The Twins appeared on a social media site Tuesday, meaning they somehow avoided Facebook’s restrictions on offensive material.
It has been an ugly half-season, combining injuries, a key drug suspension, demotions of vital players and bad timing. This team left spring training with justified optimism and has performed as if trying to revisit contraction.
Or maybe the Twins are just contrarians.
They are managed by one of the greatest baserunners of his generation, yet navigate the diamond as if blindfolded.
They feature accomplished players trying out for big, new contracts, yet who have performed as if they’re afraid of high taxes. Brian Dozier, Logan Morrison, Joe Mauer and Lance Lynn have depressed their value with uncharacteristically unproductive seasons.
For the fourth straight season, the Twins are defying expectations. In the past two odd years, they have been surprisingly good; in the last two even years, they have been shockingly bad.
Last summer, they played their best after their front office gave up on them. This summer, they became one of baseball’s worst teams after their front office committed to winning this year.
Their best prospects and veterans have faltered, and a utility infielder and a lesser prospect have become their two best players.
As they return for what could be a last-chance homestand beginning Thursday, the question is whether they are contrarian enough to turn this seemingly lost season into anything resembling a success.
The front office has every reason to make trades to improve the team’s chances for next year.
This same front office waffled between helping the 2017 team and trading assets away, depending on how the team was performing in July and August.
Their homestand will feature 11 games in 11 days against three beatable teams and will be followed by the four-day All-Star break. If the Twins are going to creep closer to Cleveland, close enough to keep the front office from giving up on the season, they will need to begin making up ground in the next two weeks.
Jorge Polanco has returned from his PED suspension. Ervin Santana, Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano could return from, respectively, injury, injury/slump and slump/irresponsibility, sometime in the next two weeks.
There is still a chance for this team to make a run toward respectability, if not contention, and this franchise has established precedents for such surges.
The 2003 Twins were 7½ games out of first place on July 17 and won the division.
The 2006 Twins were 10½ games behind on Aug. 7 and won the division.
The 2009 Twins were seven games out on Sept. 6 and won the division.
The 2010 Twins were 4½ games out on July 15 and won the division.
What appears to be different about this season is that the pedigree and experience of the division leaders are intimidating, and the chance of qualifying for a wild-card spot is nonexistent.
But this season is different in this way, as well: Perhaps never before has a struggling Twins team welcomed back two potential franchise players, an ace and a player who might have been their second-half MVP the previous season, all in July.
Sano. Buxton. Santana. Polanco. No team will add so much raw talent at the trading deadline.
If the Twins hit the superfecta (a trifecta-plus-one; I Googled it) and all four perform as well as they are capable, this team could still make this an interesting summer.
Are the odds against that? Of course.
The Twins front office might be ready to trade players — perhaps Eduardo Escobar, Kyle Gibson, even Dozier — away. And this time, fans wouldn’t have much of a case if they wanted to complain about Derek Falvey and Thad Levine.
This Twins team deserves to be disbanded and has the smallest of windows to prove otherwise.
Jim Souhan’s podcast can be heard at MNSPN.com. On Twitter: @SouhanStrib E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org