This decade provides rugged competition for a most disappointing Twins season, and the current one is remindful of 2011. That melodrama came out of nowhere after a decade (2001-10) when the Twins won six division titles, had nine winning seasons and averaged 89 victories.
The Twins of 2011 were ravaged by injuries, terrible personnel decisions and an astounding 19-50 collapse to conclude the schedule.
That was the first of four years of utter ineptitude, and then came 83-79 in 2015 and a mild threat to win the AL’s second wild card. This was followed by 59-103 in 2016 (the worst season in team history) and then a rebound to 85-77 that secured the second wild card in 2017.
It was only two more wins — 85 rather than 83 — but the Twins of 2017 did not seem to be the pieced-together long shot of two years earlier. There appeared to be a competitive foundation for 2018, and then the front office added pitchers Lance Lynn, Jake Odorizzi, Fernando Rodney, Addison Reed and Zach Duke and designated hitter Logan Morrison.
Back in 2011, the Twins were coming off 94 wins and pushed the payroll to a team record $113.2 million. A more accurate number would have been $118.5 million, since the Twins also paid a $5.3 million posting fee to bring in regrettable infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka from Japan.
Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau were injured. Delmon Young — coming off 21 home runs and 112 RBI — was injured, inept and then traded. The final record was 63-99 and Bill Smith was fired as general manager.
Our new-age baseball boss, Derek Falvey, blew past that previous high payroll to $128 million to open this season. Phil Hughes ($13.5 million) was cast away, Erv Santana ($13.2 million) is still rehabbing and Jason Castro ($8 million) is out for the season — to name a few bigger-buck items.
Miguel Sano is in Class A trying to again look like a ballplayer, Byron Buxton is in Class AAA trying to find a workable swing, and the Twins are ready for a “we’ll listen to any offer,” trade-deadline sale.
And we now have a Twins pattern in this failed decade: Record payrolls lead to lousy records.
Baseball variety pack:
• The fact the AL playoff field is already set — New York, Boston, Houston, Seattle and Cleveland — is going to seriously limit deadline trading partners for “sellers.”
• Boston could use Brian Dozier to fill second base for the stretch of 2018, but as a rental, he will bring a return that disappoints Twins followers.
• David Banuelos, 21, is a catcher the Twins acquired from Seattle for $1 million in international signing money. He entered Saturday batting .195 at Class A Cedar Rapids.