Minnesota Twinkies Franchise: Volume 1.1

The Minnesota Twins have been a hapless MLB franchise for quite some time. Outside of a largely mediocre 83-79 campaign in 2015, the Twins have registered a losing season every year since 2011. And even when they do pretty well in the regular season, they manage to crap the bed in the playoffs, with their last three playoff appearances (2006, ’09 and ’10) all resulting in 3-0 ALDS series sweeps.

No fan-base deserves to suffer through this level of ineptitude, which is why I am taking it upon myself to restore the Twins to…well, considering their franchise record is 8,696 wins and 9,437 losses…mediocrity or maybe somewhere slightly above that. How will I accomplish this? By embarking on an ambitious MLB The Show 17 dynasty career as the general manager of the Minnesota Twins and writing about it. In case you’re not aware, or you don’t want to click the embedded link the in previous sentence, MLB The Show is a baseball simulation video game for the Playstation 4. In case you questioned my level of nertitude (it’s probably fairly evident considering I run a blog about baseball statistics), I am literally playing video games and then writing about them.

First orders of business

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Bartolo Colon…too fat to play for the Twins.

At least initially I am keeping much of Minnesota’s current roster. However I did need to make one move right out of the gate, and that was trading Bartolo Colon. As Twins’ GM, I must set the correct expectations across the franchise. And despite Minnesota’s nickname of the ‘Twinkies’, I will not stand for any players that consume Twinkies as a staple part of their diet. To turn this team around we will need lean and limber players, who are in the peak physical condition that can withstand the long, arduous grind of a 162-game schedule. As a result, Bartolo Colon was dealt to the Houston Astros on April 2nd, 2017 for relief pitcher James Hoyt and three shake-weights. Team morale instantly improved after everyone realized that they wouldn’t need to show up early to have a shot at the clubhouse baked goods spread.

Several other players on the team were put on high alert. In particular, Miguel Sano, Kennys Vargas and Byung Ho Park were enrolled, against their well, in a physical conditioning course aimed at keeping their weight in check. Early results are promising.

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Sano is looking slimmer already.

Get me some Rolaids…I need relief

To say that the season got off to a rough start would be an understatement. Minnesota has accumulated a gross-looking 2-6 record through their first eight games. A responsible GM would not call out any players publicly at this juncture, or probably ever, but I am bringing a different tone to this city. The bullpen has flat out sucked and needs to pick up the slack. The Twins have lost four – FOUR!!! – of their six games in walk-off fashion because the bullpen, consisting of Matt Belisle, Ryan Pressly, Glen Perkins, Buddy Boshers and Taylor Rogers, has the poise of a 17-year old about to lose his virginity on prom night. Oh yeah, and in case losing four games in six days in walk-off fashion doesn’t suck enough, they were all against division rivals – two against Chicago and two against Detroit.

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April 7, 9, 11 and 12 were all walk-off losses.

Everyone else is doing okay, sort of

So it’s very conceivable that this crappy-looking 2-6 record could easily be 6-2. The starting pitching, anchored by Jose Berrios and his 1.38 ERA through two starts, has held up it’s share of the bargain. Hector Santiago, known primarily for his ability to throw a screwball more so than his pitching prowess, somehow threw seven innings of shutout ball against the White Sox and followed that up with two solid relief outings after manager Paul Molitor inexplicably put him in the bullpen. Interestingly, Tyler Duffey leads the team innings pitched through eight games despite having an 8.16 ERA. I will need to have a talk with manager Molitor about how that’s possible.

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The offense has scored 39 runs in eight games, and at least four runs in six of the eight games, which are both passable marks. Brian Dozier has been the team MVP thus far, slugging four home runs, 11 RBIs and aggregating a .687 slugging percentage and 1.056 OPS through the first week and a half of the season. Sano, who bats right behind Dozier in the cleanup spot, has a .400 / .447 / .734 triple slash line and two home runs through eight games. Robbie Grossman, the team’s primary lead-off hitter, is getting on-base at a decent .343 clip and scoring runs.

The problem on offense has been the bottom half of the batting order, headline by a group of guys with very generic Latin baseball names: Jorge Polanco, Eddie Rosario and Eduardo Escobar. They’re all versatile and play like six positions each, but they all also suck with a bat in their hands. In particular, Jorge Polanco has two hits in 34 at bats. That’s a .059 batting average. His OPS is .194 (!!!). By virtue of the fact Polanco’s backup at shortstop is the aforementioned Escobar, he has a bit more leash. But the choker chain is getting tighter.

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Polanco…seriously man.

Oh yeah, how about that defense?

Although the relievers caught a majority of the shade for the Twins’ poor start, team defense is a close second in terms of culpability. Minnesota’s .981 fielding percentage is 25th in the MLB, and that does not account for some very bizarre defensive plays which miraculously did not go down as errors. Rather than try to explain things further, let’s turn to the video evidence on a play which was ruled a base hit:

No one is quite sure what Dozier was thinking on this play considering his glove never even made an attempt at going for the ball.

Mauer hurt

You might have noticed a lack of Joe Mauer discussion and statistics. Unfortunately he broke his leg in the series against the White Sox. The team will miss his luscious hair and finely groomed side burns, however Kennys Vargas has done an admirable job in his stead.

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Fractured or perhaps broke it? Uh, they’re the same thing.

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