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Jim Souhan

Jim Souhan analyzes the local sports scene

Souhan: Best news about Buxton is that he's still hurting

The best news the Twins have heard lately: That Byron Buxton's toe is in bad shape.

Buxton went on the disabled list after admitting that he can't push off on his broken toe. Why is this relatively good news?

Because the way Buxton was swinging, if there wasn't a physical problem holding him back, the only other conclusion we could reach would be that he had regressed as a hitter by two years.

What we know now is that Buxton couldn't land properly on his left foot, leading to his unconventional swing becoming even less conventional.

Buxton has had two spurts in the majors during which he looked like an All-Star: September of 2016 and the second half of 2017. If he takes an approach that gives him a chance to make contact, the ball will jump off of his bat. If he can land properly on his left foot.

More good news amid the Twins' wreckage? Miguel Sano has come back looking more like his old self. He hit a home run to centerfield in Kansas City with the kind of swing that could yet make him a superstar, and he has produced with runners in scoring position of late.

Whether it's Roy Smalley, Tom Kelly, Justin Morneau or Paul Molitor, what you hear from the Twins' best hitting gurus is that a hitter like Sano needs to let the ball travel and be willing to drive it to center or right. If he does that, he will still hit home runs to leftfield because of his bat speed, but he will stop striking out at a near-historic rate.

As for Ervin Santana's setback, there is no way to paint that as good news, except that for all of their problems the Twins don't currently have anyone begging to leave the rotation. Lance Lynn has pitched well in his last two starts, Kyle Gibson continues to reinvent himself and revive his career, and Fernando Romero is too good to take out of the rotation even after his implosion on Wednesday night.


You can find my podcasts at TalkNorth.com

Souhan: Is Crawford's decision a bad omen for the Wolves?

Jamal Crawford declined his player option. He is leaving the Timberwolves.

An ESPN report noted that Wolves star Jimmy Butler wanted Crawford to remain.

This is the first important move of an offseason that could set the Wolves up as winners, or put them on the precipice of regression.

Here are the questions raised by Crawford's departure:

-Can Tom Thibodeau attract quality bench players? He signed Cole Aldrich, then didn't play him. He signed Jamal Crawford, then didn't play him as much as Crawford wanted or expected. Thibs plays his starters massive minutes. Even if you don't disagree with that strategy, it makes attracting quality bench players in free agency difficult. Crawford is well-liked and well-networked around the NBA. If he tells players they wouldn't enjoy playing for Thibs in Minnesota, that's a blow.

-If Thibs can't build a strong bench, does that make Butler less likely to re-sign with the Wolves?

-Does this make it more likely that the Wolves will pursue a trade - whether of Andrew Wiggins, their first-round pick, or some combination of assets? The Wolves are even more desperately in need of three-point shooting and bench scoring now, and don't have enough cap space to spend on high-profile free agents.

-Does this make it more likely that the Wolves invest in Derrick Rose?

This is the NBA. It's about personalities and relationships. Given Thibs' reputation, Butler may have to become the Wolves' top ambassador and recruiter.


You can find my podcasts at TalkNorth.com