By now, you know the story of the 2015 Minnesota Twins. Minnesota got off to an abysmal start, then something clicked, and a team burst onto the scene a year early. Holding down a commanding lead of a Wild Card spot, the Twins looked to be in good position. Unfortunately, the bottom fell out, and Paul Molitor's squad now finds themselves on the outside looking in. With a few weeks left in August, and the active roster expanding in September, things are about to get interesting.
Right now, Minnesota is still in
the hunt, but it's the next few series that will determine their 2015
fate. The current major league roster is far from optimal, but it also
appears capable of pulling out some victories. With the AL East as their
upcoming competition, the Twins need to stay focused throughout the end
Ideally, roster optimization in August for the Twins would include both Byron Buxton and Jose Berrios in the big leagues. Both are more than capable of providing a boost, and would be a definite asset. Buxton is likely being held back to sometime around the end of the month due to service time, and Berrios
has a ticking innings clock. Arguments for both sides are compelling,
but operating under the belief that the Twins aren't a playoff team, I'd
wait until September 1st on both.
bullpen is really the only other place the Twins could be looking for a
boost in the current month. Things have been in flux of late, and
changes have been made. There's a few places that could be considered
weak spots, but it's also hard to suggest the replacement arms would be a
guaranteed upgrade. Ryan O'Rourke and A.J. Achter have both proven capable at times, while Brian Duensing and Kevin Jepsen have been better of late. Much like the offense, there's little to nothing I'd change here at the moment.
rosters expand in September, this is where the Twins have the most room
to operate through some exciting decisions. First and foremost, Buxton and Berrios need to be with the big league club. Buxton is slashing .404/.440/.532 in his first 11 Triple-A games, while Berrios owns a 2.25 ERA in his last 40.0 IP. Buxton should push Aaron Hicks to right field, rendering Torii Hunter a rotational bat and replacement fielder (his likely 2016 role). Berrios
deserves a crack at the rotation, and giving him three starts to end
2015 would be extremely valuable going into spring training 2016.
of the top two, Minnesota has some other must accommodate types. First
and foremost, Max Kepler. The German prospect is batting over .330 at
Double-A and has been arguably the best hitter in the system this
season. Getting him reps at the MLB level prior to 2016 is an absolute must.
Teammate Nick Burdi
could also be a consideration from Double-A. The 2014 second round pick
has taken his lumps this year, but he owns a 2.05 ERA across his last
22.0 IP. Burdi
should be a key part of the 2016 bullpen, and getting his feet wet now
(as well as his strikeout punch) is a route the Twins should explore.
Jorge Polanco and J.T. Chargois could also be options if the Twins want to open things up a bit further.
one level down, Paul Molitor has a few guys at Triple-A that will need a
look. James Beresford should be given a tip of the cap type shot for
what he has put together this year. The Aussie is slashing
.313/.346/.368 and he offers at least a better option than Doug Bernier
down the stretch for the big club. Out of the bullpen, Mark Hamburger is
an option. The Twins are well acquainted with Hamburger, and his 1.05
ERA since June 16 would seemingly bolster the Twins arms.
For Rochester, Kennys
Vargas has pushed himself and worked his way back to the highest level
on the farm. He's slashed .316/.519/.421 in seven games since his return
to Triple-A, and will be fighting for a 25 man spot to open 2016. On
the opposite end of the spectrum, overlooking Oswaldo Arcia
might not be a bad idea. He went on a nice home run-filled hot streak,
but he's slashed just .100/.200/.157 across his last 21 games. The Twins
need to make a decision on Arcia before the upcoming year, but it's gut check time for the powerful Venezuelan.
at what can be done, and how the Twins are positioned, the final few
weeks of the season offer plenty of intrigue. At the forefront is a team
who is competing for the first time in many years. Secondary though, is
a team that has shown up a year early, and offers the organization an
opportunity to not rush decisions, but also time to evaluate in
August shouldn't be a time of much
turnover for the Twins, as roster optimization would still more than
likely keep them out of the playoffs. September though is a period where
the Twins can begin to position for 2016 and beyond, with their being
little reason not to get the ball rolling.