Saturday, Sep. 26, 2020


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Donaldson Impact about Zip So Far

 

The Twins took the field yesterday in Detroit without four everyday regulars and proceeded to lose their fifth straight game.  Missing because of injuries were center fielder Byron Buxton, third baseman Josh Donaldson, catcher Mitch Garvin and left fielder Eddie Rosario.

No Twin has been a bigger disappointment and more absent from the field this summer than Donaldson who makes a team-leading $21 million in base salary, per Spotrac.com. Acquired in a splashy winter free agent signing, Donaldson went on the Injured List August 7 with a right calf strain after appearing in seven games during this COVID-19 shortened season that began in late July.  His minimal stats include a .182 batting average with one home run and two runs batted in.

Minnesota gave Donaldson a four-year $92 million deal, the largest free agent contract in club history.  Twins front office leaders Derek Falvey and Thad Levine took a calculated risk the 34-year-old could produce as in the past.  Since 2013 Donaldson has been among baseball’s most productive home run hitters and also a standout in the field.

After an impressive start to the season, the Twins have lost 11 of their last 21 games.  They were 3-6 on the road trip that ended against the Tigers on Sunday, and the club struggled to score runs.  Minnesota is no longer leading the AL Central Division standings, and Donaldson, known as “Bringer of Rain,” has missed 25 games during the 60-game season.

Given the type of injury that sidelined Donaldson, it’s been a head scratcher as to why he has been sidelined so long.  However, manager Rocco Baldelli said the former AL MVP could return sometime during the club’s eight-game home-stand that begins tonight against the White Sox.

It’s likely to take Donaldson awhile to find his stroke at the plate—perhaps  in the closing weeks of the season in late August and on into September. That would mean ROI for the Twins: Return on Investment.

Worth Noting

Paul Molitor was a first-ballot Hall of Famer following his great playing career and in 2017, while leading the Twins, was named American League Manager of the Year, but the Minnesota native acknowledges watching baseball is a test of patience for many fans.

During the most recent segment of the Twin Cities cable TV program “Behind the Game” (also available on YouTube), the personable Molitor was asked about the length of MLB games which typically last over three hours and sometimes longer.  His view is the impact on fans goes deeper than the duration of games.  “It’s that the action is not there,” he told program hosts Patrick Klinger and Bill Robertson.

Among the culprits in causing slow action is the increase in frequency of hitters striking out and also drawing more walks than in Molitor’s day when he played in the big leagues from 1978 to 1994, ending his playing career with his hometown Twins.  “I just think the fact that there is a lack of flow to the games really makes people check their watch more than you would like to get them watching a baseball game,” Molitor said.

Molitor was known both as a player and manager for having a high baseball IQ. During his playing career the game of baseball was more varied with hitters striving to place the ball in play, while managers strategized about advancing runners with the hit and run, or bunts, and base stealing. Today’s players and managers are focused on power baseball with launch angles and home runs. “It’s not as entertaining for me to sit back and wait to see who outslugs who,” Molitor said.

This summer the 64-year-old Molitor has been biking, golfing and coaching his son in Edina youth baseball.  He was a career .306 hitter and had a lofty total of more than 3,000 hits.

The Twins check in at No. 5 in S.I.com’s latest power rankings of MLB teams, trailing the Dodgers, low budget Rays and Athletics, and Yankees. Minnesota’s Central Division rivals rank like this: Indians, No. 8; White Sox, No. 9; Tigers, No. 24 and Royals No. 26.

The Twins have played 23 of their 35 games against the Tigers, Royals, No. 21 ranked Brewers and No. 30 Pirates.  Minnesota has a 12-11 record versus those teams.

The MLB trade deadline is today and seemingly the Twins’ biggest need is a return of their own injured position players and pitchers.

There has been a lot of hype about Minnesota natives being selected in this fall’s NBA Draft and S.I. com had an interesting take in its mock draft late last month projecting first and second round picks (contracts guaranteed to first rounders only).  Tyrell Terry, the guard from DeLaSalle who played one season at Stanford, is predicted as the only Minnesotan going in the first round, at No. 19 to the Nets.

Tre Jones

S.I. projected the Timberwolves will use the No. 1 overall choice on Georgia guard Anthony Edwards, with Minnesota also picking Memphis forward-center Precious Achiuwa at No. 17 in the first round.  The Wolves will take hometown favorite and point guard Tre Jones, who played at Apple Valley and two seasons for Duke, with their No. 33 choice early in the second round. Zeke Nnaji, the forward-center from Hopkins who played one season at Arizona, will go No. 34 to the 76ers, per S.I.

I strongly disagree but S.I. has Daniel Oturu, formerly of Cretin-Derham Hall and the Gophers not being drafted until the Wizards take him at No. 37.  He averaged more than 20 points and 11 rebounds last season while showing he can play inside and out, but his collective draft predictions have been far ranging for months.

That was ex-Viking Herschel Walker, former Gophers football coach Lou Holtz and ex-Gopher defensive back Jack Brewer appearing as speakers at last week’s Republican convention.

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David Shama

David Shama is a former sports editor and columnist with local publications. His writing and reporting experiences include covering the Minnesota Vikings, Minnesota Twins, Minnesota Timberwolves and Minnesota Gophers. Shama’s career experiences also include sports marketing. He is the former Marketing Director of the Minnesota North Stars of the NHL. He is also the former Marketing Director of the United States Tennis Association’s Northern Section. A native of Minneapolis, Shama has been part of the community his entire life. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota where he majored in journalism. He also has a Master’s degree in education from the University of St. Thomas. He was a member of the Governor’s NBA’s Task Force to help create interest in bringing pro basketball to town in the 1980s.

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