Here’s a hot take: Who should the Twins be trading now that the season is over?
Let me begin by saying: This is edgelord bullcrap. Not entirely the fault of any sports loving Minnesotan- protecting our feelings and our pride is a big part of what we are. Saying the team sucks is a relic of the 90’s. Saying the team should rebuild shows you have no emotional attachment and are a smart person.
But trading away expiring assets on May 14th is just silly.
Let’s be honest, the Twins season could not have started any worse. They were projected to be the safest team outside of the Yankees and Dodgers to post an above .500 record, and arguably the safest outside of those two teams to make the postseason. And their record is 12-23. You can’t sugarcoat it- the situation is bad, and may cost the team a shot at the playoffs by putting them too far behind the eight ball.
The contrary but wholesome Aaron Gleeman thinks this team reminds him of the 2011 squad that came in to camp with expectations and wound up going 63-99. On a surface level, I get it. In reality, Aaron, that team was made of a house of cards. It relied on the following unlikely things to happen:
- Jim Thome would be just as good at 40 as 39.
- Delmon Young would be just as good, despite not being good
- Jason Kubel would bounce back from a rough season, as would Nick Blackburn
- Justin Morneau would be fine after the concussion
- Carl Pavano was a number two starter
- Francisco Liriano was a number one
- J.J. Hardy was expendable
- Tsuyoshi Nishioka was major league ready
- Ben Revere would provide a spark if needed
Looking back, there was underlying data for almost all of those men that should have screamed that the team needed a big free agent signing or a plucky trade (whether that would have been possible with Mauer’s then-new contract is debatable). The remaining core of that team had a memorable run through 2009 and 2010, but its run as a contender was over when Johan Santana and Torii Hunter left town before the 2008 season. Smoke and mirrors can sometimes work for the Twins, just ask the 2015 or 2017 team- but were the 2021 iteration on pace for either of those win totals (83 and 85 respectively), there wouldn’t be a panicked fan in the state.
The foundation of the 2021 team is simply too good to give up on, and I don’t say that because I believe in them and think all the fellas are nice guys. I’m saying it because most of them aren’t even playing that bad. Offensively, none of the hitters we would rely upon, were we winning, look lost at the plate. Max Kepler is struggling but has shown flashes and has always been streaky, as has Mitch Garver- they are the weak links. Willians Astudillo has pitched in a .319 average. Byron Buxton is now a (hurt but recovering) superstar. Nelson Cruz looks like 90% of 2019 Nelson Cruz and that’s fine. Josh Donaldson looks great and Jorge Polanco has been legitimately great in May. Kyle Garlick has raked against lefties just like we were hoping. Alex Kiriloff looked like he not only belonged, but that he could anchor a lineup if you squinted, before he went down. Andrelton Simmons has helped immensely in the middle infield while putting together some key at-bats.
Jose Berrios and Michael Pineda have met every expectation. Hansel Robles and Jorge Alcala (against righties) even look like good bullpen pieces to have. Taylor Rogers has good numbers and Tyler Duffey was gutting it out pretty well until his recent implosion. Even the beleaguered Alexander Colome has thrown five straight scoreless innings. J.A. Happ was a savior until Thursday. The only major disappointments so far performance wise have been Kenta Maeda, Matt Shoemaker and Randy Dobnak. Among those names, only Maeda was going to be heavily relied upon to perform and his last two starts have been pretty good anyhow. The sequencing of the good and bad performances has been finely tuned to the worst possible outcomes, and that’s not sustainable (it is excruciating to watch, however).
The team has been in probably 28 of the 35 games so far. So no, they don’t need to start the fire sale. People who think that need to forgive the people that hurt them and let themselves cry at a sad movie or something. The deadline is July 31st for a reason. That is how long teams have to figure out whether they have a shot. If you are worried about whether trading Simmons now versus July will be the difference between the Yankees number twelve prospect and number fifteen prospect, sports aren’t for you- Nate Silver has some really boring and wrong-headed books you can read (And that’s not me being anti-stats, just anti-Silver)
You want a comp? How about the 2006 team that was 27-34 on June 10th. They ended up doing pretty well and maybe would have even been great if they had more than one starter come playoff time.
I’m not saying the team doesn’t suck right now, they absolutely do. They also have two and a half months to prove they don’t. Try to enjoy it.