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Looking back and looking ahead

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Who do we want back next year?

Minnesota Twins v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images

Hi friends!

I feel like enough time has passed for me to not be sad/mad/disappointed/defeated about the 2021 season and I can start looking at things with a little more clarity and a little less emotion. The non-Twins teams I was rooting for in the post season have already made their exit. And I really am bored with the prospect of another Houston/Red Sox AL Championship and while the Dodgers/Giants series is exciting, I couldn’t care less who actually wins that one. That being said, I am trying to think back on the 2021 Twins on things like who surprised us, who lived up to their expectations, who was a bust, who needs to come back, who needs to go bye bye in the car car. I’m also thinking ahead to who I’d love to see signed in the off season. Sure, there’s a lot of wishful thinking, but supposedly the Twins are going to try to make some big moves this winter.

Studs:

  • Byron Buxton Injuries or not, the fact is the Twins are far superior with him than without.
  • Jorge Polanco Polanco did so well this year that I was worried he was heading for another steroid-related suspension. The switch-hitting infielder led the team in homers this season with 33 and was one of three qualifying players to hit above .250. (Just three? Oof.)
  • Joe Ryan To lose Nelson Cruz sucked. But to get Joe Ryan in return? Yes, please. After winning a silver medal in the Olympics this summer, Joe and that fabulous hair of his came back to the states and was added to the starting rotation, softening the blow of the loss of Kenta Maeda.
  • Taylor Rogers Taylor ended up in the all star game, and not just because all teams have to send someone. Granted, he was an afterthought last minute add to the roster, and happened to be in Colorado to watch his twin bro Tyler in said ASG, but he earned his spot just the same.
  • Rob Refsnyder When Refsnyder came in to help out the decimated outfield when everyone had covid and/or some sort of injury, I thought he might be on his way to singlehandedly saving the season. Until he went out with injury himself. Sigh.
  • Mitch Garver When Garver wasn’t injured, he was fantastic. Unfortunately, he missed a bunch of time this year due to some (gruesome) injuries.
  • Bailey Ober When it became clear that Shoemaker needed to go far away from the mound, young Bailey Ober surprised us all by settling into the rotation like a seasoned vet.

Duds:

  • Alex Colome No explanation needed. His official stats don’t show how awful he made us all feel. It felt like he had way more than just seven blown saves, didn’t it?
  • Jake Cave In just 178 plate appearances this season, he hit an abysmal .188. He had the lowest WAR on the team (-0.9). He just... I don’t know. He just made me angry most of the time.

Did exactly what I expected:

  • Miguel Sano Miguel did what Miguel does. Slow start. Hot finish. 30 homers, and managed to bring his batting average up to a whopping .233 after spending much of the season below the Mendoza Line, and becoming the fastest player to 1,000 strikeouts in MLB history in September. Congratulations?
  • Michael Pineda Big Mike was a consistent, solid starter. One of the few pitchers this year that didn’t make me want to hurl my remote at the TV on a regular basis.
  • Luis Arraez He was patient at the plate and got on base a lot. He didn’t hit for power, but he was a consistent, dependable player.
  • Willians Astudillo I didn’t expect him to play a lot, but when he did, there was some entertainment to be had. Sure, he had the second lowest WAR on the team (-0.8), but he brought some fire to the game when there was very little to be excited about.

Disappointments:

  • Andrelton Simmons I felt like he just wasn’t what we’d hoped he’d be. I don’t know if it was the fact he gave everyone the ‘rona at the beginning of the season, or if he just seemed like he wasn’t all in for the Twins. Despite his 5 Gold Gloves from his days in Atlanta and Anaheim, he made some boneheaded errors this season that were very frustrating to watch. He just.. kind of sucked.
  • Max Kepler Don’t hate me for this one. But our normally badass Max hit just .211 this year. Injuries kept him from being the player we needed him to be.
  • Josh Donaldson Between getting injured in his first game or the fact that he clearly has some leg issues that won’t be going away anytime soon, he wasn’t the rain bringer we’d hoped for.
  • Kenta Maeda He wasn’t quite the Kenta Maeda of 2020, which was fine. But the disappointment came when he ended up with season ending Tommy John surgery. Womp womp.

Good Riddance:

  • Matt Shoemaker Oh my god it took the Twins way too long to dump his ass. Good riddance, indeed.
  • JA Happ Did anyone else feel like we were going to get in trouble for swindling the Cardinals with the trade? Like, how were we even able to find anyone to take him?

Please come back:

  • Nelson Cruz Boomstick was traded to the Rays at the deadline to help them get to the playoffs. He did just that, and now we’d like him back, ok? It’s not outside the realm of possibility that he’ll sign a one year deal in the offseason somewhere, so why not here?

Please sign here:

I’m putting this out into the universe in hopes to manifest at least one of these into being. We have some spots to fill and there are some free agent opportunities this off season. Derek Falvey claims they’re not interested in a rebuild next year and suggested the Twins might actually plunk down some cash.

If the Twins actually are going to spend some cash next year? Well then here’s who I’d like to see in a Twins uniform in 2022:

  • Max Scherzer He might be a tough get if the Dodgers make the World Series and/or Clayton Kershaw and Trevor Bauer aren’t going to be on their opening day Roster. But holy poop can you imagine if the Twins ponied up for a proven dominant ace like Scherzer?
  • Clayton Kershaw Yes, another Dodger headed to free agency. But supposedly the Twins are willing to shell out some cash this off season so why not reach for the stars?
  • Albert Pujols If the Twins don’t bring Nelson Cruz back, Albert Pujols could be a huge get for the DH spot. And if Sano is off to a slow start? Toss the veteran Pujols in at first while Sano gets his head on right in St. Paul for a few weeks.
  • Carlos Correa Obviously Simmons is dunzo here. Royce Lewis might not be ready to be our every day shortstop after his ACL tear this year and not playing at all in 2020 (and if he does come up, he could sub for Donaldson when he inevitably hurts his calf). I’d love to see Carlos Correa in a Twins uniform at short next season. I don’t care what you say about the Astros, I like the guy. And he’s good, with or without a trash can.
  • Javier Baez If not Correa, another shortstop I could see the Twins going for would be Baez. I don’t necessarily see him signing here, but hey, how good would an infield of Donaldson, Baez, Polanco, and a (not slumping) Sano be?

Did I miss anyone? Was I unfair to anyone? Did I overvalue anyone? What are your thoughts, friends? Who might you like to see on the field in a Twins uniform on opening day? Maybe if enough of us put it out there, the universe might just grant us a Scherzer.

xoxo,

Marea