If your baseball team is playing a must-win series before Mother’s Day, you have a very bad baseball team.
The Minnesota Twins, who open a series tonight against the best-in-the-league Chicago White Sox, are a very bad baseball team.
How did this happen? How could barrels of ink be spent on following the squad for more than a month in spring training and have not a single article pointing out that the team — currently 8-20 in the American League Central — isn’t very good?
“What’s not to like?” Star Tribune columnist Pat Reusse asked in a column just before the season started, a column in which he took a shot at fans and social media for not being more excited about the team’s prospects.
A month later, he admitted he got it wrong.
Everybody got it wrong and now that the team has the second-worst record in baseball, they’re unloading on the franchise.
Now the bad news. The owner of the Twins are OK with the people running the operation even though he acknowledges a total system failure, Chip Scoggins writes today in the Star Tribune.
Truth is, this nonsense rests at the feet of Pohlad, Ryan, Molitor, Brian Dozier, Phil Hughes, Tom Brunansky and everyone else with a direct link to the on-field product.
The organization did nothing significant to address a weak bullpen in the offseason. The Miguel Sano right-field experiment never made sense. The lineup was stacked with strikeout artists and now they’re on a record pace for whiffs.
Even Pohlad admitted that his team has looked disorganized at times, which reflects poorly on Molitor and his staff.
Fans are tired of hearing about the future, tired of being told to wait for prospects to develop. The organization can’t keep asking for patience and selling hope.
“We don’t ever want to give fans the message of ‘Be patient’ because that’s not the way we’re approaching it,” Pohlad said. “We wanted to be a contender. We wanted to take it one step further, at least, than we did last year. So it’s not about being patient.”
“The family is happy with the way the family manages the team,” the owner said of general manager Terry Ryan, the architect of what Scoggins calls an “unmitigated mess.”
The fans are wise to the hype. Attendance is down 15% from a season ago
Over at the Pioneer Press, writer Mike Berardino thinks the problem is the retirement of Torii Hunter.
If, indeed, the Twins find themselves staggering around in a post-Hunter funk, they wouldn’t be the first team to deal with that sort of withdrawal.
The last two teams Hunter departed dropped off by an average of 13.5 wins in his first season outside their clubhouse.
In 2013 the Los Angeles Angels sagged to 78-84 and a third-place finish after going 89-73 in Hunter’s fifth and final season in the southern California sun.
Last season the Detroit Tigers finished 74-87 and dead last in the American League Central after going 90-72 and claiming their fourth straight division title in 2014 with Hunter.
“We miss Torii, there’s no doubt about that,” Tigers television analyst Rod Allen said last season. “There are some leaders that are quiet. Miguel Cabrera is a quiet leader. Justin Verlander … pretty much a quiet leader. But Torii is very vocal, very outspoken, very loud, very charismatic.
“He kept things loose, kept things light.
None of the young players who were supposed to become superstars is getting any better, none of the trades from the front office worked, the baseball season could, for all practical purposes, be over by Sunday afternoon in Minnesota.
But at least the Pohlad family is happy with the way the family is managing the team.