Wednesday, January 25, 2017

It's Time To Catch Up, The Twins Rebuild Is Over

This offseason, and many of recent memory for that matter, Twins fans have talked of the word rebuild. In describing the organization, rebuilding was a way to define the idea that the Twins needed and influx of new talent that would get them back into relevancy. While that has been a fair assessment of where the club has found itself, a new reality has set in. That time period is over, the rebuilding is done.

On Twitter recently, I stumbled across a conversation Twins beat writer Brandon Warne was having. He summarized the Twins current situation by saying, "The Twins rebuild is in a lot of ways over. There isn't much else to strip down. It's time to build." I'm not sure there's a more eloquent way to put it.

When it comes to big league baseball, there's only a few realities that face a team. Either your a serious World Series contender, you're treading water somewhere in the middle with a vertical trajectory of one direction, or you've committed to an influx of minor league talent with the idea that it pans out at the highest level.

To be completely fair, suggesting a team is a World Series contender is somewhat of a fickle practice. Sure, the Chicago Cubs, Boston Red Sox, and Los Angeles Dodgers are juggernauts, but making it into the playoffs makes you a contender of sorts. Although the exits were always quick, that's a stage that the Twins found themselves in during the run of AL Central titles under Ron Gardenhire. They quickly moved through the water treading phase (on a downward trajectory), and went into the doldrums of needing to stockpile talent. At this point though, the cycle has already begun to rotate.

While Paul Molitor's club isn't going to be kicking in the Postseason door when the 2017 season draws to a close, they've absolutely entered back into the pool of mediocrity, but with an upward trajectory this time. By suffering through the poor stretch, they've stockpiled talent, and at one point had one of the best farm systems in baseball.

The rebuild in which the Twins needed to undertake was highlighted by prospects such as Miguel Sano, Byron Buxton, Jose Berrios, and Max Kepler. Those names are no longer found on prospect lists, they aren't rookie eligible, and they are all basically entrenched at the big league level. At this point, it's on the Twins to support them developmentally as best they can, and get them to contribute over the course of a 162 game season.

Although the Twins failed to generate much of anything in the pitching category, the rebuild portion of the big league turnaround is complete. You could say that names like Stephen Gonsalves and Fernando Romero equate to some sort of replenishment when they arrive, and the hope would be that Minnesota would turn out a few more hidden gems. Right now though, the focus needs to be on sustenance.

Given what is left on the free agent market, I don't believe that Derek Falvey and Thad Levine are best positioned to spend. They'd likely be giving too much money to players not necessarily deserving of it. Save for Mike Napoli as a rotational partner with Joe Mauer and Byungho Park, I'm good with the Twins standing pat. Entering 2018 is another story however.

A year from now, Minnesota will be more able to accurately gauge where there young stars are, what the roster deficiencies seem to be, and how to attack them. A frontline starter should be on the shopping list, and pulling out some significant stops to enter back into contender mode for a stretch makes a lot of sense.

When a big league team is losing, it's fair to consider what their plan truly is. However, calling a struggling team rebuilding is a lazy excuse to categorize something that may very well not be the case. Minnesota has moved out of that phase and onto the next one, this team is rebuilding no more.

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