The Minnesota Twins and their fans felt their playoff hopes be totally destroyed at the trade deadline. Now how do fans move on?
The Minnesota Twins had plenty of rumors buzzing around them leading up to the July 31st, Non-Waiver Trade Deadline. Even earlier than that as the Twins emerged as surprising contenders, fans dreamed and speculated who the front office may target to catapult the team through the playoffs. Names like Sonny Gray, Chris Archer, and Pat Neshek bounced through our dreams.
As the reality of the team’s playoff legitimacy was questioned. Most often through citing the dreaded run-differential stat, there was still the hope that the team could grab a big return for one of their veteran assets. Fans, writers, bloggers all saw guys like Jose Quintana fetch excellent returns and wondered what Ervin Santana or Brandon Kintzler might bring back.
The Jaime Garcia flip was the funeral for the Twins’ title as “trade deadline buyers.” When the dust settled after the 4 p.m. EST trade deadline July 31, Twins’ fans were left to analyze the return the team received for Kintzler. The yo-yo of emotions the 2017 season as provided seems to have left fans in a fog. Questioning how to proceed through the end of the season.
This weird middle ground the team finds itself in is hard to navigate emotionally. There was no addition to celebrate and breathe hope into the team’s chances down the stretch. There wasn’t even the true big return to be able to celebrate and build obvious optimism around for the future. So how should fans react?
The Twins could still compete
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The reality is the team that the Twins are able to roll out every night post trade deadline is only one player different from the team that was competitive for most of 2017. If we had any hope that the early 2017 Twins were a possible playoff team, then the current 2017 Twins could also be that.
The Twins traded away Kintzler who had pitched to a WAR of 1.3. That is all the MLB team lost, 1.3 wins. Several role players and minor league players will need to step up if the Twins will make noise down the stretch. That would have needed to happen anyway regardless of any deadline additions.
The chances are slim that the Twins can climb the hill and make the playoffs, but it could still happen. This franchise is no stranger to amazing August into September runs. Yes, it is frustrating to see your team miss the playoffs once again if that truly is the Twins fate this season. There is more for Twins fans than just 2017.
2017 and Playoffs were never thought to go together for the Twins
This team was never constructed to compete this season. That was obvious in the lack of impact moves this offseason. This season was always a process season. A season to evaluate the young players and allow the new front office to make a plan. A plan to build for sustainable success in 2018 and beyond.
Fans and the front office now know that Miguel Sano can hit and play passable (at times better) third base. Jose Berrios can pitch and pitch well in the rotation. Byron Buxton will provide his value defensively and has a way to go offensively. The bullpen is a confirmed mess, but even it has some bright spots in Taylor Rogers and Trevor Hildenberger.
Going into the offseason the front office will have the opportunity to shore up the weaknesses of this team. Santana and Berrios are a solid start to a rotation. Those two should also be joined by Trevor May at some point next season as well. Some free agent additions will need to be made, but the team has a base to build upon.
While all fans are sick of being sold on the future. This team was just not ready for the playoffs in 2017. 2017 has given everyone a glimpse of who the Minnesota Twins can be in 2018. With the right additions, the 2018 Twins will be an exciting team.
Twins fans, hang in there. Your time is coming again. Hold tight to that Homer Hanky for comfort and practice waving it when you see Berrios deal and Sano hit a homer. The next time Buxton shows off his speed going first to home or covering ridiculous ground in the outfield to rob a hit from some hopeful hitter. Take that hanky, ball it up, and go all “mic drop” as you walk away from your television. Your time is coming, be ready for it!