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Following the 2020 Major League Baseball season, we would get a year in which normalcy returned to ballparks. The Minnesota Twins had won two straight AL Central titles, and their offseason set up a three-peat opportunity. Then the games started.

If there’s a takeaway for 2021, it’s that nothing is won in the offseason. Take it from a guy that hung a banner over the winter, and it will be worth taking a significant lap when the dust settles on spending before Opening Day 2022.

Going into this season, the Twins needed to do little more than hold serve. This team was no longer the Bomba Squad, but they didn’t need to be. Rocco Baldelli had to have a well-rounded group and one that took a step forward with a well-established core. There was plenty of promise after adding more pitching options, a defensive wizard at shortstop, and bringing back the Boomstick. Depth looked to be in a great place, and the talent at the top should’ve been comparable to anyone.

After getting out to a 5-2 start, the Twins went on a 1-9 run. They never recovered and didn’t see a .500 record the rest of the way. That depth was depleted through injury, but it was also worn down through ineffectiveness. Miguel Sano looked lost to start, and Max Kepler may never have been found. The free-agent signings, save for the returning Cruz, all flopped. Kenta Maeda wasn’t the arm that dominated in 2020. The bullpen imploded all over the place. 

"Unfortunate" would be selling the situation short. Minnesota didn’t perform for any consistent stretch, at any consistent level, and it cost them well beyond the injury concerns they dealt with. Following his extension, Jorge Polanco took the reigns on his career, but Kepler and Sano floundered when expected to contribute. No matter how the offseason acquisitions turned out, the core failed to uphold their end of the bargain.

In the future, especially when heading into a season of uncertainty, being reminded the season isn’t won in the offseason is a must. Being able to celebrate moves made is a fair practice. How they gel together and ultimately perform on the field is immeasurable until the games get played. As Derek Falvey reconstructs the future for a Twins team with a drastically different outlook, evaluating the offseason will need to be done individually. How players and contracts fit and money is spent should be a focus. Where the results will end up isn’t worth tying to specific pacts.

In the year ahead, Minnesota won’t be able to claim an opportunity for a three-peat, and more than anything else, they’ll be looking to distance from the year that was. As the front office embarks on their first opportunity for significant year-over-year growth, the idea that they had a “freaking offseason” will need some pause in hopes that a well-designed process drives more acceptable results.

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The manager and coaching staff have also under-whelmed. Rocco’s total ineptness was on full display on a fateful afternoon in Oakland. Allowing Colome to throw damn near 50 pitches in an inning with a mishmash defensive substitutions was embarrassing. Other blunders included not establishing Arraez as the everyday lead off hitter, stubbornly penciling JD into the two hole instead of the team’s best hitter (Polo), eschewing naming a closer, not replacing Mike Bell, enabling Rudy Hernandez and Edgar Varella to keep their jobs when nearly every hitter has regressed significantly since 2020, relying solely on sabermetrics and numerical data, keeping Diaz and Watkins when the base running and fielding has been laughably bad at times, or getting himself tossed to try to fire-up his often-lethargic team. Hard to believe things will be better anytime soon based on the enormous amount of work that needs to be done. Best of luck, Mr. Falvey.

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As we know the smart can sometimes outsmart themselves.  The sabermetrics can convince you not to steal, not to bunt, to swing for the fences, to replace starters before they lose their effectiveness instead of stretching them to save an overworked BP.  Time to mix baseball experience and smart with the new tools and try again. 

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9 minutes ago, mikelink45 said:

As we know the smart can sometimes outsmart themselves.  The sabermetrics can convince you not to steal, not to bunt, to swing for the fences, to replace starters before they lose their effectiveness instead of stretching them to save an overworked BP.  Time to mix baseball experience and smart with the new tools and try again. 

I fully agree.  Prior to Falvine coming in our team laughed at advanced stats and doing things like shifting or playing against norms.  Now we go full 180, and they are all in on advanced stats.  I am of the thought that mixing the two is best practice.  Sometimes players do not fit into the math mold or the norm and that is not a bad thing.

To me the advanced states and thoughts on bunting or stealing only looks at the whole game but not at the player.  Because players get told you cannot bunt because history shows it is bad, they never learn to do it well.  Some guys bunting will get them on base, and if they have the ability to steal they can get the double that you want him to hit.  Sure not every guy can do this, but why have a 100% never for all players? 

Same with the third time through rotation, not every guy follows that general rule and some do better if they get to a third time because they have figured out what is working that day well.  Some guys have breezed through the first 2 times, why not let them see a third time.  Not every pitcher will have it going each day so if the guys is going well, no need to pull him for a pen arm just because math history says so, let the game develop for each game.  

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Some of this can be explained thusly: In 2019 more than several players had career years, especially offensively. In 2021 many did not. Basing your hopes on a best case scenario is most often a loser. Basing it on a worst case scenario often leaves you pleasantly surprised. 
The injuries didn’t help, but much of the hype and hope for this team was based on offense. Definitely the hardest talent to repeat and replicate. 

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2 hours ago, old nurse said:

In over 10500 plate appearance Rod Carew attempted to bunt 126 times. He was one of the all time greats at bunting. He rarely tried. Bunting or the lack of it is not an issue

If the opposition would have played the shift that Kepler gets against Carew, I am willing to bet he would have bunted alot more 

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9 hours ago, TheLeviathan said:

I would argue the point is less that the offseason can't win you games as much as you might want to re-examine why you thought that list was an offseason winner.

I was told on another thread that free agents were paid based on past performances., not what they are going to do. If you look ay the recent few years prior to signing the Twins got some great deals. Next year those players, except for Shomaker, are just going to show you how wrong you were about them. Teams should rush to sign these player because surly they all came down with the dreaded Lance Lynn disease. You should remember the symptoms and the course of the disease. You put on a Twins uniform for less Monet than you think you deserve and forget how to throw a baseball

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6 hours ago, old nurse said:

If it was that easy to hit there would be more .400 hitters

Thats what hitting coaches get paid for, to work with players to strengthen their weakness. 2019 was the worse thing that happened to Kepler. Now he thinks he should hit 40 bombs a year.

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2 hours ago, Karbo said:

Thats what hitting coaches get paid for, to work with players to strengthen their weakness. 2019 was the worse thing that happened to Kepler. Now he thinks he should hit 40 bombs a year.

Look at spray charts for hitters, you might learn something

When did Kepler ever say that he should be hitting 40 bombs a year? 

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7 hours ago, Jeff A said:

Rod Carew had 128 career sacrifice hits (a number that is just sacrifice bunts and does not include sacrifice flies).  I don't know how many bunt singles he had, but to say that "Rod Carew attempted to bunt 126 times" in his career is clearly incorrect.

https://www.parkspresidentsandparks.com/blog-page/2018/4/30/the-bunt

Sorry I didn’t say attempted to bunt for a hit. I mistakenly thought that since the post I responded to talked about players bunting for hits I would not have to say that it was bunt attempts for hits. My bad that I keep forgetting that one has to have every last thing crystal clear or someone will not follow a conversation

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Speaking of bunting...with 2 on and nobody out in the 9th inning in Friday, 9/10's game,  in what scenario is the BEST thing for Buxton to do but BUNT ???  Buxton is a terrible bunter.  He's supposed to be a future MVP candidate and he's BUNTING with the winning run at 2B ?  I would love to know if that was HIS bright idea or if it was a signal from the bench.  If it was Buxton's,   his psyche is too fragile.  I know he's been slumping since he came back but geez !!  Would Vlad jr, Soto, Tatis jr. Mookie, Trout, Ohtani, Tim Anderson, Freddie Freeman,  et all BUNT ??  

But back to winning off seasons.  You can set your team up to effectively compete with a strategically successful off season or you can doom them to fail if you make boneheaded moves.  As I've pointed out and will do so again:  The White Sox signed Hendricks, Lynn and Keuchel.  Our FO countered with Colome, Shoemaker and Happ.  Game. Set. Match.

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