The Twins are back at Target Field tonight, and while they will spend a couple of days reliving the past — with the Braves in town, it’s a natural opportunity to celebrate the 25th anniversary of their 1991 World Series championship over Atlanta — a lot of fans, executives, and players are looking ahead, too.
Specifically, they’re anticipating the trade deadline, which is now less than six days away. Next Monday at 3 p.m. Central time, the Twins’ roster could look quite different, and that’s a reality that Paul Molitor no longer tries to obscure.
“I’ve learned that, depending on the individual, most of your messages regarding that are somewhat hollow,” Molitor said. ”When you’re in our position, that kind of permeates our whole clubhouse, because we really don’t know how things might unfold. It might be minimal, or there might be multiple moves.”
The notion of having to uproot your family and your life in midseason isn’t one that many players relish, but it’s unavoidable in this business. So rather than ask players to ignore rumors, which is nearly impossible in today’s social-media world, he tries to tell his players, “make it positive. … You’re putting on the Twins uniform every day — you’ve got to go out there an perform,” he said. “But I’m sure for some of the guys, the guys who are mentioned a little more frequently, it’s got to be on their mind to some degree.”
The Braves are on Molitor’s mind, because this is the first time all season that the Twins have played a team with a worse record than their own. Atlanta is 33-66 and has lost five straight games; this two-game series, and two more in Turner Field in August, might play a role in determining which team picks first in the MLB draft next June.
It’s also a chance to look back at that glorious 1991 postseason, when the Twins won Games 6 and 7 in the Metrodome to capture their second world championship. The Braves went on to win a championship in 1995, but neither team has had much luck in the 21st century. The Twins haven’t won a playoff series since 2002, while Atlanta’s last series win came in 2001, despite qualifying for the postseason seven times since.
Here are the lineups for tonight’s game, the first of a six-game homestand: