"This year has been a complete disaster" is the dominant narrative. I don't completely disagree, but here's a few tidbits I found for perspective:
While the team is 38-50 with today's win, it's interesting to split that in half. In the first half of the games so far, they were 16-28, followed by 22-22.
In my admittedly cherry-picked sample size, they are 12-9 over the last 21 games. That's not awesome, but it's still 92-win pace for that sample.
Buxton has played a little over two games in the last 58. We don't know how much better they would have done, but my hunch is that there's general agreement among us that the record over the last 44 would have been better than 22-22.
A friend is a Sox fan (He'd be a good friend if he wasn't a Sox fan. He claims that this is their worst year for injuries that he's even seen. No doubt it's because they've only had two lineups that they've used more than twice. They have used each five times. However, the only difference between the two is the CF, so for 10 games they have had the same lineup EXCEPT for the CF. In total, they have had 69 different lineups in their 87 games going into today.
That's pretty tough. However, the Twins have had 79 different lineups in their 87 games going into today. They have had the same lineup three times and six other lineups have been used twice. To my mind, that's worse.
The Sox have missed Robert, but Anderson, Moncada and Abreu have each started at least 72, all in the top four spots in the order.
So with all that, I'm going to upgrade my assessment from "complete disaster" to "massive disappointment, largely driven by injury." I didn't even address the effect of losing Buxton compared to losing Robert and the fact that the Sox have only needed five starts aside from their opening-day rotation compared to the Twins needing 10 different starters so far, with only Berrios not missing at least one start.
So put me clearly in the "retool" category.
I completely agree with the lineup and bench in the OP, down to the SS and DH issues. Here's my short-term planning there:
Offer Simmons an extension at $10 million for next year. Do it now. Or better yet, $8M with an extra million each at 100, 115, 130, and 145 games. If he gets that many games, he was worth the extra $2-$4M. With the great class, Simmons probably doesn't want to go back on the market against them. I like that the SS issue is addressed early, relatively inexpensively, with great defense and resulting in potentially just one real offensive hole in the entire lineup.
IF messages from the front office point to an increase in budget, try to negotiate an extension to Cruz, at around this year's $13M. Again, if he likes it here, he may well go for the guarantee of an additional year given the uncertainty of last winter for him, and he effectively has gotten the 2/$26M he was looking for. If I can't get that, I indeed try to trade him, recognizing I won't get much. At that point, I'm probably assuming I'm going for an offseason signing a la Cron from a couple years ago to serve as an additional DH in the mix. And planning on more from Sano and rotations through the position.
Since people have been talking about Donaldson, I'll say that I keep him unless there is an established major league 3B option included in the return. That's not likely, but I'll talk. I'm comfortable with a slight MLB downgrade if it saves money, but I'm not comfortable counting on the existing options in the system. If a trade does happen, I use the dollar savings to go harder after Cruz to ensure that we don't lose both bats.
In a nutshell, I'd love to have the 2022 position players relatively set by mid-August, allowing myself the ability for minor tinkering in the offseason if there is a deal that make an upgrade or free up a few bucks for pitching.
Good analysis on the rotation options. Given the health of current minor league guys, I'm not sure that you can trade both Pineda and Happ. There's just too many starts to cover the rest of the year to think of getting up to an additional 25 or so starts from the young guys between now and season's end. The likelihood of injuries points to at least some of the rookies getting some starts the rest from here to yearend, but even if two of them thrive and get 12-15 starts the rest of the way, that's not enough for a contending team to consider starting the rotation with two guys with less than 20 career starts in the majors. Sorry, but neither Jax nor Ober has guaranteed a spot yet, let alone by yearend.
I'm fine with trading one of them, however, to free up a certain number of starts for rookies, so I trade whichever of Pineda or Happ gets me a better return. That's probably going to be Pineda, but maybe a team is particularly looking for a lefty.
In terms of bullpen, however, I'd try to trade both Colome and Robles, putting more effort into getting mid-level guys who have any hope of contributing in 2022 over stronger prospects who are further away. I'm playing for 2022. And realistically, unless you're talking stud starters, teams seem to pursue bullpen help more than starters anyway, since they have to give up too much for starters.
For the rest of the year, I'm glad to use the traded Colome and Robles innings for young guys, including some of the young starting candidates listed above. The latter isn't with the view to making them relievers, but rather as a developmental tool for getting MLB innings at various leverage levels without wearing them out.
Implied in here is that I don't trade Berrios. With a retool, there's no way you're going to get anything that helps for 2022 that is close to what he is going to do.
Similarly, I don't trade Rogers, even though he only has 1.5 years of control. Relievers are unpredictable, but he's been as predictable as about anyone over the last few years. I plan to ride him for the remaining 1.5 years, knowing that he's an affordable strong contributor for next year and still a trade chip (though less valuable, obviously) next July if 2022 doesn't play out as we wish.
This post is too long already. I won't address which starters I plan to target in the offseason, since that will be dependent on how the above plays out. But I think my moves set the course well.
Mike8971 wrote: “… At that point it is incumbent upon ownership to step up and declare money is available for signing current stars and adding the necessary high end talent rather than nibbling around for bargains - a strategy that has obviously contributed to our record-setting playoff losing streak, as well as this year's collapse.”
Couldn’t agree with this more. Losing Berrios would be disastrous for the near future, the mid 2020s, on this team.
We can speculate forever about Sano, Pineda, Polanco, Kepler, etc., but we simply don’t have enough quality pitching—especially guys who can give us close to 200 good innings a season—to believe we measure up with the elite teams come October.
If they want to see these players contend, the bottom line is that the Pohlads and the FO have to decide to spend what it takes to get the pitching we need to leverage our depth of hitting—a huge plus on this team—to bring this roster to the level of the elite teams.