Is it Over?
Let me just come out and say this straight up -- I believe the Twins are done so far as the playoffs are concerned this year. This team is too flawed to be fixed by the addition of a Ty Wigginton or a Jeff Conine (Jeff Conine? Are you kidding me?). There is talent here, to be sure -- Joe Mauer, Torii Hunter, and Justin Morneau are three of the best in baseball at their respective positions, Johan Santana is the best pitcher in baseball when he's on (and has a legitimate shot of picking up another Cy Young this season), and the bullpen is still, usually, very good. But the problems are significant, and aren't going away. The self-destruction of Nick Punto, the regression of Jason Bartlett, the inability of Jason Kubel to develop into a true every day player (although he's had some really great stretches) have hampered this team, as have a variety of injuries. This is a flawed team, and they will not catch fire the way that previous comeback kid versions of the Twins have done. So, yes, in the playoff sense, it's over.
The funny thing is, though, that in some sense this is freeing for me as a fan. I didn't think this Twins team was a playoff caliber team from the start of the season. I think there's very little that Terry Ryan could have done to change that in the off-season while staying within budget. This was a transitional year all the way. I don't expect the Twins to make the playoffs every year (although, of course, I root for that). This is freeing because I won't be watching games the same way for the rest of the season. Close losses won't bother me nearly as much. Instead, I'll be looking at player development and looking ahead.
The Twins should start moving into player evaluation mode any day now (in fact, they may have started, if the rumors of a Brian Buscher callup tonight are true -- more on that in a later post). Frankly, this part of the season is just as fun for me as is watching a playoff run. I'm looking forward to seeing how the starters perform, whether Scott Baker can earn himself a look for spring 2008, whether Matt Tolbert or Alexi Casilla or Brian Buscher or Garrett Jones makes a solid showing if and when given the chance, and whether the Twins make any moves to shore up the farm system with free agents and/or arbitration eligibles. This is not a time for anger or sadness -- it's a time for excitement. It's a new season, folks -- and I'm excited to write about it.
Labels: Nightly Notes