During the dog days of a lost season, Twins fans have been forced to find their own angles regarding our favorite baseball team. Even though, to paraphrase Yogi, it got late, early this year…there have still been opportunities for conversations regarding trades that were made, and that weren’t, and players that seem to be figuring it out, as well as those who don’t seem to be.
It’s not exactly profound at this point to express happiness that Polanco didn’t get traded. Whether the offers weren’t sufficient, or he was never shopped around, it seems to have worked out favorably for the future. Simmons, in contrast, hasn’t figured it out, but he won’t be back anyway. Max Kepler, Miguel Sano, Josh Donaldson, Luis Arraez, Trevor Larnach, Alex Kiriloff, Mitch Garver, Ryan Jeffers, and maybe Nick Gordon and Austin Martin give us hope.
Even if there are no pitching moves made in the off-season (and there will be) Griffin Jax and Bailey Ober seem to give us room for hope on the mound. Those two combined with Kenta Maeda, as well as Joe Ryan and Drew Strotman (obtained in the Nelson Cruz trade) seems like it might be a much more hopeful combination than going into the season with J.A. Happ and Matt Shoemaker as two-fifths of the rotation.
Hopefully (and I know you’ve heard this before), the front office will supplement the pitching with more than warm bodies, which seems to have been the approach they took last winter. One of the many things most of us have believed with Derek Falvey and Thad Levine, is that they are young enough to change their ways and to learn from their mistakes.
They’ve tried the “guys coming off injuries” or “dirt cheap guys” (relatively speaking, of course…this is MLB) who might catch fire with a new team approach, and last year it failed all of us miserably. So, let’s hope they’ve learned and this winter will provide a new approach.
I haven’t mentioned Byron Buxton, because, well…we have all continually debated his merits on the ability versus availability continuum, and that particular dead horse has been beaten enough. So, without commenting on that, let’s just approach next season with the belief that he’ll be the starting centerfielder.
Though, while I’m not trying to start anything, getting Austin Martin might have been part of a long-term plan for centerfield...just sayin’...anyway, no need to go there. Either Buxton will be in centerfield, or the return for him will be on the mound or in the field somewhere, and either of those possibilities gives us hope. There, I feel like I discussed Byron Buxton without mentioning injuries. He’s either in centerfield or he’s been traded and either way we “might” win. “Might” may mean right in this case, as this piece is about hope after all.
The way the Twins have played recently (against good teams, it should be noted), gives us hope. It gives Rocco a reprieve from criticism (not that he was getting fired), but it does seem to indicate that whatever he is doing, his players have not quit, and that speaks well of him.
So, even though we’re in the dog days of August, it somehow seems like the future is more hopeful than it did back in July, or even June. Hope springs eternal, and maybe it not only got late, earlier….it may also be getting earlier, earlier.