Sometimes we have to hold people accountable. Perhaps not so much in our larger society, but certainly in our baseball world (unless we’re talking the Astros, or…maybe the Red Sox and Yankees…and then there’s all that steroid stuff…but I digress). I’m coming out in favor of accountability! Let’s start with the Twins front office.
People make mistakes. The Twins front office has made mistakes. I’m willing to forgive and forget, as long as those mistakes are made in good faith. While many of us now lament the loss of Eddie Rosario, based on his incredible performance thus far in the NLCS, we forgive Falvey and Levine. At least I forgive them, because they seemed to honestly think they had better options moving forward. It may be too early to entirely dismiss that possibility, even if it didn’t pan out in 2021, and the truth is having Eddie on the 2021 team probably wouldn’t have made an enormous difference anyway.
Letting some free-agents walk makes total sense (I’m looking at you Andrelton). Making trades that don’t always work out happens (I’m recollecting some unfortunate moments from Brunansky-Herr to Garza/Bartlett-Young/Harris to J.J. Hardy-almost nothing). Some trades, in contrast, seem to pay quick dividends (Kielty for Stewart, immediately comes to mind, and as much as we all loved Nelson Cruz…the trade with the Rays, seems to have worked in our favor already). The thing is, some trades work, some don’t. As long as they are made in an honest effort to improve the team, what’s not to like. A for effort and all of that.
Not signing Byron Buxton would be in a different category. It would, seemingly at least, be both unforgettable and unforgivable. (Full disclosure, I’ve come full circle on Buxton, last winter I was suggesting trade, now, after a season of games with and without him providing more contrast than ever before...it’s clear we cannot thrive without him).
Nobody, and surely not Falvey and Levine, honestly believe that the Twins would be better off without Buxton roaming centerfield in both the near and long-term future. I suspect they wouldn’t even pretend that to be the case. (I guess I should allow for the possibility of an amazing trade that would net big-league all-star caliber players, but a fair return seems unlikely given the upside of Buxton).
So, failure to sign Buxton, would be a genuine failure, far exceeding anything that may yet occur in Rosario’s case, as failure to sign him, would be totally based on finances rather than on any pretense of improving the team.
As so many of us say so often, this isn’t a salary cap league! Signing Buxton wouldn’t prevent making a play for a better pitching rotation, despite what ownership might want us to believe. Not signing Buxton would solely be a result of saving money, rather than seeking a championship. Period. Full stop.
Naturally, ownership is free to make such a decision, as painful as it may be. But let’s not allow the rhetoric to suggest that it would be anything beyond saving Pohlad family money, and possibly reinforcing the powerful principle (accepted by all too many) that because of our “small market” status, their hands are tied when it comes to signing big-time free agents, or re-signing our own big-time players.
The value of MLB franchises have skyrocketed since the Pohlad’s took ownership of the Twins. Good for them. I’m happy for them. I’m happy for all multi-millionaires and billionaires who happened to have tens of millions of disposable income available to make purchases in the 1980s and who have been able to watch those investments skyrocket. Truly, good for them. But let us not simply accept any narrative suggesting that they cannot re-sign Buxton AND still try to improve the team around him. Please, I’m begging us….all of us. Let’s actually try to hold them accountable...at least rhetorically. We can all be in this together, we really can be...let them know we are watching. Let them know we care.
I’m not suggesting a march on Target Field, or even a march. I’m just suggesting eyes wide open, and holding management to a higher standard than we typically do. A little bit of accountability might be refreshing.