We find ourselves again in an offseason after the Twins botched their trip to the postseason. It’s frustrating, to be sure, and fans are ready to see what the team should do about it. I’ve already mused on the fact that I can’t think of anything that I would confidently say the team should be doing, but I do know that there are a handful of actions that I think the Twins would be unwise to pursue. So let’s look at those.
1: Change up the management
We’re only two seasons into the Rocco Baldelli tenure, and the Twins have reached the post season during both of his years at the helm. The organization has seen its minor league depth reemerge, and the major league club leverage free agency and the trade market to become a perennially strong organization ever since Derek Falvey and Thad Levine came aboard. How can you pin this on any of those three, when this postseason streak has spanned 3 managers and three general managers (including one for two different tenures). This is a better team than most of the previous iterations, and the front office and coaching staff should stay.
2: Sit on the roster
On the other hand, something has to change, right? I’m not going to pretend I know exactly the right moves, but there is something to be said for messaging. Show the roster that continued failure isn’t acceptable, and that an effort is being made to make things right. The front office and it’s continuity is fully invested.
3: Spend a lot of resources on pitching
The pitching staff is a long regarded weak spot on the Twins. This past offseason, the Twins traded one of their top prospects for Kenta Maeda, who looks like an ace. Otherwise, with a few patches and some carry over players, their pitching staff was among the better units in the American League. Indeed, against Houston, it wasn’t their pitching that failed them.
And while those arguments are specific to this season, there are some arguments against going hard after pitching in every season. First, the return on a free agent pitcher is usually not very good. Long term deals, which are bargained for by free agents, tend to turn sour sooner than for position players. Second, with trades, and particularly for always in demand quality pitching, the selling team seems to win the deal more often than not, generally because teams are so often desperate for arms.
4: Be afraid to trade prospects
The Twins have notoriously been loathe to move prospects, even if the move is to improve and win now. They also were never really good at offloading talented players at peak value. The current management seems much more willing to shake things up, and if they want to send the message that they are invested, and will do what it takes to win, they need to be willing to let one of the vaunted young stars go. They have redundancy in prospects, particularly in the outfield. Even if one goes and succeeds elsewhere, so long as the Twins might get over the hump, it will probably be worth it.
5: Give up
Specifically, there were some guys on the roster this season that took a step back. Not only is it too early after a one year regression, but it was a short season one year regression for guys like Jorge Polanco (who recently had surgery) or Mitch Garver (who was injured). Don’t go into the offseason with a mindset that these guys are expired goods when it is too soon to say. Don’t necessarily hold on to them at all costs, but make sure if they are let go, the price is a good one.
I don’t know what will happen, and I’m not even necessarily sure I know what should happen. I feel like I do know, however, what shouldn’t.