Alright, whomever predicted that the Twins would be this good, raise your hand. Okay, sit down Stu, you're a liar and everyone knows it.
Seriously, this start has come out of nowhere and we're starting to get to the point where "it's early" can no longer be used as an excuse. As I've mentioned about umpteen times, the Twins are good in spite of their failure to excel in any one statistical category.
Last week, Aaron Gleeman pointed out the roots of the Twins' success. They have managed to cluster their hits and walks together, generating runs in droves. Their bullpen has been exceptional in close and late situations, and finally their starting pitching has become watchable again.
All of this excitement has led to some people thinking the Twins are legitimate playoff contenders. Its this mentality for which I must become the buzzkill. Now all of a sudden, we have people talking about the future. It seems that we have talking heads and fans that believe the Twins' timeline can be fast-forwarded simply because of this newfound success. Dan Plesac of MLB Network suggested the Twins should acquire Cole Hamels (sadly, I can't find the tweet anymore from the person that heard him say that on TV). Charley Walters of the Pioneer Press wants the Twins to talk about an extension for Torii Hunter. Plus, I'm certain that some fans are already thinking about the playoffs.
I can only tackle these one at a time, so here I go. First, the playoffs. I cannot stress enough that in spite of their record, this simply is not a good Twins squad. They have succeeded with a surplus of clutch hitting, something that historically has demonstrated to be unrepeatable. Trust me, I think it's reasonable to think that if players could suddenly will themselves into getting more hits with runners on base, they'd have started doing that a loooooooong time ago. Mike Pelfrey and Kyle Gibson have tidy ERAs that mask poor secondary numbers. Again, historically a thing that has shown it cannot last forever. Unless the Twins make some upgrades, I still am unconvinced that this is a playoff-caliber team.
Improvements, huh? That sounds like trading for Cole Hamels! Except… no. There's no doubt in my mind that adding Hamels would be a huge lift to the team, but I just don't see why the Twins should do it. Some of you may be irritated to be hearing this once again, but I'd rather sit back just one more season before adding any expensive pieces to the roster via trade. Acquiring Hamels will cost some top prospects. I think the Twins could swing a deal without losing Miguel Sano or Byron Buxton, but still, I'd hate to think that Jose Berrios, Alex Meyer, Eddie Rosario, any of the flamethrowing relievers, etc. would need to be in the package to acquire him. Plus, if Hamels's numbers happened to tank by moving to the American League, we'd have the double whammy of Twins fans being sour that they lost prospects AND added an underachiever.
Finally, the possibly extension for Torii Hunter. I'll admit that I'm not a huge fan of him right now. At the same time, I can fully admit that he has been one of the best offensive players on the team this year. Hunter has already defied time by being a productive hitter as he approaches 40 years old, but what happens when his age finally catches up to him? The Twins are already paying him $10 million this year, I wouldn't want to see a declining hitter being paid that much again next year. Plus, would Hunter even accept a part-time role considering next year should have Buxton, Oswaldo Arcia, and Aaron Hicks already fighting for playing time?
I understand that I'm being rather pessimistic here, but my thought process has always been to take a cautious approach. I've seen the Twins fall into the trap of believing certain players will perform to an expected level, only to watch them underperform with no backup plan in place. This is exactly how Nick Punto yo-yoed between the starting lineup and the bench last decade, because he excelled when he supplanted the original starters, but then couldn't keep that success up when he was handed the job the following year. If you wanted to argue that Hunter could be kept around as a bench bat, mentor, and occasional outfield starter for next year, then yes, I'd be in favor of that. But, as I said in the previous paragraph, would Hunter be in favor of that as well?
Basically, in spite of the excellent start the Twins have had this year, I've been trying to savor the moment while also keeping my expectations in check. If we get to August and the Twins are still in the hunt, then you'll see me on the front lines leading the cheers. But until that happens, I'll be waiting back, keeping calm.