Falvine Strike Out on Starting Pitchers
With José Berríos in Toronto and Kenta Maeda out for at least the first half of 2022, Bailey Ober and Joe Ryan are the only likely 2022 rotation pieces that are actually on the roster right now. Michael Pineda seems somewhat likely to come back into the fold but that’s no guarantee, and even then, the Twins would need a top-end arm to get the rotation even close to competitive. Cody Christie wrote a compelling argument last week that Falvey and Levine need to cut a big check for a starter, and I tend to agree that without one of the big-money guys, this rotation could look pretty gory, and not in a good way.
I guess this is only really scary if you believe the Twins offense can be competitive—as I believe they can—because a young, learning-on-the-job rotation isn’t a bad thing if the team wouldn’t be good anyway. But this team can be good with a solid rotation, so it’d be best not to miss out.
Miguel Sanó Never “Figures It Out”
Of all the scenarios in this article, this is perhaps the most likely. Miguel Sanó isn’t a bad player. He’s a beast with exit velocity and hard-hit percentage numbers. However, as Twins fans, we seem to struggle to accept that those benefits are always going to come with one of the worst strikeout rates in the league. We seem to think that, someday, something will click and the strikeouts will stop, his average will creep up towards .250, and his OPS will rise to .900+. What if that never happens? What if this is who he always is?
Again, he’s not bad, but if who he is now is what he’ll always be, then we have a bad defensive first baseman who strikes out a lot out of the six hole in the lineup, and is borderline unplayable when he’s in a slump. Are the 30 homers a year worth that trouble? That’s a question for more analytical minds than mine to figure out, but I think that type of reality is one we have to come to terms with as the expectation for Sanó’s career, as scary as that may be.
Andrelton Simmons Being on the 2022 Roster
The Twins signed Simmons last January after reportedly missing out late on Marcus Semien. Then, Semien hit 45 bombs, and Simmons was one of the least impressive hitters in all of baseball, so we’ve already lived this nightmare. Simmons is a free agent again this winter, and he’ll be available for a lot less money than the front office spent for him last winter. And, given how committed the team was to putting his useless bat in the lineup almost every night last season, it doesn’t take much imagination to see them bringing him back in.
The Twins certainly can’t trot him out as the Opening Day shortstop (talk about nightmare), but I don’t want the stink of his 2021 campaign anywhere close to the 2022 squad, even if it’s just as a backup utility infielder.
The Next Wave of Prospects Falls Short
About a year ago, the Twins’ plan seemed clear: the current core was fresh off two straight division titles and was poised to transition perfectly into the years of Alex Kirilloff, Royce Lewis, Ryan Jeffers, and Trevor Larnach. However, 2021 didn’t go well for either the current stars of the team or for those pegged to be next up. The current Twins fell well short of their playoff expectations, Lewis lost his season, Kirilloff was good-not-great and had surgery, and Larnach and Jeffers couldn’t stay up in the big leagues.
Now, Kirilloff and Larnach gave us signs that there is real reason for optimism for the next wave of talent, but it often seems that, with prospects, blind optimism is the norm. And I’m not saying it’s worth a whole lot of concern, but there is a scary scenario out there where these guys just don’t live up to the lofty expectations we’ve given them.
Byron Buxton Leaves
Okay, so I saved the scariest scenario surrounding this team for last. The Byron Buxton extension talks have been well-documented because he’s the most-talented Twin since Joe Mauer and when healthy, plays something like pre-steroid-era Barry Bonds. Obviously, the concern is his constant injury problems, as he hasn’t played 100 games in a season since 2017. But, though it’s hard to commit a $17 million-a-year extension to a guy who may not be in the lineup half the time, the alternative is worse.
Think of what Eddie Rosario is doing right now for Atlanta, except that happens all the time and it’s for the Yankees or some other crazy rich club. That’s the nightmare scenario we’re trying to avoid. And, based on the Twins’ history with former players popping off after leaving the club, Buxton may never get injured again if Derek and Thad let him walk.
Did I scare you enough? Let me know in the comments!