The sports world has become obsessed with the use of “window” as a metaphorical evaluation of a team’s readiness to win. Expectations for teams often are viewed through that prism.
We talk about windows of opportunity. Windows to win big. Window open, window closed, window slamming shut. Hey, I’m as guilty as the next person.
In truth, window talk is a nebulous concept because seasons can become so unpredictable because of injuries or performances — individually and collectively — that either rise well above or below what seemed reasonable at the outset, and then the entire conversation changes.
Case in point: the Twins.
Their theoretical window looks a lot different now than it did two months ago. If their window had a sign hanging above it, it would read “Go For It.”
That should be the mind-set of Twins personnel bosses Derek Falvey and Thad Levine, who reportedly are interested in signing starter Dallas Keuchel and closer Craig Kimbrel to bolster a team that is on a historic pace. Smart move, if so.
Nothing should prevent them from being aggressive buyers. Certainly not money. Not in this situation, with a team that is playing out of its mind and a fan base that is starting to re-invest emotionally after years of lousy performances.
Occasionally, situations force organizations to adjust or accelerate their business strategy. This is one of those times.
The Twins own the best record in Major League Baseball at 40-18. This isn’t a small sample size. This isn’t just a team getting hot for two weeks. They aren’t a fluke.
The Twins are proving series by series that they should be taken seriously, and legitimately. Maybe they won’t continue to win at this pace all season, but June begins with realistic visions of postseason baseball.
Splashy free-agent signings don’t guarantee intended results, but it’s worth a shot.
Suppose the Twins sign Keuchel and/or Kimbrel — or add some other pitcher via trade — and they struggle, or the team doesn’t make a deep postseason run. That doesn’t mean the decision was wrong or a waste of money. It just means an aggressive move didn’t work out. Would any fan honestly fault the front office in that situation?
The Twins have shown that they are a very good team capable of winning multiple ways. They are the No. 1 surprise in MLB. Nobody, not even inside the organization, saw 40-18 coming.
There might be temptation to do nothing and keep the roster as is, under the assumption that the team with the best record in baseball will continue to steamroll without outside help. The Twins do have something special brewing on the field and in clubhouse chemistry.
But why not take a very good team and try to improve it? Especially the bullpen, which still creates uneasiness. Kimbrel’s experience and pedigree would allow every other reliever to be slotted down in more advantageous roles. Likewise, Keuchel would deepen the starting rotation.
Both pitchers presumably have lowered their contract demands, so their cost shouldn’t be unreasonably exorbitant. Or maybe the Twins will add a different pitcher before the trade deadline. Only a few of their top prospects — Royce Lewis, Alex Kirilloff and maybe pitcher Brusdar Graterol (who has an ailing shoulder at present) — should be off-limits in trade talks.
Strengthening the team should be the primary focus, but the message sent to players, fans and other teams would be unequivocal. It would show that the organization is going for it.
Front office executives need to detach themselves from the immediacy of the moment in order to take a longer view in constructing and managing a roster. They must consider today, tomorrow and three years from now. That can be a tricky balancing act, especially when something like this Twins season comes out of nowhere.
But here they are, the best team in baseball through one-third of the season and owners of a double-digit lead in the division. Preconceived notions about the Twins before the season no longer apply.
Their window looks totally different, and there are no guarantees they will be in this position next season, or the season after that. They should act accordingly and use this opportunity to think big.
Chip Scoggins • firstname.lastname@example.org