Those of you who read this, probably have one thing in common, a love of your Minnesota Twins. You watch them, you follow their moves during the season and all off-season, and you simply want them to win (and probably do so joyfully, but I can’t be entirely certain of that). Despite any and all differences we all may have politically, philosophically, culturally, economically, etc….we all have that one thing in common.
Since I love them too, I hope you’ll indulge the following, which, I must warn you, is not an essay of beauty, butterflies, and puppy dogs, nor does it absolve the Twins management of criticism. I love my children more than I love yours, and thus, I feel open to criticizing and “shaping” the behavior of my own children more than I do yours. Similarly, the Twins sometimes infuriate me, just as my children sometimes did. The Brewers never infuriate me, even the Yankees don’t....as I just don’t love them, I just don’t care about them as much.
So, as with my children, when I disciplined them, it didn’t mean I didn’t love them, it actually meant that I did. When they made me angry, it was because I cared so incredibly much. When I criticize the policies of my nation, it’s because I care...you’ll never find me criticizing the policies of Canada....I mean Canadians are lovely and all....but, in the end, I don’t love Canada.
Saying that, of course, I fully expect that what I’m about to say will engender pure and unadulterated rage among some of you, and I wish that weren’t the case. Can’t we all just get along? Can’t we all just agree that no matter our differences regarding what we believe management should do or shouldn’t do, we’re still all in this together?
It is in that spirit that I provide the following concerning what might be a very anger filled week. The Twins management want you to believe they’ve made Byron Buxton a competitive offer, because (in my view) they have no real intention of signing him long-term. That is not a commentary about Buxton’s abilities, his value to the team, or anything at all about Byron Buxton. It is simply meant to convey that if what we’ve heard is true, that the Twins have offered $70 million over seven years, and then upped that to around $80 million or so for that same term…they aren’t really serious about extending him.
Regardless of whether we believe he’s “worth” that much or more, the baseball market determines what he’s “worth” and the market is going to value him at far more than $10-12 million per year, we all know that. Buxton and his agents know that. We also hear that it will be “incentive-laden.” Good luck with that in a world of guaranteed contracts.
I mean…one doesn’t have to dig too deep into MLB contracts to see what type of players make that type of money, and potentially transcendent players (like Buxton) make far more. So….the truth, as much as it hurts….is that the Twins management is “Huntering” us. They want the fans to believe they really, really want him, and they really, really want to extend him, but clearly, they don’t, unless he’s willing to sign on the cheap, then…they really, really want him.
Imagine in our own lives when we go to the car dealer and we say we “love that car” and we “have to have it” but we are willing to pay only somewhat less than market value to obtain it. Did we really try? Did we really believe the dealer would sell it to us? If we really did, then we only have ourselves to blame, as the market doesn’t really care how much we “want” something or how much we’ll value it. The dealer is going to sell it for as much as they can. Period. Buxton and his agent(s) will get him the best contract they can, and I really don’t think any of us Twins fans think the offer made will compare to the offer he might receive in another year.
So, friends, colleagues, country-persons, Buxton will be gone later this week, or this off-season, or next year at this time, but…let’s face it, he’ll be gone. We must all hope our return is sufficient, and while we should all wish him the very best when he joins a “large market” team, we all know, deep down….we really don’t want him to “Ortiz” us.
On to Nelson Cruz. He’s not coming back after the year is over. I love the guy, we all love the guy. He’s not coming back. I’m old enough to remember this same discussion with regard to Eduardo Escobar. “He loves it here, he’d love to re-sign here.” Perhaps, but Arizona locked him up (with a fair offer) quite soon after he joined them. If the Twins don’t see Buxton as being affordable for their future, and the re-build or re-tool is on, the Twins don’t likely want or need a $15 or more million a year DH. A highly paid DH tends to play for a high-level contender. Period.
Cruz appears to be a great human being. He appeared to love it in Minnesota. This can all be true. He’s also not coming back. I can’t tell you how many places I’ve visited that I loved. I didn’t quit my job to move to any of them, even when the people were awesome and the scenery was beautiful. I went and still live where the best job offer took me. I think Mr. Cruz will do the same, and continue to love Minnesota....from afar.
So, it’s great that some of us are willing to imagine a world in which Buxton signs for cheap, Cruz wants to return, and we all live happily ever after. Truly, it’s great. As I’ve written before, belief is a strong thing, and for those that have it, it’s clearly a positive influence in your lives. I too, would love to believe these players will come back…but unfortunately, I really don’t. I think this comes from following the Twins for decades. Truly, in good times and in bad. So….time to move forward.
On to Jose Berrios. Given the words I’ve written today, the Twins better get serious about extending Berrios. If what I’ve said bears any relationship to reality (and of course, it may not), then selling hope is going to mostly rely on extending Berrios. I mean, can the Twins really sell hope if these three players are gone, or are lame-ducks next year?
Sadly, I think we may find out. Again, putting aside how much we love Berrios or his value in any way to us….his market value is very high. Will the Twins “match” what others would offer? I hope so. I doubt it. So, will the beauty of Target Field and the enjoyment of outdoor baseball carry a really bad team forward for a few years while fielding a non-contending team?
My answer, of course, is yes. You know, I know it. We all know it. We’ll all be watching opening day next year, even if the Twins go back to the bad old days of fielding a truly non-competitive team. We want more, we “deserve” more. The taxpaying citizens of Minnesota truly “deserve” more, but we don’t always get what we deserve. We don’t always get what we want.
I don’t want you to hate me, I don’t want you to hate the Twins management, I really don’t. I’m just trying to help us all with the acceptance of a new (or is it old) reality, in which the Twins don’t sign highly paid players.
I know, Josh Donaldson. I know, Joe Mauer. I also know Morris, Hunter, Viola, Santana, et al., the odds aren’t on our sides here fans. Many of us will be outraged, but fortunately, the Twins management knows, (as we do ourselves, if we’re willing to admit it)…we’ll be angry, but we’ll get over it. It’s not like we’re going to quit baseball, or suddenly become White Sox or Brewers fans. The Twins are “ours,” and our loyalty runs deep. We can’t quit them, and they know it.
Best wishes, be happy. Enjoy the rest of the summer, and let’s get ready to “get to know them” as we’ve done in the past. Remember….we’ve been through this before, and as much as we hated it, ultimately, we got over it. We’ll get over it again.