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Minnesota Twins 2018: The First 25 Games

Posted by on April 30, 2018
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Hello Twins fans!

The last time we spoke, it was during spring training. We’re now 25 games into the season, just over 15% of the year is in the books. It is time to see where we are at. This is written on April 27th, so the Twins just began a home series with Cincinnati.

I’ve decided to break this down into sections of “fact” and “opinion.” As you may know, or perhaps not, I used to write about the Minnesota Twins for Bleacher Report so this is a passion of mine. I’ll present the facts as they are and offer an opinion or two. Feel free to chime in on the comments below!

Fact: the Minnesota Twins are 8-13 in their first 25 games.

The Twins are currently seated in third place in the Central Division where four out of the five teams have losing records. The only team above .500 right now are the Cleveland Indians at 14-12. The Twins began the season 6-4 through their first ten games, not too shabby. After having three out of four games snowed-out at home against the Chicago White Sox, the Twins took one of two games in Puerto Rico against the Indians. After the two-game series there, Minnesota was swept in Tampa (three games) and they were just swept again now by the Bronx Bombers. Following New York, they came home to host the Reds and dropped the first game of the series…eight straight losses.

Opinion: While it is hard to determine anything after 25 games, the Twins’ play is concerning to say the least.

Minnesota is in the middle of an alarming trend right now. Almost daily the headlines read something to the effect of “bats stifled” or “offense silent.” Add to that some zing directed towards their struggling bullpen and starting pitchers as well. This is not a recipe for success. I and many other fans I know are concerned. “Big name starters” that were brought in during spring training like Jake Odorizzi and Lance Lynn are falling short so far. New Twins relievers Zach Duke and Fernando Rodney are also struggling. The Twins’ offense, that has potential, has largely gone silent of late. My hope is that this is not what our “daily bread” from the Twins will be in this 2018 campaign. More on specific players later. Here are the most recent headlines for the Twins:

Star Tribune 4/29/18: “Jose Berrios struggles again as Twins drop series to lowly Cincinnati Reds
Twinkie Town 4/30/18: “Monday Morning Minnesota: The bullpen smells and other tales of misery and woe
Pioneer Press 4/25/18: “Twins drop sixth straight as Yankees chase Lance Lynn in the fourth
Pioneer Press 4/27/18: “Twins’ losing skid reaches eight in 15-9 loss to Reds
ESPN.com 4/27/18: “Sanchez walkoff homer gives Yanks 4-3 win, sweep of Twins

You get the picture. We’re approaching “dumpster fire” level.

Fact: The Twins have had FOUR postponed home games already in 2018.

I know what you’re thinking right now– “a record of 8-13 doesn’t equal 25.” You are correct, of course. Thanks to the marvelous April weather we’ve experienced this year, snow and cold put a kibosh on four Twins home games this year. The White Sox series alone accounted for three of the four postponements.

All postponements have been rescheduled as doubleheaders for the Twins later in the season.

Opinion: Target Field does NOT need a roof.

While some in the media have been screaming for a roof on Target Field, I’d like to remind everyone that ALL of Major League Baseball willy wonkastarted a week earlier than last year. There was poor weather across the country, not just here. Baseball is meant to be played outside, not under a roof.

The roof argument dates back to at least 2014 when the Twins had their first real postponements due to snow. An article from Minnesota Public Radio attested that Milwaukee believes their retractable roof saved baseball for their city. The article also went on to say that Minnesotans are either “tougher or cheaper” than them as we didn’t build a roof on Target Field. I’d argue that we are merely baseball traditionalists now that we’ve moved back to our outdoor roots which began at Metropolitan Stadium.

For every whiner that says we need a roof, there are five that say we do not. Weather happens, and it happens in other locations too…not just here. Most that complain about there being no roof I’m willing to be have never sat in Target Field and taken in the city skyline at sunset. Once you do that, tell me again how we should close off our stadium.

Fact: Joe Mauer collected his 2,000th hit on April 12th.

So far, this young season saw Twins first baseman and St. Paul native Joe Mauer get his 2,000th career hit. He became just the third Twins franchise player all time to obtain at least 2,000 hits — the other two are Kirby Puckett and Rod Carew.

Ironically, Mauer’s 2,000th was a near-copy of his 1st in 2004. His swing hasn’t changed one bit, check this out…

2018 on the left, 2004 on the right

2018 on the left, 2004 on the right

Opinion: 2,000 hits does not guarantee Mauer’s Hall of Fame entry.

renteriaI can hear the protests now. “Joe is a shoe-in!” “Mauer is Mr. Consistency.” “He got to 2,000. Its a sure thing now.” Sorry, getting to the 2,000 hit club doesn’t mean Mauer is Cooperstown-bound necessarily. Ask Edgar Renteria who collected 2,327 hits in his 16-year major league career. He was a two-time World Series champion, one-time World Series MVP, two Gold Gloves, five-time All-Star, and a three-time Silver Slugger at shortstop. His career average was .286. Cooperstown has never called his name.

Likewise obtaining 3,000 hits doesn’t prevent someone from gaining entry either…enter Kirby Puckett. If the Minnesota Twins were a singlepuckett person, it would be Kirby Puckett. Kirby collected 2,304 hits, had a .318 lifetime average, six-time Silver Slugger, six Gold Gloves, ten-time All-Star, All-Star MVP, one batting title, ALCS MVP, and was a two-time World Series champion. Kirby was inducted into Cooperstown in 2001, his first time on the ballot. It also took Puckett just 10 years to reach 2,000 hits. It took Mauer 14 and several thousand more at bats. Just saying.

hunterPuckett’s protege Torii Hunter amassed over 2,400 hits in his long career along with nine Gold Gloves and two Silver Slugger awards. The word is however that he is not a “shoe-in” for the Hall. Hunter is widely known for his defense and being a stellar center fielder in his prime…much like Mauer was in his prime at catcher. For whatever reason, the voters (baseball writers) do not take into account defense or the intangibles of baseball but it seems hitting a certain number of home runs or hits doesn’t do it either.

 

My personal opinion:

Mauer was an elite catcher for several seasons HOWEVER most of those seasons were injury-shortened. He saw a steep drop off in production after his MVP season. If I were a HOF voter, I couldn’t see how a few years of elite play could carry the other 10+ years of relative non-production. You shouldn’t command the money that he has and drive in 50-60 RBI in a season and averaged seven home runs a year since his huge contract extension.

He may have 2,000+ hits at the end of his career but there is no way he’ll make it to 3,000. He may hit over .300 for his career but his average has dropped each year so that is also in jeopardy. I have a hard time justifying his entry into Cooperstown based on four or five really good years in a career that will be at least fifteen years in length.

Fact: Brian Dozier is in the final year of his current contract.dozier

The Twins did not express any interest in talking contract extension with the Twins’ starting second baseman during spring training. This doesn’t mean they won’t discuss it as the season progresses but Dozier has said he expects to be a free agent this fall. Dozier has become the face and leader of the Twins organization. His current contract was for four years and $20 million. There is no doubt that he will be due a pay raise after this year, no matter what this year’s results end up being. Dozier notched his first Gold Glove last year and belted 34 home runs while driving in 93 RBI. 2016 saw Dozier hit 42 homers with 99 RBI.

Opinion: The Twins are morons if they let Dozier walk.

If Minnesota doesn’t figure out a way to resign Dozier, they have some serious soul searching to do. He has proven to be a consistent power hitting second baseman…something that borderline doesn’t exist. He has the intangibles of leading the clubhouse and was rather outspoken last year when the front office kicked it in mid-season and started dismantling the team before the playoffs…imagine where they could have gone if they had ADDED to the team instead.

Joe Mauer is in his final contract year as well. Bottom line: if the Twins renew Mauer and not Dozier, I’ll be watching them a whole lot less. Dozier, as I have said, has proven himself. He just turned 30 and seems to be in the prime of his career right now. Mauer turned 35 last week and has been on the decline for years. My personal opinion is that the Twins have an infatuation with Mauer, an unhealthy one at that. He is the “hometown kid” and has been given a very cushy career here. If he played in other places and had “bilateral leg weakness” or his myriad of other minor injuries that cost him significant time on the DL he would have been let go a long time ago. Imagine that in New York or L.A….

Brian Dozier is the face of the Twins and they need to keep him, his bat, and his glove.

Fact and Opinion: My rant is over!

Thank you for reading my blog! I’m interested to hear what your take on things, comment below! Thanks everyone!