What has happened to the once mighty and steady Minnesota Twins?
As a fantasy owner, I was always one to purchase and draft members of the Twinkies for a myriad of reasons.
For one thing, they were perennial contenders. Over the past ten seasons Minnesota made the playoff six times, and only twice over that spread did they finish under .500. Once was in 2007 when the team went 79-83--dangerously close to the water line--and then last year, their second full season at Target Field, and away from that cushy indoor Metrodome that I think was a lot friendlier to their team than anyone wants to admit.
But, that is a second reason, for I liked taking players from the Twin Cities because they always had players like Randy Bush and Greg Gagne who hit in the .270's and knocked 10-plus homers, and swiped 10-plus bases, and best of all, were generally dismissed by the rest of the league, making them cheap and solid sleepers.
My first team had Bush, and Tim Laudner, along with Kent Hrbek and Tom Brunansky (who was brutally traded to St. Louis right after the start of the 1988 season, leaving me a hole) and I finished third. But, with Bush, and Kevin Tapani, I developed a strategy that allowed me to really focus hard on players of their ilk: Undervalued. And that led to more than a few local titles.
That trend continued for me into 2010, when I won the AL Tout Wars title largely on the backs of Jason Kubel, Michael Cuddyer, and Carl Pavano, all of whom were bargains and big producers for my team.
So, what has happened since, as Minnesota had their worst season last year since 1982, winning just 66 games?
There is something else going on with a team that used to do the basics so well. Under former manager Tom Kelly, who managed the team for 15 years starting in 1987, the team always seemed competitive, and more important, they always were able to replace players lost without any fuss or muss. I always thought this a combination of solid consistant drafting, coupled with then really aclimated their young players into that system so they became interchangable puzzle pieces of the highest order.
Something has even happened with that, where the team seemed to think that Nick Blackburn and Nick Punto, along with Jamey Carroll were the answer to much? And, while I am a big Eric Komatsu fan (I thought the guy had sleeper written all over him), I cannot understand why Minnesota simply does not give an everyday chance to Ben Revere? I mean, how much worse could the team be?
And, though the Twins did indeed make the playoffs in 2010, their first at Target Field, since then they are an abyssmal 71-122, and it does not look like the bloodletting will be over in the next few years, because that once never-ending stream of well drafted and disciplined players seems to have dried up.
Which is kind of sad, especially since current manager, Ron Gardenhire has really picked up the Kelly guantlet, managing the team over the past 10-plus seasons.
In fact, I am not sure if the move to Target is the thing, and Minnesota is simply trying to figure out how to build a team to be successful in their new home, as they did at the Metrodome, or somehow management, their approach, and decisions have just turned everything to the crapper.
But, I do hope the Twins figure it out and make a return, for I like Gardenhire. And, well, I always loved mining their underated yet successful teams as they always helped my teams be both the same: underrated and successful.