I’ve been writing about the Twins for over a decade now, and this is a unique spot. The Twins are doing extremely well right now. They don’t have a recent tragic playoff history lingering in the back of their mind. There is just nothing to complain about.
One topic I could usually lean on was that things were bound to get better. Bad luck played into the team’s misfortunes, but that’s a hard sell when the team has the best record in the league. I could recommend some changes to maximize the roster, but how can I do that when the team is humming along at such an extraordinary clip?
There were a lot of gripes about the low spending front office this year, but those bargain finds are all working out pretty well this year, with guys like Johnathan Schoop, CJ Cron and Nelson Cruz all tattooing the ball. I didn’t want the Twins to let go of Tyler Austin unless this was a year that the team thought they were going for it. Clearly, they are, and I am left to bite my tongue. The most widely panned move of the offseason was the signing of Martin Perez, but now even he sits in the Top 10 for ERA in the league.
Nobody can complain about the payroll anymore. In fact, now it is an asset. The Twins didn’t spend as much in the offseason, and they are now in position to add at the deadline if they feel the need, which is exactly what the front office indicated they wanted to do when they spent so little. As a small side benefit, this eliminates another topic of conversation. Joe Mauer wasn’t holding anything back. The payroll this season was about $113mm, versus last year’s $132mm, a difference of $19mm. The Twins are winning, and they didn’t replace his salary. He wasn’t holding anything back. Further, that 4 million difference between what Mauer made and the 19 million dollar gap in year over year salary is entirely accountable in the raises given to Max Kepler and Jorge Polanco, salary bumps that were not forced on the team. In other words, the payroll could be exactly the same as last year, maybe even less, even if Mauer was still on the roster at last year’s salary.
We need not stress over prospect development anymore. Jose Berrios and Byron Buxton are now thriving with the big league club. Less heralded prospects like Mitch Garver, Eddie Rosario and Jorge Polanco are pacing the offense. Miguel Sano still hasn’t shown us anything except continued concern over his ability to stay healthy, but that won’t sink this team anymore. And he is tearing up the minors on his way back to the big league club anyways. When he comes up, he may take Ehire Adrianza’s spot on the roster, leaving no weak spots among position players.
The team is crushing the ball on offense, has three of the best pitchers in the league so far in Berrios, Perez and Jake Odorizzi, and the nearest competition is so far into the weeds that the Twins could slow down considerably and still be in pretty good shape. They aren’t just picking on the AL Central, which wasn’t the case in their last wave of success in the 2000’s, but they are also above .500 against the Astros, Yankees and Indians. The Twins are so good so far this season that I needed to write this post to capture this moment of contentment while it lasts. Surely, we have to appreciate it while it lasts, because it won’t last forever.