Twins Can’t Freeze During Winter Meetings
Just in case you forgot we live in the Northland, Mother Nature decided to remind us over the past week. Thanksgiving weekend had temperatures around 50 degrees. This weekend? We are looking at low temperatures in the single digits. Oh, and we became a bit of a snow globe this week as well.
For “winter enthusiasts,” this is a wonderful turn of events. For others, it’s a fantastic reason to imagine preferred vacation destinations to escape the pending deep freeze.
I hear San Diego is nice this time of year.
San Diego will have temperatures near 70 this weekend. That’s not exactly tropical, but it’s also a far cry from a typical “Minnesota December.” No reason to be frozen in 70 degrees, right?
I hope the front office for the Minnesota Twins feels the same way. There is no reason for the team or its bankroll to be frozen during baseball’s winter meetings when they begin on Sunday. The Twins simply can’t afford to do that.
Finally, a sentence that says “Twins simply can’t afford” that we can likely all agree with – because you can be sure we will hear it elsewhere. I could list the top free agents available at each position and imagine a way to get them into a new (and very mediocre) Twins uniform this season, but we know that most of them will get the “can’t afford” label.
We can argue how truthful the inability to afford certain players might be, or we can lament the Pohlad family and their unwillingness to spend (and hope it changes with the transition of power from Jim to Joe). Both have merit, but also seem to be tiresome topics. The Twins simply need upgrades. Being uncertain about who the right acquisition might be, leads me to instead analyze where the needs are on the field.
The glaring positional need is shortstop. Are we really going to start the season with Kyle Farmer as the main guy? What about Carlos Correa?
Let me say this: I like Carlos Correa. Dave Cook and I dedicated an entire segment on “The Northland Sports Page” to our excitement about him joining the Twins, when he signed just a handful of hours before a March show. I want Carlos Correa back with the Twins.
Correa had a nice (but at times underwhelming) season and seemed to be everything you want in a veteran leader both on and off the field. He’s the type of player the Twins would love to replicate and build around for years. However, Star Tribune columnist LaVelle E. Neal III wrote that Correa is expected to “play the market” and may not sign with a team for a few months. This is where Correa is the root of the problem. Can the Twins wait? If they do, and get Correa back, didn’t the ultimate “team guy” take his team for an unnecessary ride?
The Twins aren’t exactly known for several expensive or “splashy” signings. Recently, they’ve made some moves of this nature with Correa in 2022 and Josh Donaldson in 2020. The issue is, it’s been one major move and hoping it’s enough to cover all other weaknesses. It’s the baseball equivalent of putting all your eggs in one basket, and it hasn’t worked.
It’s a simple case of “would you rather” – see one “A+” move, or multiple “B” moves? I’m not sure I wouldn’t literally go with choice B.
The Twins ALWAYS need pitching, whether it’s starters or bullpen help. Ideally, they’ve got the look of a good bullpen, but that would involve many of the cast of characters from a season ago to reach their potential. Caleb Thielbar was surprisingly solid last season, but another lefty to take some burden off him would be welcomed. Can we just apologize to Taylor Rogers and bring him back to work in combo with Duran and Lopez late in games?
Three solid starters are there in Joe Ryan, Sonny Gray, and Kenta Maeda. Yet, Maeda is coming off a major injury, and that trio is likely “a pair of number two starters and a third starter” at best. Will the Twins FINALLY get a real ace pitcher? If not, can Bailey Ober and Josh Winder stay healthy?
Jose Miranda now becomes the primary third baseman with the departure of Gio Urshela. I will miss Gio, but also love Miranda. Barring a sophomore slump, he may be a cornerstone of the future. Miranda’s move to third means Luis Arraez is the first baseman – or does it?
It’s such a strange spot to have the defending batting champion on your team and have no idea where to play him. Can you have a 1b/DH with no power in today’s game? Or will the Twins need a slugger at whichever of those Arraez isn’t playing each day? Does Arraez play some second base again, even though Jorge Polanco seems to be the only true certainty on this team?
The outfield is crowded. Crowded with questions. Can Byron Buxton ever stay healthy? Not so far. Sadly, he’s also far from the only injury-related question. Will Alex Kirilloff ever truly be an option? Can Trevor Larnach come back and continue to improve? Does Max Kepler even have a purpose anymore?
Kepler shines defensively, but is it at a position that even gets noticed? He’s also been brutal offensively for the last two years. I’d love to trade him and address a different need, but there’s a problem: Kepler can at least be serviceable in center field. We all know we need more than one at that position every year. With Jake Cave gone, it won’t be him, and nobody is crying over that these days.
It all could lead to more Nick Gordon. Gordon was quite good last season but shouldn’t be the starting left fielder he was forced to be so many times last summer. Gordon should be the ultimate utility guy, but then what is Kyle Farmer doing here?
The point of all this is simple to summarize: As pleasantly surprising as the Twins were from April to August last season, the team doesn’t seem to have a direction right now. Maybe the uniform unveiling was supposed to keep us from catching on to that idea. Oh yeah, catching – not fully sure who the primary two will be there either.
It may seem like I’m being very critical and negative. It’s the complete reverse. I’ll cheer for the Twins unconditionally every year and get mocked by many friends each season for simply possessing such a trait. It just seems obvious to me that with so much uncertainty surrounding this team, it can’t all be solved by saying “we’re going to throw a historically large contract at Carlos Correa and get our guy.”
I hope Correa is here, but if he’s all they're going to do for key acquisitions, it won’t be enough. The Twins tried that already. Something needs to change.
What likely won’t change is hearing that the Twins are “in on” several big names (before they end up signing elsewhere). Hearing the Twins being “in on” someone is starting to have as much credibility as I do trying to provide radio analysis during Grandma’s Marathon coverage.
Yet, I actually did that one year. Will this be the year the Twins actually do something too?
Go ahead and start Sunday in San Diego. Your fanbase will warm up to you quickly.
Brian's show, 'The Northland Sports Page', can be heard Saturdays from 10 am to noon on the FAN 106.5 FM/560 AM. You can catch previous episodes on the Northland FAN On-Demand area of our website or on our mobile app.