January 24, 2021

How do you like the Twins now?

A recent check of social media showed that all was not well in Twins Territory. Twins fans, at least on Twitter, appeared to be coming unglued due to the lack of deal-making so far this offseason. As top free agents continued to come off the board and go elsewhere, such as reliever Kirby Yates and starter Corey Kluber — two players reportedly linked to the Twins — the anger online seemed to turn a deeper shade of red. In the case of Kluber, he even found a home with the much loathed New York Yankees.

Reliever Hansel Robles is already in the house, although that wasn’t exactly a headline-grabbing move, and then the cold stove thawed a bit more when the Twins announced they had signed former Yankees pitcher J.A. Happ to a one-year deal worth $8 million; Robles also got a one-year deal for $2 million.

Will that quiet grumbling Twins fans? Maybe for a bit, but it’s also bound to feel underwhelming after the Chicago White Sox, the Twins’ nearest rival in the division, went out and reeled in closer Liam Hendriks (an ex-Twins player), outfielder, Adam Eaton, and pitcher Lance Lynn, also an ex-member of the Twins, who struggled with the club in his one season in Minnesota, then went to Texas and became an ace. Go figure.

Happ, 38, is 123-92 over 14 seasons with a career ERA of 3.98. He made nine starts in 2020 and finished 2-2 with an ERA of 3.47. Perhaps more concerning was his 2019 season, in which he made 30 starts and wound up 12-8 with an ERA of nearly 5.00. He has had much better seasons. He was an All-Star in 2018 (17-6, 3.65 ERA), and in 2016, he went 20-4 with a 3.18 ERA, good enough that season to finish sixth in the AL Cy Young award vote.

So it comes down to this: Which team has the better pitching coach? I think it goes to the Twins and Wes Johnson, who has found a way to resurrect the careers of Jake Odorizzi and Michael Pineda and turn them into effective pitchers. Even Kenta Maeda didn’t have the most impressive resume when he came to the Twins, yet he had a sensational 2020 and finished runner-up to Cy Young award winner Shane Bieber of the Cleveland Indians.

The South Siders big three are Dallas Keuchel, Lucas Giolito and Lynn. The Twins will counter with Jose Berrios, Maeda, Pineda and Happ, which I think matches up well enough for the Twins to win another AL Central title. But how about that much needed, deeper run into the playoffs? Is this the group to do it? Let’s check in with Twins Territory online. I have a feeling it’s not.

Extra innings…

-We continue to lose the greats of the game, and there has been none bigger than Henry Aaron, who blasted 755 home runs over 20-plus seasons of major league baseball. Aaron, who died on Friday, was 86. The other player we lost this month was durable Don Sutton, who won more than 300 games over a long career spent mostly with the Los Angeles Dodgers.


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.