The Saturday dead tree editions go to bed early, so I was only able to get a few graphs in on the biggest Twins news of the day - that Byron Buxton, despite hitting .365 with an OPS over .900 since coming off the DL at Class AAA Rochester, will not be called up once the Red Wings season ends on Monday.
Here are some takeaways from the Twins' stunning decision:
1. Why is he playing if there is still soreness in his wrist? Twins GM Thad Levine said earlier tonight that Buxton wanted to get back in the lineup at Rochester despite not being 100 percent. But if discomfort persists after a few games, why haven't they shut him down?
2. If you know he's not 100 percent, it's got to be harder to evaluate him.
3. The next time Buxton has even a mosquito bite, he's not going to play. The man tried to play on a broken toe during the season, determined to help the team and try to get back on track. He ended up on the DL when that turned out to be a total disaster. Now he's tried to play with a wrist problem. Why can't he come up, take some time to get the wrist right, be a defensive replacement for awhile until he's 100 percent and then get some at-bats?
4. I have now heard from Levine and another Twins official that while his batting average over the last couple of weeks looks good, there are still problems with his approach. My thing is this: Buxton needs to figure things out on the major league level. Why can't he do that with the Twins in September? And, again, if his wrist isn't 100 percent, why are we pushing this in the first place?
5. His agents have got to be upset. The optics here are bad. On July 2, the Twins pulled Buxton off of his rehab assignment, reinstated him from the disabled list (toe) then and optioned him to Class AAA Rochester. He was accruing service time while on rehab, and the move saved them some days. Now, not playing in September keeps Buxton from being a free agent following the 2021 season, pushing that back to 2022. That could light the fuse on a grievance.
6. Here's Levine's quote when asked about service time considerations: "I think part of our jobs is we’re supposed to be responsible to factoring service time into every decision we make. I still feel pretty resolute in saying that the other three factors were more present for us in this decision-making process than that. We wouldn’t been doing our jobs if we weren’t at least aware of service-time impacts on decisions we make. Now, in terms of conversations with his agent. Displeased, disappointed for sure. Their recourse has not been laid out to us. We’re hopeful They’re certainly entitled to whatever they think is in the best interest to Byron Buxton without question. The nature of the relationship that we’ve had with him, and this pre-dates my arrival by a number of years, but certainly I can only speak to the last season and two-thirds here, has been exceptional. We’ve had a lot of joint discussions about the progress and investments in Byron Buxton and the vision we share for what he means to this franchise. That’s all I can to speak in terms of factually is that nature of the relationship we’ve had. From this day forward, I think we recognize a responsibility to make amends and that we’re going to need to invest in the relationship with Byron Buxton moving forward because I think as much as we would like to believe that all the relationship-building here to date will carry the day, we understand this is a blow to the player, a potential blow to the relationship and we’re prepared to try and stay as consistent as we can and reinvest in that element of this because we realized this was information that was not appealing or certainly collaborative."
7. I love Thad Levine's lexicon. But that's a heck of a comment that is trying to argue their case without touching a nerve - or inviting a grievance.
8. I'm wondering where the relationship between Buxton, his agents and the Twins is headed? Buxton and his agents would not respond to messages on Saturday following the announcement. Buxton can be available for Rochester's final two games, but has been given permission to shut it down if he wants.
9. The one thing about Buxton here is that he hasn't met expectations. Now the 2013 season, when injuries limited him to 31 games, was pretty much a lost year. And this year might be a close second. But it has to be pointed out that Buxton had a strong September in 2016 and a very good second half last season. Each spring, the Twins felt he had turned the corner only for him to have a serious slump to start the following season. And that's on Buxton. And part of the Twins approach here might be out of a desire to make sure he's major league ready.
10. And Buxton has had his run of injuries. That must have the Twins concerned.
11. So Buxton's side has a reason to be upset and the Twins have reasons to be concerned. It just seems like this could have ended better. Or maybe it's unavoidable.