clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

How serious are the Twins about rebuilding?

With injuries last night to Phil Hughes, Jordan Schafer, and Casey Fien, we will soon learn just how committed the Twins are to getting younger and better.

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

As the season got underway, I was mildly horrified by the roster decisions of the Minnesota Twins, who seemed to prize veteran mediocrity over anything resembling youth and upside. I say "mildly" because, well, it's the Twins. Even the small improvements they made on the margins of their roster were not going to turn them into winners in 2015. Still, the jobs handed out to Mike Pelfrey, Blaine Boyer, Tim Stauffer, Aaron Thompson, Jordan Schafer, and Shane Robinson seemed like the wrong direction for a club that sees itself on the precipice of a large roster turnover.

Fast-forward three weeks, and the situation has shifted. First, Ricky Nolasco went down with elbow trouble almost immediately, allowing Trevor May into the rotation before he even had a chance to throw a pitch at Triple-A. As Nolasco nears his return, Phil Hughes could follow him onto the DL if the Twins decide to be conservative treating the hip flexor strain he suffered yesterday. Brian Duensing suffered an intercostal strain and was replaced by Caleb Thielbar.

Casey Fien was removed from yesterday's game with more shoulder problems and will give way to Michael Tonkin. Schafer felt his knee "lock up" yesterday and had to be removed from the game. While he says he's fine, that's...weird and not good, so Aaron Hicks is on speed dial. Ditto for Lester Oliveros and Ryan Pressly, one of whom could be called up when the Twins eventually get tired of watching Stauffer's 88 mph fastballs get drilled all over the park.

So, all that worry, was it for nothing? Yes and no. I mean, injuries are a part of the game, and it's reasonable to assume that opportunities would arise quickly for these young players. At the same time, going forward, concerns that the Twins will continue to prefer this kind of listless "talent" are entirely valid.

What is going to happen to Trevor May, for instance, when Nolasco is ready and if Hughes doesn't go on the DL? The bullpen? That takes an opportunity away from another young pitcher, and given May's difficulty working out of the stretch, seems like a recipe for disaster. Back to Rochester? That puts him, and the team, back at square one. Despite a couple short outings, May has been impressive in 14.2 innings, striking out 13 batters and walking only two. He's given up just one homer. Similarly, what happens to Tonkin or Hicks or Pressly or Oliveros if they come up and have success when the veteran they replaced is healed up? Who do the Twins prioritize then? I would hope it would be the young player who has had success, but frankly I don't have a lot of confidence in that.

Change is slow, change is inevitable, but change is coming to the Twins. The only question now is whether Terry Ryan and Paul Molitor will let it come fast enough to salvage the relationship the club has with me and the literally dozens of fans it has left.