Like that “smart” kid in middle school that never applies himself and gets by on solid B’s, the Indians need something to motivate them through the slog of the regular season or else they’ll end up writing about a mid-market baseball team on a blog that nobody reads.
The dream of a switch that they can flip
when they turn 20 in October is dead and reality is they need to keep up some kind of energy before the games really start to matter.
Enter the Twins.
Let’s be honest here, the Tigers and Royals are not doing anything this year — they are two of the many teams going all-in on a rebuild and will likely be trading away pieces, not adding to help go from the worst team in the league to the third worst team in the league. But those Twins. Those beautiful, caught-in-the-middle Twins who are on the verge of lighting a fire under the Indians’ asses, could really do something to make the good boys of Cleveland care.
Just like in 2017, when it was in all of our best interests to want the fading Royals to go all-in at the trade deadline and forgo an opportunity to stack their farm system, the best thing for the Indians right now might be to have the Twins go all-in on free agency.
It seems like such a distance time that the Twins were a playoff team, but really it was just two years ago when they got blown out by the Yankees in the Wild Card game. They didn’t really give the Indians much to worry about that year — the Tribe won 102 games and easily took the Central by 17 games — but at least it was something to keep an eye on behind them. Last season, when the Indians barely crossed 90 wins, the Twins were nowhere to be found — 78 total wins, 13 behind the repeating AL Central champs.
Last season also happened to be about the most boring winning season imaginable, with the Indians not playing great at any point in the season, but maintaining a lead in the division anyway.
Come out of the gate as the most anemic offenses in recent memory and only manage to win 15 games through March and April? Oh well, the mirage of the Tigers only won 12 games and the Twins managed to be worse.
Still can’t be much of a winning team through June and have the worst record (45-37) of any division-leading team on July 1? Oh well, the Tigers finally broke and the Twins are already nine games back, whoopsie.
The Twins have sought to change last year’s result this offseason by being one of the only busy teams in free agency. To date, they’ve signed first baseman CJ Cron, designated hitter Nelson Cruz, and second baseman Jonathan Schoop, and a couple of uninspiring pitchers. They might have a heck of a lineup with Baron Von Max Kepler, Miguel Sano, and Eddie Rosario bouncing back, and those free agent additions. Still don’t know who is going to pitch for them, though.
Beyond the Box Score recently wrote how the Twins could (and should, in their opinion) fix that nagging issue by signing both Dallas Keuchel and Craig Kimbrel. Which, in a roundabout way, brings me to the main topic of this article: Please do it, Twins.
I should be clear up front — I’m perfectly okay with the Indians not being the team to go out and spend $100 million on a couple free agents. I’ve also been pretty okay with their plan of seeing what young players pan out in the outfield instead of blocking them with mid-to-low level veterans. But by golly do I want to see the Twins sink their future finances to help motivate the current Indians squad a bit.
In that Beyond the Box Score piece, Devan Fink surmises that by signing both Keuchel and Kimbrel, the Twins would improve from a projected 83 wins to a whopping 87. Now, would being obligated to pay a pair of pitchers $38 million every year well into 30’s (based on MLB Trade Rumor’s predictions) worth the four-win bump? It does double their odds of catching the Indians, as the article points out, from 13.3 percent to 25.2 percent. Also known as still having a 74.8 percent chance of losing the division after spending a bunch of money on aging pitchers. So maybe it’s not worth it.
But hell, it isn’t my money. It isn’t even my team’s money. Do it, Twins. Do it and also sign Bryce Harper if it means getting closer to 90 wins. Give Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez something to think about while they are the core of their team’s World Series hopes and also making a combined $15 million in the prime of their careers because of baseball’s backwards-ass financial structure.
I don’t want to see the Indians get worse, I want to see the competition around them get better. I want a reason to stop seeing the “well the Indians are only good because they’re in the AL Central excuse.”
Even if my dream comes true and the Twins do get free agents and end up catching the Indians — good. As long as it makes for a fun and tense regular season, where it feels like the Indians tried for five months and came up short, I’m okay with that. I don’t think I can survive another full regular season of lethargy followed by a playoff blowout, though.
Only one team wins the World Series every year, at least give me something to feel the other 99 percent of the games.