The Minnesota Twins salvaged their season by sweeping the Baltimore Orioles this past weekend. Their offense is still stagnant, but their pitching seems to be gaining steam.
On Sept. 1, the rosters expand from 25 to 40 players. In the past, the Twins have been conservative about bringing up prospects for the month of September. This year should be different.
With one of the richest farm systems in baseball, the Twins could make a September push by filling their bench with some very strong players, many of whom already have some major league experience. A pinch hit here and there could make the difference in a few games, as could an extra couple of arms in the bullpen.
No team stands to benefit more from September call-ups than the Twins.
• Miguel Sano needs to play defense. He has a presence on the field. Heck, put him at shortstop. He played first base for a while Sunday and even showed some flair. At bat, Sano has been a force. In the past few games, his home runs have just so barely cleared the fence — he really didn’t get a hold of any one of them. But his base hits! Scorched. And he walks. He seems to be in the middle of everything, even as a baserunner. Sano is going to create a lot of joy in Mudville. The phrase “not since Killebrew” keeps rattling around my head.
• Torii Hunter needs to sit on the bench until the end of this season — and then retire. He has no future, and the Twins are a team of the future. Max Kepler languishes down in the minors hitting .340. He could be getting major league at bats. But no, the Twins give starts to Hunter and Shane Robinson!
• Byron Buxton is in over his head. He needs to quit being a mentoree of Torii Hunter and come into his own. I am sick and tired of Hunter’s alleged mentoring. Hunter seems to enjoy his profound wisdom more than anybody.
• Something’s wrong with Joe Mauer. Lingering concussion issues?
• This kid Tyler Duffy throws a curve almost worthy of Bert Blyleven.
• Opposing pitchers finally figured out that you can’t throw Brian Dozier high fastballs. With that settled, Dozier’s bat has cooled.
• TV announcer Dick Bremer’s constant tone of utter amazement is wearing me out. So is his prattle about mentoring. Or his tiresome questions about how one prepares differently if you are batting third as opposed to second. Apparently, adjusting to a new spot in the batting order requires that one run to Hunter for some mentoring. I would turn on Corey Probus and Dan Gladden on the radio, but as soon as I do, Probus says “eye-ther” instead of “eee-ther” (for “either”) and makes me want to run for the hills plugging my ears.
• Is it really worth it to chase the wild-card spot when it only gains you a one-game do-or-die playoff, essentially a 50-50 crapshoot? So you lose the game due to one bad pitch and go home. Suddenly, you realize that you hung on to Hunter for his playoff experience for two months past his expiration date for no reason.
• The one failure of Paul Molitor’s in-game managing this year has been base stealing. Molitor wants to steal bases, but the players don’t execute. Yet he keeps sending them. Inning over.
• I really enjoy the defensive shifts used by Molitor. Some people hate the strategy and think there should be a rule against moving defensive players around in such a radical manner. Bosh! Shifts bring fan awareness to defensive placement, a facet of the game given short shrift by television. You don’t realize until you get to an actual game just how far in the infielders play when they are “drawn in,” for example. (Thought: Any manager who draws his infield in with Sano at bat should be prosecuted for reckless endangerment of innocent infielders.)