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The Twins Are Good, Right?


Ted Schwerzler

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I have been a big proponent of retiring anything to do with the Bomba Squad moniker from 2019. Let seasons evolve on their own. The 2021 team was supposed to be good, they are on paper, but will it take shape?

 

We are not yet through the month of April and I keep harping on the runway left for the 2021 season. Minnesota has played just over 12% of their games, and they are chasing a White Sox team that is just 4.5 games clear of them right now. That’s all to outline the current positioning isn’t dire. The problem is that the production just hasn’t been there.

 

Rocco Baldelli has gotten less than nothing from his catching tandem, and the left field situation has been a mess. Expecting Byron Buxton, Josh Donaldson, and Nelson Cruz all to be good was a pretty solid bet, and that’s played out as expected. Miguel Sano is currently on the IL, and while the numbers haven’t yet worked in his favor, the process is more than working.

 

The point we’re quickly getting to is wondering when things click?

 

If there’s three chief areas of concern, it’s the two previously outlined and the bullpen. Alex Colome was always going to regress from his otherworldly 2020 numbers, but his career production suggested that a baseline was hardly something to scoff at. Instead, he’s been historically bad while being more hittable than at any point during his career. The middle relief looks inept and holding onto small deficits just hasn’t been doable.

 

Looking at the lineup, Baldelli can’t continue to get an empty lineup spot from multiple positions. Mitch Garver no longer punishes lefties or fastballs, and while Alex Kirilloff is just a few games in to his first promotion, he’s currently dealing with an 0-fer. Whether it’s a longer leash for Ryan Jeffers, who has also been bad, or a big game for Kirilloff, the Twins need things to break their way.

 

This hasn’t been the Bomba Squad for quite some time, and the lineup doesn’t need to launch balls into the seats for opportunity to win. Luis Arraez and Andrelton Simmons provide plenty of good contact-based opportunities, and it’s on Minnesota to start capitalizing with what’s in front of them. Despite having the second worst record in baseball, the run differential is only -9 and the pythag presents a better 9-11 story.

 

Maybe it’s been bad luck, but it’s time to start creating their own. If the expectation was for this team to be good coming into the year, 20 games shouldn’t change that. At some point though, results have to follow.

 

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

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I like that Rocco has finally been dealing a consistent lineup. Now players have to stop striking out.

 

But the return of Kepler, Garlick and Sano doesn't raise expectations. Simmons is fine, but he is still a contact guy. Cathcing is so deep in the hole, both on offense and defense. Is there anyone out there and is it worth to take a gamble on...Lucroy? I almost feel like I would go with Willians everyday until he can't do it no more.

 

Clippard is disabled. Littell is in the minors. Poppen is with the Pirates. May is May and would fit right in with the current bullpen. Wissler and Romo are both horrible, so glad they aren't in the pen.

 

The strikeout is fine, if it doesn't come with walks and hit batters...as well as the long ball. Hard throwers are fine, yes. But sometimes you do want a Brandon Kintzler coming out of the pen. Between starters that, as a whole, can barely pitch five innings, and no roles for the bullpen (go ahead, let's pitch two innings, you are closing today, you come in and stand three runners everyday, just throw buddy you are on your own). What looked like a reasonable strength for the Twins ahs turned into a disaster, especially when a team can't push across more than two runs in a game. 

 

The key for the Twins has always been what to do with Sano and can Buxton play today. At some point, you just gotta cut Sano rather than work around him all the time. 

 

And going forward, look at the 40-man. Who is NOT going to be on the roster in 2022 (prospects currently there) and those that are currently holding a space and you have no desire bringing them back, make the hard decision of eating salary or give a short string for them to increase their value and trade them off to make room for a prospect and create a temporary roster spot for someone, eprhaps, who is hungry to be a major league player again.

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IF you have a team that had a year offensively like the Twins did in 2019, and that team really thinks that’s what they really are, you will get exactly what you are getting now. Big games, big droughts, tons of strike outs, lots of attempts at 5 run HR’s. Basically an all or nothing offense. While I know some of that is the "new" baseball, and it’s endemic around the game, the Twins seem to have taken the term situational hitting completely out of their vocabulary! 

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