Things did not go well for the Indians this weekend. Any and all positive momentum the Tribe had built up heading into the Boston series was essentially squashed thanks in part to some really poor pitching and a missing offense. Fortunately, the marathon that is the Major League Baseball season continues on. What better way to right the ship than to take on the worst team in all of baseball?
The Indians (18-16) travel to Minnesota today for a quick two-game series against the Twins (10-24) who come into the series struggling. They’ve lost six of their last 10 ten games, accumulated an awful run differential of -66, and have scored an AL-worst 116 runs (only the San Diego Padres have crossed the plate with less frequency). The Twins are also looking for answers to some very serious questions—the primary question of course being, “Should we blow this whole thing up or not?”
The core of this Twins team has been together for a long time and they’ve been through some tough battles. In fact, for the longest time Minnesota was (along with Oakland) the model for all small-market teams. Now that model looks almost obsolete. But is it? It’s not as if Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau are 35-year-old veterans in the tail ends of their careers. Mauer and Morneau are only 29 and 30, respectively. They’re still young by baseball standards. Unfortunately, injuries can have a funny effect on careers, as both have discovered firsthand.
That’s what has put the Twins into such a precarious situation. Do they sell the farm and implicitly give up on the two players who helped build their new multi-million dollar stadium, moving the franchise forward into an official state of rebuilding? Do they hold on to Mauer and Morneau and build around them for one last run at a title? It’s the type of debate that can cause a great deal of tension within the organization and fan base, and it can take years of frustration to escape that limbo.
But the Twins seem to be headed straight towards that state of limbo. How else can you explain holding onto Mauer and Morneau and signing middle-of-the-order slugger Josh Willingham, and then surrounding them with young, unproven parts and a subpar pitching staff? They won’t commit to players like Danny Valencia and send them to Triple-A rather than letting them figure things out at the big league level. They bring in veteran Jamey Carroll and then abandon him after a month. So which is it: rebuild or reload?
If ever the Indians wanted to get back on track, this would be the team against which to do it. They know who they are and where they are headed. After a poor showing in a high-stress environment it’s this type of quick two-game series against a lesser opponent that can rebuild their confidence moving forward. So while many will write this series off as insignificant, I’ll be watching and looking to see which Indians team shows up: the one that dominates with pitching and timely hitting or allows teams to hang around and fails to capitalize on big opportunities.