Despite the record number of home runs, the number of runs scored, the number of team wins (second most in franchise history) and any number of things that Twins manager, Rocco Baldelli, did right this season, he does not deserve to be AL Manager of the Year. Oh, he’s going to win the award, of course, but he shouldn’t.
Here’s why: He was 2-7 against the New York Yankees, including 0-3 in the postseason. I can already hear a chorus of complaints from Twins fans, arguing that Baldelli is not to blame: he’s only the latest Twins manager to struggle against the Bombers. Yes, but after winning 101 games there’s a new standard in town, or at least there should be. And that standard should be the following: regularly beating the Yanks during the season and postseason.
Why? Because that’s the only talking point left for the Twins.
The Twins are loaded with talent to be competitive for years to come. Combine that with the shrewd front office tandem of Derek Falvey and Thad Levine and the Twins are bound to reel off any number of division titles, just as the team did the previous decade. So if the Twins remain competitive — and we all know the Yankees will be — that means they most likely will continue to face each other in the playoffs. What’s left? Do I even need to ask? BEATING THE YANKEES!
Don’t get me wrong: I’m not suggesting Baldelli be fired because he appears to be the right guy for the job. But first, he and the Twins have to beat the Yankees. And when he does — and we all know when he has to do it (IN THE POSTSEASON!) — then give him that award for being the best manager in the American League. Until then, don’t bother.
-I’ve ignored a lot of postseason news about the team, so let me address that by catching up with a quick run down of recent developments.
-No longer with the team: Hitting coach, James Rowson, has joined the Miami Marlins as bench coach. Twins’ bench coach, Derek Shelton, also appears destined to get a managing job. Young pitchers, Kohl Stewart and Stephen Gonsalves, both of whom never blossomed into stars, are also gone. The Twins also declined to pick up the contract option on starting pitcher, Martin Perez, and said goodbye to reliever and trade deadline bust, Sam Dyson, who was outrighted by the team. He then declared himself a free agent.
-Contract moves: The Twins have made a qualifying offer to Jake Odorizzi, the pitching staff leader in wins with 15, and picked up the option on Nelson Cruz, otherwise known as the no-brainer of the offseason. Cruz hit .311 with 41 home runs and 108 RBI. The Twins declined to make qualifying offers to Kyle Gibson and the suspended, Michael Pineda (no surprise).
-Silver Slugger winners: Cruz and Twins catcher, Mitch Garver.
Sources: Baseball-Reference.com, MLB.com, MLB Trade Rumors.