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The Twins lost their best veteran hitter to a trade, and lost their best young hitter to wrist surgery. Now they face the prospect of losing their best all-around player in the near future, following news of failed extension negotiations.

Things are decidedly not chill in Twins Territory.

Weekly Snapshot: Mon, 7/19 through Sun, 7/25
***
Record Last Week: 3-5 (Overall: 42-58)
Run Differential Last Week: -5 (Overall: -71)
Standing: 5th Place in AL Central (17.0 GB)

Last Week's Game Recaps:

Game 93 | MIN 3, CWS 2: Jax Deals, Twins Steal One in Extras
Game 94 | CWS 5, MIN 3: Berrios Goes Deep, Then Sheets Does
Game 95 | CWS 9, MIN 5: Bullpen Implodes in Five-Run 8th Inning
Game 96 | MIN 7, CWS 2: Polanco, Kepler Power Twins to Split
Game 97 | LAA 3, MIN 2: Cruz-less Offense Comes Up Short
Game 98 | MIN 5, LAA 4: Aggressive Baserunning Sparks Win
Game 99 | LAA 2, MIN 1: Twins Narrowly Avoid Getting No-hit
Game 100 | LAA 6, MIN 2: Bats Go Silent Once Again

NEWS & NOTES

The sell-off has officially begun. Nelson Cruz always ranked No. 1 on the list of Twins players most likely to be traded, and the front office didn't waste time, striking a deal with the Tampa Bay Rays eight days ahead of the deadline. 

Losing Cruz is painful in the sense that he's a legendary and incredibly likable player, but this is best for all involved. He ends up on a contending team where he makes a huge difference. Tampa reached the World Series last year and Nelly can help propel them back. Meanwhile, the Twin landed a pair of intriguing pitching prospects who are verging on big-league ready. And those prospects now have a much clearer path than in Tampa's crowded pitching pipeline. 

Naturally, we had plenty of coverage here; I recommend reading the articles below, which include Seth's instant report, Lucas' breakdown of the return package, John's reaction to the deal, and Nash's tribute to Cruz.

We won't be seeing Cruz in a Twins uniform again this year. Nor Alex Kirilloff. The rookie outfielder opted for wrist surgery after reporting that the pain stemming from a torn ligament had intensified recently. His rehab will carry through the rest of the season but he'll have plenty of time to get ready for 2022, which is really all that matters at this point. Kirilloff finishes his first MLB campaign with a .251/.299/.423 slash line and eight home runs in 59 games.

Adding to the exodus of high-quality hitters, Luis Arraez hit the Injured List on Saturday after injuring his knee early in the week. Thankfully, his absence looks to be more temporary than the other two, although his continuing knee troubles don't bode well for the 24-year-old. 

While the Twins suffered some tough losses last week, they did also get some guys back. Mitch Garver returned with a bang on Monday, launching home runs in his first two at-bats. Brent Rooker was recalled after mashing in Triple-A, and should get an extended look at DH in Cruz's stead. Jake Cave was also activated following a two-month stay on IL. 

HIGHLIGHTS

With the trade deadline fast approaching, it's possible we'll see the Twins part with one or more of their foundational building block type players. Jorge Polanco is probably not among them, which is just fine because he's been busy proving he still deserves to be in that class.

Polanco struggled last year and throughout the early weeks of 2021. He entered June with a sub-700 OPS but then finally started to find his groove again, swinging with greater authority and driving the ball with more consistency. 

Finding himself back near the top of the order regularly, Polanco is keying the offense right now; the past week saw him chip in a pair of three-hit games and two home runs, finishing 10-for-25 with six RBIs. Dating back to the start of June he's slashing .297/.346/.506, which is nearly identical to his overall line in 2019 (.295/.356/.485).

On Wednesday, Michael Pineda took the mound for the first time in two weeks, and it was a big step in the right direction at a crucial moment. Through five efficient innings, Pineda held the White Sox to one run on four hits, striking out three and walking one. It wasn't a dominating whiff clinic like we saw earlier this year when Big Mike was at his best, but a reassuring performance nonetheless for any interested buyer. Pineda's slated to face the Tigers on Monday – his last turn before the deadline.

Whatever Pineda gets back in a trade, it won't be much. To really score a haul, the Twins will need to give up one of their most in-demand pitching assets, and both are doing plenty to stoke their markets. Taylor Rogers tossed a pair of scoreless innings with three strikeouts, while José Berríos was masterful in his Saturday night start, allowing just two unearned runs over seven innings against the Halos. 

LOWLIGHTS

The front office would surely love to unload Andrelton Simmons and the remaining millions he's owed before re-entering free agency at season's end. Problem is, they might be hard-pressed to find a taker. 

Simmons has been good in the field, but not good enough to offset the complete and total lack of offense. With each passing week, the shortstop slides further and further into futility at the plate. He went 2-for-22 in the most recent one, and is now slashing a woeful .220/.287/.288 with a negative WAR. Is any contending team really going to view him as enough of an upgrade to take on his remaining $4 million or so in salary? Getting back any kind of prospect is out of the question. Another dead-end move from the past offseason for this front office.

It's beginning to look like we can place Hansel Robles in that bucket too. The Twins are more likely to find a buyer for him than Simmons, given the lesser money involved and the ubiquitous need for relief pitching, but he's not making himself a prized asset. Robles pitched twice this past week and gave up three runs (two earned) on three hits, including a back-breaking home run against the White Sox on Tuesday. Robles has a 5.32 ERA over his past 24 appearances, with opponents hitting .292/.376/.528 against him.

One way or another, Robles will be gone after this year. Alex Colomé too. Rogers is "likely to be dealt" at the deadline according to Ken Rosenthal. Beyond Tyler Duffey there is no continuity built into this bullpen, especially because Jorge Alcala has obliterated all confidence. The right-hander is completely unraveling, and the past week added to his woes with five runs allowed over three innings of work. In his past dozen appearances Alcala has taken three losses, blown two saves, and given up 14 earned runs on 19 hits in 10 ⅓ innings (12.20 ERA). It's not even clear he should be in the majors right now, let alone pitching meaningful innings. 

You look at this relief corps in its current state, and it's just so immensely difficult to envision the kind of abrupt and drastic turnaround needed for the Twins to return to contention in 2022. Which may partially explain why the front office has seemingly softened its commitment to holding players with control beyond this year. 

This is starting to look more like a full-on rebuild. 

TRENDING STORYLINE

The biggest storyline trending around the Twins right now is a deeply disheartening one: Byron Buxton reportedly rejected the team's contract extension offer as the two sides sought to find common ground, at perhaps their last opportunity to do so. It sounds like the club's final offer to Buxton was around $80 million plus incentives, which understandably wasn't enough to entice the superstar center fielder's camp as free agency looms.

Hitting a wall in extension negotiations will compel the Twins to fully explore Buxton's trade market, but probably not until the offseason. The more immediate names to watch are guys like Berríos, Rogers, and Josh Donaldson, who could all be shipped out this week along with impending free agents.

The deadline falls on Friday at 3:00 PM – and it's a hard deadline this time, with no post-waiver avenue available. Buyers need to stock up, nor or never. How different will the Twins' roster, and future, in a week? 

We should all be bracing ourselves for a major shakeup.

LOOKING AHEAD

The July 30th trade deadline is, of course, the date to circle. Rumors are sure to be flying throughout the next four days, with all the action building up to Friday afternoon. Berríos is scheduled to pitch for the Twins that night; will he still be here? Or have we already seen him for the last time in a Twins uniform? 

MONDAY, 7/26: TIGERS @ TWINS – TBD v. RHP Michael Pineda
TUESDAY, 7/27: TIGERS @ TWINS – LHP Tyler Alexander v. RHP Kenta Maeda
WEDNESDAY, 7/28: TIGERS @ TWINS – RHP Wily Peralta v. LHP J.A. Happ
FRIDAY, 7/30: TWINS @ CARDINALS – RHP José Berríos v. LHP Wade LeBlanc
SATURDAY, 7/31: TWINS @ CARDINALS – RHP Bailey Ober v. RHP Jake Woodford
SUNDAY, 8/1: TWINS @ CARDINALS – RHP Michael Pineda v. RHP Johan Oviedo

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If the Twins can't sign Buxton longterm I think they should start the fire sale.  The other central teams are getting better, and the Twins don't seem to have the pitching to contend.  There are arms in the system and trading top assets like Berios and Buxton ( this offseason is probably a better time to trade him) should net some more top arms to help out.

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Count me as the skeptic. Do we have arms?  Of course we do, but do we have quality?  Or will we be signing the Happs and Shoemakers of the world to fill out the rotation? We better bring up the MiLB relief arms and see if any work, the Alcala experiment is looking bad and we cannot just keep putting him out in hopes he will make us forget Pressly.  Today the OF was Cave/Kepler/Gordon.  That is not a championship group.  I am looking for a silver lining, but selling off our good players for prospects - or rather for hope - does not feel good right now.  

 

 

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The only team that I can think of after looking at a lot of systems that could come up with an acceptable package for Berrios and Rogers would be the Dodgers.  They have young pitching, they have position players, they might even be able to part with some major league talent to make a deal happen.  That is the only team I can think of though that could meet the Twins demand.  The Rays could as well but that is not their MO to take on higher salaries for short time periods and they likely would not be able to sing either player after they left.  Toronto could possibly as well but would have to blow up their farm to get both IMO.  All the other systems I just don't see it as they don't appear to match up that well.  

Things may have changed though with Washington being seller's.  If they can cut a better deal for Sherzer\Hand then Maybe Berrios\Rogers falls through?  Hard to say what will happen but I am not convinced they will trade Berrios unless it is a massive return.

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I'll be glad when the trade deadline passes. I am not intrigued or interested by the deadline rumors and speculation - it rather annoys me. The thought of losing Berrios makes my blood boil and the possibility of trading "my guys" that I follow only makes me mad. I am certain I'd be a terrible GM.

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9 hours ago, Dman said:

The only team that I can think of after looking at a lot of systems that could come up with an acceptable package for Berrios and Rogers would be the Dodgers.  They have young pitching, they have position players, they might even be able to part with some major league talent to make a deal happen.  That is the only team I can think of though that could meet the Twins demand.  The Rays could as well but that is not their MO to take on higher salaries for short time periods and they likely would not be able to sing either player after they left.  Toronto could possibly as well but would have to blow up their farm to get both IMO.  All the other systems I just don't see it as they don't appear to match up that well.  

Things may have changed though with Washington being seller's.  If they can cut a better deal for Sherzer\Hand then Maybe Berrios\Rogers falls through?  Hard to say what will happen but I am not convinced they will trade Berrios unless it is a massive return.

The Dodgers have not traded away top prospects either since Friedman came over from Tampa.  That practice has kept them on top so I doubt they change that practice.  I was really hoping Washington would stay hot when they had that streak before the all star game.  That would have helped.

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Biggest week of the year coming up for the Twins.  Hell, might be the biggest week of the decade.

Most disappointing subject for me this week is the continual disappointment from Alcala.  Kid just isn't progressing.  Heck, he seems to be having worse results as the season goes on (don't know if that is true).

The good news has been that players like Kirilloff, Larnach, Rortvedt, Gordon and Ober are getting valuable experience to build on for next year.  Shame Kirilloff is out for the last two months, but considering he played all year with the injury think he proved that he is going to be special. 

Now time for the Front Office to get something done to help this team in 2022 and beyond.  Loved what they got back in their first deal.  Will they pull off a magical week?  Or will they underperform and delegate the team to the bottom of the division for the foreseeable future?

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Meh, I'm fine with that's happening. The Twins aren't good this year, but the free agency class for 2022 is amazing. I continue to be irrationally optimistic the Twins will become a different team and use all the extra money to make a couple big signings instead of making 15 medicore to bad signings and throwing everything at the wall to see what sticks while log jamming the talented guys in the minors.

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Give Terry Francona, Dave Roberts, or Kevin Cash this lineup and the Twins are 15 games over .500, not 15 below.

Selling off once-in-a-lifetime talent like Buxton because your manager is overmatched and can't adjust seems foolish.

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I agree with Bighat  ...

I constantly see our manager out managed by the opposing manager  ,  after the allstar game , first game post interview before second game of doubleheader was , our players are a bit rusty , i heard that and immediately thought  , I guess we're going to lose the second game of doubleheader too .....  then we got swept 

 

it's the managers job to get them ready to play,  almost seems like our manager doesn't play to win

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54 minutes ago, bighat said:

Give Terry Francona, Dave Roberts, or Kevin Cash this lineup and the Twins are 15 games over .500, not 15 below.

Selling off once-in-a-lifetime talent like Buxton because your manager is overmatched and can't adjust seems foolish.

This lineup -- with no Cruz, Buxton, Kirilloff, or Arraez -- is not good. And the pitching staff is worse. No manager would have this team succeeding. 

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I hope people are wrong about the Twins trading off Berrios and Rogers for prospects.  This would begin another long, annoying rebuild.  The Twins have an ample amount of 1-year rentals that they have yet to move.  I don't buy it that no one wants any of them.

Also, why is the team still betting on Sano?

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16 minutes ago, Nick Nelson said:

This lineup -- with no Cruz, Buxton, Kirilloff, or Arraez -- is not good. And the pitching staff is worse. No manager would have this team succeeding. 

Last time I checked the Twins were doing perfectly horrendous with all of those guys in the regular lineup. April and May were disasters.

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2 hours ago, bighat said:

Give Terry Francona, Dave Roberts, or Kevin Cash this lineup and the Twins are 15 games over .500, not 15 below.

Selling off once-in-a-lifetime talent like Buxton because your manager is overmatched and can't adjust seems foolish.

That’s insanity, no manager is worth 30 wins! We have the third worst pitching staff by runs allowed, what sorcery would these managers perform to erase the runs out pitchers allow?

Maybe Roberts or Francona could have gotten 3 or 4 wins, but not 30. Heck, I know Dodgers fans who think Roberts is a poor manager and if fired, they’d be doing better. It’s all a matter of perspective...

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1 hour ago, Dodecahedron said:

...Also, why is the team still betting on Sano?

Because they owe him, at a bare minimum, $12MM next year. ($9.25MM guaranteed + $2.75MM buyout for 2023's team option). I'm sure the hope is Sano gets on one of his patented hot streaks through the end of the year and the Twins can use that to trade him or justify keeping him on the roster next year.

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1 hour ago, Danchat said:

That’s insanity, no manager is worth 30 wins! We have the third worst pitching staff by runs allowed, what sorcery would these managers perform to erase the runs out pitchers allow?

Maybe Roberts or Francona could have gotten 3 or 4 wins, but not 30. Heck, I know Dodgers fans who think Roberts is a poor manager and if fired, they’d be doing better. It’s all a matter of perspective...

Yeah I guess I was kind of building it up for effect there.

The bullpen plus the Shoemaker/Happ/Dobnak stuff is unsurvivable.

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On 7/26/2021 at 9:07 AM, bean5302 said:

Meh, I'm fine with that's happening. The Twins aren't good this year, but the free agency class for 2022 is amazing. I continue to be irrationally optimistic the Twins will become a different team and use all the extra money to make a couple big signings instead of making 15 medicore to bad signings and throwing everything at the wall to see what sticks while log jamming the talented guys in the minors.

We shall see; what is left of the Bomba group --  Garver, Sano, Kepler.

Gone are C.J. Cron, Cruz and Schoop; had they remained perhaps the Twins would have put up enough runs to not look like 100 losses is possible.

Cron as  a 1st Base alternative to Sano would have been dozens of less strike outs and better fielding.; Schoop at either 2nd Base or 1st Base, would have been far better than Arraez's lack-lustre fielding ability or Sano.

Astudillo as part time catcher would have been far, far, far better than a constant Rortvedt or even Jeffers, ( his ERA this year is 3.00  😄

So now they have Donaldson and Simmons both extremely good fielders, though Simmons bat is not what it should be but still far better than any thing else the Twins have -- Polanco is not bad at second base and his bat is coming on.

If they can pick up some veterans to replace those they let go, leaving the Twins playing Minor League learning camp for rookies, next year , even if the pitching is not a great improvement, will be far better than this year.

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