It’s time to stop saying the Twins are rebuilding. They’re not. They’re waiting.
They’re not constructing a sports car. They’re standing at a bus stop.
The Twins embarrassed themselves Thursday afternoon, losing 7-2 to the Royals.
“Our fans don’t deserve to watch that crap,” is how manager Ron Gardenhire put it.
He said something more damning: “Those guys wanted it more than us.”
The Twins have assembled one of the worst rosters in the history of a franchise that has put together some awful ones. What’s disgusting is that a bunch of players who should feel compelled to play hard to keep their jobs and compensate for their lack of talent is capable of displaying such little professionalism.
The Twins have the third-worst record in the American League, and one of the teams worse than them, the Astros, isn’t even trying.
If the Twins were rebuilding, they would be playing a lot of raw but talented youngsters.
They’re not. They’re showcasing mediocre-to-lousy players who never have won at any level and might never win at any level. The Twins eagerly tried to trade anybody on their roster other than Joe Mauer or Glen Perkins on Wednesday, and as one team official said, “Nobody wanted our players.”
The Twins’ greatest hope has to be contending by 2015. How many players on their current roster will play prominent roles then?
Mauer and Perkins are All-Stars. Chris Herrmann should be a bench player. Aaron Hicks, demoted along with pitcher Scott Diamond on Thursday, should be in the outfield. Brian Dozier or Pedro Florimon could stick around at the bottom of the order or on the bench. Maybe Casey Fien sticks. Maybe the Twins re-sign Mike Pelfrey. Maybe Sam Deduno is for real.
That’s about it: Two veteran All-Stars, one talented kid headed for the minors and a few question marks.
What should be most offensive to the Twins is that they’ve traded places with the Royals. Now the Twins are touting prospects because their big-league club is so pathetic, and the Royals are surging, playing as if there’s something they like about baseball other than the paycheck.
The Royals, like the 2002 Twins, don’t have any superstars, but they play with intelligence and passion. Too many current Twins don’t. Trevor Plouffe, a former first-round pick with tremendous natural power, seems to think that because he can hit an occasional home run, he doesn’t need to pay attention in the field or take an intelligent at-bat in the clutch.
When the Twins won two World Series, they relied on a group of players who had played together, and won together, in the minors. When they began winning again in 2001, their best players reprised that formula, playing with an intensity and cohesiveness that made the game beautiful.
How many players on the 2013 Twins have won, other than Mauer and Justin Morneau? How many have even won in the minors, where they could learn what it’s like to play for something other than a promotion and a paycheck?
Josh Willingham, Ryan Doumit, Pelfrey and Kevin Correia never have won, and they’re supposed to be the “veteran leaders” in the clubhouse. Morneau possesses the characteristics of a leader, but it’s hard to lead when you don’t know if you’ll be in a different city tomorrow.
So, the Twins wait. They wait for Miguel Sano, Byron Buxton, Oswaldo Arcia, Eddie Rosario and Alex Meyer to transform the roster, knowing that if those players fail, this franchise will be headed for a Royals-like 20-year rebuilding plan.
The Twins won’t contend next year, not with this group, so they’ll have to target 2015, when their best prospects, the kids who now are winning together in the minors, will be in the big leagues.
When the Twins picked their site for Target Field, fans were worried that a nearby garbage incinerator was going to stink up the joint. Compared to the stench emanating from the field Thursday, burning garbage would have smelled like rose petals.