Heading into 2017, the Minnesota Twins front office did very little to improve the on-field product. Coming off a 59-103 finish in ‘16, there was little reason to believe in a turnaround.
So of course, as baseball often goes, the ‘17 trade deadline saw the Twins battling for a playoff berth and The FALVINE (TM) struck a deal for Braves pitcher Jaime Garcia. He made one start—a victory!—but a disastrous West Coast road trip gave The FALVINE (TM) cold feet and they flipped him to the Yankees to become sellers at the deadline’s closing bell.
Further defying logic, the Twins went on an August/September tear to a Wild Card berth, where they had that glorious first-inning lead in the Bronx before, well, you know.
Despite almost no effort in improving the team all season long, the 2017 Twins made an exciting go of it.
Contrast that with the current ‘22 campaign:
Facing a clear lack of starting pitching quality and depth, The FALVINE (TM) onboarded Dylan Bundy, Chris Archer, & Sonny Gray. They also made a logical (and analytically by-the-book) swap of Taylor Rogers for another SP—Chris Paddack—and a potentially decent reliever—Emilio Pagan—to boot!
Beyond just hoarding SP’s, the biggest splash netted Carlos Correa in a move absolutely no one expected.
After four months of play, the Twins found themselves in an AL Central triumvirate with Cleveland & Chicago and bullpen depth/quality was a clear bugaboo. Maybe one more playoff-caliber starter too. So, Tyler Mahle was acquired to accompany Sonny Gray & Joe Ryan atop the rotation, while Jorge Lopez and Michael Fulmer were added to the pen.
How did that all pan out post-deadline? A 13-12 (pre-Boston finale) record—not exactly write-home material—and now behind the Guardians after spending most of the season in the driver’s seat.
All of this illustrates how cruel and unusual the much-discussed “Baseball Gods” can be. One Twins club does absolutely nothing and rises from the ashes to the playoffs. Another makes numerous additions all season long and has to fight tooth-and-nail.
The good news: No matter what the folks in business suits and blouses do (or don’t do), baseball turns on winning individual matchups—often on a pitch-by-pitch basis—not paperwork or projections. Things such as Pagan’s ability to locate his livewire fastball, solid (not wasteful) Max Kepler plate appearances, the hustle of Jake Cave, or the unique ability of Nick Gordon to inspire those around him.
As the old saying goes, the chances of those things happening are 50/50: they either will or they won't. With back-to-school season imminent, no one else is coming to save this ball club at the bell. With the exception of a few potential injury returnees, its playoff fate will be decided almost exclusively by the current clubhouse crew.