The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Sports Columns

June 29, 2014

Thoma column:

When the Twins signed Kendrys Morales about three weeks ago, they were in last place in the American League Central but just six games behind the first place Detroit Tigers. They were close enough for Terry Ryan to say: Why not us?

Entering Sunday, the designated hitter had a slash line of .225/.263/.324, and the Twins were still in last place and nine games behind the Tigers. They’re going backwards.

The Twins will hit the halfway point of the 2014 season today (weather permitting), and despite the million they lavished on free agents they’re headed for another 90-loss season.

Andy MacPhail, who was the general manager for the Twins when they won their two World Series a generation ago, used to say the idea was either win now or get ready to win in the future.

Running the operation with an eye to finishing .500 was pointless.

This just-completed road trip convinced me, if not Ryan: The Twins aren’t going to make a playoff push this year. Since they won’t win now, they should be focused on the future.

So ... what has happened in the first half in that score? It’s been a mixed bag.

The Good

Phil Hughes has been much better with the Twins than he was with the Yankees, and Kyle Gibson has been almost as good. They both look, at worse, like mid-rotation guys for a contender.

Brian Dozier has been perhaps the best second baseman in the league.

Even though Oswaldo Arcia missed a lot of time with injury and endured a lengthy slump, he’s still in the lineup; Ron Gardenhire hasn’t jerked him around. (Yet.)

Eduardo Escobar and Danny Santana have provided some offense from shortstop. Either could still establish himself as the answer there.

The Bad

The two most important pieces in the farm system, Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano, have languished on the injured list virtually all season. Healthy, they’d both be knocking on the door to Target Field now.

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