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The Minnesota Twins are a bad baseball team. This was made painfully clear during another losing week in which they were thoroughly outplayed by two plainly superior contending clubs.

Where do we go from here? 

Weekly Snapshot: Mon, 6/7 through Sun, 6/13
***
Record Last Week: 2-4 (Overall: 26-39)
Run Differential Last Week: -15 (Overall: -50)
Standing: T-4th Place in AL Central (15.0 GB)

Last Week's Game Recaps:

Game 60 | NYY 8, MIN 4: New York Pulls Away Late, Wins Series Opener
Game 61 | NYY 9, MIN 6: Yankees Tee Off on Dobnak in Victory
Game 62 | MIN 7, NYY 5: Donaldson, Cruz Power Dramatic Comeback vs. Chapman
Game 63 | HOU 6, MIN 4: Shoemaker's Late Lapse Leads to Loss
Game 64 | MIN 5, HOU 2: Twins Win Behind Strong Effort from Berríos  
Game 65 | HOU 14, MIN 3: Astros Destroy Twins Pitching in Blowout

NEWS & NOTES

Relatively speaking, it was a pretty quiet week in terms of roster moves and injury updates. Byron Buxton, Kenta Maeda, Luis Arraez, and Max Kepler all embarked on rehab assignments in St. Paul, so the Twins figure to get back these important fixtures in the near future. Gilberto Celestino was optioned to Triple-A, then quickly recalled, as Kyle Garlick went on the shelf with a sports hernia. Rob Refsnyder is back. (He started in right field and batted cleanup on Sunday, which says a lot about the state of this roster.)

HIGHLIGHTS

The biggest highlight of the week, and the season, came in the ninth inning of Thursday's series finale against the Yankees. With the Twins trailing by two runs and facing a sweep, Aroldis Chapman came to the mound, carrying a 0.39 ERA, 4-0 record, and 12-for-13 save conversion rate. He'd been lights-out, and was going up against a Twins team that has constantly shrunk in big spots.

All of which made the ensuing sequence of events astonishingly improbable. 

If you turned away from the TV, you might've missed one of the most exhilarating comeback wins in recent franchise history. It all happened so quickly.

Jorge Polanco led off with a single. In stepped Josh Donaldson, who took ball one and then launched a mammoth game-tying home run to left-center. Willians Astudillo, pinch-hitting for Nick Gordon, followed with a first-pitch single of his own. And then came Nelson Cruz, who basically replicated what Donaldson did two ABs earlier by drilling a 1-0 pitch deep to center for the walk-off winner. 

Within a span of nine pitches, the Twins grasped victory from the jaws of defeat.

For Twins fans, the feeling was bittersweet, because it was hard not to think about how much more epic and energizing that win would've been if the Twins hadn't cast themselves hopelessly out of contention. In anticipation of this season, we dreamed about Cruz and Donaldson coming through with game-changing jolts like this all year long, but instead, such marquee moments have been far and few between, which is part of the reason the team finds itself buried in last place. 

With that said, Cruz's bat has been showing some life at the plate again lately and that's good to see now matter how you slice it. He went 6-for-16 with three home runs and six RBIs on the week, equaling his totals in those categories from the entire month of May. He might not find himself leading the Twins on a pennant chase in August and September, but maybe he can do it for someone else, and score Minnesota a prospect or two in the process.

Donaldson's clutch bomb was also part of a power-hitting rejuvenation, as he followed the next day by going deep twice against Houston – his second two-homer game in an eight-day span. His slugging percentage, which had sagged to .408 by the end of the Baltimore series in early June, is back up to .475. As I noted last week, Donaldson's been remarkably healthy and durable since his season-opening IL sint, leading the team in games played and plate appearances since returning. He's also been doing some very nice work with the glove.

Polanco, whose single set up the dramatic finish against New York, has generally stayed hot at the plate. He went 6-for-21 with three homers and six RBIs last week. His left-handed swing is actually doing damage again and that's huge. Other standout offensive performances included Miguel Sanó (8-for-24 with two homers and four RBIs) and Alex Kirilloff (5-for-13 with just one strikeout in five games). 

There weren't many positives on the pitching side, but José Berríos certainly qualifies. He was masterful against the Astros on Saturday night, spinning seven innings of two-run ball. The righty allowed only five hits and two walks while striking out eight. Berríos has won five straight decisions and the Twins are 7-1 in his last seven starts dating back to the beginning of May. 

The other noteworthy pitching bright spot was a strong showing from Bailey Ober on Friday night, when he made a spot start in place of Matt Shoemaker. Going against an elite Houston offense, Ober tossed five innings and allowed just two runs, striking out seven with one walk. He continues to pump 92-93 MPH with his four-seamer, which is immensely encouraging. Ober looks like he could be a legitimate factor on a pitching staff that desperately needs help, both now and moving forward.

LOWLIGHTS

Even after being bumped from the rotation, Shoemaker continues to cost the Twins with his staggeringly poor play. He appeared in relief on Friday night against the Astros and took the loss, giving up two runs in the ninth to break a tie. (The decision by Rocco Baldelli to use him in this situation was ... questionable to say the least.) He came out of the bullpen again on Sunday and looked customarily awful, coughing up three runs on four hits and two walks in two innings of work. 

Shoemaker has the worst ERA in the league, he's been tagged with eight losses in 13 appearances, and seems to look worse every time he takes the mound. It's past time for the Twins to move on. Roster crunches and depth issues be damned: you can't justify continuing to run a guy like this out in major-league games.

The same can also be said for Alex Colomé, whose brief stretch of effectiveness in May is now a distant memory. He gave up two runs on three hits in his one inning of work on Sunday, and has a 5.48 ERA on the season to go along with his league-worst (by a mile) negative-2.34 Win Probability Added. Colomé's departure is probably less imminent than Shoemaker's, because they're paying him three times as much and are so direly short-handed in the bullpen, but in both cases it's only a matter of time. These guys were complete free agent busts and wherever the Twins go from here, they aren't going to be part of it.

The situation with Randy Dobnak is a bit more complicated. He's looked every bit as bad as Shoemaker, with his ERA inflating to 8.38 after allowing 14 earned runs in 6 ⅔ innings over the past week. Dobnak gave up five home runs in two appearances, with four coming against his reinvented slider which has changed from a powerful asset to a glaring weakness for him. That begs the question why he or the Twins thought it would be a good idea to tinker with that pitch in the first place.

It's not pleasant to watch Dobnak pitch right now, but the solution isn't as simple as cutting bait like it is with Shoemaker. The Twins just signed Dobnak to a five-year contract extension on the heels of an outstanding spring training, and while the monetary commitment isn't huge, they are invested in him for better or worse. It behooves them to help him work through his issues because he's currently one of their few figments of long-term stability in the rotation picture.

Fixing the pitching staff has become a primary crux for the Twins and their future outlook. The work is cut out for them here. Michael Pineda looks to be headed for the Injured List. Shoemaker is unusable and J.A. Happ hasn't been much better. Berríos is under contract for one more year after this and Maeda two more. It's tough to have much confidence in the front office filling tons of holes and constructing a quality unit from scratch during the offseason given how poorly all of their moves this year fared. 

As such, you can see why it's critically important for Ober to build on his early success and for Dobnak to get straightened out. The Twins need some things to break right with young pitchers or they simply won't be equipped to contend next year, in which case, why not just trade Berríos at the upcoming deadline?

TRENDING STORYLINE

For what it's worth, the Twins are about to get a lot closer to full strength. Maeda, Buxton, and Arraez have completed their rehab stints and will be traveling to Seattle for the upcoming road trip. Maeda is scheduled to start against the Mariners on Monday, and the other two will presumably be activated for that game as well. Kepler is be a bit further behind, given that he played his first rehab game in St. Paul on Sunday (and was the DH), but we could see him up before week's end. Those are some pretty key cogs the Twins have been playing without. 

We'll see if their returns, along with a softening of the schedule, can help this team get on a bit of a winning run here in the back half of June. So far, sustained hot streaks have eluded them.

LOOKING AHEAD

Get ready for some late-night baseball as the Twins head to Seattle for a showdown against the Mariners in Pacific Time. Then, following an off day, Minnesota heads down to Texas for a weekend series against the last-place Rangers.

MONDAY, 6/13: TWINS @ MARINERS – RHP Kenta Maeda v. LHP Marco Gonzales
TUESDAY, 6/14: TWINS @ MARINERS – LHP J.A. Happ vs. RHP Chris Flexen
WEDNESDAY, 6/15: TWINS @ MARINERS – RHP Bailey Ober v. RHP Justus Sheffield
FRIDAY, 6/17: TWINS @ RANGERS – RHP Jose Berrios v. RHP Mike Foltynewicz
SATURDAY, 6/18: TWINS @ RANGERS – TBD v. LHP Kolby Allard
SUNDAY, 6/19: TWINS @ RANGERS – RHP Kenta Maeda v. RHP Dane Dunning


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Hmmm. And just a couple of months ago, by most accounts everywhere, they were a top 5 team in MLB. The adored FO and its manager have sabotaged this team with the crummy parts they added or resigned. Colome, Happ, Dobnak, Shoemaker, the scrap heap pitchers signed and in AAA, Duffey becoming doughboy and ineffective, Maeda becoming himself again (everyone was penciling him in as ace and even took homegrown Berrios opening day start away from him), believing in Sano come hell or high water..... 

This could have been different, and off season signings been remarkable instead of tragic. This is not a bad team. It is a team that needs uninjured players, and pitching that isn't a hope. And a manager that inspires. Some of his decisions have just been horrid. Many, I mean. I hope they don't trade their best players. You don't become better if you trade Berrios, for instance. Just like we aren't better by trading Ryan Pressly for prospects. Blah blah blah... you can't grade the trade yet..... sure you can. Houston got a closer and we got hope. All these years count still. And so far, for what we needed for the "window", we got nothing.

We get better by replacing the bad players with good players, not by trading the best ones for hope and dreams.

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i am sure you will get warning points for this blog but I am right here to tell you I am 100% in agreement with you. Have you ever met someone and things just weren't right? You couldn't really explain why you just didn't like em.. couldn't trust em. That to me are the Falvines. Am i the only one that sees the crap that went on in 2018? One example, How are you at Spring Training and it takes you until June 1st to see how out of shape Sano was? (boneheaded) Fast forward to now. This team needs a not so swift kick in their overpaid asses. I am afraid Baldelli is not qualified to do t. Derek Falvey is giddy because now he can gut the team and see his name in the media as our savior once again

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Even against decent teams with second-line and third-line players this team has done OK at producing runs. As long as our position players are healthy I'm not concerned about that. It seems we have enough talent coming along to keep us stocked for the next few years. Beyond that, the obvious has already been stated many times. It's time to cut bait regarding Shoemaker. I can't picture another team taking him on if he's released, much less give something up for him in a trade. We should hang on to other short-termers for now and hope their performance in the next month or so can fetch us something in trades. But don't be impatient; the offers from contenders will improve between now and the trading deadline and we want to get the most we can.

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When we live in the world of woulda, coulda, shoulda... The current Twins epitomize this.  Would have been better without the injuries, slightly better but we really weren't that good when we were healthy (minus the 1st week). Key pieces of the pie on paper could have done better and should be playing better.  Kepler and Cave in OF were placeholders for the young guns and weren't the difference maker.  Sano, you get a blind squirrel finds a nut (HR) every now and then but overweight K machine consistently is brutal (modern day O's Chris Davis).  Cruz has been better side of OK, need to move him before deadline to a contender, he deserves  that much.  Astudillo cute story is just that cute story, versatile on paper but not great at any single position, back up at best (should never see the mound again but when your relief core blows chunks when they step on the field, you get 47 mph).  Simmons defense was calling card, hitting not so much.  Give me .250 avg all day from him, but needs to shore up defense.  I like Gordon, should be playing 5-6 days a week, probably will since Buxton will be injured again by Independence Day.  Pitching staff has been brutal except for Berrios.  Build around him and Maeda, Ober and let the young guys in waiting battle for us late summer.  Ouch of a year for sure

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Its going to be interesting, dare I say watchable, if we ever get everyone healthy.  

This season has either been a comedy of misfortune on player health, or a clear indication that whatever it is that the training staff is doing - they are doing it wrong.  

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7 hours ago, SoDakTwinsFan4 said:

I hope for the best with the team, players, & front office. No idea what the correct answer is, although I hope it does not require a total rebuild. I will continue watching/following/cheering/Hoping 

I agree. I hope that next year the Twins can contend.

I certainly hope they can retain Berrios for the rest of this season, at least.

Losing Buxton would also be crushing,

Pretty sure Cruz will be gone by the trade deadline, which makes sense.  Imagine he'll go to a playoff bound AL team, and good for him. He deserves it. 

It's worth noting that with the epic failures of so many of the FO's recent moves, the Cruz acquisition has been an unqualified success. 

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Kudos, Nick, for telling it like it is!  At this stage of this bitter season, it is a lot more refreshing to see the cold, hard facts rather than the apologist's versions.  As a devoted Twins' fan for almost 70 years,  I am sickened by their ineptness, both on the field, in the clubhouse, and in mgt. ranks.  With that said, I recognize that the common knee jerk rx to fire the ones responsible for the carnage might give us temporary emotional relief, but will not happen, at least this year.

So the real qurstion is :  how much rope should Falvine, Baldy, and staff be given?  As you've indicated, the Twins will be in seller's mode and Falvey has shown little hesitation in dumping players at the deadline.  But isn't the real question now:   can this squad return to contention next year, and if so, who constitutes the core going forward and what prospects have a chance to contribute to a turnaround?  

My two cents:

1.  The core consists of :  Bux, Berrios,  Kirillof, Larnach, Jeffers, Arraez/Polanco(probably not both).  If so, trading Bux or Berrios is a no-no.  Signing them to long term contracts is a priority.

2. There are very few prospects who right now look like keepers.  Maybe Ober, Alcala, and perhaps Gordon(utility).  That's not enough to fill in this roster with positive adds for next season.  So the immediate need is to bring up our best prospects ASAP., e.g., Duran, Winder, Balozavic(in a month or so),  and a couple of relievers now doing well at Wichita.  Dump the non-performers now:  Colome, Shoemaker, and Dobnak for starters.  Let's see the rooks sooner so we have a better idea what we have rather than wait for a September callup.  A few other players can be traded for more prospects closer to the deadline:  Cruz, Sano or Kepler, Duffy or Rogers or both, maybe Pineda if he brings back a top 100 prospect.

I would then reassess these new players' performance and see if we have enough to contend next year.  If the answer is yes, then give the FO & Baldy one more chance next year.  If not, then it's time for an offseason housecleaning that includes Falvine, Rocco and coaching staff.   There must be some accountability, either positive or negative!!

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For those of you old enough to remember Howard Cosell on Monday night football, you will remember his color guy, Dandy Don Meredith.  He had a song he used to sing late in blowout games..."Turn out the lights, the parties over.  All good things come to an end."  That song sure as heck applies to where the Twins are this year and it isn't even the end of June.

Our fun the next three months will be speculating and watching whatever moves the Twins make.  For me, they can't begin soon enough.

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It's is hard to imagine 3 minor league prospects pitching worse in the big leagues than Shoemaker, Colome and Dobnak. It is way past time for the FO to show some guts and release these 3 worthless clowns and give some youngsters a chance to play where they are needed. The definition of Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and over and expecting different results. Falvine.........  how insane are you?

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1 hour ago, HokieRif said:

Its going to be interesting, dare I say watchable, if we ever get everyone healthy.  

This season has either been a comedy of misfortune on player health, or a clear indication that whatever it is that the training staff is doing - they are doing it wrong.  

Apparently pretty much every training staff in baseball is doing it wrong because there is an unprecedented injury rate this year and it's not even close.  Why do sports fan so love to go right to assuming someone is incompetent?  I have no idea what's going on.  It's not my area of expertise. Perhaps someone here who actually has some credentials on the subject could offer some ideas on why the league is absolutely plagued with injuries.

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46 minutes ago, USAFChief said:

Very hard to keep the faith in an organization that has kept Matt Shoemaker on the roster over the past several weeks.

 

The examples of players who have turned around a bad season are endless.  Players should not be jettisoned at the first sign of trouble.  They moved him to the pen 60 games into the season.  It's not if they just ignored the problem.  The next logical step was to see if he could provide value out of the BP.  

They also have to have a replacement.  How quickly did you expect them to determine readiness with no Milb season last year and a late start this year?  I would have much more difficulty having faith in an organization that did things without a thoughtful process.  Just dumping Shoemaker is not a thoughtful process. 

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I went to the game on Sunday and when they continued to parade in Dobnak followed by Colome followed by Shoemaker, I wanted my money back.

Seriously, release Colome and Shoemaker and demote Dobnak.  No one on this site understands why all three are still in the majors.

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57 minutes ago, chinmusic said:

I agree. I hope that next year the Twins can contend.

I certainly hope they can retain Berrios for the rest of this season, at least.

Losing Buxton would also be crushing,

Pretty sure Cruz will be gone by the trade deadline, which makes sense.  Imagine he'll go to a playoff bound AL team, and good for him. He deserves it.

Crushing to what?  We suck and he is hurt half of the time.  Getting a nice return from a playoff team that will gamble on him being healthy the next year and a half could be the boost this team needs.  A blind focus on the present or even next year is exactly what we can't afford right now.  This is not a $500M revenue team that can go out an buy the pieces next year so how are you turning this team into a contender next year.  Extreme long-shot.  They need to take and trade with a good return on anyone that is not signed past next year including Berrios and Buxton if the compensation is good.

The idea that we can just extend this naive.  The big clubs are simply able to outbid us and any other mid/small market team.  Players like Buxton and Berrios that are brilliant at times are going to have their agents advising them to test the market.  Berrios and his agent are hoping he gets paid like an ace.  Buxton is probably hoping to get paid like a guy that plays 150 games/year at the level he played in May.  The only way to some players are going to sign is if they get substantially over paid and that's not good for the team either.  Maybe they crave the spotlight in a big market.  Maybe they just want to play somewhere else.  Maybe they want to get every last nickel and therefore insist on going through the free agency process,  IDK but to just say they need to sign them is simplistic.

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28 minutes ago, Major League Ready said:

The examples of players who have turned around a bad season are endless.  Players should not be jettisoned at the first sign of trouble.  They moved him to the pen 60 games into the season.  It's not if they just ignored the problem.  The next logical step was to see if he could provide value out of the BP.  

They also have to have a replacement.  How quickly did you expect them to determine readiness with no Milb season last year and a late start this year?  I would have much more difficulty having faith in an organization that did things without a thoughtful process.  Just dumping Shoemaker is not a thoughtful process. 

I'd argue putting your organization in the position of needing a pitcher with an ERA over 7.5 and a WHIP over 1.6 is "not a thoughtful process."

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28 minutes ago, Major League Ready said:

Crushing to what?  We suck and he is hurt half of the time.  Getting a nice return from a playoff team that will gamble on him being healthy the next year and a half could be the boost this team needs.  A blind focus on the present or even next year is exactly what we can't afford right now.  This is not a $500M revenue team that can go out an buy the pieces next year so how are you turning this team into a contender next year.  Extreme long-shot.  They need to take and trade with a good return on anyone that is not signed past next year including Berrios and Buxton if the compensation is good.

The idea that we can just extend this naive.  The big clubs are simply able to outbid us and any other mid/small market team.  Players like Buxton and Berrios that are brilliant at times are going to have their agents advising them to test the market.  Berrios and his agent are hoping he gets paid like an ace.  Buxton is probably hoping to get paid like a guy that plays 150 games/year at the level he played in May.  The only way to some players are going to sign is if they get substantially over paid and that's not good for the team either.  Maybe they crave the spotlight in a big market.  Maybe they just want to play somewhere else.  Maybe they want to get every last nickel and therefore insist on going through the free agency process,  IDK but to just say they need to sign them is simplistic.

Where did I say "they need to sign them" ?

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The article last week indicating we needed to go 13-5, or 12-6, over the stretch through the end of June, was spot on.  The hard part is facing the future once we don't do that.  If it is clear that Berrios and Buxton are not going to sign extensions (or the team isn't willing to pay what it takes to get them to sign), time is our enemy.  Their value drops with each passing week, until the narrative becomes "but they are only signed for (half a season) (one more year)."

Much easier to tweak a strong lineup than retool, but it is hopeless to waste your most tradable assets on the tiny possibility that 2021 (or even a bounce-back 2022 that leads to above-average second-tier baseball) is worth clinging to.

Stinks thinking about trading Berrios and Buxton (and Cruz and Pineda and Simmons), but if it brings back, I don't know, young controllable pitching, they couldn't be any more unwatchable than they are now.....

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3.5 months to figure out whether to re-tool for 2022 or rebuild for 2023 and beyond. I have a hard time believing they’ll trade either of Buxton or Berrios until the offseason. $50 million comes off the books after the season. Potentially more than that if we can find teams willing to take on part of Sano and Donaldson’s contracts. 

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I don't know this team has been up and down since 2016.  In 2016 they were dead last in the division and headed no where.  Then in 2017 they somehow magically won the Wild card. 2018 they were bad enough to trade away at the deadline. 2019 they managed to win the division and 100 games,  2020 was smoke and mirrors but they won the division.  2021 looks like a bad luck year with several guys needing to either be resigned or traded for best value.  With some luck they could be good enough for a wild card next year hard to say.  Sometimes things go your way sometimes they don't.  Haven't seen total system failure like this from a team expected to compete for the top spot in the division but if they make the right moves Trading or extending this can still be a very good in the near future.

I guess what I am ultimately saying is firing people and calling them incompetent doesn't make a lot of sense given the way this team has performed the last 6 years.  They have been up and down and I believe the main reason has been pitching.  When it is there they have been good when not they have not.  The FO really needs those young pitchers to develop and make a difference at the MLB level and then we will all be saying what a great team we have and how the FO is so good at identifying talent.  For me it is too early to call this year anything but unlucky.  Let's make some moves get some guys ready and see what happens next year.

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36 minutes ago, chinmusic said:

Where did I say "they need to sign them" ?

The point was they need to cash in on their trade value if possible.  Keeping them through 2022 relinquishes that opportunity so just keeping them is the same outcome for the purposes of this discussion.  The comments on signing them was directed at the masses that say we just have to sign them.

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30 minutes ago, Vanimal46 said:

3.5 months to figure out whether to re-tool for 2022 or rebuild for 2023 and beyond. I have a hard time believing they’ll trade either of Buxton or Berrios until the offseason. $50 million comes off the books after the season. Potentially more than that if we can find teams willing to take on part of Sano and Donaldson’s contracts. 

There COULD be some decisions to make to that end in the next 1.5 months.

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54 minutes ago, USAFChief said:

I'd argue putting your organization in the position of needing a pitcher with an ERA over 7.5 and a WHIP over 1.6 is "not a thoughtful process."

So what would you have done within the budget they have to work with in 2021?  Most here advocated for Odorizzi.  That would not be much better.  Some said trade a bunch of prospects for Snell.  That would be a little better but for all practical purposes insignificant.  It's easy to complain.  What would have been accepted here at the start of the year as a reasonable solution, within the budget, that would have made this team a contender?   

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OF: Buxton, Larnach, Kepler/Player X (Garlick? Rooker?) platoon

IF: Donaldson, FA Signing (Really hoping Twins do non-Twins thing and sign a big name SS), Polanco, Kirilloff

Catchers: Garver, Jeffers

Bench: Gordon, Arraez, Player Y

That offense can compete for the division next year. If Player Y is Sano that's cool, but I'd prefer to move on from him. 

Starters: Berrios, Maeda, Pitchers X, Y, and Z

Pen: Rogers, Alcala, Pitchers A-Z

This staff cannot compete next year. Hoping during the second half of this season we see if Duran can take a spot in the rotation. Or Balazovic. Or Canterino. They need to sign a legit starter (not a 30m guy, but a 20m guy). The pitching market is not overly impressive this offseason, but they have to get 1 of the top 5 guys. The pen needs all the help it can get. Wouldn't be upset seeing Robles come back, but if he's one of your top 3 or 4 guys it's probably going to be a long year again. Second half of this season hopefully provides a chance to see if Moran, Cano, etc. can provide help next year. They also need to sign 2 legit guys. I'm not a fan of paying pen guys 15m a year, but find two 10m guys and pray they don't become Colome 2.0.

The offense is ready to compete and I think that should stop the FO from doing anything crazy and blowing it up. There's a lot of young guys in that group and blowing it up wastes all of them. Pitching needs to be addressed in a big way. The time is now to see if their pitching pipeline plans were developed the right way and can start producing. Plenty of talk on here of Falvine being a bust with pitching prospects, but that's ignoring how long it takes to develop pitching and the fact that there was no 2020 MiLB season. But results need to start to be seen late this year and next year would be the measuring stick if I'm ownership. Can one of the stable of young arms come up and look like a legit front end arm? If not its much more acceptable to doubt the FO.

Firing the FO and Rocco is a knee jerk response to an abysmal year, but ignores the progress that has been made the last few years. Picking out Shoemaker, Colome, and Happ and saying the FO is a complete failure at signing FAs, etc. is ignoring Cruz, Donaldson, Pineda, Refsnyder, Garlick, Wisler, etc. The Twins had a top 5 pitching staff the last 2 years. Now they have a bottom 5. If you're going to blast them for this year at least give them credit for the previous 2. I'm not a fan of their "must be 100% to play" approach and all the off days and all that. If you prepare to only perform at 100% strength you're going to struggle when you have to perform at 75% strength. And nobody is at 100% in October. They've done so much to reduce any friction, stress, or adversity that it shouldn't be shocking that they crumble with friction, stress, and adversity in big moments and the playoffs. I'm not a Rocco fan, but firing him for this disaster is knee jerk as well. This season has been an embarrassment, but the whole team isn't in need of pink slips. The offense is ready to go (if the young guys haven't been infected by the "shrink in big moments" virus). Now they need to get a legit pitching staff and 2022 can look much different.

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The path forward is clear now and frankly has been for the last month or so. This is a developmental/retooling year. What we need to learn from this year is what pieces we have and don't have and whether our focus is short term or a full rebuild is in order. I think if you start there, the steps are relatively straightforward. 

First, you DFA or trade the players on expiring contracts or who aren't part of the next contending team, unless you want to re-sign them now. DFA Shoemaker TODAY. Get ready to trade Cruz, Happ and Simmons. Trade Pineda if he's healthy enough to be interesting, you can always try to re-sign him in the offseason and he just isn't healthy enough for more than 20-22 starts. Demote Dobnak, he might be part of a contending team as a back end starter, you need to try to straighten him out in AAA. Colome is going to be almost impossible to trade because of his contract so we're probably stick trying to "fix" him or an August DFA. We're stuck with Donaldson and while he's overpaid, he does help us, just not as much as we'd hoped. Try to re-sign Robles and trade him if you can't.

Second, bring up the troops and play them every day. Keep Larnach and Kirilloff on pace for at least 500 MLB at bats, and try to find 350-400 for Gordon. Jeffers and Rortvedt catch until Garver is back and even then should stay and get MLB experience. Ober stays in the rotation, Duran joins him after the All-Star break, and find 5-8 starts for any other starter you think has a chance to be MLB helpful next year (Winder, Sands, Barnes?). Get Hamilton, Vasquez, Moran and Cano into the bullpen at various points and try to get them 20 appearances apiece unless they stink out of the gate. Try Thorpe as a reliever when he's off the DL. Balzevic can move up to AAA in a few weeks, and then get a start or 3 in September so we don't use up a year.

As for everyone else, while they've done ok, they should be moved to AAA or traded if necessary to give other guys their shot.  These are the guys on the roster who are nice to have but don't move the needle much - Theilbar, Astudillo, Refsnyder, Garlick, Cave. Love Astudillo as a 26th man, both Refsnyder and Garlick are nice stories and Theilbar has been better than expected but we're talking about a 26th man/3rd catcher utility guy, 2 guys competing for the 5th or 6th OF spot, and a back of bullpen LH. They could help another team this year but they aren't part of the core of the Twins going forward ( with the possible exception of Refsnyder if this SSS is even close to what he could do off the bench). Let's use their roster spots for evaluating players. 

Whatever you do DO NOT trade Buxton or Berrios until the offseason. Try to keep them and then trade them only if you can't re-sign them and then only for near MLB ready starting pitching. They are part of the next contending Twins team and we need this year to figure out the horizon for that team - 2022, 2023, or are we looking at 2025 or later? The answer to that question determines how much you pay to keep them.     

Good times. 

 

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58 minutes ago, Major League Ready said:

There COULD be some decisions to make to that end in the next 1.5 months.

Beyond flipping the rental players I don’t see this being a bold trade deadline for us. There might be a blockbuster trade that happens in MLB. For the most part, I think it’s going to be a quiet trading period, for the same reasons why we don’t have depth ready right now. 
 

No MiLB season in 2020 and minimal opportunities to scout other teams’ players in the last 15 months. The league is littered with injuries, and teams that do have MLB ready prospects in the upper minors will need them for their own depth. And A ball players are playing under different rules than AA/AAA. All of that makes it quite difficult to pull off a Berrios/Buxton/Rogers trade in season. 

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2 minutes ago, Vanimal46 said:

Beyond flipping the rental players I don’t see this being a bold trade deadline for us. There might be a blockbuster trade that happens in MLB. For the most I think it’s going to be a quiet trading period, for mostly the same reasons why we don’t have depth ready right now. 
 

No MiLB season in 2020 and minimal opportunities to scout other teams’ players in the last 15 months. The league is littered with injuries, and teams that do have MLB ready prospects in the upper minors will need them for their own depth. And A ball players are playing under different rules than AA/AAA. All of that makes it quite difficult to pull off a Berrios/Buxton/Rogers trade in season. 

I agree which is why I capitalized "could".  Pitching is always in demand at the deadline and Buxton has been having a Traut like season.  Is it not possible to believe a team takes a chance this is Yelich type situation and trades for him in season?  I don't think it's probable but I could happen.

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