The Twins are finishing a terrible September that saw the team go from contender to pretender in a few weeks. There are plenty of reasons for fans to be frustrated, but the season's conclusion offers time to reflect on the 2022 campaign. Here are the people most responsible for the Twins' downfall this season.
Culprit 1: The Front Office
The front office will take the brunt of the blame for any team that falls short of its ultimate goal. Last off-season was unique because of the lockout, and Minnesota took a unique approach to construct the roster. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine thought the pitching pipeline was ready to contribute in 2022, so the team didn't need to acquire any of the best free agent pitchers. This plan failed as the team's farm system took a step back, and the pitching pipeline has yet to arrive.
It's also easy to blame the front office for some of the prominent players the team acquired during the 2022 season. Minnesota traded Taylor Rogers shortly before Opening Day for Chris Paddack and Emilio Pagan. The timing of the trade was terrible, even if Rogers ended up having a poor season. Paddack was terrific for four games before needing Tommy John surgery. Pagan has been one of baseball's worst relievers for multiple seasons, and the team continued to use him in high-leverage situations.
Minnesota's front office received praise following July's trade deadline because it seemed like the team was "going for it." Neither of the other AL Central teams made significant moves, and the Twins acquired Tyler Mahle, Jorge Lopez, and Michael Fulmer. Mahle has struggled with a shoulder injury since being acquired, and Lopez hasn't lived up to his All-Star performance from the first half. Mahle's acquisition might be the most frustrating as he added his name to a growing list of injured pitchers the Twins acquired via trade.
In the end, the front office was wrong about the organization's young pitchers being ready to contribute. Falvey and Levine didn't address the bullpen in the offseason, which haunted the team. It cost the team multiple prospects at the trade deadline after the club had already been treading water for most of June and July. Now, the front office is facing a critical offseason as this current group's winning window is closing.
Culprit 2: Rocco Baldelli
Minnesota's front office gave Baldelli a vote of confidence over the weekend when they said he is part of the team's long-term plans. Fans may still blame the manager for the team's poor performance for multiple months. Obviously, he has been dealing with one of baseball's most injured rosters, but the team doesn't seem to have much fight left in them. Last season, the team was out of the race for much of the season, but the club played well in September as younger players got an opportunity. This year's team played its worst baseball in September. Sometimes it's easy to forget that preseason models projected this team to finish around .500.
Pitching staff usage is one of the most significant areas where fans blame a manager. Many will point fingers at Baldelli for his bullpen usage or for pulling his starters too early. However, it is also essential to consider that the team lost its pitching coach in the middle of the season. Minnesota's bullpen was terrible, and there is only so much Baldelli can do with the players on the roster. Also, Twins starters were rarely allowed to face a line-up for the third time, a philosophy many organizations have adopted in recent years. Baldelli deserves some blame, but even baseball's best manager wouldn't have won with Minnesota this season.
Culprit 3: Injuries
It's easy for anyone looking at the Twins' 2022 season to blame injuries for the team's poor performance. No American League team has put more players on the IL than the Twins this season. At one point, Minnesota had nearly a full roster of players on the IL, and it was a team that could be reasonably competitive in the AL Central. The Reds are the only club with more days lost to injury than the Twins, but anyone following the team knows that number doesn't tell the whole story.
Minnesota allowed many players to stay off the IL even when injuries hampered their performance. Bryon Buxton talked his way out of multiple IL stints, and there were stretches where he struggled on the field. Jorge Polanco tried to play through an injury, Tyler Mahle made two starts at less than 100%, and Max Kepler played through a broken toe. Few organizations have the depth to withstand the number of injuries the Twins suffered in 2022.
Reflecting on a season that started with renewed expectations can be challenging. However, there is plenty of blame to go around as the season winds to a close. Who deserves the most blame for the Twins' failures in 2022? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.