October 1, 2018

That’s all, folks (and maybe that’s it for Joe Mauer, too)

So, where was this all season?

That’s the question Twins fans might be pondering after the Twins took two of three games from the Detroit Tigers and then swept the four-game series against the Chicago White Sox, including Sunday’s 5-4 win on the last day of the 2018 season. The result is that the Twins ended the 2018 campaign with a six-game winning streak, the team’s longest of the season. The Twins final record was a not-too-shabby 78-84, 13 games behind the Cleveland Indians.

Some quick thoughts on the season that was:

-As hard as it was not to see Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton in the lineup, some promising new stars made that a whole lot easier. And if Sano and Buxton continue to struggle at the plate, Twins fans might be willing to live without them (I know, I know, it pains me to say that) now that we have Willians Astudillo, Tyler Austin, Jake Cave and Mitch Garver. And don’t forget the season Eddie Rosario had.

-I want right fielder, Max Kepler, to be part of this team, too, but his batting average of .224 was a career low. Yet at the same time, he set a new career high in home runs with 20.

-The Twins still need a No. 1 starter. They need someone who is going to win 60-70 percent of the time, and be good enough to step up and get that win when it’s needed most. A clear No. 1 starter, combined with Jose Berrios, Kyle Gibson and a rotation that includes a couple of pitchers in the opener format, and this team is going places. Berrios, Gibson and primary pitcher Kohl Stewart pitched well down the stretch, which partly explains why the Twins were 7-3 over their last 10 games.

-Do the Twins need a No. 1 closer? After 15 walk-off losses, I’m going to say yes. Fernando Rodney saved 25 games for the Twins during the first half of the season, and was good enough to become trade bait for the Oakland A’s. That wasn’t so bad, was it?

-Get healthy, Minnesota. A lot of players were sidelined by injuries in 2018, including catcher, Jason Castro, who was signed for his pitch-framing skills. I think he made a huge difference in 2017 and likely would’ve done the same this season.

-Is Joe Mauer done? Mauer, who is a free agent next season, has hinted at retirement and the way he carried himself on Sunday would seem to suggest that he has made up his mind to exit stage left. Mauer, with his family in attendance, was greeted with a standing ovation in his first at bat, and before the game ended, he donned catcher’s gear for one last time in the ninth inning, according to MLB.com. Mauer started his career as the team’s backstop before injuries forced him to first base.

“It’s just been an emotional roller coaster,” Mauer told MLB.com. “I’m not 100 percent sure [about retiring or not], and like I said, I want to make sure I have time just to take a deep breath and really be behind that decision. But I couldn’t have asked for a better last day of the 2018 season, and I’m looking forward to just taking a breath and spending some time with my girls, my family, and we’ll go from there. But with the emotions running right now, I don’t want to say either way.”

Player comments about 2018:

 

COMMENTS

Hi, I’m Rolf Boone and I love the Twins.

I became a fan of the Minnesota Twins after a friendly wager in the early 1980s. I survived Ron Davis, the meltdown in Cleveland, Phil Bradley at the Kingdome and then marveled at a rising generation of stars and two World Series wins in 1987 and 1991. Brad Radke made the 1990s bearable, while Kirby Puckett’s eye injury, exit from the game and eventual death made it almost too much to bear. The new century ushered in more talent — Joe Mauer, Johan Santana, Joe Nathan, Torii Hunter, Justin Morneau — and consecutive seasons of playoff baseball, followed by consecutive seasons of losing baseball. A winning season returned in 2015. So here we are. Go Twins.