February 7, 2021

How do you like the Twins now? (Part 2)

A month ago it appeared Twins Territory, the fan base that supports the Twins, was collectively losing its mind over the lack of deal-making this offseason. The Twins locked up former Angels reliever, Hansel Robles, toward the end of December, and then it was followed by silence (but angst on Twitter) as other top free agents found new homes, including with the Chicago White Sox, the team most likely to challenge the Twins in the division this season.

Now, how ya feeling, Twins Territory?

Fans likely are thrilled since the Robles announcement because the Twins have reeled off a series of deals, getting starting pitcher, J.A. Happ, shortstop Andrelton Simmons, closer Alex Colome, relievers Shaun Anderson and Ian Hamilton, and the most important deal of all, retaining slugger, Nelson Cruz, the designated hitter who only gets better with age, on a one-year deal for $13 million.

In the process, the Twins have become fine purveyors of the one-year contract. Robles, Happ, Simmons, Colome and Cruz all agreed to one-year deals, which I think reflects some uncertainty about the game and the pandemic, but also a trend that has developed among the young general managers running teams today — GMs who seem willing to pay more per year, but who want to avoid the large, bloated contract that ties up a single player for a long time. The days of a Joe Mauer-like $184 million over eight years are gone.

Some stats about each player:

-Anderson: Logged 15-plus innings in 2020, striking out 18, but he also walked 12 batters.

-Colome: Has more than 100 career saves (138) with a 2.95 ERA. He had 12 saves in 2020, but 30 in 2019.

-Cruz: Hit 16 home runs in 53 games in 2020. In 2019, he went all world, smashing 41 home runs with 108 RBI and batted .311.

-Hamilton: Very small sample size to deduce much about this right-handed pitcher. He appeared in four games in 2020.

-Happ: He was 2-2 with a 3.47 ERA in nine starts in 2020 and 12-8 with a 4.91 ERA in 2019.

-Robles: Appeared in only 18 games in 2020, but in 2019 he was 5-1 with 23 saves and a 2.48 ERA.

-Simmons: The four-time Gold Glove shortstop has slashed .269/.317/.379 over nine seasons.

Extra innings…

-The Twins traded LaMonte Wade Jr. to the San Francisco Giants to get Anderson.

-Wayne Terwilliger, a longtime base coach for the Twins, died at 95 last week. In my review of Roger Kahn’s “Boys of the Game,” Terwilliger, better known as “Twig,” was a footnote in a trade that brought Andy Pafko to the Brooklyn Dodgers from the Chicago Cubs. Twig went on to play and coach into his 80s.

COMMENTS

Hi, I’m Rolf Boone, Twins fan.

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.