* Parallels between the aftermaths of Joe Mauer's mid-August concussion and the one that derailed Justin Morneau's career in 2010 are frighteningly numerous.
Much like Morneau, Mauer suffered his injury on a seemingly innocuous play -- a hard foul tip to the helmet, not noticeably different than the hundreds that had preceded it. Like with Morneau, the Twins did not initially express great concern over the severity of the incident. But, like Morneau, Mauer has been sidelined longer than expected, and is still experiencing "bad days" weeks after the blow.
Mauer and Morneau have always been linked -- the M&M Boys, the MVPs, the heart of the lineup -- so to see Mauer following down the same depressing path that robbed Morneau of perhaps his best years is hard.
Of course, there's no reason to think Mauer will experience quite so many long-term complications, and in fact it sounds as though
the Twins still expect him to play sometime during the last couple weeks of the season.
If he does, it certainly won't be at catcher, and whether or not he will return to his native position at all figures to be a central talking point this offseason.
* After being shut out in their own park on consecutive nights Friday and Saturday, the Twins rebounded Sunday to win the finale in their weekend series with the Rays. Nevertheless, the Twins are now 4-16 in their last 20 games at Target Field. They haven't won a series at home since sweeping the Astros at the beginning of August.
Brutal to see the team playing so poorly in front of the local fans.
* When the A's came to town last week and throttled the Twins, discussion naturally turned to the subject of team payrolls.
Oakland, with its modest $68 million payroll, is in first place in the AL West, ahead of the Angels ($142 million) and Rangers ($127 million). In light of this fact, 1500 ESPN's Phil Mackey argued
that the solution to the Twins' woes is not to start spending wildly, but rather to emulate the A's.
I'd love it if the Twins could replicate what the Athletics have done, building a contending team cheaply by selling high on talent, drafting and developing scores of young pitchers, and identifying high-value free agents. Unfortunately, they have shown no ability to excel in any of those areas recently.
As Mackey himself points out, the only two starting pitchers that the Twins have drafted and guided to the major-league ranks in the past eight years are Kyle Gibson and Jeff Manship. When you put yourself in such a situation, spending (some would say overspending) on established talent is pretty much the only course of action, unless you're looking to remain in a perpetual rebuilding state.
For what it's worth, Jim Pohlad seems to recognize this. He recently assured
Charley Walters of the Pioneer Press that the Twins would spend "any amount of money" on adding a player they like provided that the deal doesn't involve an extremely lengthy commitment.
Will the frugal Terry Ryan, who has been notoriously wary of putting big money into free agency, be able to embrace such a philosophy? We shall have to see.