This morning I pick up the Star and Tribune and the front page headline is “Wild lands biggest catch”. There is no mention of the Minnesota Twins in the Sports section until page C4 and that is a short blurb titled ”Gardy, Mauer join recruiting process” that talks about how they helped to recruit hockey free agents Zach Parise and Ryan Suter to the Minnesota Wild. The Twins game story from last nights 5-1 loss to the Tigers is on the LAST page of the Sports section, page C8. Today is July 5th, the MLB All-Star game is less than a week away and the Tribune puts baseball on pages 7 and 8, that is just plain disgusting. I know that signing Parise and Suter is a big deal but this is just ridiculous. At this rate when the Vikings open their pre-season camp I might not even be able to read anything about the Twins for the rest of the year. With the Wild, Vikings, and even the Timberwolves improving their teams, interest in Twins baseball may be dropping quickly. The Twins need to do something to right the ship that is taking on water and fighting to stay afloat.
Before the 2012 season started I thought that if the Twins stayed fairly healthy that they would finish the 2012 season at 78-84 but now with the team at the half way point in the season their record stands at a disappointing 35-46 and on pace to finish at 70-92, just seven games better than last years injury plagued season 99 loss season. The sad part is that there is not a lot of reason to be optimistic in the short-term with the Twins starting pitching in such wretched shape. I know that Scott Diamond has pitched well Francisco Liriano has pitched decently the last few games but we all know that Liriano will be traded before the month is out and rightfully so. The rest of the starting staff is in shambles and I don’t see Walters or DeVries as part of the solution long-term. Scott Baker is out for the season and I like Baker but I don’t think I would throw $9 million in his direction but if I could sign him for less than that, I make it happen. The bullpen has for the most part pitched well but how long can they continue to do so if they have to throw as many innings as they have so far?
The Twins have several directions they can go, they can force feed some of their young pitchers but that would be a big gamble and could take some time and Twins season ticket-holders numbers will drop like a rock. If Twins fans quit paying to watch their home town boys then the revenue drops and we all know what that means. Ownership could go out on the free agent market and find some starters but that will take big bucks and that has not been the road that the Twins have ever traveled. It might however; be a road that ownership is forced to take if they still want fans to be willing to spend part of their hard-earned dollars on a Twins ticket. Minnesota fans will always pay to watch the Vikings and if the Wild and Timberwolves get hot the Twins will be in deep do-do. Any marketing or sales person worth his salt will tell you that it is always better and less expensive to retain a customer than it is to find a new customer. I always have been and always will be a Twins fan but there are a lot of “fair weather” fans that will drop the Twins like a hot potato if the team does not show them that they can put a fun and competitive team on the diamond. The last option is to trade some of their position players for pitching but everyone is looking for pitching so that is not an easy path either. The Twins are on the edge here, the next few weeks will begin to show us what direction this team is headed.
What would I do? It is always easy to spend other people’s money but here is my take on things. First off, I listen to any and all offers and I make any deal that I think will help me get better and that means that no player either in the big leagues or in the minors is untouchable. Not every trade works out the way you plan but some changes are necessary. It is easy to fall in love with your players but the bottom line is the won-loss record and if our players are so good, why aren’t we winning? I think the Twins need to acquire one big time starter like a Zack Greinke that can lead the staff and that will cost some money but it is something that needs to get done. The rest of the starting staff will need to be put together from with in the organization. I am not saying it will be easy but if ownership wants to keep butts in the Target Field seats they have to spend some money to make this team competitive while the Twins young stars in the minors learn the game. The fans have shown that they will support this team if they put a competitive team on the field, now it is time for the Pohlad’s to step up and show the fans that they mean business.