would be hard, and suck, and delay contention, but they could. There is enough talent in the system to rise over the next couple of seasons to weather such a catastrophe. But it just shouldn't have to happen!

Sano: Just grow the hell up. I am not bashing the kid, but just embrace the game, and your talent, work out, and put the work in, and you are a multi million star.

Buxton: I don't know if he needs body building, yoga, Pilates, better luck, or just being smart enough to pull up once in a while. If he could even hit. 250 in 2019 while still learning the game and adapting, his defense and natural power and speed could make him a difference maker.

As to the pen, well, there are different threads on this, both by myself and Nick. But make one major move! Then a smaller one but quality. Think similar to Reed last season. That gives you 4 of 7 spots. One of Hildenberger or Reed could give you one more. 40 man spot or invite, Magill, Drake, (cough), and numerous SP converts, you could find that 7th man surely.

I agree it's just crazy from Burdi to Chargois to Reed and Jay and Busentiz we haven't found ONE GUY to keep and step forward! Will one of the remaining step forward in 2019? I still have this hunch Mejia will be the one.
    • sloopjont likes this
Is Buxton's defense REALLY that great? Or is he continually getting banged up and making what looks to be unbelievable plays because he gets a late jump on batted balls and uses his speed to almost make up for that which results in dives onto the ground and crashes into walls.
Ted Schwerzler
Oct 16 2018 11:27 AM


Is Buxton's defense REALLY that great? Or is he continually getting banged up and making what looks to be unbelievable plays because he gets a late jump on batted balls and uses his speed to almost make up for that which results in dives onto the ground and crashes into walls.

This is a joke right? His 2017, was one of the most historically great defensive seasons ever. Yes, his defense is exceptional...

stringer bell
Oct 21 2018 06:12 PM

Buxton and Sano have some similarities, but real differences too. They are similar ages and have both shown All-Star performance, but never for a full year. Sano looked like a certain star his rookie year and then in the first half of 2017, while Buxton looked like he was emerging in the last half of last year. 


With the position he plays and the defense he brings, Buxton is an asset as an average hitter, especially since his speed makes him such an asset on the bases. Sano has to be well above average at the plate, because he plays a corner (not especially well) and he isn't a game-changer on the bases. 


I do agree that Sano needs to alter both his attitude and approach. It is not okay to strike out 40% of the time. The .199 batting average and .679 OPS aren't pretty.

Buxton's numbers were pathetic as well. He needs to find an approach at the plate that works and stick with it. 


If the Twins are to contend in 2019, one or both of these guys needs to realize much more of their potential than we saw in 2018.