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I just fed my obsession by playing golf for about the fifteenth day out of sixteen. Well, it wasn't pretty and I left the course pretty frustrated. Before I got home, I had a chance to read the latest on Twins Daily and Major League Trade Rumors. The Twins will face the high-flying Yankees with three red-hot pitchers going for the Evil Empire. The Twins will counter with Cole Sands, Chris Archer and Dylan Bundy. I don't think I've ever seen such a lopsided matchup in favor of the visiting team when both teams are leading their divisions. Ever. As frustrated as I am with my golf game, the Twins continuing use of the Injured List and granting days off for their most dynamic talent provides me and plenty of other Twins fans with continual angst. It is like they are trying to win with one arm behind their back. Let's examine the components of my frustration; Injured List (pitchers)--A key bullpen arm (Alcala) has missed two months with an arm issue. That happens and all teams run into that on occasion. A marginal projected contributor (Dobnak) has missed the entire season so far and isn't close to coming back. Again not unexpected and all teams run into this. Currently, Gray (pectoral), Ryan (COVID) and Ober (groin) are all out. This is where the frustration builds for me. These aren't arm injuries and both of the injuries were borderline enough that the player wasn't disabled immediately. It seems that maximum caution has been used in all three cases. But these three are the top three starters on the team and none of them will face the Yankees this week. Beyond the immediate frustration is the fact that the team has been very conservative in extending the starts of all of their starters, yet here come the injuries. Add the cherry on top of a COVID case for their top young starter that has caused him to miss about three weeks and you start to wonder, what will happen next. One (frustrating) thing we can count on--there will be more short starts when the Injured List guys return to the rotation. Again, it seems that it is a constant, not the exception. Part two--position players. Having players who are breaking out miss time to injury and illness happens, but the Twins seem to have that as a rule. Gilberto Celestino, Kyle Garlick, Trevor Larnach and Royce Lewis all seemed on the way to proving they were valuable major league players and all were detoured to the injured list for a period of time. The Buxton management scheme seems to have accomplished one thing--make Byron Buxton an ordinary ballplayer. We've seen little of the blazing speed (don't "open it up" unless you absolutely have to) and he's no longer even causes anxiety for teams when he's on base. Buxton has only played about half the time in center field and when I last looked, he wasn't even a plus defender this year (that is a big portion of his value). Buck has hit homers at a prolific rate, but he's not getting on base enough and, as mentioned, he is not displaying many of his off the charts tools. Next Carlos Correa. After a slow start, Correa has shown himself to be a premium player, but because of a bad bruise when he was hit by a pitch and a case of COVID, he will have missed over a third of the Twins games to date when he returns. The COVID absence wouldn't have been so bad, but his heir apparent was hurt the day before he was diagnosed, so the Twins have used a career minor leaguer as their shortstop (Palacios has looked like a big leaguer. Good for him!). From what I can tell the Blue Jays have all of their top position players and top starters healthy and playing every day. Same for the Yankees. Since the middle of April, that hasn't been the case with the Twins. Why can't we have nice things? Agree? Give some feedback if you'd like. Go Twins!
No matter how far we distance ourselves from Covid-19, 2020, and the ripple effects of a worldwide pandemic, I’ll remember a couple of specific dates as they relate to baseball. Tuesday May 26, 2020 could end up being another one of those days. In the midst of Memorial Day we wonder what lies ahead tomorrow. Thinking back to March 11, the sports world began to stand still. That day the NBA put everything on hold, and less than 24 hours later not only was the MLB season halted, but also March Madness was put on ice as well. We’re now multiple months away from that date, but a return appears on the horizon. After Major League Baseball owners attempted to go back on their word in regards to prorated player salaries for whatever season that would take place, and do so in a public attempt at employee shame, we’ve got an impending alteration. It’s expected that Tuesday May 26 will bring forth a new proposal from ownership. Players will be expected to move off prorated salaries, but owners will budge on a revenue split that looks very much like a salary cap. Although it’s the economics of each deal that continues to be at the forefront of any reports the largest hurdle remains that of health precautions. With no level of certainty regarding what’s next in the wrath of this specific pandemic we can be certain that whatever transpires will be a massive outlier. Everything about sports, and life in general, during the current landscape of precaution will remain an oddity for years into the future. It’s hard to believe, and the growing consensus aligns here, that baseball will not return for this calendar season. Everyone has far too much to gain from resumption, and squabbling would set ablaze and unfortunate fallout in regards to the bigger picture. With potential for a CBA-induced lockout just a year from now, setting back the sport even further ahead of time could be a death knell when popularity enhancement has long been the drive. Rob Manfred has done a lot of negative during his time as commission of Major League Baseball. Tuesday May 26, 2020 has the opportunity to go a long ways in presenting a launching pad for a restart of a sport that both the country and world need. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
Here’s the thing, this isn’t at all about a global pandemic or whether specific safety measures can ensure smooth operations. Instead, at least for me, this discussion comes down to timing. Recently San Francisco Chronicle writer Henry Schulman penned a piece suggesting that it’s 2021 when baseball should return to the diamond. While he touched on the health risks involved, and notes that it isn’t his revenues being sacrificed, the underlying premise comes down to business. It’s how muddy a quick discussion gets that has me worried about what lies ahead for the sport. The current CBA is set to expire in 2021. That means, even had there not been this catastrophic global event, the union and owners would have been eyeing a business battle in the not so distant future. A lockout has been discussed as a potential avenue for players to make up some serious ground in terms of labor negotiations, and anyone in tune with the expected dealings would opine that expecting something cordial was a pipe dream. Now we’re dealing with the time crunch of a season that is scheduled to begin operations in less than a month, deal with a schedule cut in half, have no fans present, and do so under a completely different set of expected parameters. Looking at the difficult logistics of it is daunting, and that’s before both sides have come to an agreement on the business end. Owners are asking players to agree that a salary cap of sorts is necessary. After already prorating their wages, players are being asked to play under more difficult circumstances and further stifle their earnings. All of it will play out in the court of public opinion, and the shame game will likely reach new heights before we get resolution. I fully expect the union and owners to come together on a deal. There’s too much at stake for both sides not to reach that conclusion. However, I’m worried about what the lingering effects of it all may look like. We already know that we’re in for a drastic reshaping of the Minor Leagues, which will in turn impact the Major Leagues for years to come. Hurt feelings and distrust could run rampant though, and with an already scheduled set of negotiations looming on the horizon, CBA talks could once again shelve the sport. We can come together as fans and be excited about sports returning to their field of play. Being wiped out by something like a global pandemic is not at all the fault of anyone involved. What will be less pleasantly received is a work stoppage only aided by communication breakdowns incurred through negotiations had under a serious sense of duress. I won’t pretend to know the inner workings of discussion tactics had by either the MLBPA or owners, but it doesn’t seem to be the worst idea in turning a focus to the long-term game. If there can be some parameters established for the future of the sport, rather than just the reactionary 2020 version, we could all be better for it. Much like the Coronavirus itself, I don’t want to see baseball return only for a shutdown to wreak havoc on the game again. Get it right, or at least on an established common ground, the first time so we aren’t here on the merits of no one but the egos involved a year from now. No baseball is always the worst kind, so let’s make sure that hiatus is as short lived as possible. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email