The Wide Angle: Another blind throw at determining the Twins

Published 12:06 pm Saturday, March 31, 2018

It’s that time of year.

That time where I give you my thoughts on the Minnesota Twins and their upcoming season.

As you know, gauging the Twins is always prickly in that they are extremely up and down. When I made my prediction they would reach the playoffs last year, it was based on essentially a bunch of BS [read between the letters] backed by a few facts here and there that made just enough sense as to be plausible.

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But, mostly it was based on the fact that the two times the Twins have gone to and won the World Series they have come off abysmal seasons where they swept the basement of the Central Division. So there as a certain amount of precedent because the year before last season the Twins were worse that lutefisk — and yes, I’m technically Lutheran, have tried said horrible fish and am qualified to state than lutefisk is horrible.

So now what do I do? Brian Dozier obviously read my column last year and helped lead the Twins to a wild card playoff game. I’m honored of course. Hi Brian!

This is a tough year, because I’ve been busy with some extra duties down here at the Herald and the Twins have made some moves without telling me, in regard to their bullpen most notably.

I admit, I’m not sure where the Twins stand these days. I suppose I could do some research, but that goes against my prediction prowess and planning in that I do absolutely no research and armchair manage from the comfort of my computer.

Here’s what I know for sure. Irvin Santana is injured, Kyle Gibson has been moved to the back of the rotation, Jose Berrios could follow up on last year’s success, Trevor May might still be in bullpen, We got some Lance Lynn dude from somewhere, Phil Hughes might be involved still and Tampa Bay traded Jake Odorizzi to us and he will open the season.

Sooooo, I have no idea what to expect, so let’s move to the rest of the team.

This team was incredibly fun to watch last year including a certain centerfielder I wanted traded a long time ago.

I often got into friendly Twitter arguments with Jason Baskin over the reliability and usefulness of Byron Buxton. Baskin proved he was everything I am not. Patient, which he counseled every time we talked about the subject.

I openly wondered how many seasons the Twins should give him — Buxton, not Baskin. I’m not sure the Twins can trade Jason.

For the first seasons Buxton played quality innings he couldn’t hit a ball off a batting tee.

“Big Deal,” I argued whenever somebody said he tracked a rogue flyball or Bert Blyleven gushed about how fast he rounded the bases. In my mind it mattered little how fast he ran because there wasn’t  one at-bat where Buxton  wasn’t hacking away at pitches like a man with bee allergies.

I got tired of watching him flail about at pitches he had no right swinging at, so I argued that he should be sent elsewhere to get some pitching because pitching was horrible in those years and we needed that badly. Berrios was kind of all over the map in those years and clearly wasn’t ready and the rest of the starting line -up would have had a hard time striking out the Bad News Bears.

However, I soon began to taste that bittersweetness in the back of my throat when Buxton started hitting the ball and finally got to put that speed to good use. It also meant that I had to admit that Jason was right. I haven’t done it to his face — because I’m afraid.

The Twins also hit the ball better than previous years thanks to a line-up that had matured in some places and stayed solid in other places. Dozier — hi Brian! — was quality at the top of the lineup just like the previous year, Miguel Sano — when he wasn’t injured — was hitting the ball, Max Keppler, Eddie Rosario, Eduardo Escobar — all were getting in quality at-bats and by the end, the Twins looked like a contender.

But here comes the rub. Can they do it again this year? I get nervous predicting how Minnesota Twins teams will do from one moment to the next. I mean, the Timberwolves might make the playoffs. Who saw that coming? And no, no you didn’t, random sports know-it-all who just threw your hand up. Just no, you didn’t.

The Wild are struggling even though they are optimistic about this season and the Vikings almost made the Super Bowl.

Why not the Twins?

In reality — no, the Twins will not win the World Series. I really don’t think they will make it past the divisional series, but here’s the rub. I think they can make it to the divisional series. They’ve got a lot of the pieces from last year returning with some new promising players welcomed to the fold this year.

I don’t have stats to back this feeling up. I’m not a stats guy. I’m a “I have a feeling” guy and I honestly believe they might make it farther into the playoffs this year.

Of course, if they don’t, please try to keep this column to yourself. I don’t need Jason finding out.