There has been a feeling that the Pohlad brothers will be required to “blow up” the Twins’ baseball operation after this season to avoid an enormous financial blow for the 2017 season.
The reality is the Twins are going to take that blow whether or not the owners decide to stick with General Manager Terry Ryan.
The Vikings are taking away huge sums of corporate money on several sports fronts with the new stadium. And, the feedback the Twins are receiving indicates that season tickets will fall from the current 13,500 (or so) to less than 10,000.
Hiring Ben Cherington to run the baseball operation isn’t going to put a dent in the Vikings’ Goliath status, or sway those Twins season-ticket holders to renew once again.
The only thing that can be accomplished in the final weeks of the 2016 schedule is this: There are enough positives that when the Twins arrive in spring training in Florida next February, that will be greeted as something other than a ridicule contest for the local media and sporting public.
There’s a chance for a display of competence that would offer a less-gloomy picture than what followed the 90-loss seasons of 2011 through 2014.
Oh, yeah, the Twins are going to lose 90 again, and it could be 100 if they follow the pattern established by Ron Gardenhire’s pitching-putrid losers earlier in this decade.
Ryan has vowed to be active on or before the July 31 trading deadline. I wouldn’t hold my breath.
He traded Francisco Liriano in 2012 and received an asset in shortstop Eduardo Escobar. He traded Drew Butera for pitcher Miguel Sulbaren (who was later traded for Eduardo Nunez) in 2013. He traded outfielder Sam Fuld for Tommy Milone in 2014.
Those were the deadline deals in Ryan’s most recent seasons of big losses. It is advisable to wait for what happens at this trading deadline to evaluate if the slightest degree of optimism will be permitted for the 2017 Twins.
The 2011 Twins were 50-58 on July 31 and went an astounding 13-41 after that to finish 63-99. Only Scott Baker had an ERA under 4.30 among the starters, and he was injured most of the second half. Rene Tosoni and Jason Repko were getting at-bats in the outfield, to name two.
The 2012 Twins were 44-59 on July 31. They went 22-37 to finish 66-96 and 22 games out of first place. Cole DeVries, Sam Deduno and P.J. Walters were getting starts. Matt Carson, Erik Komatsu and Clete Thomas had at-bats as outfielders.
The 2013 Twins were 45-59 on July 31. They went 21-37 to again finish 66-96 and 27 games out of first. The pitching disaster started with Opening Day starter Vance Worley and included starts for Andrew Albers, Walters and Liam Hendriks (6.85 ERA) … and 12 starts for Pedro Hernandez.
The 2014 Twins were 48-59 on July 31. They went 22-33 to finish 70-92 and 20 games out of first. Kevin Correia made 23 starts, Yohan Pino made 11, and Deduno made eight more. Jordan Schafer had 130 at-bats in the outfield.
These names thrown out are intended as samples of the Twins’ philosophy — namely, “We’ll tape any lineup to the dugout wall” — in those four seasons where they averaged 95.25 defeats.
The Twins should be mid-90s again in losses, but they do appear to be auditioning for a future rather than throwing darts at a canvas with no target.
There’s an outfield to feel optimistic about here:
Eddie Rosario in left, Byron Buxton in center and Max Kepler in right. Miguel Sano is playing third base as if he’s fully interested. Brian Dozier could be moved to make room for Jorge Polanco; either way, second base is solid.
Joe Mauer at first? Think of him as a slap-hitting 2-hitter and get on with life. Byung Ho Park’s failure could give another chance to DH for Kennys Vargas, and that could be a good thing. It was Vargas, not Oswaldo Arcia, that David Ortiz told me this spring that the Twins would regret not giving a full shot.
The Twins need a catcher (Wilson Ramos is a free agent), and shortstop Eduardo Nunez could bring a pitcher with a future at the deadline.
I’m going to wait to see what the Twins are running out for starters over the last two months. If it’s the Pedro Hernandezes of the world again, let the screaming last all winter.
If it’s Erv Santana, a promising Jose Berrios, an improved Kyle Gibson and improved Tyler Duffey and one temp (rather than three from the previous train wrecks), maybe we can put off the declarations that 2017 is guaranteed to bring more awfulness.