A day after the team’s 18th consecutive postseason loss — a major sports record — Twins President of Baseball Operations Derek Falvey answered 40 minutes of questions in his postseason briefing.
“This was challenging,” he said. “A lot of guys were away from their families for a long time this year. When they got in the bubble, they could have said, ‘Hey, I just want this to be over, I want to go home.’ I can tell you that was not the emotion in the clubhouse yesterday. They wanted to win.
“None of us slept well last night. This was tough.”
The Twins set a major league record for home runs in 2019 over 162 games, and set a team record for runs scored, but their offense struggled more during the COVID-19 shortened 2020 season. Falvey was asked if the “Bomba Squad” was too home-run oriented.
“The goal is not every time they stand up there to hit a home run — it’s to put a good swing on the ball and attack,” Falvey said. “Yeah, we scored a lot of runs on home runs. That’s part of our team. It didn’t go well the past couple of days.
“That’s something we’re thinking about. We’re power reliant. We’ve got to think about what it is that didn’t allow us to get going over the last couple of days.
“Credit to the Astros. They found a way to attack us. They beat us. I don’t want to make excuses, and say otherwise. They attacked some of our weaknesses, and we have to figure out how to correct that going into the next playoffs.”
About Byron Buxton
Center fielder Byron Buxton played Tuesday, but didn’t start Wednesday. He had been cleared to play after being beaned on Friday; he did enter as a pinch runner and was picked off. He also missed time during the season because of a shoulder injury.
Why didn’t Buxton start?
“He wasn’t feeling great when he came in,” Falvey said. “That was the crux of it, the way he described it. I don’t have much more to say outside of that.”
The team now turns to offseason planning, where Falvey expects changes.
“Definitely don’t think you want to go into an offseason and just run things back and hope it’s better,” he said. “We know we fell short.
“This is going to be a difficult season to access. Some of our players who broke out last year and struggled this year, you can attribute to the challenges of the season. We’ll have to examine leaguewide what we can make of the 60-game season.
“We all feel the emotions of the last 24, 48 hours. We had a really good group, a blended group, young guys early in their career, and guys who had been there before. I believe in our staff, and a players in that room, and I know how much they wanted to win.
“We didn’t have the fully healthy lineup all the way through. Those aren’t excuses, that’s just the truth of it.”
Falvey said the team hopes to re-sign 40-year-old designated hitter Nelson Cruz, the team’s best offensive player the past two seasons.
“We see a fit for him here, and we want to keep him,” Falvey said. “The feeling was mutual around his interest in us and our interest in him. We’ll go through this process entering free agency and with his agent and be thoughtful about that.
“We aren’t that deep into our offseason planning. We were hoping to start to get into that in the bubble, out in California.”
The team will also make sure shortstop Jorge Polanco, coming off ankle surgery, is healthy after “he was not playing at 100 percent all year.” Polanco’s offensive stats dropped, and he made a crucial error in Game 1 when the Astros scored three unearned runs.
High profile free agent signing Josh Donaldson didn’t participate in the playoffs, and missed half the regular season, because of a calf injury.
“Our hope and expectation was that Josh was going to be a force in getting us to the postseason and a factor when we go there,” Falvey said. “The calf injury was an issue. We know he had it in the past.
“We’ll dive deeper into it with Josh this offseason. We’ll work over the next couple of months to make sure we’re in a position to keep in on the field.
“We missed him in the lineup for sure. You could see that over the last couple of days.”
The Twins’ minor leaguers missed a year of play. The Twins did get contributions from players like catcher Ryan Jeffers, outfielder Brent Rooker and, in the final game of the playoffs, outfielder Alex Kirilloff after they started the season with the St. Paul workout group.
“Our minor league players have lost a full year of development,” Falvey said. “We need to think about the risk, if some guys need more development playing a season at the minor league level, or if they can do it at the major league level.”
Kirilloff was thrown into the lineup because of Buxton’s absence and did not look out of place. Jeffers started both games ahead of Mitch Garver, who hit 31 homers in 2019 but had his 2020 season wrecked by an intercostal injury. Rooker was becoming a lineup regular before suffering a broken arm in September when hit by a pitch.
< Message edited by Mr. Ed -- 10/1/2020 2:11:01 PM >
Escape while you can!