The Minnesota Twins currently sit at 49-60 after tonight’s win over the Chicago White Sox. The mark puts them 11 games below the .500 mark and 12 games behind the division leading Detroit Tigers. Minnesota and Twins Territory have seen this same song and dance now for the past three years. Twins followers knew this team wasn’t going to compete, but the progress was expected to be there. So what has changed?
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The short answer, nothing really. Looking back at the past three seasons, the Twins find themselves in the exact same position they have come to know all to well. Looking at the records below, it’s time to head back to the drawing board.
The Minnesota Twins through two-thirds of the Major League Baseball season:
So what’s wrong with this picture? It’s not the losing, it’s not the poor record, it’s not Ron Gardenhire, and it’s definitely not Joe Mauer, what is however, is the definition of insanity. The idea that doing something continuously the same and expecting different results is exactly what the Minnesota Twins are experiencing.
In baseball, salaries matter very little. They are numbers tied to players that are reflective of how they should be viewed amongst their peers. Minnesota is a small organization, however, that is not to say they don’t have the means in which to compete (ask Ricky Nolasco or Phil Hughes). Also in baseball, managers matter significantly less than perceived. While Ron Gardenhire could more than rightfully be the fall guy, he is not to blame either (miscues and head-scratching decisions aside).
What is it then that drives these Minnesota Twins to their insanity, an all too common phrase, the “Twins Way.”
Currently, the Twins find themselves (prior to tonight’s win) at the same exact stage they were last year, a season that saw them lose 96 games and finish 27 games out of the AL Central division lead. This season, the team is different, the pitching staff has new faces, the lineup has been shuffled, and organizational shifts have been made, except for the biggest one.
Minnesota has failed to correctly handle prospects, and it has many in Twins Territory scared in regards to their expectations going forward. Prior to the All-Star break, the Twins signed free agent Kendrys Morales in a move that signified an attempt to surpass the .500 mark they were hovering around, and ride out their good fortune. Unfortunately, that move was supplemented by nothing else. With opportunities to promote Trevor May and Alex Meyer into a rotation so badly craving pitching, Gardenhire and his staff were given Yohan Pino, Kris Johnson, and lately, Logan Darnell.
It is in these notions that Twins fans should be leery moving forward.
2015 represents an opportunity for the Twins to take a significant step forward. A farm system overflowing with top talent, the record should begin to reflect as such in the next calendar year. Names like May, Meyer, Miguel Sano, and potentially Byron Buxton, should be mainstays in the big league lineup. An expectation of .500 with a ceiling of a playoff berth is far from unrealistic, however, the Twins are stunting their own development.
For such a transformation to take place, it can’t be done on the run. Ask Aaron Hicks how being handed his first meaningful at bats in April at the big league level went.
Minnesota is letting the “Twins Way” get in front of advancement of the organization. An offseason that could be spent evaluating top talent’s performances as the big league level, and projecting them forward to supplement the roster through free agency, is going to be used going over minor league statistics and hoping a strong Spring Training correlates to success (again ask Aaron Hicks.)
September is a time period where active rosters can be expanded to 40 players, and deserving prospects can get their “cup of coffee.” For the Twins however, time is of the essence, and utilizing it to its fullest extent seems to be an afterthought. The crossroads have now been reached, it’s up to Terry Ryan and the Minnesota Twins to abandon the “Twins Way” in hopes of finding the “Winning Way.”