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  • Week in Review: No End in Sight


    Nick Nelson

    Playing a slate of games against top-notch competition, the Minnesota Twins looked every bit the horrendous team reflected by their MLB-worst 13-25 record.

    They just can't stop the bleeding.

    Image courtesy of David Berding-USA TODAY Sports

    Weekly Snapshot: Mon, 5/10 through Sun, 5/16
    ***
    Record Last Week: 1-5 (Overall: 13-25)
    Run Differential Last Week: -18 (Overall: -20)
    Standing: 5th Place in AL Central (10.5 GB)

    Last Week's Game Recaps:

    Game 33 | CWS 9, MIN 3: White Sox Roll in Lopsided Series Opener
    Game 34 | CWS 13, MIN 8: Twins Can't Recover from Happ's Hole
    Game 35 | CWS 4, MIN 2: Sox Sweep Lifeless Twins Out of Chicago
    Game 36 | OAK 6, MIN 1: A's Bash Their Way to Comfortable Victory
    Game 37 | MIN 5, OAK 4: Sanó's Homer Keys Rare Comeback Win
    Game 38 | OAK 7, MIN 6: More Blunders Lead to More Losing

    NEWS & NOTES

    The hits keep on coming. Max Kepler pulled up with a hamstring injury on Sunday, exiting the game, and it looks like he may need to join Byron Buxton and Alex Kirilloff on the Injured List. Kirilloff plans to test his wrist in the coming week as he weighs a decision on whether he can/should play through it. Buxton is still probably multiple weeks out, and at this rate, by the time he gets back... oof.

    Further eroding Minnesota's outfield depth is the loss of Jake Cave, who was placed on the 60-day IL due to a stress reaction in his back. I'm not sure his absence qualifies as much of a negative at this point, but replacement Rob Refsnyder is no guaranteed upgrade. We won't be seeing Cave again until after the All-Star break, at minimum.

    In other rosters news: Devin Smeltzer went on IL with elbow inflammation and was replaced in the bullpen by Shaun Anderson. Travis Blankenhorn was claimed off waivers by the Dodgers following his DFA. Luis Arraez was activated early in the week; his return sent Nick Gordon back to St. Paul. 

    HIGHLIGHTS

    Not many to speak of. Jorge Polanco had another solid week, going 7-for-27 (.280) with a homer and a pair of doubles. Trevor Larnach notched five hits in 16 ABs (.313), walking and doubling twice. Alex Colomé tossed a couple of scoreless innings. 

    That's really about it.

    LOWLIGHTS

    Miguel Sanó's game-changing three-run homer on Saturday night was a highlight – or THE highlight, I suppose – lifting the Twins to their only victory of the week (and their first real comeback win of the entire season). But in some ways, it just felt like another signifier of how badly broken this spiraling team is. 

    While it was nice to see Sanó finally accomplish anything helpful at the plate, the home run felt more fluky than assertive. He fought off a pitch the other way and was able to muscle it out on sheer strength. The baseball traveled a mere 349 feet, with an xBA of .120. Hardly a classic Sanó-doubter.

    Sanó's home run was the only thing separating the Twins from an 0-6 week, so credit is due, but he went 1-for-11 with five strikeouts otherwise, and hasn't been sharp defensively at first base. 

    Fluky as Saturday night's win might've been, it was a desperately-needed break. Naturally, the Twins were unable to build upon it in any way. Sunday afternoon they were right back to their usual inept ways, watching an early three-run lead vanish as Kenta Maeda fell apart and defensive miscues mounted. 

    They went 2-for-10 with RISP and stranded nine men on base. Ben Rortvedt and Josh Donaldson committed utterly dumbfounding, back-breaking errors. The winning run scored on a strike-three wild pitch. 

    "Pain" has officially become the buzzword for this season from hell. The Twins themselves have adopted it, with those poor brand social media folks unable to conjure anything resembling an optimistic spin in the face of endless setbacks. There's really no other way to describe what we're seeing.

    The Twins looked this past week like a team resigned to its fate. They were thoroughly outplayed by two clubs whose superiority was obvious and undeniable. Minnesota was outscored by 18 runs, and out-homered 12-to-7. The Bomba Squad is a distant memory.

    Unfortunately, things get no easier in a grueling week ahead. 

    On May 5th, less than five weeks out from Opening Day, I declared I'd seen enough from these Twins to be convinced it wasn't happening this year. I so hoped they would prove me wrong. Since then they've gone 2-7 and fallen from 5.0 games out in the Central to 10.5 out. 

    Now we've reached a point where the Twins would need to pull off an unprecedented historical feat in order to reach the playoffs. 

    From here, they need to play at a 100-win pace just to reach 90 victories, and that probably would still not be enough for a division title or wild-card berth. Maybe not even close. The White Sox are on track for 99 wins and not slowing down.  

    TRENDING STORYLINE

    With the way this season is playing out for the Twins, following Kirilloff's development may soon become a primary reason to tune in. That is, if he is able to return. 

    Do-Hyoung Park reports that that the top Twins prospect took swings in the batting cage on Sunday and plans to take BP this week before progressing to velo and off-speed. 

    A decision is yet to be made on Kirilloff's strained right wrist, but one figures to come soon. It's between undergoing surgery or progressing to a rehab assignment, according to Park, who adds that players have been able to battle through similar injuries in the past, and that for Kirilloff, doing so while delaying surgery until the offseason is a possibility.

    From my view, if there's any risk whatsoever of making this issue worse by playing through it, I don't know why that would be viewed as an option. And how can there not be? The same wrist has bothered him and impacted his play in the past.

    As losses continue to pile up and contention hopes fade to dust, the Twins have to ask themselves if it's worth pushing Kirilloff at all this season. 

    LOOKING AHEAD

    It's going to be a long week.

    First the White Sox come to Target Field, fresh off sweeping the Twins in Chicago, and looking to further bury Minnesota in the standings. There's not much reason to think they won't. 

    Then, the Twins head all the way to Anaheim for a midweek makeup double-header on Thursday. I'm sure the players are just giddy to fly across the country to SoCal, play two games in one day, then instantly turn around and fly back to the midwest for three games against second-place Cleveland

    Eight games in seven days, facing teams the Twins are a combined 1-6 against, all with no Buxton, no Kirilloff, and perhaps no Kepler. Not to be forgotten: a bad bullpen that is shorthanded coming off Maeda's four-inning dud on Sunday. 

    What could go wrong?

    MONDAY, 5/17: WHITE SOX @ TWINS – LHP Dallas Keuchel v LHP J.A. Happ
    TUESDAY, 5/18: WHITE SOX @ TWINS – RHP Lance Lynn v. RHP Michael Pineda
    WEDNESDAY, 5/19: WHITE SOX @ TWINS – RHP Lucas Giolito v. RHP Matt Shoemaker
    THURSDAY, 5/20 (G1): TWINS @ ANGELS – RHP Jose Berrios v. RHP Dylan Bundy
    THURSDAY, 5/20 (G2): TWINS @ ANGELS – TBD v. LHP Jose Quintana
    FRIDAY, 5/21: TWINS @ CLEVELAND – RHP Kenta Maeda v. RHP Triston McKenzie
    SATURDAY, 5/22: TWINS @ CLEVELAND – LHP J.A. Happ v. RHP Shane Bieber
    SUNDAY, 5/23: TWINS @ CLEVELAND – RHP Michael Pineda v. LHP Sam Hentges
     


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    Is this an illusion, or was it in fact the 2 previous seasons?

    Man, at this point even a 60 game season is way too long.

    I chuckle at this week's schedule. But I'm an optimist, and predict that they will win a game! (1-7) moral victory....

     

    Edited by chinmusic
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    Only one word to say at this point, Nick, Ouch!

    Great seeing Larnach follow Kirilloff's lead with his bat heating up following an 0 for whatever start.  Certainly seems like these two should be middle of the order bats, beginning soon.

    Amazing how they found another way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory yesterday.  Don't see how they can turn this ship around, but there are still what, 125 or so games remaining.  If only the injuries would stop piling on.

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    A trade won't make it better, it is time to see the next generation of players.  Put in Jeffers, he is doing fine in St Paul, Garver continues to struggle.  The OF depth is really being stretched, but please bring up a real CF prospect, even if not quite ready so we can at least see some Defense. Get the AA BP into the Twins and send these guys on a vacation to Wichita.  Bring up some SP from the minors - Ober, Winder.  Let's jettison the flotsam and give fans a reason to watch.   

    The mask rule means more fans can come to the stands, the team as it stands right now means less fans will come to the stands. 

    large_scan.jpg.89cac0d0b40fa3c93ee04c733dc7437e.jpg

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    This team just can't win without Buxton on the roster.  This isn't new.  Whether it's his defense or one of his short hot streaks with the bat, the Twins are just pointless without him on the field.

    But this year has shown that Buxton can't do it alone.  Although, you know, that should have been obvious.

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    Donaldson and Simmons (yesterdays HR notwithstanding) have been disappointments. They haven't 'sparked' the Twins to win games. When Donaldson makes an error, its usually a game changing costly one too. Any word on Turtles hand?

    On an unrelated note, your former AAA team Rochester is off to a Twins-like 2-10 start with their new parent Washington. The team is putrid and this is probably  the worst start I can remember. Organization so far has 'ignored' talking about it since the home opener is tomorrow and they desperately need fans. The Saints are 5-7. I wish, despite the Twins incompetence, we were still with them. (the Nats are in last place too) In the 10 years 2009-2018 with Syracuse, they only provided them with 3 winning teams. Our other parent before Minnesota is also in last place (Baltimore)

    I'm having a nightmare season so far!

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    No team in the past 100 years has lost 25 or more of their first 38 games and gone on to make the playoffs.

     

    Today's loss dropped the #MNTwins to 13-25 through 38 games.

     

    So they're either already finished on May 16 or they're going to make baseball history.

     

    So you're saying there's a chance!

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    2 hours ago, Mahoning said:

    It might be time to move Donaldson and Simmons, let Gordon try short, Arraez third, and go for speed instead of power. Also youth over age. 

     

    This will happen if we keep losing. Doubt we deal anyone until July. Probably shouldn't. Best deals will happen closer to the deadline. Selling now won't be helpful. Obviously our free agent monies should have been spent on pitching. 

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    2 hours ago, lukeduke1980 said:

    I'm not a 'fire the manager' guy, but if the manager is managing mostly on information or trends or suggestions from the analytics department, then who's culpable?  I guess just the players then.  But you can't fire all of the players.

    Good question.  Not sure.  Let me take a look at what the numbers say and I'll get back to you.

    arnold schwarzenegger doubletake GIF

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    I mean, I can enjoy baseball, simply for the sake of baseball. Probably done it that way at least half of my years following the club since the late 60’s. It’s not what I thought I’d be doing this season, but it’s not the end of the world. The Twins were bad in 1990. They didn’t require a rebuild, just some tweaks and a reset. Similarly...as disappointing as 2021 is...I don’t feel like this is likely to carry into 2022 and beyond.

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    56 minutes ago, jkcarew said:

    I mean, I can enjoy baseball, simply for the sake of baseball. Probably done it that way at least half of my years following the club since the late 60’s. It’s not what I thought I’d be doing this season, but it’s not the end of the world. The Twins were bad in 1990. They didn’t require a rebuild, just some tweaks and a reset. Similarly...as disappointing as 2021 is...I don’t feel like this is likely to carry into 2022 and beyond.

    They're definitely closer to a reset than a rebuild since the cupboard is far from bare. I think it'll be more like a 3 year project though. There are quite a few existing holes to fill (mostly pitching and catching), new holes coming with vets that will be gone (Cruz, Pineda, Simmons), bad contracts that will clog the roster (Sano, Kepler, Polanco), some sort of resolution is needed on Buxton/Berrios extensions, and the upcoming rookies need to develop. It'll be interesting to see how all these issues are managed this year and going into 2022. Could be a very different squad, for better or worse.

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    1 hour ago, jkcarew said:

    I mean, I can enjoy baseball, simply for the sake of baseball. Probably done it that way at least half of my years following the club since the late 60’s. It’s not what I thought I’d be doing this season, but it’s not the end of the world. The Twins were bad in 1990. They didn’t require a rebuild, just some tweaks and a reset. Similarly...as disappointing as 2021 is...I don’t feel like this is likely to carry into 2022 and beyond.

    I can normally enjoy baseball for baseball's sake as well. A good example is indeed the 1990 Twins. They were just 3 years off a World Series victory and even when they finished in last, they won 74 games. Aguilera and Scott Erickson were emerging, Puckett was still a superstar and Shane Mack was making a name for himself in the OF.

    Unfortunately this Twins team was expected to contend for a World Series. The organization hasn't won a playoff game in 20 years. Finally, they are on pace for a 55-107 season. There are some really rotten apples on this squad too. Not fun to watch.

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    4 minutes ago, bighat said:

    I can normally enjoy baseball for baseball's sake as well. A good example is indeed the 1990 Twins. They were just 3 years off a World Series victory and even when they finished in last, they won 74 games. Aguilera and Scott Erickson were emerging, Puckett was still a superstar and Shane Mack was making a name for himself in the OF.

    Unfortunately this Twins team was expected to contend for a World Series. The organization hasn't won a playoff game in 20 years. Finally, they are on pace for a 55-107 season. There are some really rotten apples on this squad too. Not fun to watch.

    I think you hit it for me here. I watched a lot of bad Twins and Timberwolves teams over the years because there were players I liked, interesting young guys to watch develop, and you'd still get some interesting and competitive games often enough.

    This team is just so bland and lifeless and I'm worn out by the playoff ineptitude. The games aren't interesting even if they're close. One-dimensional low-contact high-variance offense, bad defense, no running or apparent strategy, and a bad pitching staff with no up and comers mostly on expiring deals. Rookies/prospects are hurt or struggling, Buxton is hurt again, core players have stalled out and regressed, and there's an impending feeling of doom regarding contract extensions & health for Buxton/Berrios that makes it hard to get excited about their future. I don't know how to enjoy watching this team this year.

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