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Baseball has arrived at the LCS for both leagues and the Twins are watching from home again. Twins fans can either wait until 2022, pick a playoff team or try Twins fantasy playoff baseball by connecting the dots of former Twins players listed on the 40 man roster for each of the playoff teams. Don’t forget that the 40 man roster includes injured players and players in the minor leagues. There are 19 former Twins players spread between the 10 teams participating in the 2021 playoffs. Please add to the roster if a former Twin is missing from the list. 9 batters, 3 starting pitchers, 6 middle relievers and 1 closer are on this Twins fantasy baseball playoff roster. The 9 batters consist of 5 switch hitters, 3 lefties and 1 right-handed hitter. Feel free to reconfigure the following batting order but this lineup can load up righties or lefties and has a lefty-righty progression. 1 Hicks, Aaron-CF (S) 2 Santana, Danny-2B (S) 3 Rosario, Eddie-LF (L) 4 Cruz, Nelson-DH (R) 5 Escobar, Eduardo-3B (S) 6 Wade Jr, Lamonte-RF (L) 7 Gonzalez, Marwin-1B (S) 8 Castro, Jason-C (L) 9 Adrianza, Ehire-SS (S) Is this the lineup of a World Series champion? Probably not but this could actually be a formidable lineup as each of these players, with the exception of Wade Jr., has had at least one decent season in the big leagues. Wade Jr, is still establishing himself in the majors. There is definitely more than one lineup card for this group but as noted earlier, this lineup has a lefty-righty progression. How many starting pitchers does a team need in the post season? Three. Why three? Because that’s the number of former Twins starters on the 40 man roster of playoff teams. Who’s the ace? Game 1 Lynn, Lance (R) Game 2 Odorizzi, Jake (R) Game 3 Happ, JA (L) Hmmm….The fantasy 2021 Twins playoff roster seems to have the same problem as the real 2021 Twins, starting pitching. That’s a shaky starting staff at best. As long as we’re in fantasy baseball land, let’s just bring back Morris, Erickson and Tapani or Frank and Bert (sorry Les Straker). The entire relief corps is made up of righties. That could make things difficult as well. Here’s the list in alphabetical order. 1 Chargois, JT 2 Graterol, Brusdar 3 Littell, Zack 4 Pressly, Ryan 5 Robles, Hansel 6 Wisler, Matt & Closer Hendriks, Liam The good, the bad and the ugly comes to mind – wah wah wah. None of these relievers were given a long tryout in the big leagues with the Twins. Robles was already established when he was signed by the Twins but, for the most part, the other 6 have seen more success outside of the Twins organization since they left. This group of relievers could go either way but at least 1 lefty would be a great addition. Does this roster win a World Series? Probably not. Does this roster get into the playoffs? Big maybe but very doubtful. The only sure thing for the 2021 Twins fantasy baseball playoff roster is that at least 1 former Twin will be part of a World Series championship team. In the American League, the Astros have 4 former Twins and the Red Sox have 2. The national league has fewer former Twins as the Braves have 2 and the Dodgers have 1. Is this roster a contender? Would this group beat the current Twins roster in a 5 or 7 game series? Have you assembled a better batting order? Which former player(s) are you rooting for in the post season? Which player(s) do you wish were still with the Twins? Let me know what you think.
Recently, I found myself watching an old Abbott and Costello movie and I was quickly reminded about how funny they were. If you’re an old time comedy fan, you’ve most likely heard the Abbott and Costello “Who’s on first?” comedy routine. If you haven’t heard it or haven’t seen it, find it on line and laugh out loud. Abbott and Costello were comedic geniuses but who knew they could predict the future when they gave their first national radio performance of “Who’s on first?” in 1938. The current Twins roster can be assembled into a potent line up every game of the year but under a microscope, it appears Abbott and Costello could see the upcoming 2022 Twins roster back when the Twins were still the Washington Senators. “Who’s on first?” The Twins have had some great first basemen since day one in 1961. Currently, first base has become a home for Miguel Sano but it’s been by default. At times, the former third baseman has given us a glimpse of a great arm and a good glove but he is not consistent with either of those tools. He’s destined to be a DH but his plate discipline has to be weighing on the Twins front office as Sano will be 29 years old next season and has shown no signs of improving his strike out rate. Sano is on track for over 200 strike outs per season and a subpar batting average every year if he ever plays a full season of injury free baseball. Will Sano stay at first or will the Twins ultimately move on with Alex Kirilloff, Max Kepler, Brent Rooker or even Mitch Garver? So that leaves the question, “Who’s on first?” “What’s on second.” The former starting shortstop is what’s on second. Jorge Polanco has moved from shortstop to second base where his defensive skills a better suited. Polanco has become a star as he continues to improve offensively every season and my opinion is that he should stay at second for the foreseeable future. The problem is that the Twins organization has several middle infielders that might be better suited playing second base or in the outfield than they are suited playing shortstop. That being the case along with the Twins current shortstop Andrelton Simmons becoming a free agent at the end of the season leads to the question of will he or won’t he regarding Polanco returning to shortstop next season. Polanco has to be on the field as many games as possible but so does future batting champion Luis Arraez who is also a second baseman. What to do, is still a question at second base. “I don’t know.” That sums up third base for the Twins since Corey Koskie’s last season with the team in 2004. Former AL MVP Josh Donaldson has been a decent addition when he’s in the lineup. The problem is that father time and the injury bug have caught up with Donaldson to a larger extent than expected. Unfortunately, it’s as if he needs to be listed as "day to day" on the injury report every day of the season. Is Luis Arraez the answer at third? I don’t think so but I don’t know. To the minors. Do you hear crickets? Yes? That’s because the Twins number of third base minor league prospects has been thin in recent years. Jose Miranda has played some third base at St. Paul (AAA) this year, but he has played all over the infield throughout his minor league career. His offensive numbers are fantastic this season but is he another middle infielder trying to fit in at another position. I don’t know. “I don’t give a darn./I don’t care.” Now I know that Twins management/ownership gives a darn and cares about shortstop but…. 2007 Jason Bartlett to Tampa. 2008/09 Brendan Harris (fill in the roster). 2010 JJ Hardy to Baltimore. 2011 Trevor Plouffe to right field to third base. 2012 Brian Dozier to second base. 2013 Pedro Florimon to minors and Pirates. 2014/15 Eduardo Escobar (temporary) to Arizona. 2015/16 Eduardo Nunez to Boston. 2017 Jorge Polanco arrives but is now at second base. This is a list of successful players but it can be easily interpreted as the Twins thinking that they can plug anybody in at the most important defensive position on the field. Help me applaud the Twins for signing Andrelton Simmons and his gold glove this season. Maybe he’ll be back to solidify that side of the infield again next season. If not…Polanco, Luis Arraez, Nick Gordon or Royce Lewis (big debut) are possible candidates. Stop the turnover, give a darn and care by solidifying the position. “Why?” This one is a stretch but why not? Why are you out here in left field, Luis Arraez? Because you and your bat have to be in the lineup. Why are you out here, Alex Kirilloff? Because you’re ready for the majors and you need to have plenty of at bats and not be on the bench. Why are you out here, Trevor Larnach and Brent Rooker? Because it’s your major league auditions. These four Twins are all good answers for the question why. “Because.” Buxton in center field. We’ve seen what he can do. Extend the contract. Enough said! Right? Just because. “Today.” Mitch Garver is the catcher today, when he’s healthy. It took a few years to get to today from Joe Mauer but Garver is today. Improved defense and a potent bat make him the catcher of today. Pair him with a young good defensive catcher in Ryan Jeffers and the Twins have a good duo behind the plate every day, not just today. “Tomorrow.” Wow, how appropriate is this for Twins starting pitching? It’s been more than a decade of tomorrows since the Twins had a lights out ace on the staff. With Kenta Maeda hurt, there isn’t one starter to list on the depth chart for the 2022 season. It’s going to take one big off season to figure out all 5 starters for the Twins in 2022. For now, TBD is penciled in as the probable starter tomorrow. “When?” Right field isn’t accounted for by Abbott and Costello’s “Who’s on first?” routine so please allow me to adlib just a little bit. When will Max Kepler put it all together offensively? Defense, no issues but he needs to hit both righties and lefties consistently from season to season to carry a better batting average, OBP and OPS. He should not be a platoon outfielder because of the oppositions starting pitcher. There are several good outfielders in the Twins system including players on the bench and in the minor leagues who would love to take over the every day duties in right field. When will Max Kepler make it over the hump? When will one of the many talented Twins outfielders overtake Kepler on the depth chart? It’s a when, when situation for the TWHENS (Twins) in right field. Falvey: Who’s on first? Levine: Sano Falvey: Say no to what? Levine: What’s on second. And we’ll leave it at that……
I agree with you. Development and trades are great options. I was looking strictly at the free agent list. For a 1-3 year contract, I do think that Stroman and Gausman are the right age at 31 (32 next season, not past their prime or over the hill) and have stronger track records than the free agent starters the Twins have signed over the last decade with the exception of Ervin Santana. Your point is well taken, they might not be aces but either could be 1.5/2 or 3 in the rotation, not 4's or 5's simply filling slots.
Don't you think it's time to rip off the starting pitching band aids the Twins management/ownership has slapped on their staff for over a decade? Let's ignore the problems in the pen for a minute and focus on the starting staff. How long ago was the original band aid applied? In 2008, the Twins managed to have 4 starters with an ERA of 4.04 or less. Impressive but there was no ace on the staff. Johan Santana was no longer with the team and Francisco Liriano was a good comeback story for part of that season. Scott Baker and Nick Blackburn held the reins in 2009 but there still wasn't an ace to be found. I'll mention one more year specifically and then we'll move along. Carl Pavano and another comeback by Liriano highlighted the starting pitching in 2010 while they were complimented by some success from the other starters. Do you see a real ace of the staff though? Me either. Any Twins fan from this era knows the direction the Twins went from here, Everest (maybe not that high) to the Dead Sea (yes that low). The next several years of failed minor league promotions & signings of has been/never were free agents have stretched for a decade now. Yes, there have been a few "one hit wonders" that may have hit the Billboard top 100 for a season or two but those haven't been impressive either. That list includes Scott Diamond, Kyle Gibson, Phil Hughes, Ervin Santana, Jake Odorizzi and Kenta Maeda, the only veteran starter under contract for 2022 who had a bad 2021 ended by injury. My apologies to any other members of the one hit wonder band (aid) that I've forgotten. Current management decided to trade Jose Berrios and sign Randy Dobnak to a long term contract. Wait, what? Ok, so Berrios would probably have been lost in free agency in a year and I like Randy Dobnak, his fantastic moustache and the story of his career but again, wait, what? The names of the unsuccessful have been left out of this story as I want to respect the efforts that most of them gave but weren't able to turn into Twins success. What needs to be addressed though is that there is NO need to add to the list. No, the Twins aren't going to go after the HOF 2022 free agent list of Greinke, Verlander, Kershaw or Scherzer. They wouldn't sign with the Twins any way. Nobody wants Trevor Bauer and at this point in his career, Johnny Cueto could be another one hit wonder or he could just add to the decade long list of, "Why?" Considering the fact that the 2022 starting staff currently consists of an injured Kenta Maeda, it's over due and about time to rip off the band aid that has been applied every year for over a decade. Marcus Stroman and Kevin Gausman are both 31 year old veterans with track records of success. Would you consider either one of them a sure thing? Perhaps not but next up on the list of free agent starters is the return of the often injured Michael Pineda. Maybe Stroman and/or Gausman could be convinced to sign with the Twins by run support, good defense (resign Simmons and extend Buxton) and several digits before the decimal point on their contracts. C'mon Twins, don't try to hide behind the words "small market team". Minneapolis-St. Paul ranks 16th in population of metropolitan areas in the U.S. and fans have shown up when there's a major league roster on the field. Rip the band aid off and let that Pohlad wallet see the light of day and feel the fresh brisk Minnesota air to heal the wound of the starting staff infection.