Twins have steep hill to climb

  • Article by: PHIL MILLER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 18, 2014 - 11:56 AM
hide

Minnesota Twins' Danny Santana, right, is safe at third base as Chicago White Sox third baseman Conor Gillaspie, left, cannot get to the wide throw from left field during the first inning of a baseball game in Minneapolis, Sunday, June 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt)

Twins fans these past three years have learned to assuage the pain of losing by focusing on the farm system, by picturing a wave of young and super-talented prospects arriving in Minnesota and creating a dynasty.

Jim Pohlad isn’t one of them. Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano, Kohl Stewart and lots of others might be just over the horizon, but the Twins owner understands that projecting championships and producing them are two very different efforts.

“We’ve been doing this for 30 years now. And a player who is not here yet is not yet a player,” Pohlad said bluntly this week. “I’ve heard that for too long. People are excited about these [prospects], but they were excited in ’85, ’95, 2005. They’re always out there.”

No, as the second half of the Twins’ 2014 season gets underway Friday with a 10-game homestand at Target Field, Pohlad is more interested in the team in front of him than one that right now is nothing more than dreams, hope and planning. “I’m a half-empty guy, I guess,” Pohlad said.

And that’s true when he looks at his last-place team, too. Others see improvement this season, however incremental. Pohlad sees a 44-50 record and five teams between the Twins and the final playoff spot.

“Right now, our stats say we’re no closer to [a World Series] at all. There’s just no denying that,” he said. “Does it feel differently, the spirit? Yeah, but we’re not that close to [success]. The World Series, you get there eventually on your won-loss record.”

That’s why the next 10 games, starting with this weekend’s matchup with the Tampa Bay Rays, could be pivotal. They could position the Twins for a late-season charge, something the players believe is possible after a 5-2 road trip to end the first half — or they could trigger changes to the roster, the lineup and the rotation.

“That’s something we hope we don’t have to do. We hope we’re in it all the way, but realistically, you never know,” said catcher Kurt Suzuki, fresh off an All-Star appearance and playing for a new contract this winter. “I’ve been on teams in Oakland where they’ve brought up a lot of young guys in the second half to see what they can do. But the players can’t control that kind of stuff.”

Well, they can by producing on the field and especially by winning games. Closer Glen Perkins says he’s convinced the Twins are capable of it, that taking three of four from Seattle last week proves that the talent level is high enough to contend. “We’re not a bad team, we’re just inconsistent,” Perkins said. “We just had a pretty good road trip against a team [Seattle] that’s in the wild card right now. And it’s hard to win in Colorado — those guys hit about .420 at home, and we beat them up pretty good. We’ve limped into the break the last three years, so this is encouraging.”

Considering they were 3-12 heading into the break a year ago, he might have a point. Then again, Pohlad said, it’s only one road trip. “Maybe they have short memories,” he said.

Prospects on way?

If the Twins decide to devote the final 68 games to development rather than a long-shot pursuit of the postseason, what might that look like? The Twins own six of ESPN’s top 50 prospects, plus a power hitter who played in Sunday’s Futures Game in Kennys Vargas. But with the exception of righthanded starter Alex Meyer, none figures to be ready for the major leagues soon.

“The Twins have some rare talent among position players,” said Jonathan Mayo, minor league analyst for mlb.com and the MLB Network, “but almost everybody is a year or two away, minimum.”

That means even if the Twins traded away veteran hitters on expiring contracts, such as Kendrys Morales, Josh Willingham or even Suzuki, they might not be opening at-bats for players who figure to have long careers here. Catcher Josmil Pinto could be recalled, but the likes of Vargas, Buxton and Sano, none of whom has reached Class AAA, would not.

“When guys come up, they’re ready for the big leagues — that’s what we’ve tried to set up here,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “We bring guys up to develop them, but they have to be ready to help us win.”

Gardenhire named 23-year-old rookie shortstop Danny Santana as a good example, and he’ll get plenty of playing time when he returns from a bone bruise in the next week or so. But if the Twins undergo an overhaul, it figures to impact the pitching staff most of all.

They have some interesting assets: Kevin Correia has helped his trade value by posting a 2.30 ERA in his past seven starts, Sam Deduno has a 1.72 ERA out of the bullpen, and Matt Guerrier, Brian Duensing and Jared Burton all are veterans with a track record of success and contracts that expire in October.

Meyer, Trevor May and lefthander Logan Darnell could join the Twins’ rotation, while Michael Tonkin, A.J. Achter, and perhaps Mark Hamburger could get a look in the bullpen. May is the likeliest of the candidates, though his minor calf strain earlier this month has sidelined him, and Mayo believes Meyer “could come up now and compete with his stuff, and on a given day he could dominate. … If they make some trades, are they going to leave him down there?”

Perkins said he has confidence in General Manager Terry Ryan to decide when the time is right to start playing prospects, and having signed a four-year contract in the spring, he’s excited to see what they can do.

“It’s harder for some guys to focus on that, I guess, because they’re not guaranteed to be here,” Perkins said. “But it’s our job to make their decisions hard. If we don’t want guys to get traded, then we need to play well.”













 

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Denver 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
Buffalo 12/28/14 12:00 PM
New England
Carolina 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Atlanta
Cleveland 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
Dallas 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Washington
Indianapolis 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Detroit 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Green Bay
Jacksonville 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
NY Jets 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Chicago 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Philadelphia 12/28/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
New Orleans 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Oakland 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Denver
Arizona 12/28/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
St. Louis 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Cincinnati 12/28/14 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Denver 6:00 PM
Charlotte
Portland 7:00 PM
Houston
Utah 7:00 PM
Memphis
Toronto 7:00 PM
Chicago
Atlanta 7:30 PM
Dallas
LA Clippers 7:30 PM
San Antonio
Sacramento 9:30 PM
Golden State
Ottawa 6:00 PM
Washington
Nashville 6:00 PM
Columbus
Pittsburgh 6:30 PM
Florida
Arizona 9:00 PM
Vancouver
San Jose 9:00 PM
Anaheim
Calgary 9:30 PM
Los Angeles
Ark-Little Rock 64 FINAL
Bradley 54
Brown 67 FINAL
Central Conn St 55
Stetson 59 FINAL
Florida State 63
Ill-Chicago 46 FINAL
Northwestern 63
Ohio 49 FINAL
George Washington 77
Southern Utah 61 FINAL
Ark-Pine Bluff 70
Elon 67 FINAL
Kennesaw St 65
Dartmouth 49 FINAL
Penn State 69
Green Bay 70 FINAL
UC Irvine 72
DePaul 58 2nd Half 3:51
Colorado 76
Lewis & Clark 39 2nd Half 6:04
Portland 67
SC State 30 2nd Half
Abilene Christian 23
Manhattan 22 1st Half 5:56
Fordham 21
Truett-McConnell 16 1st Half 7:10
Ga Southern 27
Citadel 22 1st Half 6:49
Michigan State 23
Miami-Ohio 14 1st Half 5:43
Ohio State 34
Gardner-Webb 22 1st Half 7:17
Purdue 29
Idaho 18 1st Half 7:57
Northern Ky 20
Fairfield 6:00 PM
Albany
North Dakota St 6:00 PM
Alcorn State
UT Martin 6:00 PM
Butler
SE Louisiana 6:00 PM
UCF
Oakland 6:00 PM
Clemson
Florida A&M 6:00 PM
East Carolina
Eastern Ky 6:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
IUPU-Ft Wayne 6:00 PM
Illinois State
Norfolk State 6:00 PM
James Madison
Binghamton 6:00 PM
Mount St Marys
Towson 6:00 PM
Navy
Long Island 6:00 PM
New Hampshire
Northern Ill 6:00 PM
Notre Dame
William & Mary 6:00 PM
Old Dominion
Liberty 6:00 PM
Princeton
Delaware 6:00 PM
Robert Morris
MD-Eastern Shore 6:00 PM
St Bonaventure
Colgate 6:00 PM
Syracuse
Kansas 6:00 PM
Temple
Mercer 6:00 PM
Tennessee
East Tenn St 6:00 PM
VA Commonwealth
Va Military 6:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Bucknell 6:00 PM
Wake Forest
Alabama A&M 6:00 PM
Western Mich
New Orleans 6:05 PM
Indiana
Columbia 6:30 PM
Connecticut
Long Beach State 6:30 PM
St Johns
Wofford 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Southern U 7:00 PM
Baylor
UAB 7:00 PM
Chattanooga
Char Southern 7:00 PM
Colorado State
North Florida 7:00 PM
Iowa
NC Central 7:00 PM
Jackson State
Rice 7:00 PM
Lamar
Central Mich 7:00 PM
McNeese State
Coppin State 7:00 PM
Michigan
Furman 7:00 PM
Minnesota
SE Missouri St 7:00 PM
Ole Miss
Weber State 7:00 PM
Oklahoma
Grambling St 7:00 PM
TCU
Loyola-Chicago 7:00 PM
Texas Tech
Incarnate Word 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Penn 7:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Chicago State 7:00 PM
SIU Edwardsville
Simpson 7:05 PM
Drake
Tenn Tech 7:05 PM
UMKC
Murray State 7:05 PM
Southern Ill
Oral Roberts 7:05 PM
Missouri State
Jacksonville St 8:00 PM
Air Force
Milwaukee 8:00 PM
Arkansas
Wisconsin 8:00 PM
California
Coll of Charleston 8:00 PM
LSU
North Dakota 8:00 PM
Marquette
Northern New Mexico 8:00 PM
New Mexico St
UC Santa Barbara 8:00 PM
Oregon
Miami-Florida 8:00 PM
Providence
Northeastern 8:00 PM
St Marys-CA
Kent State 8:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
UC Davis 8:00 PM
Northern Colorado
Lewis-Clark State 8:05 PM
Eastern Wash
Walla Walla 8:05 PM
Portland State
TX A&M-CC 9:00 PM
Cal State Fullerton
Marshall 9:00 PM
Nevada
Boise State 9:30 PM
Houston
UC Riverside 10:00 PM
San Diego St
Tulane 10:00 PM
Washington
Loyola Marymount 10:00 PM
Wichita State
Nebraska 12/23/14 12:00 AM
Hawaii
BYU 48 FINAL
Memphis 55
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
UCF
Cincinnati 12/27/14 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Duke 12/27/14 1:10 PM
(15) Arizona State
Miami-Florida 12/27/14 3:00 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 12/27/14 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 12/27/14 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Texas A&M 12/29/14 1:00 PM
West Virginia
Oklahoma 12/29/14 4:30 PM
(18) Clemson
Arkansas 12/29/14 8:00 PM
Texas
UMass Lowell 63 FINAL
Holy Cross 78
Temple 59 FINAL
Villanova 64
Georgia Southern 68 FINAL
Southern U 52
Xavier 60 FINAL
Kennesaw St 61
Eastern Michigan 52 FINAL
Michigan 81
Brescia 56 FINAL
Marshall 127
(21) West Virginia 54 FINAL
Ohio State 96
UMBC 87 FINAL
MD-Eastern Shore 78
Cornell 79 FINAL
Loyola-Maryland 61
St Bonaventure 70 FINAL
Georgetown 64
New Hampshire 63 FINAL
Northeastern 62
Eastern Washington 67 FINAL
Florida 56
Rice 63 FINAL
Texas Southern 69
Butler 72 FINAL
Illinois State 60
UC Davis 53 2nd Half 3:15
(16) Stanford 65
Washington St 73 2nd Half 5:49
Loyola Marymount 46
Sacramento St 65 2nd Half 11:21
San Jose St 68
SIU-Edwardsville 34 2nd Half
UMKC 18
Oakland 6:00 PM
IUPU-Ft Wayne
Belmont 6:00 PM
(14) Georgia
George Mason 6:00 PM
Longwood
Kansas 6:05 PM
Creighton
Abilene Christian 7:00 PM
Kansas State
UT Martin 7:00 PM
Missouri
Hampton 7:00 PM
DePaul
Florida State 7:00 PM
Tulane
Murray State 7:00 PM
Illinois
Fla Gulf Coast 7:05 PM
Arkansas State
BYU 8:00 PM
Utah State
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Do you like the Twins' offseason moves so far?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close