Signing Park made no sense
Torii Hunter revealed that he was going to retire in late October. Ten days later, it was announced the Twins had won the bid to negotiate with Byung Ho Park, a 29-year-old slugger from Korea.
The Twins’ explanation was the need for a righthanderd bat to make up for the loss of Hunter. Fair enough, if Park was an outfielder, but when he was eventually signed, it was to be the No. 1 designated hitter and a backup first baseman.
Miguel Sano was the DH for the second half of 2015. The Twins wanted to get him in the field regularly.
That would have been doable without Park: Play Sano 40 games at third, 40 games at first, with Trevor Plouffe and Joe Mauer serving as DH when Miguel was in the field.
Instead, the Twins signed a strikeout-prone slugger from a minor league and now must watch Sano in right field. Park can hit a hanging breaking ball a long way, but he’s overmatched by quality major league pitching. Signing Park made no sense last winter, and it still doesn’t.
Beat-up vets don’t bounce back
It was foolish to expect 33-year-old players to bounce back
Joe Mauer, Glen Perkins and Ricky Nolasco are all 33 years old. Mauer hasn’t been productive since 2013. Perkins is coming off three straight All-Star berths as a closer, but he was abysmal and injured down the stretch last season. Nolasco had been here two seasons, and was awful in 2014 and injured in 2015.
The Twins went to spring training holding onto the dream of a Mauer return to his former glory. They failed to add a reliever as insurance against the possibility that Perkins’ sorenes sreturned. They watched Nolasco look good on back fields against hitters from the low minors and decided that he should be in the rotation.
Mauer has repeated 2015: a strong April, and now a fade. He is what he is at 33 — a .270 hitter who gets some walks. Perkins is on the 60-day disabled list. Nolasco, after a few respectable starts, is brutal again — and would be released if not for $21 million still owed.
Only the Twins would expect beat-up 33-year-olds to bounce back and become solid assets for a playoff push.
Sano fails to get the message
The Twins moved Miguel Sano to right field and it hasn't gone well
Baseball is unique among the major professional sports in that players who make up a huge percentage of the game’s best talent can make themselves hard to keep tabs on in the offseason, if they so choose.
The wave of players from the Caribbean — and particularly the Dominican Republic — has allowed the game to fill the talent void as a much-lower percentage of great African-American athletes turned to baseball.
Sano is the Twins’ most important player. He left for the Dominican last fall weighing 270 pounds. The Twins wanted him to lose 10 pounds, partially for right field but mostly to play at his full potential. He weighed in at the start of spring training at 278.
The Twins have not been able to get through to Sano to accept the fact there’s much work to do for him to be the star that he believes himself to be. I have no faith in the current administration to get across that message.