Their body language reeks of frustration. Their curse words echo throughout the ballpark. The air surrounding the Twins feels like it weighs 10,000 pounds right now.
A six-game losing streak in a condensed season for the division favorite has a way of making things tight around the collar.
The Twins need a jolt. Something’s not right. Where’s the fire? The urgency? Did they forget this is a 60-game season and not 162?
Rocco Baldelli needs to try a different tone or message because the performance put forth Monday should not be tolerated.
The ninth inning of a lackluster 8-5 loss to the Chicago White Sox provided a perfect snapshot of a slide that has sent the Twins tumbling to third place in the American League Central.
Max Kepler gave a casual effort on a harmless fly ball to right field, only to have the ball glance off his glove. The White Sox made good on that blunder by scoring three runs to break open a tie game.
Perhaps fittingly, the MLB trade deadline happened Monday, but the Twins front office opted to sit this one out. Despite the team’s slump and need for a spark, I don’t fault them for not shaking things up — if that were even possible.
Let’s save the outrage for this offseason if the front office fails to add a true take-it-to-the-bank No. 1 ace. Or feel grumpy that this particular area wasn’t addressed at the deadline last year, or again last winter.
The organization has had previous chances to make a bold (and expensive) move to add that coveted front-line starter. Criticizing the front office for not pulling off a blockbuster Monday does not acknowledge the circumstances of this wacky season.
This trade deadline was unlike any other, just as this season is unlike any other. A 60-game season deserves an asterisk, not a go-for-broke mentality that jeopardizes the future. The expanded 16-team playoff format gives more teams than normal the impression that they have a shot at the postseason, meaning fewer sellers willing to unload assets that were clear upgrades.
Standing pat made sense for different reasons.
By the same token, the Twins should not insult fans’ intelligence by suggesting that a wave of players returning from injury equates to trade acquisitions.
Anyway, if big boppers in the lineup don’t start big bopping again, this team won’t contend no matter how the rotation fares. An offensive regression from last season’s historic output was inevitable, but their hitting ranks on the wrong side of the league average in different statistical categories.
Time to panic? Not necessarily. Besides, what were the available options?
Only one true front-line pitcher was dealt — Cleveland’s Mike Clevinger to San Diego. The Twins would have needed to submit a foolish offer for Cleveland to trade a starter of that pedigree within the division.
President of Baseball Operations Derek Falvey cited his desire to build something “sustainable” by protecting top prospects, which ordinarily makes my blood pressure spike. In this case, mortgaging the future for a short-term rental doesn’t make a lot of sense.
The lineup should — should — start clicking eventually, but a true No. 1 ace still is missing.
The internal hope is that Jose Berrios will fulfill that promise at some point, but it hasn’t happened to date with no signs that he’s on the verge of a breakthrough.
The pending returns of Josh Donaldson, Byron Buxton and Mitch Garver could provide the offense a spark , if they can find their timing and stay healthy. To be determined.
“We’re one month into this,” Falvey said. “Some years, one month’s worth of offensive data, you wouldn’t think much of it. It just happens to be past the halfway point for us this year, so we’re going to try to keep a big-picture perspective around it.”
Declining to make a big splash at the deadline can be justified, but this would be a good time for those already on the roster to start performing to expectations.