For reasons that are not entirely explainable, I watched the Mets-Yankees game last night. During the sixth inning, Josh Donaldson was at the plate, Aaron Hicks was on deck and Isiah Kiner-Falefa was in the hole. Eduardo Escobar was playing third for the Mets. It was like déjà vu all over again (granted the Kiner-Falafa reference was a stretch, since he never actually played a game for the Twins, but as a Twin for a day, it seemed like fair play).
I watched Donaldson hit a double with nobody on (I was gravely concerned about that hamstring as he rounded first) and ground weakly to the pitcher on his next-at bat with runners on first and third and two out. Somehow, that kind of seemed like déjà vu all over again, too. Probably an unfair and gratuitous hit on Donaldson, but, like apparently some of the guys in the dugout, I never really took to Donaldson.
I didn’t altogether despise Donaldson, like say last year’s shortstop whom I won’t even mention by name, but there was just something about him that seemed “un-Twin-like.” But enough about him, how is that a team starting three ex-Twins in their everyday line-up can have the best record in all of baseball?
I share the theory held by most old-school baseball types: It involves starting pitching and a strong bullpen. If a team has these two things, even several cast-offs from other teams can produce a strong team. I acknowledge that having Aaron Judge in the line-up doesn’t hurt either. Anyway, as we approach the trade deadline, we must caution true blue Twins fans to not get too attached to players we really like, as they might be about to be shipped out. Remember, pitching wins championships.
We never got attached to Kiner-Falefa, and the trade of Donaldson didn’t produce many tears either. Losing Hicks, who most of us knew would ultimately improve his game, didn’t seem that tragic (unless you count what we got back…John Ryan Murphy, a catcher who never made it), and like other notorious figures, a person destined for the use of his middle name in all discussions centered upon him. Google describes that trade as “highway robbery” but like all things Twins-Yankees, I just regarded it as par for the course.
Contrary to those trades, most of us well remember the sadness attached to the trade of Eduardo Escobar (who netted the Twins Jhoan Duran, their bullpen savior), and the tears shed at the loss of Nelson Cruz (who’s return was Joe Ryan, the Twins best SP). Sometimes, getting better requires short-term pain. Sometimes, you gotta do what you gotta do.
Having watched our Twins this season, and imagining where they’d be with a strong bullpen, it’s my belief that the front office has gotta do what they’ve gotta do, and what they’ve gotta do, is improve the bullpen. Frankly, it’s going to take more than a middle of the road or end of the road down on his luck reliever. It’s going to take a significant upgrade, and to do that, some pain may be felt in the short-term.
Speaking only for myself, front office: you have my permission. Do what you’ve gotta do, and we all know what you’ve gotta do.