Minnesota Twins: 5 Things More Important Than Joe Mauer Being Placed on Waivers
Don’t. Freak. Out.
The hometown hero is here to stay. Teams place players on waivers all the time. This process is supposed to be confidential.
It’s fine that everyone knows about it, but stop wigging out. If Mauer joined the Red Sox, that’s news. Being placed on waivers isn’t.
He gets put on waivers just like everyone else—one season at a time. It’s just after that season he cashes a $23 million check.
For the camp that thinks that the Minnesota Twins are straying from the “Twins Way,” they’re not. They’re simply saying, “Hey, anyone want to pick up the rest of Mauer’s contract and offer us all your best prospects?” (Translation: “Hey want to spend a lot of money to blow up your future only to make the Twins look bad?”)
C’mon, I know that most of you would be sad to see Mauer go, but you know that you’d do it if Minnesota got three top-notch pitching prospects and a couple infielders or something like that.
The following are five recent happenings that are more important than Mauer being placed on waivers.
What Our Pitching Rotation Could Have Looked Like
Pioneer Press columnist Jim Souhan recently put together a list of his all ex-Twin team. All the players on it are currently in the majors.
Here’s his starting rotation:
Nobody could have projected that he’d have the season he’s having at age 37, but it would have been sweet if he did it here.
Yeah, he’s injured, but he was dirty when he was traded and all we got in return for him was a guy that recently circled the bases when he hit a foul ball and a bag of magic beans.
The Cardinals probably overspent when they gave him that four-year, $41 million deal in 2008 after one good season, but he’s been a part of their rotation for years now.
We all know his story.
He was junk here, a little better in San Diego.
Okay, to be fair, our rotation would be better if Carl Pavano and Scott Baker were healthy. Plus, it’s easy to say “so and so would be a great addition to the rotation,” because, hey, there are a lot of players out there that would really help us out. But it would be nice to have one or two of those guys listed (except Marquis) right now.
The Twins Management Has Not Lost Its Marbles
Stable organizations turn things around quicker than ones that make knee-jerk reactions and fire everyone.
Howard Sinker plays the role of “the voice of the fan” for the Star Tribune. He’s no Bill Simmons, but he posed two pertinent questions for GM Terry Ryan, who recently said that he is not going to fire Ron Gardenhire and sees Justin Morneau as a cornerstone player that he’s unlikely to trade (h/t Jim Souhan, Star Tribune).
*"How long do you expect season-ticket holders to keep faith with an undertalented, underperforming team?"
*"Explain further how the jobs of the field staff are secure with a team that is again threatening to lose 100 games -- this time without a "perfect storm" of injuries to key players to explain it away? (Keep in mind that if the Twins were in the AL East or West, 100 losses would be a foregone conclusion.)"
Here’s the simple explanation: the Twins have found a formula that works.
They draft and develop talent and bring them up at the same time. Camaraderie is built in the system, and as long as enough talent is mustered at once, they’ll win.
This is why it didn’t work before: Superstars like Torii Hunter and Johan Santana were traded away. Essentially, the monster was built and then management allowed the big-market Angels and Mets lob off its head(s) because of the small budget they had in the Metrodome era.
Gardenhire and Co. were not the problem. The small budget was.
The new ballpark and increased revenue streams should mean that the Twins have no excuse not to retain their prospects when they become stars.
The M&M Boys Lighting It Up
Let’s use this sequence in Wednesday’s game against Seattle:
Mariners starter Justin Vargas walks Trevor Plouffe and Pedro Florimon.
Ben Revere strikes out.
Jamey Carroll singles to left.
The bases are loaded.
Minnesota has developed a reputation of blowing this type of situation, right? Well, things went a little differently with Mauer at the plate.
He singled to left, scoring both runners.
Willingham flew out to right with men on first and second, putting men on the corners with Justin Morneau up to bat.
Morneau is facing Justin Vargas—a lefty! This is where he strikes out to end the inning, right?
Well…his bloop to center scored another runner to put the team up 5-0.
“We had some balls fall for us,” said Willingham. “We got a couple bloopers in there, the balls we hit hard found holes—just hadn’t been happening for us.”
Okay, small sample size (one game), but it’s an indicator of what the two can do when they’re healthy.
Chris Parmelee’s Call-Up, Trevor Plouffe’s Home Run
Parmelee drove in two runs, got a hit and advanced on an error in his first game up from Triple-A.
He was hitting .338/.457/.645 with 17 homers in Rochester.
He’s a first baseman at heart, but he can play right field. If Parmelee continues to hit, Minnesota will find a way to keep him in the big leagues (and there’s that expansion thing in September too…).
And Plouffe hit his first home run since that lingering thumb injury he had.
This guy has power and has been drawing more walks lately. The two go hand-in-hand.
He has this tendency to chase breaking balls that are well outside the zone.
“That’s something I wasn’t doing for a couple weeks here,” he said, “kind of making sure I got my pitch.”
When he does that, good things happen.
Like, say, hitting homer No. 20 on Wednesday night.
Josh Willingham’s Home Runs, Sam Deduno’s Wacky Fastball
The Twins made some savvy pickups in the offseason.
Josh Willingham hit No. 32 on Wednesday, tying him with some guy named Miguel Cabrera for No. 6 overall in MLB.
Oh yeah, and Sam Deduno went seven innings without walking anybody.
“Just working on my mechanics,” he said when asked about his control. “Not thinking too much.”
The caveat is that it came against a poor Mariners lineup, but still, as Ryan Doumit said earlier this year, if he can harness that wacky fastball of his, he’s going to be something special.
And for the record, Doumit wasn’t that bad of an acquisition either.
In short, save for the Marquis pickup, the Twins did pretty well with free agency last year.
The Bottom Line: Don’t Freak Out
There is only one thing to freak out about:
If management veers away from the “Twins Way.”
So if the Twins start trying to do a quick fix instead of developing prospects—freak out! If the Twins fire Gardenhire and trade the M&M boys—freak out! If there’s something shady going on that’s resulting in all these injuries (esp. Wimmers and Plouffe)—freak out!
“Tonight was what we’re capable of being and doing as a team,” said Plouffe of Wednesday’s performance. “We just haven’t done that consistently this year and the good teams do that consistently—they match their hitting with their pitching.”
In the end, the Twins Way eventually leads to one thing:
A World Championship!
All quotes were obtained first-hand.
Tom Schreier writes a weekly column for TheFanManifesto.com.