Jump to content
Twins Daily
  • Create Account
  • 2021 is an Outlier for the Minnesota Twins


    Ted Schwerzler

    Coming into this season the AL Central Division was expected to be a race between the hometown Minnesota Twins and rival Chicago White Sox. Welcome to the plot twist, but that doesn’t change the future.

    Image courtesy of © Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

    Twins Video

    There’s no way of putting this lightly, the Twins have been awful in 2021. After starting 5-2 they have fallen, tripped, and smacked their faces right on the proverbial sidewalk. Rocco, the front office, and players all deserve a differing part of the blame, but the results have been nothing short of terrible. I don’t expect that to continue over a full 162 games, but regardless of what happens, this strikes me more as outlier than indicative of the future.

     

    Why is that important? Looking at 2022, the Twins will need to decide a path forward. That starts now and the groundwork begins to be laid. Someone very likely needs to be fired for this debacle. Maybe that’s the hitting coach, or maybe it’s a clubhouse attendant. I don’t really care who it is, and I’m not sure it’s productive in many veins other than sending a message. That said, unless the analysis by so many was so wrong, then there’s plenty to build from here.

     

    Could the front office have done more this offseason? Potentially, but the landmines are all over the place there. Trevor May would be nice, but goodbye to Andrelton Simmons or Nelson Cruz then. Other bullpen pieces with ties have all been bad save for Liam Hendriks, who would’ve been a substantial cost in only helping one area. Maybe a better 4th starter made sense, but hey, James Paxton is already done for the year and Corey Kluber has been a bit more lucky than good despite his recent no hitter. What they could’ve done and what they did on the open market isn’t too wide of a divide.

     

    That brings us to the reality moving forward. What the Twins have in terms of relevance still banks heavily on pieces that were committed to on the basis of assumed production. Max Kepler, Jorge Polanco, and Miguel Sano were all signed to extensions on the basis of upward trajectory. It’s fair to assess all three as having fallen short of expectations, but where do they fit going forward. Is it so bad that they aren’t lineup fixtures at all? If so, that’d be damning for the front office and quite a fall in terms of development. Jose Berrios and Byron Buxton remain as key pieces, while Josh Donaldson still has multiple years left on his deal.

     

    From there Minnesota was always going to be in a place of opportunity. Cruz, J.A. Happ, Matt Shoemaker, and Simmons are all on one-year deals. So too is Alex Colome and Hansel Robles. The front office gave themselves flexibility in this roster construction to re-tool rather than rebuild. Alex Kirilloff has an opportunity to establish himself, as does Trevor Larnach. Down the stretch guys like Jhoan Duran and Jordan Balazovic should become potential solutions, and they’ll all provide a clearer picture heading into 2022.

     

    If there’s uncertainty for the year ahead, it’s whether the season happens at all given the MLBPA and MLB’s looming CBA discussions. Should cooler heads prevail though, tearing this down and starting over would seem like a rash over reaction by this front office. They’ve put the right developmental and coaching pieces in place, and we’ve seen that bear fruit throughout the organization. Rather than second guessing that at this point, it makes sense to crumple up this calendar, toss it out, and recalibrate with new assets from a position that should be relatively similar to where they found themselves after 2020.

     

    A weird year interrupted by pandemic issues likely hid some of the more notable regression we may have seen from some major league contributors. Now having that rear its head, deciding whether it’s a small sample or indicative of more remains the key focus going forward. This ship will turn some the rest of the way, and although the Twins won’t make the Postseason, they shouldn’t embark on an offseason with any less certainty as to who they are than they entered 2021 with initially.

    MORE FROM TWINS DAILY

    — Latest Twins coverage from our writers

    — Recent Twins discussion in our forums

    — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email

     Share


    User Feedback

    Recommended Comments

    Featured Comments

    Great take, Ted. I think the one and done guys should all be moved for what can be had. Pineda might be the exception there. The club should listen to offers for Berrios, Rogers or Buxton, but they should walk away if they aren't blown away. Donaldson, Polanco, Sano, Garver, Kepler and Maeda are going to be here in 2022, and the calls to trade and eat or even DFA those players are just absurd. Is Kepler making too much to be a 4th OF? Probably, but Larnach and Kirilloff will be making pre-arb coin. It's fine. Perhaps that will light a fire under Kep. This is a retool, restock and audition for the a quick rise back to the top situation.

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    I would be happy with a deadline similar to 2018.  I doubt we get any true difference maker for who we are going to trade but probably some decent value.  The main question for the deadline is how young are the returning prospects going to be?  We might not be improving the 2022 or '23 team with this deadline if we maximize our returns.

    Cruz to the Blue Jays would be fun to watch.  That would be a powerhouse offense.  I seriously doubt there is any chance to get Nate Pearson or Alek Manoah from them.  Toronto might be interested in Pineda too but I still don't see them parting with a great prospect.  We will probably have to settle for younger or less talented prospects.

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    The Twins hit homeruns in bunches in 2019 and did enough last year to win the division. However, the AL Central was putrid in 2019 and not so good last year. When a team puts their players in positions to fail (Sano, Garver, Astudillo, Arraez), there will predictably be some problems. Nobody expected the current result but poor defense and a weak bullpen will not work if the starting staff go four innings and don't strike out people. I am surprised at the complete breakdown that is currently in progress and felt three weeks ago like a turn toward even baseball would happen with this team. Sadly, that did not occur. The owners and management need to sit down pretty soon to develop a better plan because hoping that 2021 is an outlier with their current players won't work. Personally, I defer to managements final decisions unless they crash and burn. This is to remain optimistic, not because I'm a fair-weather fan. I have followed every Twins team from April of 1961. The current team has serious deficiencies, most notably fundamental play, the bullpen and defense. When Sano played RF a few years ago, I cringed on every ball hit his way. Poor Arraez has let the embarassment of his LF maneuverings affect his hitting. Decisions will need to be made and no player is off the table. The Yankees haven't been in a World Series since 2009. San Diego has put a ton of chips forward in the last year. Toronto has a pretty exciting team. Perhaps it is the Twins opportunity to harvest those systems young prospects. While it doesn't feel like any Twins player's value is particularly high at the moment, another GM may see the chance to land Berrios, Buxton, Arraez, Kepler, or others as beneficial. Right now, the games don't seem like an outlier.

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    Sorry.... rebuild not retool.  Berrios and Buxton will be lost to FA and will not sign with us because the $$ offer will be less and they have had less than great experiences with the FO for various reasons.

    Therefore they need to be traded NOW before the deadline to maximize return. Without them in the short term the team will obviously be worse. Also the 'core' has turned out to be at least one standard deviation below expectations.

    Ergo.... it's rebuild time... I'm not happy about it but it is better to be realistic than to languish for a decade because we are not able to admit the obvious

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    This was the theme for several years prior to 2019 and we just never had the depth of talent necessary to seriously content.  Then, it it finally looked like all of those young players were going to be the great players we hoped they would be.  Unfortunately, 2019 looks like the outlier at this point.  It's time to accept this like Chicago did when they traded Sale and Eaton. 

    Unless they go on a major winning streak right now, the remainder of this year will provide two opportunities.  Trading of short-term assets and auditioning a myriad of prospects, especially pitchers.  Gordon is earning a short right now too.  (Robles / Happ / Pineda are obvious and could bring decent returns, especially Pineda and Robles.  If Buxton continues to play at relatively the same level he could bring the type of haul that would significantly impact the future.  I guess the same is true of Berrios if he gets more consistent between now and the deadline.

    In 2022, I would rather watch Balazovic / Duran / Canterino / Winder / Kirilloff / Larnach / Gordon and at some point Lewis than watch a 500 or even a 87 win team with little chance of going anywhere in the playoffs.  Add a good haul from moving a number for players this year over the course of 2022-24 and we could finally have a legit contender.  This team is not it.

     

    I would add that 2022 could look pretty good if we establish two starters this year.  MOving the other payroll would afford the opportunity to add a good FA starting pitcher to the mix.  Maeda / Free Agent / Duran / Balazovic and one of Winder / Ober / Sands could be a pretty darn good rotation.  Add Kirilloff, Larnach, and perhaps Gordon.  We would just need to resolve center field.  Maybe that's where Lewis ends up. 

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    We don't know if 2021 will be an outlier until we see how the front office reacts.  We know they will make changes.  Will they sell everything not nailed down for a bunch of prospects that are 3+ years away from being contributors?  (Hi, Terry!)  They probably won't do this, but there is every possibility the team sells some pieces that are difficult to replace, creating problems that linger.

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    10 hours ago, Richard Swerdlick said:

    I like the Cleveland model. Develop good young pitching and then trade the big buck or soon to be big buck guys for more prospects. It seems to be working for them.  Bye Bye, Jose. It's been fun, but....

    That works if you like to have the longest window possible. However, that’s not a good strategy for teams that want to win Championships. There are teams that have gone on fluke-ish playoff runs with this method: 2015 Royals, 2020 Rays, 2018 Brewers, 2016 Indians, etc. That isn’t the rule, though. It’s the exception.

    If you want to be able to beat the teams who pay for elite players, you need to pay for elite players yourself if you want a realistic shot.

     

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    According to pretty much all metrics, the main problem has been pitching. The squad has a Top 5 MLB ranking in both offense and defense via Statcast/Baseball Savant. X Bat loves this team.

    The pitching has been dead last though and getting to even 29th by the end of the season will be a tall order they are so far back from the pack. It's the same old problem this team had during it's terrible years over the last decade. 

    New management and coaches, same result. Talk about PTSD, with an emphasis on the Disorder.

    If any coach is going to get axed, it needs to be Wes Johnson. The slide for every pitcher on this team, minus Taylor, Pineda, and Berrios, is alarming. 

    Really though, the FO is to blame here. They scraped the bottom of the barrel when it came to shopping for pitching in the offseason, with Happ, Shoemaker, Robles, Colome, Law, Anderson, Albers, Hamilton, Leyer, Farrel, etc. I understand paying for pitching brings more inherent risk than paying for hitting/defense, but that's all this team really needs.

    Even going from the worst pitching in MLB to 20th would likely have this team in the middle of contention. 

    DJ, play that one again!!😥

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    The only player batted around here that makes me real sad is Buxton. How often does a team get a player that everyone in baseball talks about in glowing terms for every aspect of his game? He is such a treat to watch...except that we don't get to watch him very much.

    If he doesn't have any particular loyalty to the organization (for bringing him along and dealing with all his injuries), yeah you let him go to the highest bidder...preferably via a trade I guess. But if the guy ever gets healthy...we will surely miss him. Thing is...will we get full value for him? And with all his injuries, what is considered full value when talking trade?

    Anyone in Minnesota have a feel for how he feels about the Twins? Any talk at all about wanting to stay? Or is it just simply...whoever pays me the most gets me.

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    10 minutes ago, Minny505 said:

    According to pretty much all metrics, the main problem has been pitching. The squad has a Top 5 MLB ranking in both offense and defense via Statcast/Baseball Savant. X Bat loves this team.

    The pitching has been dead last though and getting to even 29th by the end of the season will be a tall order they are so far back from the pack. It's the same old problem this team had during it's terrible years over the last decade. 

    New management and coaches, same result. Talk about PTSD, with an emphasis on the Disorder.

    If any coach is going to get axed, it needs to be Wes Johnson. The slide for every pitcher on this team, minus Taylor, Pineda, and Berrios, is alarming. 

    Really though, the FO is to blame here. They scraped the bottom of the barrel when it came to shopping for pitching in the offseason, with Happ, Shoemaker, Robles, Colome, Law, Anderson, etc. I understand paying for pitching brings more inherent risk than paying for hitting/defense, but that's all this team really needs.

    Even going from the worst pitching in MLB to 20th would likely have this team in the middle of contention. 

    DJ, play that one again!!😥

    Problem with the metrics as we watch the games day in and day out....the stats just don't equate with the results. Twins have won most their games in blowouts, which tend to skew the offensive stats. We may not make a lot of errors, but the ones we do make seem to cost us games every time. Donaldson's errors come to mind. His are mind-numbing goofs that rookies make. And those in my mind tend to negate the flashy plays he can and does make. Winning all those high scoring games, only to lose 5 or 6 after that by one run doesn't help much.  So I really don't trust the stats. Only the W-L record....and that stat is pretty crappy. The old Jim Rome cliche comes to mind...'scoreboard baby'.

     

     

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    If we are not committing to the guys the org has successfully developed (Pressly, May ) and instead look for value in mid-level FA's, the results are going to be hit and miss. Always looking for the next Wissler, never committing to the existing Pressly on the staff. It is one way to do it, but Oakland and TB do it a heck of a lot better than our Twins org does, even with the wunderkinds at the helm, there is precious little evidence to suggest this org can continually rotate talent to remain annually competitive. We are not competing for top FA's, and we have not proven we can consistently develop top level talent. Maybe the need is investing in the evaluation, selection, and development aspects if the org is ever going to get out of the cycle where we compete for a certain "window" and then have a 5-7 year rebuild. Study the A's, Ray's, Dodgers...how are they able to churn out talent, especially pitching, seemingly every year? Whatever that is, do that.....

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    As long as this team seems to expend its energies and assets on hitting vs pitching, this will continue to be the trend. This HR happy team just won a game with IIRC all runs scored via the long  ball. This seems their identity since 2019. But someone took some of the bounce outa the ball and it’s not as easy to do this year. Throw in the fact that in any sport offense is the least predictable portion of the game and you have the win big, lose small Twins. Yes you may be able to bully enough mediocre pitchers during a season to be competitive, but once you get into the playoffs, those guys are watching on ESPN with the rest of us. The ones you could run all over are in the other dugout! 
     

    The Twins have been unlucky health wise no doubt. They maybe aren’t really as bad as their record, but the difference is not enough to make them a contender. But there just doesn’t seem to be anything in the works to turn this around soon. If there were magic Uber talented players down in milb waiting to come up, they are well hidden from us. Especially on the pitching front. 
     

    The Twins window was based on Sano, Buxton, Kepler, Berrios, Garver, Polanco, Duffy, etc. So far the only one of this group that has been close to that level of play has been Buxton, and his contributions continue to be muted by his injuries. Right now what you see is a big, slow bumbling baseball team which will win if it runs into some helpful pitching. 

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    probably will need to sell most of our players again and this management group has not performed to expectations from previous regime . We were told that analytics was needed to improve this team and that this new group of management new how develop pitching but were still looking at team that is need of pitching and our top pitcher is from previous regime drafting. I look at our farm system and this management group has not done much in drafting top players or signing our top talent. This also could be result of ownership because were having almost identical results in the management groups we have spent ton of money on analytics but bottom line our performance on the field has not improved that much or in the playoffs. I hate to say it but i have not been really following the team it just seems after last year baseball going woke i just don't have passion for baseball. I thought i would miss it more but i have found that like small town baseball and college baseball as pleasing to watch because they are playing the game because of love for it and not so much of business and money. I think were back with the Twins rebuilding again and maybe i will see  a difference in new players that may come in the future but i have my doubts MLB has become to much about the business and not enough just playing the game for love it and getting paid on top of that. I won't go on here but i thought i had to say something but MLB has sure lost me and i don't think i am only one.

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites



    Join the conversation

    You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
    Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

    Guest
    Add a comment...

    ×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

      Only 75 emoji are allowed.

    ×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

    ×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

    ×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

    Loading...

×
×
  • Create New...