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Patrick Reusse has been covering sports in the Twin Cities since 1968.

Reusse: A guess at the Twins' 2017 starting rotation

This is the Twins’ fifth implosion into complete ineptitude in the past six seasons. A common thread has been searching for discarded items in baseball’s dank basements to find starting pitchers in the closing weeks.

Or something like that.

Manager Paul Molitor made this threat on Friday: Hector (Boom Boom) Santiago will return to the rotation Monday in Cleveland, with the likelihood that he will be followed by Andrew Albers and Pat Dean.

I never thought I’d say this, but bring back Tommy Milone.

This decade’s standard for futility was set with a 16-54 finish in 2011 that left the Twins one heartbreaking victory from 100 losses (63-99). As the 2016 Twins head into September, getting to 100 losses won’t be a problem, and there’s a solid chance to surpass the Minnesota record of 102 losses in 1982.

Albers would be the 11th pitcher to get a start, and Jason Wheeler figures to become the 12th in September. He has had a good season at Class AAA Rochester, he’s a 6-6, 250-pound lefty, and he doesn’t throw hard.

That’s probably what the Twins like about Wheeler. They wouldn’t want a hard thrower to make the other lefthanded starters feel bad.

This isn’t going to change: Baseball requires a team to have a pitcher when in the field, including in the first inning. The Twins will need five to start next season.

As much as we’ll miss those tape-measure homers, I’m assuming Santiago will not be tendered a contract after the season. I’m also assuming there won’t be dramatic improvement in available options, so here’s a guess at the 2017 Twins’ opening rotation:

1. Ervin Santana. Rob Antony was right. At modern prices, $27 million for two more years of Big Erv is a good deal.

2. Kyle Gibson. Jack Morris had the solution for Gibson on FSN: “Stop nibbling. Worry about hitting the outer third, not the black.’’

3. Phil Hughes. With his shoulder fixed, this strike thrower can be an asset again.

4. Trevor May. Big man with an excellent changeup. He’s a starter.

5. Taylor Rogers. His experience as a big-league reliever will help. Best lefty option for 2017, easily.


Other starters who will be talked about next spring at Fort Myers:

Stephen Gonsalves: He’s 22, a lefty with good stuff and good numbers, but he’s known to have the same “nibbling’’ problem as Gibson.

Jose Berrios: Maybe if the Twins get two or three more consultants, he will be convinced to throw strikes.

Dan Johnson: Prediction: He will be in camp as 37-year-old knuckleballer. If he makes it, it’s a movie.

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Reusse: Soccer 'evangelist' Buzz Lagos wins one with MLS announcement

This was the extent of most Minnesotans’ soccer knowledge on Nov. 25, 1975, when it was announced a local group had purchased the Denver Dynamos and were going to bring the North American Soccer League franchise (as the Kicks) to the Twin Cities:

In the next day’s Minneapolis Star, the editors for Ralph Thornton’s report on this news felt the need to insert a paragraph reading, “Soccer is played on a field longer and wider than a football field by two teams of 11 men each who advance the ball by kicking it or propelling it with any part of the body except the arms and hands.’’

Even then, as the high school coach at St. Paul Academy, Buzz Lagos was the area’s No. 1 evangelist for soccer.

On Friday night, I was in the CHS Field press box, writing about the official announcement that Minnesota would be in Major League Soccer in 2017 and said to a media colleague:

“I used to talk to Buzz on rare occasion and act interested just out of sympathy for his soccer passion. And now United is going to build its stadium two miles from where he practiced his SPA teams.’’

There were humorous reminders of past soccer angst when searching “Buzz Lagos/ Reusse’’ in the Star Tribune’s electronic library.

A column published on July 6, 1995 was dripping with so much satire about the delayed start of Major League Soccer that … well, I wasn’t the old softie I am today.

There was also this letter to the editor on July 18, 1999, and signed by Buzz Lagos, Minnesota Thunder coach:

“Have you noticed that our Star Tribune sports columnists (Sid Hartman, Patrick Reusse and Dan Barreiro) have had little to say regarding the Women’s World Cup?

“… In earlier years, they did not hesitate to insult the game of soccer and its participants. Currently the strategy is to ignore soccer, wishing ‘the problem’ to go away.’’

It was a fine letter, and mostly accurate.

Congratulations, Buzz. You won. Now, if you could just get rid of those asinine scarves and the flopping, we’d be 100 percent cool.


Buzz Lagos formed the Minnesota Thunder as an amateur team in 1990. The Thunder turned professional in 1995 and had these gestations:

• United States International Soccer League, pro division [1995-96]. Buzz had a hard time remembering the official name when I asked.

• A-League [1997-2004]. Merger of the USISL’s pro division and American Professional Soccer League.

• First Division, United Soccer Leagues [2005-09]. The Thunder folded in 2009.

TV Listings

Local Schedule

< >
  • Twins at Cleveland

    6:10 pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

  • Twins at Cleveland

    6:10 pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

  • Winnipeg at Saints

    7:05 pm on 1220-AM

  • Twins at Cleveland

    6:10 pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

  • Minnesota United FC at Fort Lauderdale

    6:30 pm on CBSSN

  • Winnipeg at Saints

    7:05 pm on 1220-AM

  • Canterbury Park live racing

    6:30 pm

  • L.A. Rams at Vikings (preseason)

    7 pm on Ch. 9, 100.3/1130

  • Winnipeg at Saints

    7:05 pm

  • Chicago White Sox at Twins

    7:10 pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

  • Oregon State at Gophers football

    8 pm on BTN, 107.9-FM

  • Canterbury Park live racing

    6:30 pm

  • Washington at Lynx

    7 pm on 106.1-FM

  • Lincoln at Saints

    7:05 pm on 1220-AM

  • Chicago White Sox at Twins

    7:10 pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

  • Canterbury Park live racing

    12:45 pm

  • Chicago White Sox at Twins

    6:10 pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

  • Rayo OKC at Minnesota United FC

    7 pm on Ch.29

  • Lincoln at Saints

    7:05 pm on 106.1-FM

  • Canterbury Park live racing

    12:45 pm

  • Chicago White Sox at Twins

    1:10 pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

  • Lincoln at Saints

    5:05 pm on 1220-AM

  • Connecticut at Lynx

    6 pm on FSN, 106.1-FM

  • Lincoln at Saints

    11:05 am on 1220-AM

Today's Scoreboard

  • Toronto


    6:05 PM

  • Washington


    6:05 PM

  • Tampa Bay


    6:10 PM

  • Minnesota


    6:10 PM


  • Chicago White Sox


    6:10 PM

  • Miami

    NY Mets

    6:10 PM

  • St. Louis


    6:20 PM

  • Pittsburgh

    Chicago Cubs

    7:05 PM

  • Seattle


    7:05 PM


  • Oakland


    7:10 PM

  • NY Yankees

    Kansas City

    7:15 PM

  • LA Dodgers


    7:40 PM

  • Cincinnati

    LA Angels

    9:05 PM

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